Friday/ a dystopian Seattle

Tintin pursues a gang of counterfeiters in The Black Island (it’s in Scotland, hence his Scottish garb). It was originally published in French as L’Île Noire in 1937 by Belgian cartoonist Hergé.

Check out Tintin’s gangster look, and Snowy’s spiked collar! Here’s my effort at cataloging the Seattle icons in the mural. Clockwise from bottom left: pink ‘Toe Truck’ from Lincoln Towing Co., now on display in Washington State Museum of History and Industry | I don’t know the upside down blue boat or its driver | to its left a Route 8/48 bus stop sign | and a purple starfish trying to survive (Puget Sound has had a massive starfish die-off tied to global warming) | the Kalakala ferry that operated on Puget Sound from 1935 until her retirement in 1967 | red container cranes from Port of Seattle | building of Rainier Brewing Company (operated 1878–1999) at south end of town, next to I-5 | Chubby & Tubby (operated 1946–2003) was a Seattle institution, offering bargains in hardware, housewares & garden supplies | Coca-cola vending machine from John St | skeleton biker is prob. from Bethel Saloon, a popular biker bar in Port Orchard | Dick’s Drive-in burgers & milkshakes (founded 1954), has three popular locations in the Seattle area | George Washington Memorial Bridge, commonly known as the Aurora Bridge, opened in 1932 | Deano’s 24-hour grocery store on Madison St closed in 2007 | endangered Puget Sound orca below the bridge | the iconic Pink Elephant Car Wash sign off Denny Way | not sure where the Sink or Swim bottle & buoy is from | sea lion eating clams could be from Elliott Bay. [Mural by Ton Chan & Lawrence Genette].
The newest incarnation of the restaurant & bar space at 1407 14th Ave is called Bar Sue. The mural in front of the bar is definitely an homage to the seventh volume of the Adventures of Tintin, called The Black Island.

The mural shows several Seattle iconic signs and objects awash in seawater. I guess it could be seawater that had swept over the city from a tsunami .. or the elevated sea levels from Earth’s melting ice caps.

Some signs are from beloved businesses that had closed years ago, and others are from places that are very much still around.


Wednesday/ a kaleidoscope of colors

Here is the result of another experiment to make artwork with my Wild Gears.
• Draw a wheel-in-a-wheel-in-a-ring pattern with a black needlepoint pen on white paper.
• Scan to create a .jpg picture (I used my document scanner).
• Color electronically with a basic editing utility such as Windows Paint 3D. (Yes, hand-coloring it would look more authentic .. but man! that’s a lot more work. Maybe next time).

Thursday/ red & blue

Here’s one more spiro-graphy twirl, for now.
The design took several attempts to get a clean drawing without any slip-ups. It was done with repeated wheel-in-a-wheel-in-a-ring runs.

Blue: Align Hole 1A in Wheel 42 inside Ring 63 in Wheel 135, all inside Ring 180. Draw 1A-2A-3A-4A. Align Hole 1B at the top and draw 1B-2B-3B-4B. Red: Turn 90º and repeat.

Wednesday/ on a (gelly) roll

I bought another fistful of Sakura Gelly Roll® pens at the Blick Art store as I walked by it on Broadway, today .. and came home to realize that I had bought some duplicates (of course).

So! Time for a phone picture that I can have handy next time, to make sure I know which colors I already have.

My first attempt at a picture of my pen collection. Not good enough, though – the same color can come in medium point or fine point ..
.. so I rolled them out on the sheet of paper to show both the color and the size of the pen point.

Tuesday/ my first new spirals

Here are my first colored spirals with the Wild Gears. I’m still getting used to the gears. They are a little harder to use than Spirograph, but they can produce very different results.

Smooth-finished, heavy paper (card stock) works best, and I have discovered Sakura Gelly Roll® pens which even come in metallic colors.

