Friday, July 31, 2009


Giant seed pods are modifying the people of Santa Mira (for the Illustration Friday prompt modify). The worst horrror of the film comes when noone will believe the hero when he tells his story. Thanks to Terry for the idea. Kevin McCarthy resembles the young Kiefer Sutherland from some angles. 

So speaking of KS...I realized I'm in charge here, and I could do a version of my all-time favorite movie, set in another California town...

Conclusion to Dark Passage on Monday, promise. The usual art rumination is coming up on Saturday, and I have some good links for Sunday.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Dark Passage #5

Victor struggles with the blackmailer Baker. The original fight scene was shot under the Golden Gate Bridge at Fort Point, the same location as was used in Vertigo. In Vertigo, Kim Novak ends up in the water (not really there). Here, Baker ends up on the rocks below (which are there). Another interesting scene, in that Victor apparently flings Baker up into the air and over the cliff by sort of grunting or something...I couldn't figure out the technique. I have one more scene from this film which I have yet to shoot, so it may air next week.

Edit: Oh, forgot to say about the finale - the murderer revealed!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Kate's project

Over on this disordered life, Kate has provided a background to spur variations in treatment. 

If you'd like to play, go to this post to pick up your copy.

Dark Passage #4

Victor keeps trying to leave Irene so she won't be involved in his problems, first when he gets his plastic surgery - but his best friend gets murdered. After the bandages come off, he sets out again. I usually desaturate the figures, but I left the blue morning light in this one. Eventually he gets to a diner, but never gets to eat his bacon and eggs.
Films will be continuing into August, I remembered The Third Man and spent about an hour last night on Joseph Cotton's clothes - the Criterion restoration lets you see every tweedy nub.

Edit: I had to link to this . I found it hysterically funny, but I don't know if anyone who is not a visual person will see it that way.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Comment Moderation

A certain spammer from, I suspect, Taiwan, has now gamed the system to leave multiple comments at one push of a button. Probably locking the barn door after the horse has bolted, but will now be moderating comments for awhile.

Dark Passage #3

This photo was taken at the foot of the Filbert Street steps. The frame is meant to dsuggest the view of the Bay one would have from Irene's apartment. 

After Vincent (Bogart) collapses after ringing her door buzzer, she hoists him into the elevator and onto a couch in her apartment. He revives to find her facing him, impeccably groomed. "You were no featherweight" she tells him. Thing is, you pretty much believe in her superpowers - she is just so magnificently poised. She proceeds to bring him breakfast in bed for two weeks before removing his bandages. 

Question: Why do women even bother to have hair after Bacall?

A word on the process: it's much easier to get a resemblance with people I like - Bacall was relatively easy to draw, while Tippi Hedren, who seems sort of absent to me, I drew over and over and never quite nailed it. Tom Waits, the absolute easiest.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Dark Passage #2

Here you see Humphrey Bogart climbing the Filbert Street steps. He has just encountered the first two of a trio of fairytale characters, the first being a lonely cabbie who identifies him as a convicted killer and drives him to a plastic surgeon. Now THIS guy, the plastic surgeon, looks like a wierd little gnome who lives in a tree. He laughs way too much and only charges $200 for the 90-minute treatment he invented which caused him to get thrown out of the A.M.A.

This is the wooden path up to Irene Jansen's apartment in the art deco building, which runs beside the Marchant Gardens now. It was a trash-filled area  between the cottages on either side until Grace Marchant moved there in 1949 and built a beautiful hillside garden. After she died, others took up its maintenance. There are more photos and history of this beautiful enterprise here.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Does this count?

Maybe not actually inspiring...more like two ideas careening around inside the bone theatre of my brain and falling into an inebriated embrace like drunken long-lost brothers: 

this quote, said about Lord Rochester by his friend Etheridge 

"I know he is a devil, but he had something of the angel yet undefac'd in him"

and this song, by Shane Mac Gowan and the Popes (after he told the Pogues to eff off).

For those who like things a little more rational, Dark Passage returns tomorrow.

Edit: Just in (after I posted the the photo woooohoooo) , J.T. Steiny is back posting at Dog a Day 

Summercat 2

Here is a revised version of the cat in the summer sun, now a t-shirt on redbubble, where there is a 15% off sale through Thursday (hectoring button to appear shortly in sidebar). I was advised by two trusted associates (discreetly, via email) that my drawing on the first cat was possibly a little TOO loose, and have corrected the dubious area. 

I may post something a bit later, since I'm not sure that a commercial break constitutes inspiration. Alices have not been out and about so much this last week, and so more are flying across borders this Monday. 

Friday, July 24, 2009

Glimmer/ Links!

