Archive for January, 2007

Cluelessness begins at home

Wednesday, January 31st, 2007

The Washington Post today quotes Sen. Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.), chairman of the Senate Appropriations foreign operations subcommittee, as saying: “Any leader who tries to tighten his grip on power by destroying the institutions of democracy, curtailing press freedom and using his office to intimidate pro-democracy opponents is setting in motion a dangerous process with potentially ominous consequences.” Unfortunately, Leahy is talking about President Chávez of Venezuela, not President Bush. Washington is all a-flutter about Chávez, when it ought to be looking closer to home; specifically, to the White House.

Republican Healthcare Scam

Tuesday, January 30th, 2007

Sen. Mel Martinez (R-FL) sends me a newsletter now and then. One just received says

Senator Martinez introduced the Tax Equity and Affordability (TEA) Act 2007. The measure seeks to lower the cost and expand the availability of health insurance. It will establish a new tax credit for individuals and families who do not currently have employer-based health insurance.

What a bitter pill this is to swallow. Have the Republicans no feelings for the poor? The theory is, a single person will receive a $2000 tax credit with which to purchase “affordable” Health Savings Account insurance, which may be as cheap as $500 a year in some states. Families will receive $4000 credits. But wait — how many uninsured individuals have incomes so low that they may not be paying even $2000 a year in taxes? There are 37 million Americans living below the poverty level, set by the government at $18,800 for a family of four. At that income level you aren’t paying anything close to $4000 in Federal taxes.

But that’s not the worst of it. This “affordable” health insurance is just dandy as long as you stay healthy. But the deductible for a single person is a whopping $2000. So you end up spending more than the entire tax credit before the insurance even kicks in.

Masters Project

Tuesday, January 30th, 2007

Franz Marc, Blue Horse I

WetCanvas is sponsoring a “Masters Project,” in which participants paint or draw a copy or interpretation of a work done between the years 1000 to 1930 CE. For my project I selected Blue Horse I (Blaues Pferd I), painted by Franz Marc (1880-1916) in 1911. While the original painting is about 30 x 40 inches, I’m going to keep mine more manageable, on a 16 x 20-inch canvas panel. I chose this painting because I’ve always liked it — and I think it’s within my competence as a newcomer to oil painting! You can see a much larger copy of the painting at The Artchive.

According to the project rules, participants must

Post a line drawing and subsequent postings of your WIP at 33%, 66%, 90% and 100% as a minimum. Describe your triumphs and difficulties as you post your work.

so I’ll be doing a line drawing soon. You can follow my progress here and on my WetCanvas thread.

Cluster bombs fall on American media

Monday, January 29th, 2007

Someone recently told me the U.S. media were trying to undermine the country by reporting “bad news” in Iraq. Sorry, that dog won’t hunt. On the home page of the BBC Website tonight I found a report claiming that

Israel probably violated the terms of its arms deals with Washington by using US-made cluster bombs in Lebanon last year, a US government report says.

Pretty serious allegations, but what does our media have to say about it? Did any major American news site carry the story up front? The only link on the first page of Google results for “israel cluster bombs” that came back to an American news source was this RSS link to CNN, who covered the story Saturday. The Washington Post Website is carrying the story today but I can’t find a page-number reference to the printed edition.

These are very serious charges. Shouldn’t they be headline news in our country, which gives Israel more than $5 billion a year? Yet this is the only wimper of protest from the U.S. government in response to Israel’s carnage-wreaking temper tantrum in Lebanon last year. What did their near-annihilation of southern Lebanon and dozens of square miles of Beirut, not to mention nearly every bridge and runway in the country do for Israel’s interests, much less our own? Not a damned thing. Hezbollah, which Israel swore to destroy, now stands poised to seize control of the entire country of Lebanon. And the U.S. is once more perceived as the Master of Evil by most of the Middle East.

Yet the leading newspaper in our nation’s capital could not find room on its home page to link to this article, while the euthanization of Barbaro, while sad, gets top placement:

Playing with art

Sunday, January 28th, 2007

Section of Jasper Johns's Out The Window

Section of Out The Window, Jasper Johns, 1958

Reviewing “Jasper Johns: An Allegory of Painting, 1955-1965,” at the National Gallery, Washington Post critic Blake Gopnik notes that, “Just as all hockey is built around the joy of games, no matter how many dollars and careers may be riding on it, so art always has its roots in play, in the joy of spreading mucky stuff around.”

This may be the toughest barrier to overcome for amateur artists, especially those of us who spent our working lives in the corporate culture. Even if our leisure activities didn’t put us in competition with others, they had to serve a purpose. “Let’s do something!” is a desperate cry for meaning.

Wake Up Little Bushie

Saturday, January 27th, 2007

The movie wasn’t so hot
It didn’t have much of a plot
We fell asleep, our goose is cooked
Our reputation is shot

— Everly Brothers

Declaring once again that he is “the decision maker,” Bush has defied Congress to find a better solution to the mess he created in Iraq than “more of the same.” Making the same mistakes over and over is not the sign of a committed decision maker, it is the work of a fool.

Czeching out pencils

Wednesday, January 24th, 2007

Czechoslovakian charcoal box

Okay, it’s a lame pun. But I’ll bet you didn’t know that in the 1930s, the Koh-I-Noor pencil imported from Czechoslovakia was “the first scientifically graded drawing pencil on the world market.” American “draftsmen [were] inclined to demand it despite the 33% lower gross cost of U. S.-made pencils.”

Painting the white flower

Tuesday, January 23rd, 2007

White chalk drawing on black paper

Some people have asked about the method I used to draw this flower, done in white pastel pencil on black charcoal paper. This technique is probably old hat to pastel painters but I hadn’t tried it before.

This weekend’s drawings

Sunday, January 21st, 2007

Chinese man, charcoal and chalk

Flower, white chalk and charcoal pencil

I drew three drawings for the WetCanvas Weekend Drawing Event. Thumbnails of two of them appear above. Larger versions and the third one, that I’m not so pleased with, appear on this WetCanvas thread.

Recent drawings

Saturday, January 20th, 2007

drawing of urn and grapes

I’ve been so busy lately I haven’t had time to update the blog. This is a drawing I did last weekend for the Wet Canvas “Weekend Drawing Event.” It’s in blue and white Conté pastel pencils on 9×12-inch tinted Strathmore charcoal paper. I think it’s one of the better drawings I’ve done lately. You can see a larger image and two other drawings from last weekend on this Wet Canvas thread.