Mira Harp Duet Album Cover

I received the nicest email from a girl in a harp duo.  She and her friend perform in the UK with their harps.  That’s a thing — Harp Duos.  Two harps.  Playing at the same time.  The name of their Duo is Mira, and if you’re in Scotland you should definitely hear them play.  At any rate they hired me to do their EP cover, and it was an amazingly fun job.  They were a joy to work with, and I hope they sell a million copies so that I can do their next cover.

The Album was done completely with smudgy drawings and photoshop.

 Smudgy drawing of the girls.

 Smudgy drawing of the background and leaves.

This is the actual final cover with stars and a suggestion of strings.  In all candor I like the simplicity of the top-most image, but I do understand the need for the stars and strings (stars because Mira is the name of a star, and strings for obvious reasons).

Franklin Pierce

Here’s a sketch of Franklin Pierce was the 14th President of these United States.  He is considered by many to be the least effective President.  He also looks very similar to Mitt Romney, but there the similarities end.  Pierce was a Democrat and Romney is of course Republican.  Pierce was rash, and Mitt Romney is the opposite of rash.

 

 

Rutherford B. Hayes

This bearded president wanted to guard against the dishonorable drunken behavior on display at other Washington gatherings, so President Hayes and his wife kept an alcohol-free White House.  He spent the money normally used for alcohol on other entertainments for his guests, but this did not prevent his Secretary of State from teasing that at the White House “water flowed like wine.”

Tragic Clinton

In college a teacher once remarked that Shakespeare’s Richard II is tragic not because he evidences great vanity, ambition, and moral collapse.  Shakespeare’s tragic touches come through the flashes of Richard’s promise.

Take this speech for instance, where Richard rises to the stature of a man:

Tell Bolingbroke–for yond methinks he stands–

That every stride he makes upon my land

Is dangerous treason: he is come to open

The purple testament of bleeding war;

But ere the crown he looks for live in peace,

Ten thousand bloody crowns of mother’s sons

Shall ill become the flower of England’s face,

Change the complexion of her maid-pale peace

To scarlet indignation and bedew

Her pastures’ grass with faithful English blood.

Richard doesn’t draw from his well of strength until his rule is beyond hope, but when he does the reader wonders, ‘what a man he might have been.’

Lady Gaga, in her recent classless performance, affirmed that Bill Clinton will always be known as the president who lacked a moral compass.  This Rhodes Scholar, this graduate of Yale, and former governor used all his powers not to underscore America’s virtues, but to persuade the nation that sex is as meaningless as junk mail.  Lady Gaga might be richer for this cultural shift, but I think the country is poorer.  Clinton displayed his political skill most as he lied, evaded, and mobilized power to control the narrative of his character flaws.  Like the audiences who witnessed the potential of Richard II, many who witnessed the masterful duck and weave of Bill Clinton thought, “What a man he might have been.”

 

 

Jimmy Carter

I hurt my back saturday and now I’m hobbling around.  I’m about to go to the chiropractor, and it’s raining.  All in all I feel pretty crummy so I decided to post this picture of Jimmy Carter.  He began with an approval rating higher than Obama and he left office with an approval rating somewhere in the low thirties.

 

Jimmy Carter reminds me of a kid on my street who was always hurting himself.  This kid’s name was also Jimmy.  I remember he bought a bike at a garage sale and we made fun of it.  He assured us that it was a little rusty on the outside, but at its core, it was a fine bike.  To prove his point he set out to pop a wheelie in it.  “Watch this!” he said.  We all looked his way and he jerked back on the handle bars to lift the front tire.  He jerked his handle bars right off the post and crashed spectacularly.  We howled with laughter.  Jimmy hurt himself so frequently and in such dramatic fashions that we all grew to like him.  Sympathy can grow even in the rocky soil of a child’s heart.  Still, we never would have trusted Jimmy to buy us a bike, or run a country for that matter.

 

 

 

Chester Arthur

I know.  I know.  Chester Arthur is a political superstar perhaps the most famous president apart from Lincoln.  But here is a drawing with which to refresh your memory.

He served one term.  He was sworn into office after Garfield was shot by an aspiring office seeker.  Arthur signed the Edmund’s law into effect which outlawed polygamy.  He thought that polygamy was morally detrimental to the family.  I guess that means that he thought the family was possible to define (these were the days before Dreamworks and the Disney Channel clearly taught us that family has no genetic definition, but is rather made up from misfits that one meets on a road trip).  Arthur was also a civil rights advocate, and popularizer of Yellowstone National Park among other things.

Test

I have some portraits coming up so I’m doing some tests.  I love how paint looks on a smooth surface, but I hate preparing the masonite.  I figured, maybe I could buy some ready made canvas and work wet into wet.  I bought some little canvases to try it out.  Above is a test I started.  I abandoned it pretty early on because the paint pools in the recesses.  Still, I’m going to try out some finer weave canvases before I go back to masonite and matte medium.

Mamet

Famed Playwright, Filmmaker, Author, etc. David Mamet is making some waves with his latest book.  The story, “playwright turns conservative” much like the story “man bites dog” begs for public expression.

Apparently in 2004 Mamet discovered that he reviled conservatives but didn’t know any.  His Rabbi suggested that civility according to the Judeo-Christian ethos challenges us to understand our adversary before we disagree with them.  Not only that, but one ought to be able to state their position in a way in which they will agree.  Mamet took up the challenge and began reading conservative books, but not before he tried to sway his Rabbi, Mordecai Finley who was of all things, a Republican.  Andrew Ferguson writes:

He began sending Finley books, potboilers of contemporary liberalism like What’s the Matter with Kansas?
“They were highly polemical, angry books,” Finley said. “They were very big on sympathy and compassion but really they weren’t”—he looked for the word—“they simply weren’t logically coherent. And Dave is very logical in his thinking. Dave thought What’s the Matter with Kansas? had the answer for why people could even think to vote for a Republican—it’s because they’re duped by capitalist fat cats. I tried to tell him that people really weren’t that stupid. They just have other interests, other values. They’re values voters.
“That’s one thing he began to see: The left flattens people, reduces people to financial interests. Dave’s an artist. He knew people are deeper than that.”
Before long, when Finley didn’t budge, the books from Mamet stopped arriving, and Finley asked if he could send Mamet some books too. One of the first was A Conflict of Visions, by Thomas Sowell of the Hoover Institution. In it Sowell expands on the difference between the “constrained vision” of human nature—close to the tragic view that infuses Mamet’s greatest plays—and the “unconstrained vision” of man’s endless improvement that suffused Mamet’s politics and the politics of his profession and social class.
“He came back to me stunned. He said, ‘This is incredible!’ He said, ‘Who thinks like this? Who are these people?’ I said, ‘Republicans think like this.’ He said, ‘Amazing.’ ”

[Wish a few more Republicans in Washington thought that way].

Mamet is now fairly outspoken about two tenants in particular.  The complexity of society and the benefits of competition.

Thomas Sowell’s book A Conflict of Visions (referenced above) maintains that the conflicts between liberals and conservatives really boil down to disagreements on a few core issues.

If you’re still reading this, I’ll summarize some of the topics over which liberals and conservatives share little common ground.

1.  Human Nature

2.  The Nature of Knowledge

3.  Visions of Equality (opportunity or outcome)

4.  Visions of Justice (results oriented or process oriented)

One’s answers these to these questions pretty much indicates one’s feelings about Traditional Marriage, Credentialism, Religion, the Welfare State and a host of other issues.

Though MTV and Sesame Street often make it seem that it is more important to have views than to have reasons, with the slightest analysis we might agree that the reverse is true.  I think Mr. Mamet would also agree.