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It is truly spring, and the flowers are bursting into bloom full-force everywhere here in Brooklyn! There is a lot to write about, but alas, my enjoyment of the flowers impinges my ability to talk about them. Therefore, as a stand-in for a meaningful post about aesthetics or botany, here is a gallery of crazy flower-mascot costumes.
They are hilarious and colorful and they speak to the universal love we all share for flowers (and people in silly costumes). Which one would you choose for yourself? I would want to be the sunflower maybe…or the flower turnip? There are a lot of good choices here, frankly. Get ready for some more flower posts soon and get outside and enjoy spring (or uh, autumn in the southern hemisphere…or eternal paradisiacal beauty in the tropics)!
I have been working on a flatfish themed art project! There will be more to announce soon and great fanfare: I promise. However, for now, to tease the wonders that are to come, here are a number of small flatfish artworks that I have been making at lunch and on the train and during similar spare moments. Wordpress hates me with undying vehemence (which is to say, if I label a picture with its name, their program drags it off-center and makes it look ugly), so I am going to write the name in the body of the tex beneath each little fish, and write a short blurb. Please, please let me know what you think, even if it is a one word assessment and I will keep working on my big presentation! Oh–the picture at the top is: Bongo Flounder (Wayne Ferrebee, 2016, colored pencil and ink on paper) it depicts a bongo turning into a flounder through the auspices of the horned god. A baffled yokel hunter watches in astonishment. Morphing animals are a big problem for me (sigh), so this image has deep personal meaning.
Baterpillar fluke (Wayne Ferrebee, 2016, colored pencil and ink on paper): A Sumerian walking at night sees a mystical fluke surrounded by nocturnal garden creatures.
Arcane Flounder (Wayne Ferrebee, 2016, colored pencil and ink on paper): An Armenian mystic walking at night contemplates the intricacies of a magical flatfish surrounded by arcane creatures.
BustaFlounder (Wayne Ferrebee, 2016, colored pencil and ink on paper): a flounder parties too hard and is forced to re-live the disgraces of the 1980s New York art scene. A chained mastiff and disappointed prawn look on with weary resignation.
Flatfish in the Night Garden (Wayne Ferrebee, 2016, colored pencil and ink on paper): through the intercession of various ancient deities, a hive of bees is allowed to plleneate at night. The relentless geometrical shape on the shimmering dab’s back indicates that such a work ethic may have inscrutible consequences.
Gnome City Flatfish (Wayne Ferrebee, 2016, colored pencil and ink on paper): A small colorful city is overtaken by a fungal outbreak as winged beings fly by.
Hopefully you have enjoyed this little flounderful gallery. Like I said, get ready for some exciting news (hint, hint: the launch of an ancillary site for Ferrebeekeeper). keep on commenting and i will keep on floundering. Thanks!
Last week I blogged about flatfish. These fascinating benthic predators can be found in oceans worldwide…however my interest in the asymmetric masters of blending in transcends pure ichthyology. I have been busy drawing a series of intricate pen and ink drawings of flatfish for a project. I will show you some of these large drawings one of these days, but I have also been drawing a series of small humorous and surreal flatfish in spare moments…during the commute or lunch break. I am putting these whimsical, comical, and absurd flounders in brightly colored frames for fun.
Here is some of the series:
This flounder seems to have an industrial refinery in Kazakhstan on his belly. In accordance with his landlocked status, strange mythical beasts of Central Asia gambol in the twilight skies around him.
This flounder has Greco-Roman objects around him. The chameleon above his back reminds the viewer of the true nature of flatfish. The strange quadripeds on his back betoken a different age of agrarian labor.
This flounder is at home in the ocean (where he is joined by apparitions and animals which look curiously like molecules or primordial forces. Indeed, Gauss’ Law for electrical fields reminds us of the subtle but ineluctable flux which pervades interactions at all levels.
I have been trying to garner greater commercial interest in flatfish-themed art, and what is of greater commercial interest (and general prurient interest) than pop-superstar Miley Cyrus? The famous singer coos atop a stolid turbot in the midst of an exotic and sensuous garden. A musically literate person can play the musical phrase above the singer for a true multimedia experience. Miley’s cowgirl footwear hint at the true nature of this artwork.
Trailing streamers of ragged blue plasma, a wild eyed flatfish covered in squirming parasites rides a beam of yellow energy over an elongated pink woodchuck ghost. What could be more straightforward?
