Saturday, May 21, 2011

A Few Neighborhood Birds

A pair of mourning doves set up a nest in the window across from mine. (This happened last year as well . . . I wonder if it's the same pair?) The lady dove has been sitting on the nest for a month or so but this week is the first time I've seen the chicks. Two. (The other one is tucked away on the other side of the mother.) Photos are before and after.

Also, a starling has set up a nest in the busted-out street lamp on the Astoria Kaufman Studios lot.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Chicago 05.19.11 (The outline of the Vanessa Perplexity)

I've inked in about half of the buildings. Mmm, let's say 45%. I don't want to be too generous to myself.

That blank space in the center of the buildings is a mysterious, tectonic phenomenon called the Vanessa Perplexity. Some sages theorize that this slowly spreading, chasm-like formation is similar--if not related to--the Perpetual Wound which has almost sundered in two the barbaric, windy steppes of the Coarse Lands. A small, exploratory corps from the Knights of the Perpetual Wound has recently arrived in Chicago to begin a preliminary assessment of cause and depths of the Perplexity. The ruling Druids of Chicagoland eagerly await the measured opinion of these brave, spelunking paladins.

(See, this all fits together somehow.)

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Chicago 05.15.11

Chicago is all penciled in now. The drawing is so large it doesn't photograph well with just graphite on the paper. So no updates until now. Just started inking it in. This should go faster than the pencilling. (Hopefully.)

Spent an hour on Google maps virtually walking around my old neighborhoods trying to shake some details loose.

Saturday, May 07, 2011

Prince Haroun, Heir Apparent to the Sovereignty of Nathani.

This afternoon, I made a wee drawing for Haroun. He is the son of my friends Suraiya and Monsur. I wove him into the mythology of Refractoria. Why not, right?

Now. Back to the map.

Friday, May 06, 2011

Chicago 05.05.11

So this map is proving itself to be a toughy. (The photo to the left is just the small portion of the map I've got penciled in--the lower right corner, maybe an eighth of the overall surface of the paper.) There are several reasons for this. Chicago is a city of rigid grids so I want to treat it as such . . . that that's not particularly fun to draw. I want to pull it apart and make is looser, more organic like the street plans of European cities. It is also geographically indelible in my mind. Between walking my dog and riding my bike and catching a ride in a car here and there, I covered thousands of miles in Chicago. There are huge portions of the city that I knew with the kind of intimacy that you can only gain by riding down that street two or three times a day, know the rhythm of the street lights, when to crank to make the light and when to just relax because you'll never make it. There are many streets and locations I want to cover in this map and I'm struggling with "no, that is farther north than this" and "no, Grace runs east and west, not north and south." These are small difficulties, of course, but I'm finding it akin to trying to recite the alphabet backward. Meet a lot of resistance over familiarities. Indianapolis was easier because, well, Indianapolis is a kind of mush of a city. Sure there are some defining streets and a grid and a naming convention of sorts . . . but there were so many sub-divisions and housing tracts filled with curvy street, cul-de-sac and dead ends that the city was easier to pick over.

Another thing? Even though I've been gone for almost seven years now, the memories and emotions of Chicago are still startlingly fresh for me. I'm having to sift through stuff that I'm uneasy or ambivalent about. One of the reasons I left Chicago was because the emotionally water got very cloudy there and it was only in the last two or three years here in NY that the sediment had started to settle in the Chicago wading pool. I'm uneasy about stirring up the silt again . . . but I'm being a pussy. Everything will be fine.

The second photo: I'm using this Richard Horwood's amazing map of London (c. 1800) as the main reference point. I've printed out a small section of the online map and (shoddily and sloppily) taped it together so I have some reference material on hand. (I'm also trying to see if I can sprinkle in some of the 3-d aspects of the Turgot map of Paris (c. 1739) while I'm at it. I'm not sure if the two are compatible just yet. Probably not.) Although I can't know for certain the exact intent of the Horwood map, it seems that many of the buildings seem to sit on or surround small plots of semi-private land. And I love the aspect of open space in these blocks because Chicago--while it is a large city--always had these little slices of privacy (or semi-privacy anyway) you could enjoy. A lot of people had decks in the back of their apartment, some had small front or back lawns; in addition, Chicago is a city of alleys which provide their own (oddly threatening) sense of semi-privacy in a way--I'd often walk my dog for dozens of blocks, sometimes all the way to the lake and back--through alleys just for an opportunity to see the more intimate aspects of people lives. There was something kind of voyeuristic about that and I miss it. Anyway, I think these plots on the map will allow me to explore some of those memories a little more thoroughly.

I think this whole map idea was kicked off about two and half years ago by reading Undaunted Courage by Stephen Ambrose as well as the collected diaries of the Lewis and Clark expedition. It really set off the idea of exploration and mapping in my head. It only took about 18 months for these ideas to manifest themselves somehow. That's a quick brain I've got there, my friends.

Monday, May 02, 2011

Chicago 05.02.11

This drawing--like the last--is going to progress very slowly. So don't expect too many photos.

This is the title of the drawing and a long shot so you can see the size of the drawing. It's 5' x 4' minus a few inches here and there.

Sunday, May 01, 2011

Official Seal: Ministry of Chimaeral Cartography

Archives Dept. Commissioned Under The Unquestioned Sovereign Dominion of the Vast Nonsense. Current Minister: Gilean Prosproffal.

This is the stamp I'm going to have made for all of the maps. The name won't be included as the Ministry turnover is considerable due to the tragic vagaries of The Empress of the Vast Nonsense (aka Queen of Ropes, Her Most Angelic Prevaricator, Mother of Basilisks, etc.)