Wheel 35 in Ring 96. Hole No 1 Pink for 2 cycles & No 1 Black fine point for 7 cycles. (These are the technical details of how the pattern was produced, more for my own reference than anything else).
Wheel 45 in Ring 64. Hole No 1 Black fine point with final cycle in Silver gel.
Wheel 45 in Ring 64. Hole No 1 Orange fiber tip with final cycle in Black needlepoint.
Triangle 69 in Ring 96. Hole No 1-2-3-4-5-6, Black fine point No 12-13-14-15.
Alright. Let’s do something complicated, that could never be done with Spirograph gears. What’s going on here? I started out at bottom left with Hole 1 in Wheel 32, as close as I could get it to the Ring 140. As I rolled Wheel 32 counter-clockwise with the pen in Hole 1, (all the while inside Ring 56), the big Wheel 126 starts to roll counter-clockwise as well. So this is a trace of a fixed point (Hole No 1) on a small disk (Wheel 32) that rolls in a circle (Ring 56), all of which is part of a larger disk (Wheel 126) that rolls inside another larger circle (Ring 140). Whoah!
Here is the end result, drawn in 0.7 mm black liner. The Wheel 32 made 18 rotations in the Ring 56 while the Wheel 126 turned in the Ring 140, and then ended up in the same place.

Friday/ here come the Wild Gears

I discovered a manufacturer of Spirograph-like gears online, and ordered a few sets of gears. It started out as a Kickstarter (publicly funded) project in 2013, based in Vancouver.  The gears are laser-cut from acrylic.

So! I’m just getting started, and I will have to pick a few of my favorite patterns and add colors in and embellish them.

Here is the ‘unboxing’ moment. The gears are still clad in brown paper sheets stuck onto them (to protect them from scratches and to make for easy shipping). I bought two large sets and two small sets.
Here is the set called Hoops. So this provides a large number of different sizes of rings for all kinds of patterns on their inside, or outside, or both.
This is called the Encyclopedic Set, because it has gears with 12, 13, 14 .. all the way up to 30 teeth. The smallest Spirograph wheel has 24 teeth. Just for fun, I ran the 12 gear in all the holes in the main sheet after I took the geared wheels out.
This is a special 120 tooth gear with odd geometric shapes to experiment with.
The tiny 12 tooth gear. I will have to find a needle point pen to use in the tiny holes.
A few doodles with the odd shapes gear.


Wednesday/ ready to draw hypocycloids

My new set of Spirograph has arrived, and I’m ready to draw up a storm of hypocycloids: the lines formed when tracing a point on a disk, while running it inside a circle.

The red tray below has the original classic 1967 Spirograph set. The green ring is from the new ‘Shapes’ set. The ‘Shapes’ set comes in a cheapy hexagonal box and it has putty to fix the rings to the paper (yuck) instead of pins. I’m old school, and I still prefer the pins. I suppose in 2019, parents will sue the toy company if kids stick the pins in their fingers, or in their siblings!

Tuesday/ new Spirograph set .. can’t wait

Here’s a spirograph set I had ordered on Amazon. It should land on my porch by tomorrow night.

It sports 12 outrageously shaped, geared wheels: barrel, trapezoid, pentagon, heart, egg, square, hexagon, star, teardrop, ellipse, shield and star.
The biggest reason for getting it though, I think, is the perfectly round ring (168 teeth outside/ 120 inside), that I expect to be able to use with the 18 round wheels that I already have.

For more than 50 years, Spirograph enthusiasts had two rings to work with: the 150/105 and the 144/ 96. Now there is a third one.

Sunday, sans sun

It was a gray Sunday, with a little rain, here in the city today.
I did run out to go check on the Alaskan Way Viaduct’s gradual disappearance (on-going demolition), and the new buildings under construction nearby.

Looking south from the upper deck at Pike Place Market. No Mt Rainier in the distance, just low clouds.
Looking north. There’s the Norwegian Bliss at the Bell Street Cruise Terminal (Pier 66), just getting ready to set sail for a round trip to Skagway, Alaska. It will be back early next Sunday morning.
The neon sign at Pike Place Market is almost as iconic as the Space Needle. It has been there much longer (since 1935), and was designed by architect Andrew Willatsen.
Nearby is The Emerald, a 40-story, 265-unit condominium high-rise. The mural artwork is for outdoor store Fjällräven (Swedish for arctic fox), around the corner.  (Scientists recently published an article that tells of a female arctic fox that had trekked an astonishing 2,700 miles from Norway to Canada, across arctic ice, in just 21 days).
And how is the new Rainier Square Tower on 5th Avenue progressing? I believe it still has 15 to 20 floors to go before topping out.
I always walk by this building on the way back from Pike Place Market and even though it now sells discount clothing, it has a storied history. It was built in 1940 as a major West coast store for the F. W. Woolworth Company. These the waning days of Art Deco architecture, but the building still has many Art Deco traits. The terracotta and lighter cream colors go together nicely, and I love the styling of the clock with its horizontal ‘wing’ accents.

