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Patrick (Sundog) Sharp
Last Visit: 7 hours ago
Ars longa; vita brevis
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PERFORMANCE PROFILE, CRITIQUE, LESSON PLAN, SKILL-TRAINING PROGRAM - all levels - by private consultation . . . er . . . maybe. But first you must pass THREE tests! Haha! _______________________________________________
Above: Preliminary sketches for an "octopus" version of Amoebos. _________________________________________________________________________________________________________
Cartooning and Sequential Art: Yes, I've done it again, haven't I? Looks that way. Like Captain Kirk, who changed the parameters of the Kobiashi Maru program to avoid the "inevitable" unacceptable outcome, I've done the same with Sequential Art practice by including with it cartooning. This way I can, in a sense, avoid sequential art. I say, in a sense, because the object is not to avoid it entirely, but engage it in moderation - that is to ease into it, the unknown, from cartooning, the known (relatively speaking). Sneaky, eh?
So, while I haven't been keeping a good pace doing strictly sequential art exercises, everything I've been doing does aim in that direction and supports the goal. And what have I been doing?
To begin, I focused on developing characters and composing panels. The key to panel composition, we discovered, is the choreography. And the key to choreography is gesture. Now, gesture became the focus of the various manifestations of the character, Amoebos, whom this week alone has taken the body of crocodile, salamander and, most recently, octopus. Part-in-parcel with gesture comes anatomy, personality, and interpersonal/social behavior. And that rounds out the current loop within which I find myself operating.
For example, doing the daily exercise that is my warm up, I use reference for animals, instead of human beings. This affords opportunity to study the gesture, anatomy and behavior of my non-human character (Amoebos). I also watch youtube videos on various species to deepen my knowledge of them. Fact is sometimes stranger than fiction.
After that I may begin drawing scenes in which the characters interact. I find poses that express the basic attitudes of the characters and I choreograph interactions that demonstrate their relationships - how they stand next to each other, how they touch and hold each other, and react to each other. I look for what is typical for them.
After that I may go for gags, short sequences of interaction, or dramatic scenes. But, I won't wander far down that road, until I resolve conflicts and issues at the beginning. Issues like Amoboes's base form, which continues to shift. I could ignore the shifting, except that I believe it is purposeful. It seems that as soon as I overcome technical issues with one base form, another takes its place. And this one is more challenging than the last. The new one better approaches the original idea for the character, which is a critical point to consider. So, while I may think I've worked out the character well enough, the character itself challenges me to press on. Don't settle for good enough. Hit the mark. Who am I to say "no" ?
So, having advanced the character development to the new iteration, a new body, I repeat all the previous troubleshooting steps for how to visualize, construct, and draw that body - how to pose it, how to find its expressive rhythms, how to simplify it. In short, how to animate it. In the process I must sharpen my drawing skills in all areas, so, not only does one give birth to and nurture his characters, the characters give birth to and nurture the artist-creator. I am confident that the focus of this spiral process will move along to sequential art proper once the foundation is solidly in place. I mean, where else can it go?
Legs-ercise: After cycling for a week and a half the peripheral swelling in legs and feet is considerably reduced. There is less volume and less frequency of occurrence and duration. Been doing it daily for about a half hour, weather permitting. Every time I went out, except the last time, increased the difficulty by adding inclines and small hills. By yesterday I thought it prudent to reduce the effort to avoid overtaxing myself. I think this coming week I'll start chipping away at the more challenging hills and the long course. Meaning I'm moving up the time table to get all the piddly-shit out of the way, so that I can begin the assault on Moby Dick in June.
Otherwise, I've been very slow in getting back to exercise. My body doesn't turn on in the morning. I don't start the clamshells in bed under the covers and I don't strap on the the therabands to exercise while making breakfast. All I've been doing, instead, are towel-slides - because these things are so much fun. LOL I replaced the old small towel with one of standard size, accommodating a wide stance, so making the exercise more difficult. My stance now covers four kitchen floor tiles instead of three. So it's like doing a real horse stance, not the crippled-guy version of it. And I'm amazed that I do it now unsupported without losing balance and without sticking points. It's just one smooth gliding step this way and the same in return. Sometimes it feels as if I'm ice-skating. My left hip lateral strength is much improved, as evidenced by the muscle that now starts to fill the hollow above the hip bone. It's not enough to raise the leg sideways very high - doing a slow motion yoko keage (side high kick) it gets the foot edge to six inches above ground. Going fast and swinging, it can go two feet.
