This is another one I did
for Save the Chimps I will be posting sketches of many of the Residents of Save
the chimps in the next few months as I will be doing a gallery show with them
this spring and I am currently working on sketches for that show.
This sketch is another one
I recently painted of a resident at SAVE THE CHIMPS. Thoto was a circus chimp
which had all his teeth pulled out as a measure of protection for his handlers
afraid he might bite them. Thoto was eventually sold into medical research and
forced to live in a cage. I instantly fell in love with his face when I saw his
picture and it inspired me to paint him. This beautiful chimp is a perfect
example of the great work that Save the chimps do because poor Thoto was forced
through most of his life as an entertainer and lab experiment but thanks to
save the chimps he was able to live the last ten tears of his life as a chimp.
For a full obituary of
Thoto please go HERE and please consider donating some money in his honor.
Meet Thoto in this clip from YouTube. I was hoping to meet him one day but I am so happy that I could paint his portrait and honor him and save the chimps in this way.
Here are two drawings I did of two chimps that live at SAVE THE CHIMPS in Florida they were displayed prominently and for sale at a recent fundraiser.
The one on the left is DEVON and was sold, the one on the right is JORDAN and
still available. They also took the portrait of Jordan and printed it on T-SHIRT
as another way to raise funds as seen in CHIMP SKETCH OF THE WEEK #27 you can
buy that HERE.
As I write this in the wake of the
worst natural disaster to hit our country in recorded history followed by a nor-easter
adding insult to injury only a week later. I had been without electricity for
twelve days having just got back my lights heat and hot water. Many people I
know are still without any of those things and some might not have them for
weeks. One thing that I will remain with me is to never take what I have for
granted ever again.
On October 28th I went to my parents’ house in
Long beach with my wife and children for brunch to celebrate my 34th
birthday. We knew a hurricane was coming but we never thought it would be as
devastating as it was. Just over 24 hours after I left my parents and headed
inland back to my home, Sandy hit with the force of a monster. 3o foot waves
crashed over the boardwalk and into the street. Long Beach is a barrier island
and that night the bay and the ocean met, so that literally the entire town was
in the Atlantic Ocean. My parents while still in their home, because they
refused to evacuate, found the first floor of their home submerged under four
feet of ocean. Many of my friends lost everything.
I did not know any of this until later in the evening when we
had lost power and cell service was horrible. I finally got hold of my parents
and discovered they were at a friend’s home about 15 miles north of Long Beach
with three other family’s all who had lost their home to Sandy.
The looters started Tuesday morning after the storm at which
point my father asked me to take him home to get his valuables knowing full
well that it would be a while before he would return to live there if ever.
That night I drove with him back to the place in which I grew up. There was not
a single light in sight and even with my brights on it was darker then dark I
did not recognize a thing. Driving down the main road into town I saw cars
parked in strange positions and I quickly realized, they had been moved by the
canals as they rose and submerged the streets. On top of many of those cars
were boats. There were large boats sitting on top of other boats sitting in the
middle of the street. Wires were down everywhere and this is when I realized
the impact of this storm. The town that I grew up in, came of age in, had my
first girlfriend, and went to school it was all destroyed. Driving into town I
saw huge chunks of the boardwalk on people’s lawns military vehicles policing
the streets and the police enforcing a curfew that at that moment I was in
violation of. I was almost arrested for the crime of going home. My neighborhood
was a warzone.
But the worst was when I entered my parents’ home. The place
you grew up in is like a sanctuary to any adult if you are as lucky as me to be
able to go back. But this was not that home. I felt in the pit of my stomach a
fear, at this point whoever was in town was desperate having no running water,
no heat, and no lights I had no idea if there was a stranger or looter in my
house I could not see two feet in front of my face even with the flash lights.
My sanctuary was a grave yard.