4th of July 2019

It’s America’s 243rd birthday.
I plan to ignore the TV coverage of the military parade in Washington DC, and the ‘Salute to America’ speech by Trump! .. but here’s a little impromptu artwork, done with the help of a 1967 Spirograph set that I had recently bought on EBay.

Monday/ warm weather on the way

We have warm weather on the way for the city: we will touch 90 (32 °C) on Wednesday.
Time to let cool air in at night and in the morning, and keep the shades on the windows down in the day! (I don’t have central air-conditioning in the house).

These beautiful red poppies are on the north end of 18th Ave here on Capitol Hill. They made me look up Monet’s famous painting with the poppies! See the next picture.
Claude Monet (1840-1926) | Poppies | 1873 | Oil on canvas
From the Musée d’Orsay website: When he returned from England in 1871, Monet settled in Argenteuil and lived there until 1878. These years were a time of fulfilment for him. Supported by his dealer, Paul Durand-Ruel, Monet found in the region around his home, the bright landscapes which enabled him to explore the potential of plein-air painting. He showed Poppy Field to the public at the first Impressionist exhibition held in the photographer Nadar’s disused studio in 1874. Now one of the world’s most famous paintings, it conjures up the vibrant atmosphere of a stroll through the fields on a summer’s day. Monet diluted the contours and constructed a colourful rhythm with blobs of paint starting from a sprinkling of poppies; the disproportionately large patches in the foreground indicate the primacy he put on visual impression. A step towards abstraction had been taken. In the landscape, a mother and child pair in the foreground and another in the background are merely a pretext for drawing the diagonal line that structures the painting. Two separate colour zones are established, one dominated by red, the other by a bluish green. The young woman with the sunshade and the child in the foreground are probably the artist’s wife, Camille, and their son Jean.

Wednesday beers

We were at a pub called Stout on 11th Avenue, for our beers tonight. I like the artwork behind the main counter. (It seems to me to have some communist propaganda poster undertones. Maybe if it had a slogan or a message, it would have said ‘Work hard, drink beer!’).

Sunday/ iTunes tune-up: completed

Alright .. I’m done for now with my iTunes tune-up. It was a lot of fun. In some cases I broke the ‘rules’: uploaded a singles album cover from online,  if I had only imported the hit song from a full CD, and I did not like the CD cover much. In other cases where I had multiple CDs for one artist or group (ABBA), I could upload several cool old vinyl covers or CD covers.

Check it out! All the little squares are filled now .. (top left) the first two pics are from the original ABBA’s Greatest Hits. That was on vinyl and I had the record for many years. On the right, Bennie is kissing Anni-frid on the park bench, and on the left Agnetha is hoping (I think!) that Björn will notice her. (They were in fact married at the time. Bennie and Anni-frid would marry each other many years later). Further to the right are two vintage ABBA covers, one for People Need Love and one for I do, I do, I do, I do, I do. In the second row, I like the two Albert Hammond covers that I found online, and uploaded. And I especially like the Barry Ryan cover for Eloise, far right on the third row! 

Saturday/ a happy hippopotamus

Check out the hippopotamus that I had bought at the craft market in the V&A Waterfront in Cape Town.
It is only one animal in a whole catalogue of beautiful ceramic artwork, offered by Porcupine based in Plettenberg Bay, South Africa.

Hippopotamuses are among Africa’s most dangerous large animals. Males defend their turfs on river banks, and females with young ones can be very aggressive as well.

Monday/ art from the Baraka gift shop

This artwork was outside a gift shop called Baraka in the little Cape Quarter shopping mall here in Cape Town.

Check out the cool South African themed posters on their website.