The hip flexion seem to be performed by only one muscle, the rectus femoris. I still can't see any sign of anything else, like the tensor lata fascia. On my right leg the TLF stands out almost as big as a standard size rubber ball. On my left there is only the V shaped tip where the RF meets the anterior superior iliac spine (aka, ASIS). This has been getting bigger and stronger without changing shape, so I don't think it's a matter of another muscle, like the TLF, growing next to it. I think it's just hypertrophy, but time will tell. Maybe at some point I can get an ultrasound to see what's going on there.
The one muscle of the hamstrings that works is likely the semimembranosus, as I have said all along. The semitendinosus gives no sign of activity and the biceps femoris is definitely atrophied. A lot of the "mush" that used to hang off the back of the leg was, I think, simply reabsorbed by the body. That's why it's not hanging there anymore - not because it firmed up, but because it simply no longer exists. The thigh girth would bear it out.
All in all the left leg is getting stronger, but it's nowhere near what it used to be. When driving the car, I still can't hover my left foot over the clutch pedal without touching it. I used to do this without failing just as a fun exercise. When lying on my back with knees up, I can't extend my leg to the sky. I can't even get to 90 degrees (right angle with calf parallel to the ground). I can barely do it with the right leg. Oddly, however, when I'm doing martial arts, I can do it with both legs once I'm warmed up (well, sometimes).
Legsercise Equipment: I'm seriously looking into the Bowflex Lateral LX-5. Tremendously overpriced with electronic gizmos that no one really needs - even comes with a Samsung tablet, for crying out loud. But it has a marvelous design that engages the lower body as no other machine. The motion is similar to a stepper and elliptical, but it kicks outward, laterally, mimicking the three-ways of action of sprinting off the line and ice-skate racing. The only thing stopping me is not know if my left side is strong enough to actuate the pedals. Really have to try one out before I decide. And forget the in-home trial. The thing is massive and heavy and requires professional assembly. Well . . . we'll see.
Braced for Action: Finally got back the brace, redesigned and with the joints repaired. Apparently Fillauer was putting the wrong ball bearing in its brace knee joints, causing them to jam in mid stride. Fucking morons could have killed me (I was operating a chain saw when my brace jammed - three times!) Finally got the right size bearing. You would think an apology forthcoming, but no chance of that. These guys are unconscious.
With the brace redesigned I'm able at last to wear any regular running shoe, so I can ditch the boxy, awkward diabetic shoes they had me wearing. This is a major improvement. And with nothing conforming to my leg, compressing it, I can wear the brace all day without it stopping the circulation and causing swelling.
I AM an Aluminum Monster: A couple of weeks ago I had a dream in which I was being interviewed for a job by a bunch of Navy officers. I was respectfully subordinate, until I picked up on something one of the officer's said that struck me as incorrect. Checked him on it and he maintained his position, attempting, also, to intimidate me into silence. At that point I switched gears and began interrogating him. A high ranking officer - maybe an admiral - observed as I held his man to account giving him the third degree. He noted in particular how the tables turned when the context shifted from me passively submitting to being interviewed to actively interrogating the officer after discovering an error he made.
The admiral interceded, dismissing the others (there were several of them). Then with just the two of us present he started on a rambling lecture about people who wear diver's (chronograph) watches being a special breed, explaining how they make good executive officers, or executive assistants and suggesting that I fall into that category. At the end of it he said, "you're quite the aluminum monster, aren't you?* The sly look on his face as he said it made me think he had something in mind by way of hiring me.
I woke up thinking "that's an odd thing to say," wondering what "aluminum monster" could possibly mean. Right away my eyes went to the Bulova Marine Star diver's chronograph sitting on my nightstand. I love this watch, which I purchased around the holidays. It replaces a divers watch I got for $5 bucks (battery included) at a flea market. When that one broke I went without for at least ten years, until I finally found another one that spoke to me. (This one cost much more than the other, but in terms of emotional value the two feel the same. It's not about money.)
It took a day or two of meditating to hit upon an emotionally relevant interpretation for the statement and the label. My intellect kept brushing aside the connection to the Marine Star, because it's stainless steel, not aluminum. But then I relaxed the strict filters and let the associations flow. Aluminum - indeed! Strong, ductile, malleable, incorruptible . . . so many positive qualities amounting to "flexible strength." Flexible strength, I like that. And "monster" ? What is a monster? Well, the connotative meaning is quite negative: ugly, huge, evil, etc. But what of the denotative meaning? It indicates one of a kind. A freak, aberration, or what one may call a categorical error - that is to say a unique occurance, such as a mutation. That's all it means - unique. Really, really, unique. haha!