In the days that followed Long Island has developed a new
lexicon, with phrases that have entered our daily speech like “Do you have
power?” or “Did you find gas?” There are only a few gas stations that are
pumping gas because so many don’t have electricity. Watching people stand on
line with gas cans in the cold has become the new normal. Waiting in line for only
an hour to get gas has become something to brag about. Gas stations receive
deliveries of gas accompanied by a military escort and there are police at
every gas station. Tempers are running high and people are exhausted by the
predicament that they find themselves in. It is getting colder every day with tempertures
dropping into the 30’s as Sandy was the only thing between Fall and Winter. At
our jobs we congratulate each other when our colleagues receive calls from neighbors
that their power is back on. This is the wealthiest country in the world and we
are congratulating ourselves that our homes have electricity again as if we
live in a third world country. And I find it ironic that we keep waiting for
our power to be turned on because the whole time it is the lack of power that
we all feel because nothing is in our control anymore. But we without power are
the lucky ones, compared to those without homes. We all sit and wait for the
world to return to normal. The best thing we can do is try to regain our
routines, go to work take our kids to school, anything that gets us closer to
I spent the summer doing Plein Air watercolor studies. As mentioned
in a previous post I reloaded my Cottman travel set set to suit my needs and with a
moleskin watercolor notebook and water brush I am able to do these studies as conveniently
as drawing with a pencil.
I fell in love with the Plein Air Painting ideals this
summer and this is something I plan on taking further breaking away from the
comfort of the sketchbook and taking to an easel and extended palette and travel
to paint in open air. Of course here in NY we are headed into our cold season so
this might have to wait until spring.
Below is a sample of some of my favorite studies from the
So I spent the summer
doing watercolors but I needed a quick and easy way to do it.
love my Cotman
watercolor travel set, I bought it while studying in Florence, Italy back in
the summer of 2000 but as I matured as an artist, not all of the colors in the
pallet worked for me anymore. I wanted to use a limited pallet that was more
versatile. After much internet research I found a few articles on how to make
my own watercolor set out of Altoid containers and pill boxes, but at the end
of the day I just could not get rid of my $12 Cotman watercolor set so I
decided to reload it.
I removed all of the
half pans from the box and ordered empty half pans on-line. I also ordered 8ml
tubes of Winsor & Newton watercolor paint. I wrote the name of the color on
the side of the half pan for organizational purposes and for easy reloading of
I filled each empty half pan with
one-third of a tube using a slightly altered limited but extremely versatile
pallet that was introduced to me in graduate school by my professor and great
illustrator William Low.
Warm primary’s: Cadmium
Red Light, Cobalt Blue, Cadmium Yellow
Additional paint: Cobalt Violet, Viridian, Burnt
Ochre, Payne's Gray and White Gouache. As you
can see I simply kept the Burnt Sienna and Yellow Ochre from the original set
I let the paint sit in the half-pans for 48 hours
until dry and then placed them into the travel set.
Now using a basic binder clip I can attach the travel set to
my Moleskin watercolor sketchbook and with a water brush (synthetic brush with
water in the handle) I can now do Plain Air watercolor studies as easily as
sketching with a pencil.
I will post some of my water color studies in the next few weeks.
I did two illustrations about Ayn Rand and her book Atlas Shrugged. First on Wednesday
Eric Johnson and I expanded on our collaboration when we published a piece on the
on-line magazine Slate we then on Friday published a post on the same subject at
the Primate Diaries on Scientific American
The recent death of Neil Armstrong got me thinking mostly
about the romanticism of mans accomplishments and determination. The journey into
space and the landing on the moon was and will always be one of Mans greatest
moments. But lets not forget that it was not only Man that lead to this achievement,
so today as I pay tribute to Armstrong with a portrait I also pay tribute to
HAM as a representative of all of the Chimps that gave their life to science
and assisted in the ultimate landing on the moon. If it were not for these
chimps the only Man to do a moonwalk would have been Michael Jackson.