‘Halo Spaceboy’, says the ‘King of the Impossible’ with his ‘Aladdin Sane’ make-up (the lightning bolt, from the David Bowie album cover). ‘Make Cape Town Wet Again’ says the text in the background, no doubt a play on Donald Trump’s infamous 2016 campaign slogan ‘Make America Great Again’.

Thursday/ it was a scorcher

It was a scorcher here today in the northern suburbs of Cape Town.
My little rental car’s dashboard gauge hit 39.5°C/ 103°F at one point!

There is no water supply crisis in Cape Town the way there was just a year ago (dam levels at 57% vs 25% a year ago). Even so: I try to use water sparingly. As someone said: the best time to save money, electricity, water, is when you still have plenty.

P.S. Check out the cool safari animals that I found today on Eversdal Road in Durbanville. They advertise artificial turf. I think the rhinoceros will make quite a statement, if I were to install one in my front yard in Seattle!

Thursday/ don’t do it, Howard

Howard Schultz (65) was CEO of Starbucks from 1986 to 2000 and again from 2008 to 2017.

Howard Schultz, billionaire ex-CEO of Starbucks Coffee Co. has been making the rounds on morning shows and talk shows, announcing that he is thinking of entering the 2020 presidential race as a ‘centrist independent candidate’.

He is not off to a good start. Democrats fear he will draw away critical support needed to defeat Trump, from the Democratic candidate in a three-way race. Schultz also criticized liberal Democratic policy positions right out of the gate (healthcare for all, free college, more taxes on the rich).
Others say that a being a billionaire in the 2020 race is a non-starter – given how spectacularly out of touch the billionaire-in-chief in the White House and his billionaire Wall Street cronies are, with the plight of most Americans trying to make a living*.

*Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross ‘just did not understand’ last week why federal employees missing two paychecks would visit food banks, when they could ‘simply take out loans to pay their bills during this time of a liquidity crisis’.

I found this somewhat bizarre Starbucks-themed objets d’art at the Starbucks Roastery here on Capitol Hill. The Starbucks mermaid with the Simpsons’ googly eyes can be had for $4,500, and the other two smaller ones are $476 each. (I like the coffee-drinking rabbit with the pig snout). ‘Celebrating the new Milano roastery’ says the sign in the front. OK .. but seems it would also be ideal for a billionaire coffee-lover wanting to celebrate the New Gilded Age we are said to be living in.

Monday/ ‘two out of three ain’t bad’

(That’s a classic Meatloaf song title). I attempted three errands this morning, and was successful with two.
1. To the dentist for my 6-monthly ‘chomper check-up’ & cleaning: success.
2. To the bank to deposit a big check (yes, I know I can take a picture with my smartphone & deposit it, but I had a question about the check). The bank people are always very nice to me (because they have a lot of my money): success.
3. To Seattle Central Library to download my international newspapers onto my iPad: fail. It was only 9.25 am, they only open at 10.00 am, and I wanted to go home to have my oatmeal, blueberry & yogurt breakfast.

I love the jaguar and the bellboy in this Cartier window display in downtown Seattle. The watches are the legendary Cartier Tank watches. Their square design is 101 years old. These are called Tank Solos; it’s $2,550 for the leather strap watch and $2,780 for the one with the stainless steel strap.

Sunday/ ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ rocks

We ran out to the movie theater today to go see the just-released Freddie Mercury/ Queen biopic called ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’. It had gotten mixed reviews from the critics – but as it turned out: what do they know? I thought it was very, very well done.

American actor Rami Malek worked hard to undergo a stunning transformation to portray Freddie Mercury’s flamboyance and human side. The filmmakers collaborated with Queen’s drummer Roger Taylor (71) and lead guitarist Brian May (69).  (Bass guitarist John Deacon (67) retired from the band’s activities a few years after Freddie Mercury passed away in 1991).

The movie ends with an amazing recreation of Bob Geldof’s Live Aid concert that was held in 1985 at Wembley Stadium in London (worldwide rock concert organized to raise money for the relief of famine-stricken Africans).

Great picture of Freddie Mercury and partner Jim Hutton. They had been together for 6 years when Mercury passed away in 1991.  [Picture from Hutton’s memoir ‘Mercury and Me’, published in 1994].