MOMA Mia

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Went to one of my favorite places the other day – MOMA, the Museum of Modern Art in NYC. They recently completed a $450 million renovation. I keep telling people it was $40 million, but it was $450 million. I of course, couldn’t see the whole thing, but I did make sure I saw Starry Night, my favorite. I searched and searched and it took me awhile, but I found it. Right there, all blue and beautiful like always.

The guards are quite scary, they look you up and down as if you are going to do something, they just pop out of nowhere and inspect you with their beady eyes. To be fair. there are many tourists during holiday weeks and probably more people are attending the museum than at quieter times of the year.

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A perfect day in Central Park

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We spent yesterday in Central Park and it was perfect – 60 degrees and sunny, you almost didn’t need a jacket.

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After a little searching, I came across my favorite piece of 1887 graffiti. It’s above the Bethesda Fountain, up the big flight of steps. I’m sort of hesitant to share it but I know you guys will protect it. As you can see here, a few jerks put graffiti near it and almost toughing it. It’s almost 133 years old, you can’t have anything nice. That “L” or whatever it is to the left is not part of the original 1887 thing and neither is the PJE below it.

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Stop and smell the art

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It rained on Sunday, so I went to the MET Museum in New York, I mean I would have gone anyway, but usually I go the day after Thanksgiving as a tradition. And this time I did something different. I didn’t take pictures, or many pictures. I did post a few on Facebook, but then after a bit I put my phone/camera down and enjoyed the experience, which is something we don’t do these days.

No matter where we are, we are looking through the camera and not enjoying the actual experience. At the museum, at concerts, at a party at a ball game at a parade – everywhere, we are not enjoying the experience, we are missing it by trying to get the best photos.

There was a time at museums and concerts, where you were not permitted to take photos. Now they are permitted to do that, I guess they can’t control it anymore; and at concerts, videos are allowed, but for some reason they don’t like that at museums. They’ll allow snap shots but not videos. I got yelled at this past summer for taking videos at the MET.

Anyway, I put my camera away and enjoyed the experience and it was quite enjoyable. I was tempted to take the camera out when I saw others buried in their phones among the most magnificent art in the world – the Masters and ancient Egyptian and Chinese antiquities. I’m not sure what was so important on their phones, but Egypt and Matisse and Van Gogh and the rest were not as interesting, I guess.

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‘Ziggy’ installation at Flatiron District

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I’m in NYC this week for Thanksgiving. I managed to get 30 Hal and High Water comic strips done before I left Miami. I submitted all 30 to the four major syndicates. Now I can enjoy NY.

This is a new installation at the Flatiron District, it’s right below the Flatiron Building which was hard to show in pictures because it’s all dark and scaffolded, they’re doing some sort of work on it.

But that intersection where 5th Avenue and Broadway meets is all lit up like this.

It’s the winner of the sixth annual “Flatiron Public Plaza Holiday Design Competition,” called “Ziggy,” created by New York-based architecture, art, and design studio Hou de Sousa. You can walk through it and interact. And since the Flatiron building is dark these days, it gives tourists something to focus on in that area.

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Fall in Central Park

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I have been busy, pumping out Hal and High Water strips. I’m almost ready to send them in to the syndicate. I’m going to NY at the end of the week for Thanksgiving week, so I hope to have the strips submitted by then.

I found this photo from last year. It’s the Bow Bridge in Central Park. You can’t see him him very well, but at the very end of the bridge is a guy playing an instrument. He’s all in black, see him just before you enter the bridge? I think it was a flute or a saxophone, I can’t remember. What I do remember is that I was trying to take a short video of him to put on Instagram and he kept turning his back to me. At first I thought it was coincidence, but then I realized, he didn’t want to be taped.

I usually tip these street/park musicians, especially when I take pictures or tape them, but I didn’t in this instance. So I never got him playing, but you can imagine being on the other side of the bridge and hearing his music in the distance, which brings me to this next photo.

This is incredible; the photo, but the experience.