As soon as we put something into words, we devalue it in a strange way. We think we have plunged into the depths of the abyss, and when we return to the surface the drop of water on our pale fingertips no longer resembles the sea from which it comes. We delude ourselves that we have discovered a wonderful treasure trove, and when we return to the light of day we find that we have brought back only false stories and shards of glass; and yet the treasure goes on glimmering in the dark, unaltered.
     - Maeterlinck, The Treasure of the Humble

This is a companion quote to the Yeats quote of last week. It is the epigraph to Robert Musil's Young Torless, an important although not a very agreeable book.

Related (and highly recommended for luminous beauty) links are:

At the beginning, very appropriately on the aleph blog, a post with a lovely aphorism  about the moment before plunging into the depths.

Afterward, looking back, a post on a room of one's own blog.

I love triangulations in the ether.


What is as idle (IllustrationFriday prompt) as a cat in the summer sun? Inspired by this cat on Spiritcloth.

Thursday, July 23, 2009


In the window of my favorite store on Grant Avenue, Aria. This reminds me of the old song "Stuck in the Middle". The owner is irascible unless you are an artist, in which case he may shower free collage materials on you. I think it's open for about 15 minutes each week. The photo was taken on the same trip the previous one was shot. North Beach on a Sunday morning is wonderful, I am racking my brain for excuses to go over there again.

Dark Passage #1

Lauren Bacall still seems startlingly modern when she appears on the screen in this odd film. She is standing in front of the apartment building she lives in at Filbert and Montgomery in San Francisco. The film is the story of a man who breaks out of prison, having been unjustly accused of his wife's murder. We don't see his face, although he has Humphrey Bogart's voice. Irene Jansen, the Bacall character, picks him up near San Quentin and hides him in her ritzy digs because she thinks he "got a raw deal". This is only the first of many preposterous goings-on.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

North by Northwest #3

Thirsty work, climbing around Mount Rushmore. The strangest moment in the film is when the Cary Grant character says to the Martin Landau character "Help us".  It's weirdly outside the rules of the genre, and passes pretty quickly as Landau plays out the part of Smithers to James Mason's Mr. Burns.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

North by Northwest #2

Photograph taken on a mailbox on Mira Vista in Oakland. 


Here's a piece I made a few years back, a priestess sort of thing, from a doll body with a baby bootie with fake pearls sewed on top (to show she was having visions). I couldn't get her little tiny feet to make the contact I desired with the framework holding her up, so I ended up becoming frustrated and just wrapping a bunch of wire around the bottom, which I thought looked sort of interesting anyway. In the comments book I left at the show, somebody wrote about the theme of imprisonment in my work and hoped I felt better soon. 

Another scene from North by Northwest later today.

Monday, July 20, 2009

North by Northwest

It's the economy! 

We be sorry consumers now, you bet.

This is a second version of one I posted earlier, I have two North by Northwests to come. 

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Blackberries and Links

Photo of blackberries to go into a pie to bribe the neighbors with - which Hitchcock movie requires the cooperation of neighbors with facing apartments? The collecting of blackberries is a very, very small heroic enterprise, involving war wounds, spoils of victory and of course, the acknowledgement of one's own limitations, the perfect berry just out of reach. But enough folderol...


Outsider environments is a respectful, studious attempt to unearth beauties made by unknown artists, frequently people who had an outburst of creativity after retiring and who left their surroundings marvellously changed. The quiet, conscientious editorial tone of this blog is quite moving. It makes me think of Elegy in a Country Churchyard.

Travels in the Floating Elvis has some wonderfully visual poems.

Terrible Yellow Eyes is a blog for people who can't stand to wait another minute for the "Where the Wild Things Are" film to come out. 

Ubiquitous Alice

Starting furthest from Oakland, here is Alice in Tehran, where she has acquired an extremely dubious looking boyfriend on the Parisa Mahmoudi blog.
Here is Alice in Berlin, where she was taken for a visit to the Charlottenburg Palace, courtesy of her tour guide at Gerdiary.
Finally (for today), here is Alice in Cumbria, while accompanying the estimable Tony at Bench .

I will post later today with some links to a couple of blogs which I find inspirational.

Saturday, July 18, 2009


Not the best photo in the world, but after I took it I realized it corresponded to a verse I return to again and again:

I must lie down where all the ladders start
In the foul rag and bone shop of the heart.
            - from The Circus Animals' Desertion, William Butler Yeats

The enterprise of art-making is heroic and clownish together, in the sense that final transformation eludes us, and what we end with are more or less interesting failures, or approaches to what remains out of reach. There are other verses which describe the same process which I will be posting on Saturdays for awhile as I find the images that go with them. 

