Tag Archives: caricature

Find longitude, win valuable prizes!

In 1714 the British government established the Board of Longitude and held a contest: Who can come up with a system to accurately tell where you are at sea? The Royal Navy disaster on the Isles of Scilly had caused a reaction from the British public—they’d seen their own sailors drowned on the coast of their own country. Whether that disaster was the motive for creating the Board of Longitude may be disputed, but there’s no doubt a better, more accurate system of finding your location at sea needed to be found.

The Longitude Act, ‘An Act for providing a Publick Reward for such Person or Persons as shall discover the Longitude at Sea,’ was passed. The government offered up to £20,000 for a method of finding longitude at sea to within half a degree. That’s a lot of clams!

The Board of Longitude included scientists and astronomers who would judge the quality of any longitude systems that were submitted. One was the Astronomer Royal who worked at the Greenwich (GREN-itch) Observatory. I think if I ever got my career to the point where my job-title was Astronomer Royal I would consider myself to have arrived.

Astronomer Royal John Flamsteed, who also made the first recorded observations of Uranus.

https://www.rmg.co.uk/discover/behind-the-scenes/blog/1707-isles-scilly-disaster-%E2%80%93-part-2
https://longitudeprize.org/challenge/history
https://www.americanscientist.org/article/the-british-longitude-act-reconsidered
https://www.rmg.co.uk/discover/behind-the-scenes/blog/anniversary-longitude-act-what-was-it

Back to the beginning of The Western Civ User’s Guide to Time & Space

Galileo

Next up in our continuing series of Old Dead White Guys is Galileo, who lived from ad 1564 – 1642 in Pisa, Italy. He was a scientist whose method was to prove or disprove an idea by conducting experiments and observing the results—the way we understand science today. For instance, to prove the idea that a heavy object and a light object will fall at the same speed, he dropped a heavy weight and a light weight (like a bowling ball and a billiard ball) from the top of the Leaning Tower of Pisa. He dropped them both at the same time. They landed on the ground at the same time.

Back to the beginning of The Western Civ User’s Guide to Time & Space

Happy Easter!

Hairicature

I did this caricature a few years ago. Obviously I enjoyed painting the hair. I don’t seem to have a copy of the finished piece. Here are some in-progress shots. Gouache on Arches watercolor paper.

 

 

Julius Caesar painting exercise

I just got a clamp-on holder for my phone and wanted to try this—

Update: Sorry for any confusion if you visited here in the last hour. I couldn’t get the video to show up. I’ve since added a link to Instagram. I hope that works! Thanks for your patience.

 

Hoist your flagons!

l_9781585368150_fc

Heave on your futtock-shrouds and don’t leave your swashes unbuckled! ‘Tis International Talk Like a Pirate Day!

Don’t forget: If you are anywhere near Latrobe, Pennsylvania, shape a course for The Art Center (819 Ligonier Street) where I’ll talk about illustrating pirates this evening from 6:30 – 8:30. If you miss it, I’ll be at The Art Center again tomorrow morning 10:00 – 11:00ish (we need to clear the decks before noon—when some poor lubber’s wedding takes place).

MoviePirates

As promised, here are the answers to yesterday’s M is for Movie Pirates Quiz:

First row: Johnny Depp as Captain Jack Sparrow in Pirates of the Carribean (2006). Second row: (left to right) Douglas Fairbanks in The Black Pirate (1926); Robert Newton as Long John Silver in Treasure Island (1950); Sherman the parrot; Errol Flynn as Captain Blood (1935). Third row: Charles Laughton as Captain Kidd (1945); Charlton Heston as Long John Silver in Treasure Island (1990); Dustin Hoffman as Hook (1991); Walter Matthau as Captain Red in Pirates (1986). Fourth row: Maureen O’Hara as Prudence ‘Spitfire’ Stevens in Against All Flags (1952); Laird Cregar as Sir Henry Morgan in The Black Swan (1942); Kevin Kline as the Pirate King in The Pirates of Penzance (1983); Graham Chapman as Yellowbeard (1983).

Tomorrow be the big day, belike!

Aye, Friday: the day we’ve been waiting for all year, International Talk Like A Pirate Day! Polish your hooks and sand your peg legs! If you are anywhere near Latrobe, Pennsylvania, set a course for The Art Center (819 Ligonier Street) where I’ll talk about illustrating pirates Friday evening from 6:30 – 8:30. If you miss it, I’ll be at The Art Center again Saturday morning 10:00 – noon.

To celebrate the big day, here is an illustration from P is for Pirate—a theater full of movie pirates. They range from freebooters of Hollywood’s Silent Era to today’s swashbuckling sea dogs.

How many can you name? I’ll post the answers tomorrow, by the powers!

MoviePirates

Westmoreland Arts & Heritage Festival this weekend

I’ll be here drawing caricatures Thursday, Friday, Saturday and maybe Sunday.

Here’s Charlie

Twenty-fourteen is a big year here in Oil City, Pennsylvania. It was 100 years ago, just a couple of doors up from my studio address, that Charlie Chaplin signed his first movie deal with Mack Sennett. Charlie was performing at the Lyric Theater with Fred Karno’s comedy troupe and met Sennett in between acts to sign the contract. Here’s a detailed account of Charlie’s early career.

I was approached by the Friends of the Library to create a stand-alone cut-out of Charlie. They wanted him big—8 feet tall. I went over to the library to see where Charlie would be installed and discovered that there is not very much floor space but there is ample height—the main floor’s ceiling is about 16 feet high. I scrapped the drawing I’d done of Charlie standing and drew Charlie suspended, using his cane as a hook. I think this pose fits his acrobatic style.

I enlarged my drawing onto pieces of foam board. The project is 3 ply, so that I could paint front & back without it warping. His arm has a center of plywood and his cane itself is 3 pieces of plywood laminated together, since it supports the whole piece.

He is painted with acrylic in black & white, of course!

hangingcharlie.front

Hannah

I did a caricature of our neighbor, Hannah.  Here’s the sketch, and painting in progress.

Bring me the head of Johann Sebastian Bach

2bach

Awhile back, Ann Mason—then-exec-director of the Renaissance & Baroque Society of Pittsburgh—and I thought it would be screamingly funny to create a promotional bobblehead of the august Baroque composer Johann Sebastian Bach.  And, by George, we were right—it is funny!

Here’s what I envisioned:

bach

One of the rbsp board members, Joy Troetschel, has some expertise in getting merchandise manufactured, and knew of a bobblehead factory in China who could produce our little statuette.  What follows are some images from the correspondence I shared with the talented sculptors who created a brilliant little 3D clay caricature of Bach from the sketches I sent.

Bach Head Clay 1

Bach Head Clay 2

Bach Head Clay 3

Bach Head Clay 4

Bach Body Clay 6

And here’s the prototype.  They even airbrushed a nice 5 o’clock shadow onto JSB’s cheeks!

Bach Colour Revision 3

If you’d like one of these timeless treasures, visit the rbsp website—they’re modestly priced and benefit the Society.