14 February 2010

A New Diversion

I have a new hobby. My old Ma used to say that I need another hobby like I need another hole in my head but nevertheless I have a new self inflicted pastime. By the way, in Spanish a hobby or a pastime is called a "pasatiempo" (pah-sah-TIEM-poh). Ever since I was a little kid I have admired people who could draw. I have always been frustrated by my inability to draw anything other than stick people or block houses like we used to do in kindergarten with a window, a door, a peaked roof, and a chimney. In a half century I had progressed no farther than that so I decided that it was time to learn something new. Some people have a problem speaking. They get tongue tied. I don't have that problem. I have a problem drawing. I get "finger tied". I discovered that there are a lot of people like me and also that there is something that we can all do about it. Some folks have talent for drawing and good hand to eye coordination and they can't understand why other people just can't pick up a pen or pencil and draw like they can. Those of us who have no talent or natural ability must dig down and learn the things that we must do to at least "fake it".

I discovered that one can reproduce an image with simple materials by two different methods. One method is called "art" and the other is called "drafting". It is possible for just about everyone to learn a little plane geometry and some of the mechanical drawing techniques of the draftsman. One can then add some color and call it "art" even though it lacks the magic touch of a true artist. I have found that there is a lot of satisfaction in this, especially when one realizes that they are doing something that they never thought they could do. There some are other benefits besides self aggrandizing as well. For one thing drawing or "sketching" is very challenging but at the same time very relaxing. In addition, you don't need any special material to start out with and you don't need any classes although in the beginning that might help. There are plenty of instructional books available and there are a number of free tutorials and other information available on the Internet. One of the best reasons that I have found for sketching, however, is that it is unobtrusive. Instead of running around poking a camera at everything and everybody I can sit in one spot and take my time to capture an image or more importantly, capture the things that impressed me most about an image. Later on, when I go back to look at the image the whole memory of sketching it comes back to me and I remember the day and the circumstances and all of the little details that went in to making it. With photography, on the other hand, I have so many old photographs that I look at now and say to myself "Where did I take this shot and who are these people?" or "Why did I waste my time taking a picture of that old thing?"

On Saturday I went to the park to sit in the sun and I brought my sketchbook along. I drew the sketch that you see below in pencil and then when I went home I inked it in and added water colors. The sketch represents the jogging track at our local park, the Irapuato Parque Convivencia Familiar (DIF) where it runs alongside the volleyball courts. I chose the scene because of the challenges that it presented. For one thing there were a bunch of lines that all came together at one point at the base of the IMSS hospital building in the background. There were also shadows to deal with and the chain link fence that surrounds the ball court. I made some mistakes with this drawing but that is how I learn and each drawing appears to be a little better than the last. I have a confession to make though. In real life there were people in this scene but I can't do people very well yet so I left them out. That is one of the benefits of drawing. You can leave out or put in anything you want. In fact, deciding what to leave in or leave out is a big part of sketching and it is fun. If the scene that you are drawing has trash in it or graffiti you can leave it out if you want to and if there is something ugly that is ruining the scene you can give a "makeover". You can cut the grass, you can make the flowers bloom and hey...you can even make your fat friends look skinny. I'm sure they won't mind.

I have discovered some delightful blogs that have given me a lot of sketching inspiration. They are collective blogs where sketch artists and illustrators from all over the world send in their sketches for others to look at and comment on and in my case, to marvel at. The subjects of the sketches are are anything and everything. There is something for everybody. Click on this link "Urban Sketchers" to take you to the first blog. This is my favorite. There are two blogs that are connected with this blog and are offshoots of it called "Urban Sketchers Spain" and "Urban Sketchers Argentina" and I follow these also. Another favorite sketching blog is called "Sketching in Nature" and it is dedicated to people who like to draw flora and fauna. I am amazed at how popular this "sketching" thing is becoming. Who knows, it just may be the new "blogging". I encourage anyone who always wished that they could draw but never seemed to get anywhere to take another look at it. If there is hope for me then there is certainly hope for you too. Let's get some action going here!

(Click on picture to enlarge)

13 February 2010

Don't blame the dead!

I just read that the Olympic officials are blaming the death of Olympic athlete Nodar Kumaritashvili from the country of Georgia on "human error". Why do the "officials" of anything always seem to blame the dead? Whenever there is a plane crash where everyone dies you can almost bet that even before a proper investigation is even launched the "officials" will blame the crash on "human error". In the case of this recent Olympic tragedy involving the event known as the "luge" you can clearly see that the luge track runs right alongside a row of steel columns that in reality leave no room for even the slightest human miscalculation or a defect in the surface of the ice or in the sled itself. In addition to that there is something wrong with the physics involved in the design of this track for there have been many serious crashes. Some of the curves are no doubt beyond the physical limits of safe sledding. It looks pretty obvious to me that the blame lies with those same Olympic officials who approved the substandard design of the luge track. This is a sad day for the people of Canada, the people of Georgia, the family and friends of the athlete, and sports fans everywhere. May the Lord have mercy on the soul of of Nodar Kumaritashvili and, may the Lord forgive the Olympic officials who are responsible for what happened if they would only own up to it. Nodar Kumaritashvili is a hero on my list of heroes and a true athlete through and through. May he rest in peace.

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I was born and raised in Chicago, Illinois, U.S.A. I have been living in Mexico since January 6th, 1999. I am continually studying to improve my knowledge of the Spanish language and Mexican history and culture. I am also a student of Mandarin Chinese.