What are your touchstones?

Edit: This is not a sculpture - it's just stuff piled on a roof in the miniature village which is the Antiques Centre.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Please don't tell my landlord!

...controlled burn conditions existed, with plenty of water on hand, really. The illustration friday prompt is Tango. Based on a photo of Rudolf Valentino with a partner.

"Forget it, Jake...'s Chinatown". Would somebody please explain this to me? Cause, it's not Chinatown at all,  it's the John Huston character causing all the trouble. "Chinatown" is possibly meant to symbolize a complex place in which Jake Gittes is an innocent/foreigner, but the phrase does not work as irony.  Are you simply meant to cross out "Chinatown" and substitute "Los Angeles"? What am I complaining about? It just seems that the defining phrase of the film doesn't actually contain any meaning, it just sounds wicked cool. But feel free to disagree with me.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Receiver Gallery

This is a photograph I took last weekend at Receiver Gallery in the Mission district. The work is by Sarah Applebaum. I found the translucent yetis really charming, and I pretty much stood over the gallery attendant until she had called up grrl+dog on the internets and LOOKED (I get enthused). They were just getting started with adding to the murals in the back alley when I got there. Looking at this (below) again, I think this might have influenced my nature boy. I believe the artist is Kyle Ranson.

The Birds

Some days are duck soup, and some days you get nibbled to death by ducks. Thanks to D. for suggesting this film.

What a strange film this is - it could almost be called "Tippi Hedren's hair gets mussed", as the state of her coiffure is a recurring plot point, and her ultimate loss of poise the most dramatic incident in the film. The shrieking seagulls sound as if bags full of cats are being shaken around. The mother of the well-chinned hero looks just like Tippi, except in grey instead of green (get it?). There is no particular relief of tension at the end - the outline's of Stephen King's story the Mist is visible in this film, the idea of monsters visited on ordinary daylight life.

Of course, Stephen King is concerned with monsters, where Hitchcock seems to be about anxiety - people being trapped by their fears or lack of understanding. Any thoughts about this film?

Photo taken at Oakland's Lake Merritt

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Nature Boy/Process

You...You said,
"There are many truths,
But they are not parts of a truth."
Then the tree, at night, began to change,
Smoking through green and smoking blue.
                  -On the Road Home, Wallace Stevens
                   (misquoted earlier today on SpiritCloth)

Drawn last night while spinning (figuratively), I have been working on more Alice things (with a view to making a print on demand book) but want to abstract or extrapolate from the original and am in a holding pattern. Curse you, negative capability.

Some temporary art

Here is an image made by j of waiting room aquarium (she has been busy with school but will be back posting at some point). She enjoys working with words. Below are a couple of goofy ones I made of them was just glueing eyes on a great lump of turf in a wheelbarrow to make a troll, you may have to click/blow it up to see the eyes. Anyway, I'm hoping some readers who aren't participating in the Travelling Alice project will take up the gauntlet  (see yesterday's post) on this one. Another scene from Hitchcock tomorrow - watch out for those beaks!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

North Beach Denizen

Here's my version of Jack Kerouac in the alley (renamed Jack Kerouac Alley) by historic watering spot Vesuvio's. This post is dedicated to the comical, tragical, restlessly inventive Caio Fernandes of Mein Welt, who makes the blogosphere a much livelier place. 
   I had noticed that one blog had mentioned this one as a gathering place for artists: it would be wonderful to do that more deliberately, to make it a resource for inspiration, so that if visual people need an creative boost this would be a reliable source. I am mulling over having Sunday be a gallery day - so I will continue to show Alices on that day, but I would also like to engage people who draw. What I'm thinking of is temporary urban stuff - drawing or collaging on sidewalks or walls (not to the point of getting arrested or anything). I'll post some examples tomorrow. I may also post photos from art events or galleries which seem inspiring to me on that day .  Okay, many more thoughts but I'm going to stop there. Below is a photo of the wall of Vesuvio's, it's where you can see the tourist taking a picture of the flower basket in the top photo.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Not Michael Jackson!

Why do sad songs make us happy? Although now I can never listen to a ballad like this without thinking of the protagonist of "About a Boy", driving around in his expensive car listening to songs on the radio and "wallowing in unearned emotion". Downtown Train, it's a great song anyway. And I like that Kabuki monkey dance he does . This post is dedicated to Yvette.

Oh, also , Tom Waits is supposed to play the Devil in a new Terry Gilliam film - if, of course, the Gilliam curse is resolved to the point it actually gets made. He seems more like a teddy bear than a devil to me, though.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Nother ?