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It was November 2015. I was in Central Park and saw this view in front of me. Amazing. As I sat there on a park bench, I heard Adele singing “Hello” faintly in the distance. It almost sounded like angels! I looked around and didn’t see anyone. “Hello” was released a month before, in October 2015, so it was played all over. So to hear it in the park was strange, but not so strange, but the strange part was hearing it in the distance on a cool Autumn day, with this beautiful scene before me, with no other people around.

After I took the picture and was leaving, as I turned a bend on the path, there was a hot dog vendor with his radio blaring “Hello.” That’s where it was coming from, wafting through the park. Sort of disappointing at that moment, knowing where Adele was coming from!

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Time-saving drawing tips

I saw a video on a page I follow on Facebook, the video, “4 Time-Saving Tips from a guy who spent 13 years drawing a comic” is by cartoonist Lars Martinson.

Lars worked on a very detailed graphic novel called Tonoharu, for 13 years, from when he was 25 to 38. The fine detail on each page is what killed all that time.

As I had stated in the past, Hal and High Water is taking me from 2 to 2.5 hours to create each strip. And I work fast. Ironically, one of the top syndicate guys told me I worked too fast, without even knowing me or seeing me work, he saw my work, he just didn’t see me work! But he is right, I work fast, so that 2 hours or more for one single strip is a bit much.

I’m trying to pare it down. I see many comic strips that use the copy and paste method where characters are concerned, you know, using the same images over and over again by cutting and pasting the same image in each panel. I don’t care for that method, so that way of saving time is out for me.

But Lars is the extreme – he goes all out with every drawing, where I’ll focus on one panel usually and I pare down the details on that, but I do put a lot into that and in others I’ll use no or little background.

storeI recently drew a country store panel, a general store actually, that could have so much background, picture a general store, there usually is not one space that doesn’t visually capture your eye. Well I redrew that strip twice, so that made that a 5 to 6 hour strip in work time! But it was important to pick and choose the correct images for the store without going overboard.

I could have added so many more items to the panel, but I wanted to keep it simple but still convey the idea of a general/country store. I didn’t want the background to take away from the characters, Hal, looking at a soda can, and Sam, speaking to the proprietor behind the counter. In another panel I show candy jars and Hal reaching onto a pickle barrel, but it’s not all in one panel.

Lars talks about having to have certain scenes in his comic because he thought of that scene in his head and didn’t want to change that. I have changed scenes often, I’ve changed angles and people in the scene. I’m not as strict as Lars. He calls them, “Carved in stone first drafts.”

Lars has four tips for time saving, I won’t give them away here since I do want people to watch his video. But one thing he talks about is being “lazy” and what he means is that to save time, you have to be lazy in some instances – like in Anime comics, there is not much movement, whether you realize it or not, there’s a lot of time saving in drawing, he shows an example on his video. Also, not spending a lot of time on backgrounds and details in every single comic and every single panel saves time – a lot of time.

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Pumpkin and apple picking in the Hudson Valley

Earlier this month, I think on October 5, a couple of my cousins and I drove upstate from New York City. We went to Poughkeepsie and Highland, which are on either side of the Hudson River. It was the 10th anniversary of the Walkway Over the Hudson. It was originally a train bridge during World War II and 10 years ago, it was turned into a walking bridge, which spans the Hudson River and connects Highland and Poughkeepsie. The walkway is the world’s longest pedestrian bridge.

It’s an incredible walk, the walk itself, but I mean the view. We had hoped to see fall leaves, which I believe are red and yellow now, but October 5 it was still warm and the leaves hadn’t turned yet. But it was a beautiful day. So nice, so peaceful and it’s gorgeous up there.

We had lunch at a place on the river, drove over the other bridge, the Mid-Hudson Bridge, which takes car traffic, to get there.

The best part, or maybe just as great as the walkway was a stop at DuBois Farms, where we went pumpkin and apple picking. It’s a real farm with animals and so many other features like prepared food and drinks, weekend BBQ’s, a tavern on site and so much more – so beautiful, check them out here: duboisfarms.com.

This was the same week as NY Comic Con, so we went from that hectic scene, to the serene scene of the Hudson Valley. A perfect fall week.