The Road Not Taken — or Found

Many of my blog readers are familiar with the poem by Robert Frost “The Road Not Taken“.

Now with GPS, it would seem all roads would be discovered AND traveled.    Not so when it comes to the road leading to a monument memorializing the victims of Sept 11, 2001.  

The location of the former World Trade Center was easy to locate.  All trains, subways have it as a destination.  It has been a point of interest since it was first built.    The new construction being erected in place of the destroyed/demolished Trade Center Towers is incredibly stunning — by day and night.  Security was located everywhere and barricades were placed on each street for most city blocks surrounding the WTC.

Why is the extraordinary monument constructed by the Russian government and its citizens not mentioned in a prominent flier or tour guide for NYC?   I was fortunate to be introduced to the artwork through a friend and an online video.


It took much determination and alternate directional skill to located the monument.  NO road matches the one listed online. There is NO sign or marker pointing the way to the monument.  The towering reminder is on a desolate space that looks across the water with a view of the Statue of Liberty AND the newly constructed WTC memorial tower. 



While snapping several photos of the Tear Drop, a young gentleman approached and asked if I wanted him to take a photo with the monument in the background.   He shared that his uncle was killed in the Towers. He travels from California each year to see the Russian monument. He added that there is a new item added on the grounds each year — the latest being a sample of the steel beam from the WTC.

I took the road less traveled and discovered a monumental display of art that expressed without words, the grief of loss to our country AND the world.


Tear Drop Monument
Former Military Ocean Terminal 
Bayonne, NJ

Bookless Library, Artless Gallery, mp3 Opera House


Are we headed to pageless books, bookless libraries, computer classrooms, digital galleries, big screen dance stages, mp3 auditoriums? How do you think the future of the performing, visual artists and writers will change in the future?

Creative Process

The creative process is not without its troubles. I too, am an artist, and snicker (or grimace) at the comments or questions about how easy it must be for me to draw, paint or create something “from your imagination.” I think “amazing what 15 years training will do for ‘ya.”

I can understand young children being in awe of my skills and assuming that if they just say the word “elephant”, I will know exactly how to draw one. (now is that an African or Asian elephant?) Dog or Cat (100s of breeds), horse (yikes, they have lots of muscles), chair (how many millions of those are there?). A person (running, walking, standing, sitting, age, etc)

So do you kinda understand how complex the “just draw something simple” comment is to a real artist? Sometimes people actually think that in art school you can do anything you want to do. You can’t be right or wrong — afterall it’s YOUR work. Not so. There are assignments with guidelines and grades. After art school, if you only do what you want to do … you may be a starving artist OR you just count on being the one in half a million artists to get “discovered” and make it rich.

Cartoonists — there are limitations to the space alloted in newspaper publications. Ever wonder why you see the same cartoons for decades even after the death of the artist? Comic books have morphed into “graphic novels” — picture books for mostly teens and grown-ups. The artwork is fabulous, skilled, creative, dynamic. Artists making their mark — tiny as it may be — in the huge world of art. There are SO many styles of “cartooning” you could spend a lifetime studying, exploring them.

See what Laurissa is learning about the process of creating art:
Today I Learned: 100!.


Today I Learned:  100!

This is the 100th official “Today I Learned:”!  Technically though, including Interims / con reviews / other drawings / etc. I have posted 136 things on here!

Again, thank you to everyone who reads this comic, it’s awesome that so many people like it! 😀  Onward to more comics in the future!

Also, I wanted to thank Melissa and John, who I went snowboarding with a couple of days ago, and they took that awesome first picture.

View original post

The Ease of Illustration

How to be an illustrator without really trying

(And other misperceptions)

by Martha Pineno

Choosing to be an artist was a decision – not a dream.  I was not born with the ability to draw and paint.   There’s NO talent here — just a decision based on interest – and the guidance and support of my parents.   My first interest in art came late – in Junior High.  Art classes in High School and summer art camps gave me the skills needed to pursue a career in art.

The first training I had was to be an art teacher.  4 years, 2 summers of art study in college gave me that opportunity.  It is only in recent years that I have become an illustrator.   I believe my years as an elementary art instructor gave me insight into how a young person’s mind works and what would get the picture across. I needed to motivate children to learn a new concept with a project that is stimulatingwith medium and idea.

When starting an illustration project, where do you start?   For accuracy, ask the author what they prefer.  Then do visual research. People, have many pre-conceived ideas about what something may be.   For example, given the task to paint a dog: this can conger up at least a dozen images of various breeds.   So the image needs to be narrowed down to one concept then begin to elaborate on that.

Doodles on scratch paper.  Thumbnail sketches.   Ideas don’t just pop and picture themselves on a paper.   I read the text, let an idea emerge into a cartoon type image.  Then comes sequencing.   Putting the ideas in order to match the script.   If working with an author who is receptive to ideas, I can even suggest a text that will be simpler, easier to illustrate in a more active manner.

Inspiration?  Ideas are everywhere.  Observe.  Ask questions. Research online.  I actually have to shut off my creative mind in order to get tasks of the day completed.   I’m always looking in the future to the next project – yet trying to figure how I can fit illustrating in during the 24 hours allotted.

What keeps you motivated?  I’m self-motivated, but being paid for a project gives me an extra boost of energy.   I’m also concerned about pleasing the person for whom I’m illustrating.  I need to be certain they are content with the work I do. I don’t assume that all my work is great.  Small suggestions for improvement are welcome.  Because I’m occupied with multiple jobs to do during any one day, I get a little annoyed if something needs to be repainted – mostly because of the additional time it will take to correct. Since I’m a bit of a perfectionist, getting things just right is more important than my feelings.

How to decide what medium? Watercolor, acrylics, and oils, pen & ink, cut paper, photography.  Sometimes the process of illustrating is determined by the medium. Watercolor has a softer, more fluid, spontaneous look in general.  For the first illustrated book it looked delicate for an early reader.  The addition of ink on top for enhancement added clarity.  I also decide based on variety for each book so each book is unique with the medium as well as text.

My Favorite illustrated book?  The original Talented Tabby because it focused on one character: Leo.   I had more time to complete with less distraction form other jobs.  My next favorite: The Coffee Connection – because this book was a compilation of both designs and paintings created over a 25-year time span.  I prefer to paint for illustrating.  Painting is more personable than computer art – hand done.

What inspires my illustrations: characters more than story line. Background is determined by the story line.   Photos are very helpful for accuracy in the character and to catch the motion and story line more accurately.   I often combine several photos to create one page illustration.

Designing the complete book is also a challenge.  When to turn the page?  Using blocks around art?   Where to put the words? Title page, signing page? Planning for the amount of pages that work best for printing and cost.

Lifeless illustration?   Not with my painting. Paint has natural intrinsic motion by the brush – more flowing attention to detail in the line – plus I have years of experience with painting – particularly portraits – people and animals.

Focus on one action word or detail.  Let the reader picture the rest as they choose.  When working with manuscript, divide into sections and pages – ones that stimulate a picture in my head early on.

Illustrating is much more complex than painting a very complex individual work of art.  Because each page has to relate to the previous and next page of story art.  It is also more difficult to work with someone else’s idea when it is not something you personally choose to paint.