Blinding revelation or occlusion of vision? So hard to know, and sometimes it's both together.Is this what Buddha meant by the middle way?  Not finished with the questions, evidently. 

Anyway, some windows it's better to fall out of with confetti in your hair. If you know who I am paraphrasing, you know who'll you see in paper form here tomorrow. 

I was in San Francisco again and bought a cannoli at Victoria Pastry. It was yummy. Don't you wish you'd been there? More San Francisco photos later this week.

Alice in New Hampshire

Here is an Alice in New Hampshire, placed and photographed by Cole Scott,  husband of California Girl, the proprietor of the Empty Nest Evolution blog, which also links to Theme Thursday's Ghosts theme if you are in the mood for chills.  Alice also continues to tour Cleveland, thanks to mouse of mouse medicine. For large scale non-Alice hijinks, see the completed knitup project in Australia at grrl+dog

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Deep Air

Wonderful vistas one sees when carried by an idea...vanishing cloud castles. 

Friday, July 10, 2009

Vertigo: Hollow Dreams

The last scene I am doing for Vertigo...Scotty goes on, of course, to try to duplicate the doll-like, barely present Madeleine. Why is it that we human beings (and I include myself) will, if we do something that doesn't work, simply repeat the first mistake only trying harder? 

Edit for further consideration:
The fool who persists in his folly will become wise
               - William Blake

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Vertigo: taking a dip

This is from the day I started out to get to the famous spot under the Bridge, but my feet got I substituted another San Francisco Landmark which appears in Vertigo, the Palace of Fine Arts. One more scene from Vertigo to go -

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

I'm ready for my closeup, Mr. DeMille

Um, so...hope I didn't torment you all too much. It's Sunset Boulevard. What a strange story...the younger man, William Holden, is disgusted with life and seemingly incapable of carving out a place for himself, while the older woman has an almost demonic liveliness (as well as all that moolah). I had forgotten that at the beginning of the film, the Holden character walks in the funeral arrangements for Norma's pet chimp - bring anyone to mind?

Link to last scene


Okay, I've pulled the camera back and filled in some details....I will post the big picture in 6 hours. Actor's initials, anyone (this is not Vertigo, by the way)?

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Question#4: Who is this?

If you can tell, initials only in the comments so it's a surprise for other people tomorrow. And no famous lines, kay?

More sedate blogging pace resumes tomorrow.

Question # 3:When is a wall not a wall?

Answer: When it opens an eye . This is a little masterpiece made of recycled bricks near where I live (just so you know it's not ALL abandoned couches).

Sometimes the the surround feels dense, opaque and unyielding, sometimes everything seems to fall into place.

...It is there, being imperfect, and with these things
And erudite in happiness, with nothing learned,
That we are joyously ourselves and we think

Without the labor of thought, in that element,
And we feel, in a way apart, for a moment, as if
There was a bright
scienza outside of ourselves,

A gaiety that is being, not merely knowing.
The will to be and to be total in belief,
Provoking a laughter, an agreement, by surprise.

      - Excerpt from Of Bright & Blue Birds & the Gala Sun, Wallace Stevens

Ancestral blog post on airform archives 
Related post from today (with music) on totalfeckineejit
Oh, and it's an excuse to link to drawing rings around the world
I have one more question, more specific, planned for later.

Question #2: Why this Strange Sense of Disappointment?

Why does Bosco seem to have a strange sense of disappointment when the little children shrieking in the distance do not materialize into an actual threat? 

Question # 1: Rose or Peach?

Does a rose this color really smell like a peach, or is it synesthesia?

Do the drummers in black hoods rumble anything out of their drums?

Questions all day today. If you are asking a question on your blog today, I will post the question with a link to your blog below in this first post if you let me know in the comments that you'd like me to do that. Next question here in a couple of hours.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Vertigo: Infinite regression

Johnny watches Madeleine (who is not Madeleine) watching the gravestone of Carlotta. The casting of Kim Novak, whose shoulders seem about twice as wide as Stewart's, in the part of someone who is presented as ethereal is certainly piquant. I have the experience while drawing things of understanding them differently, and it did seem that it was almost as if the suit were walking around by itself, silvery and exquisitely tasteful.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Two Alices

Here you see Alice in Graulhet, France. It was a few days before the weather cooled sufficiently for Alice to take a stroll in the fields. Alice's hostess talks about the writer's life (with stunning photgraphic accompaniment) in Graulhet on the blog A writer's notebook

And here is Alice again, in Cleveland Ohio, looking around at city life, given a tour by mouse at mousemedicine. There is a set of eight on Flickr. Mouse is one of the most generous bloggers  around, constantly striving to understand and show more of the world.

I am feeling much better today.