A monster is any creature, usually found in legends or horror fiction, that is often hideous and may produce fear or physical harm by its appearance and/or its actions. The word "monster" derives from Latin monstrum, an aberrant occurrence, usually biological, that was taken as a sign that something was wrong within the natural order. The word usually connotes something wrong or evil; a monster is generally morally objectionable, physically or psychologically hideous, and/or a freak of nature. It can also be applied figuratively to a person with similar characteristics like a greedy person or a person who does horrible things. However, the root of 'monstrum' is 'monere'—which does not only mean to warn, but also to instruct, and forms the basis of the modern English demonstrate. Thus, the monster is also a sign or instruction. This benign interpretation was proposed by Saint Augustine, who did not see the monster as inherently evil, but as part of the natural design of the world, a kind-of deliberate category error.
So, in terms of the dream situation, maybe it means something like unique and scary - or scary good at getting to the bottom of things, accepting no excuses -not even from those in authority - that is holding authority accountable and speaking truth to power.
This makes sense on so many levels, the work place in particular. But in terms of current relevance, aside from wearing a metal and plastic brace, dealing with physical disability by exercise and martial arts - flexible strength, never say die, yadda-yadda - it makes me think about how I may come across to friends here at DA, how it may shock and bewilder them when I deliver a critique, or comment on their training methods. Is this any way to repay all those favs and compliments? It probably feels like an attack, a sucker punch, or simply a cold, callous, possibly abusive way to treat a friend.
I discount friendship when I analyze and evaluate. I separate feelings from intellect and stick to the subject matter, which I address in a circumscribed manner categorically. I don't look to curry favor by flattery. I don't go along to get along. You can tickle my ass from now to forever and when the tables are turned I call it as I see it, plain and simple. It may violate the etiquette of reciprocity, but that's the point - to give honest feedback, not to return strokes. (I deliver strokes separately according to the merits.) As Diogenes said, "Some dogs bite their enemies; I bite my friends to save them." Don't expect less from an aluminum monster. And have no doubt that's what I am. So, grow up. Get over yourself. Stop blaming the monster and start using it for what it's worth. . . . Be the monster. _____________________________________________________
NOTES: * While the fellow said "aluminum" as it is pronounced in American and Canadian English, my personal preference is for "aluminium" which is how the English and the rest of the world says it. After researching aluminum I was reminded of the song "Titanium". Titanium is similar to Aluminium, the song reflects ideas culled from the dream. Here is the original hit version of Titanium along with another version. I post both because depending on my mood, I can't decide which I like better.
Struck a rapport with discussing art, training, the importance of gesture, etc. He's been drawing a long time and recently buckled down to make it a profession. Nice fellow and new to DA, so, why not say hello and show the love? _______________________________________________________
14 MAY 2019 SUPPLEMENTAL:
Five and a half minutes into this presentation you're asked to participate in a demonstration of optical illusion. If you've never experienced this one, it will blow your mind. I'm a Psychologist and an artist, so familiar with the playgrounds of psychophysics. However, I'd not before experienced this effect this way. It's worth taking the time. (I refer to the two desserts - you'll know what that means if you watch.)
In 1969, at age fifteen, while still recovering from the last in a series of operations on my leg for post-polio effects, I got my mother to drive me to CHARLTON Publishing Co. in Derby, Connecticut. There I showed my portfolio to the late George Wildman www.georgewildman.com who offered me an entry-level position. The perks: learn from the best ("on your own time").
This was near the end of Charlton's hay days. They had Giordano, Ditko, Boyette and a bunch of other great guys (like Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez). But my mother said, "No!" (About 35 years later when I asked her why she wasted everyone's time bringing me to the interview if she had no intention of letting me work, she said, "I never imagined anyone would take you seriously." )
After that I got into wrestling and martial arts, motorcycles and girls, continued my education through graduate school, then started work in a "serious" profession. Nevertheless; in the mid 80s, I took a half-time position so I could write fiction and do a full time stint at The Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts and Fleischer Art Memorial. But, when push came to shove, I returned full time to Human Service and Psychology.
Some years back, I wiped the slate clean and decided to start over - to pick up where I'd left off as a teenager - to do graphic novels, or bust. That's where I am, now - BUSTED. . . BIG TIME! Nowhere to go from here, except up! _______________________________________________________________________
Current Residence: Mt. Effort, (What an appropriate name!) Pennsylvania deviantWEAR sizing preference: Loose, so, large Favourite style of art: Scientific Illustration, Comic Book Illo, Genre Fiction Writing, Technical Writing Personal Quote: 'From my weakness I drew strength that never left me.' - paraphrased from Borges