I logged on to facebook the other day and I saw a post that Pepper the chimp had passed away. Pepper
was born in 1970 and spent her first 27 years in research, first at a Merck,
Sharp & Dohme laboratory, followed by seven years at the Buckshire
Corporation. When she became too strong to control, she was sent to the NYU Laboratory for Experimental Medicine
and Surgery in Primates (LEMSIP). Pepper spent some time in
breeding, but was mostly used for research, including some 307 knockdowns, 36 punch liver biopsies,
one open wedge liver biopsy, six cervical biopsies, 10 lymph node biopsies, and
four bone marrow biopsies. In the lab, Pepper was plagued by fear and anxiety,
and would rather starve herself than face an unpleasant situation. Luckily she
spent the end of her life in Sanctuary at Fauna but unfortunately so many
others do not.
I never met pepper of
course but reading about her in the book The Chimps Fauna Sanctuary make me feel as if
I did. It would be nice if everyone reading this post would go here and make a
small donation to the Fauna Foundation in Peppers honor.
Toby is a chimp living at
the Chimps of Fauna Sanctuary in Canada. No one is sure where Toby
was born but he lived his first 24 years in a zoo in Quebec, taught to act as a
human child, wear clothes and eat with utensils. He still likes to wear
bracelets and sunglasses from time to time but he also shakes his head
continuously as a sign of stress and anxiety. Life for Toby at Fauna is not
always easy being a bit of an outsider due to coming to the sanctuary later
then most and from a different situation. He has had a few altercations with
the other chimps once having a finger bit clean off of his hand.
In Disney Natures Film “Chimpanzee”We Learn Whether Human or Non-Human
Primate Family is King
For me the movie “Chimpanzee” was as
much about the apes in the audience as it was the apes on screen. The movie
follows Oscar, a newly born chimp and his groups day to day activities in their
constant search for food. Oscar is a rambunctious little chimp who is learning every
day from his mother how to tale care of himself. Oscar has an occasional moment
of independence but it will be years before Oscar will be able to fend for
himself. In his group (which is his extended family) there are other children and
their mothers as well as a chimp referred to by the narrator (Tim Allen) as
Grandpa, who is on the cusp of his fiftieth birthday. There is also another
chimp in the group that is singled out, an alpha male named Freddy. As soon as
the movie begins we learn that Freddy is in no way interested in the youth of
the group, as alpha it is his responsibility to patrol the borders of his
territory and groom the other males to keep them in line.
Freddy is busy ensuring the safety of
the nut groves that exist on his territory becosue when in season they provide
a feast for his group. But Scar and his rival group attack and in the process kill
Oscar’s mother; this is where the story really begins. Now alone Oscar is forced to try to
fend for himself but he is too young and without his mother to teach him he is
After being thrown aside by everyone
else in the group, Oscar follows Freddy around to try to learn from him. At first Freddy ignores young Oscar but
then something truly amazing happens, Freddy begins to teach Oscar how to make
tools and how to crack nuts. Freddy begins to share his
food with Oscar, grooms him and then to make the adoption complete, he lets him
ride on his back which is typical of a mother and child but never of an alpha
male. According to Jane Goodall in a recent interview at People.com this almost
never happens that an alpha male will adopt a young chimp and in turn save his
As I sat there in the audience with my
four-year-old daughter on my lap I could not help but think about the parent
child relationship. Being the alpha male of my own small group with my own nut
grove to protect I understood the difficulty of Freddy having to divide his
time teaching and looking out for Oscar while also patrolling his borders and
keeping the rest of the males in line. There is much for a hunter/gatherer to
do in this modern world and parenting is more than just a mother’s job. My daughter sat on my lap and I
comforted her as she cried into my chest with compassion for Oscar. And at the
same time that young Oscar fell asleep in Freddy’s arms, my daughter fell
asleep in mine. I looked up and recognized us in them as the movie screen
completed its transformation from screen to mirror.
I drew this in ink using a nib and brush then added yellow acrylic paint that I smeared into the background using my finger. I will be selling the original drawing on Etsy for $25. if you are the one to buy it you will get two for the price of one because I drew it on the back of a botched etching.
This image was done for an article titled The Allure of the Gay Cavemen at Scientific American. I had fun drawing this in charcoal I first stained the paper with Lipton
tea then went to a primal place respecting early man and their need for visual
communication, in many ways all illustration started with cave paintings and in
many ways all of my work is simply another cave painting.