A digital sketchbook

Central Avenue Vapors

Central Avenue Vapors is currently open for business and drumming up interest in their Grand Opening Event on August 13th.  These are the chalk pastels done today for their side walk sign.  It was attracting some attention as people were walking by, the neighborhood buzzing with that end-of-week-energy, as foot-traffic filtered towards Tropicana Field, home-town Ray's hosting a game vs the New York Yankees. Central Ave Vapor's address is 1609 Central Ave, the hours are 11 to 9, seven days a week. It is closest to the intersection of 16th St, across from the big, old, famous, neon sign of World Liquors.


Chilling in the Capital of Cool, Negril, JM's West End

At last Saturday's William's Park Farmers Market I had the pleasure of meeting Ras Rody a chef cooking up some amazing vegan and Jamaican dishes.  We started talking about the island and he grew up just east of where I have stayed three times since 2001 at the West Birchrunville Cottages. He was amazed and we started doing the who's who of names and restaurants along the main road that leads up to a famous old lighthouse and beyond to Rick's Cafe. I had walked by his store down there without realizing it. You know sometimes it really is a small world. Amazing curry, rice n' beans, lentils and an eggless banana pancake tops off the combo plate at ten dollars.

So after all that nostalgic talk of Negril I realized that this newly added onto piece should get some love on the blog.  The watercolor is of a stylized crown of thorns plant that was on the cottages front porch. At 15 traveling to Jamaica changed my life and served as a big source of inspiration for the sketch book but also to broaden my perspective. These new unique experiences had a profound effect on me, the wildlife, coral reefs, and trees growing in trees, meeting people who live close to the bone yet are some of the happiest people I've ever met, shared a boat with, broke bread with.

Rest in Peace Brother John.

Flamingo Bar Mural: Day 10

Another time-lapse video from the mural project's tenth day.  After painting color into the face and hair I had to reassure onlookers about the layering process. That a heavy black was going on top of these shocks of color, in summary to trust me that it would not look like bozo the clown.  

Since its been finished back in April, I have had people come up to me and guess who the mural is about. The ones I've heard most often are James Dean, Elvis, Superman or Archer from the animated FX series. Incorrect guesswork but still cool considering all those people are important icons and deserve to have stylized portraits done of them. After all if you like photo-realism go buy a camera.

Nick if you're out there somewhere, thank you for the gift way back in Savannah of the Blackburn Rovers hat, here is proof that it does actually get worn.

Updated Pastels for Zaytoon Grill

The first year Anniversary pastels for Zaytoon needed some touch up work. Much improved clarity to these chalk signs at a distance.  I went back in and tweeked some lettering, added 3-D elements, adjusted the scroll-like features and gave the piece better movement for the eye to explore. Little maintenance work is always needed on these boards when they get hit with the occasional rain shower. 

To help avoid erosion such as wind or being smudged use a Krylon Workable fixative spray...after checking wind direction and making sure no one is eating outside of course.  Always ensure proper use of any spray-paint or top coat in aerosol form, especially ventilation. Read the label. 

Back to the amazing food here, build your own hummus plate, add feta, yes please.

Urban Composting

Up-cycle a cooler with a broken lid into a compost bin for your house, apt or small space.  Mix in your yard trimmings and leaves to cover the organics thrown in. Place under an overhang or covered balcony and leave it until full. Tip over and dump everything out the bottom layer will be rich dirt, maybe some worms if you're lucky. No more buying potting soil.

By his royal decree my cat Cecil, aka Sir Pounce, rightful hair to the Seven Kingdoms, Breaker of Collars, helped in the project by providing logistics and rolling in the dirt of the planter being made.

Flamingo Bar Mural Day 4

These time-lapse videos are shot with a GoPro HD Hero 3 and 4. It is actually a series of still images taken at intervals of 5 seconds which creates the illusion of a live shot but with the added bonus of extending your battery life and storage space.

Flamingo Bar Mural Project; The Last Road Trip

This was a fun exterior project started on March 6th, my first of hopefully many murals in Florida and beyond. The Flamingo Sports Bar and its previous incantations have stood in this location since the 1930's. The famed writer Jack Kerouac was a regular customer and apparently had his last drink at this old pool hall. Day one of the project was the only time spray paint or stencil was used on the wall everything else was done by hand, roller and brush. The old masters style I was taught in Savannah. 

A charity non-profit group Called the Friends of Kerouac is raising funds to purchase and preserve the house Jack lived in which has remained frozen in time, untouched. They host events at the Flamingo on Kerouac's birthday and date of death with live music and poetry readings that draw in eclectic crowds. The next event should be October twenty-first at the bar, 1230 9th Street N, St. Petersburg, FL 33705.

I was honored and humbled to have the chance to paint this mural and dedicate it to the memory of my Tres Grandes; grandfathers Julian Rashkind, Jack Hartzell, and Prof Jorge Alvarez. Mostly importantly, the owner Dale Nichol loves the finished piece and the renewed interest it creates in St. Petersburg's unique history. 

Anniversary Pastels for Zaytoon Grill

The lovely folks, Wally and Mary, at Zaytoon Grill are excited about the journey their restaurant has been on in its first year.  Recently written up for a review in the Tampa Bay Times this spot has grown a loyal following of dine-in and take-out customers alike. But the best part for me other than the flavor and freshness of the food, its that you're treated like family.

Here are some recent pastels done for their rolling sidewalk sign. Which almost blew away down Central Ave in a recent storm, thankfully no harm was done.

Sketches at the Palladium Theater

Had the pleasure of going to see a concert at the Palladium Theater featuring guitarists Nate Najar and headliner Larry Coryell.  Amazing music and first time experience of this venue in a renovated church with beautiful architecture. There was way too much to draw in the dark lighting with very little time. 

It was fun to listen to the stories, tributes, and on-the-go tuning from Coryell. Watching him bob and groove up there with that white shock of hair, to tell his guitars' origin story. A romantic tangent on the Gibson Super 400 he purchased back during 1956 in Cartagena, Colombia.

The Palladium is one of many St. Pete venues large and small that attract quality acts within the downtown area. A few examples of my favorites are; The State Theater, Jannus Live, The Hideaway, and next to the Dali museum is The Mahaffey Theater.

This drawing is from the encore where he switched to an acoustic guitar. Drawing the legendary musician without glasses made Coryell look decades younger but I like it.

John Lennon and Jack Kerouac

Portraits of Lennon and Kerouac who's music and writing, respectively, were synonymous with a generation. Engrained, defining, a measure of the passing seasons, like the rings on a tree.

This was a somewhat related process sketch drawn during the build up to the Flamingo Bar mural project, The Last Road Trip. Drawn with a Prisma-color black pencil which is wax-based and hard to erase but are quality and worth it in terms of shading and contrast.