A radiant orange flounder with the sun in his belly soars above some sort of pumping station or acetylene factory. In the sky above him, an overly eager gundam has fired an air-to-air missile at an endangered crane. Oh no! What will happen next?
A long faced flounder made of stitched together toruses looks down upon a futuristic city of arcologies and bioengineered structures.
Mechanical innovation and the aristocratic southern lifestyle begin to seem increasingly at odds. Predatory animals stock the riverine boundaries. A flying machine whirrs through the heavens.
The flounder at the top of the post–which features fanciful animals gathering around an elegant flounder with a brittle star on its belly is my personal favorite since I drew it with a dip pen–a style of drawing which generally results in the total destruction of the piece with the final stroke of the pen (as a huge blot of ink falls out), however in this rare case that did not happen so you can see some of the linear elegance of the medium. All of these flatfish are created with ink and (generally) colored pencil, by yours truly Wayne Ferrebee in this year 2016 AD. I’ll put up the second batch next week. Thanks for looking and kindly leave any comments!
Ahh mascots…It has been too long since we peaked into the strange representational world of symbolic characters. A mascot is meant to bring good luck…and what could be luckier than a pigeon (which, after all, live virtually everywhere and tend to be in robust health). When it comes to living in a city, no mascot (except maybe the rat or Joan Rivers) could be more appropriate. Therefore here is a little gallery of pigeon mascots. Sadly Samsung has not mastered iridescent monitor technology so you will have to use your imagination to add the glossy feathers and cooing.
This one is by Jamie Sale, who will design a mascot for you if you find him on the internet and properly incentivize him (look the pigeon is drawing mascots!)
I don’t know if it counts, but here is a stunning Louis Lejeune Hood Ornament.
Some of these guys look a little bit like they came from a really dirty episode of “Family Guy”or maybe escaped from mascot jail… but urban birds are a bit gritty so perhaps that is as it should be. At least they gloriously encapsulate pigeon pride
OK, Last week was egg week here at Ferrebeekeeper where we looked at home-made egg-art and astonishing primordial mythology. Unfortunately, due to budget constraints and temporal vicissitudes, egg week only had 4 posts—yet we also need to keep moving on. Today’s post is therefore somewhat egg-themed….even if the real theme is more about the changing nature of language. It is a bridge from past to future—but a humorous one which has eggs at its center.
Here is a story from the late 15th century, when English was changing from Middle English to Modern English. The author, William Caxton, was a merchant, diplomat, and writer…and probably England’s first printer. He wrote this story in 1490 to marvel at how quickly the language was changing (indeed he relates how he can’t understand truly old English which seems like a completely foreign tongue). I have transcribed the story, as best I could, from the Gothic black letter manuscript (try reading some of the beautiful—but incomprehensible–Gothic calligraphy and I think you will appreciate my effort).
The story is a vignette about how language changes, seemingly on its own. This point is particularly poignant to modern readers who don’t speak with quite the same idiom and usage as the upstanding William Caxton! The story is about some merchants from the north who say eggs in the Norse fashion “eggys” as opposed to the South English way of saying it “eyren.” Misunderstanding ensues. It is interesting to note that contemporary English speakers talk about “eggs.” If I went to the C-town and asked for “eyren” they would probably look at me funny (or tell me where to get an iron or Irish whiskey). The Norse word for “eggs” clearly won out over the old Anglo-Saxon word when English went global. Anyway, here is my transcription of the story. Kindly help me out if you can figure it out better and enjoy the eyreny…err…the irony of Caxton’s words:
Fayn wolde I satysfye every man, and so to doo toke an olde boke and redde therin and certaynly the englysshe was so rude and brood that I could not wele understande it.
And altho my lord abbot of Westmynster ded do shewe to me late certain evydences wryton in olde englysshe for to reduce it in to our englysshe now usid.
And certainly it was wrton in suche wyse that it was more lyke to dutche than englysshe.
I could not reduce ne brynge it to be understonden.
And certaynly our language now used Uaryeth ferre from that. Which was used and spoken whan I was borne.
For we englysshe men ken borne under the domynacyon of the mone.
Which is neuer stedfaste, but ever waverynge wexynge one season and waneth & dycreaseth another season
And that comyn englysshe that is spoken in one Shyre varyeth from a nother.
In so moche that in my dayes happened that certayn marchauntes were in a ship in tamyse for to have sayled over the see into zeland
and for lacke of wynde they taryed atte Forrlonth, and wente to lanthe for to refreshe them
And one of them named Sheffelde a mercer cam in to an hous and axed(!!) for mete, and specyally he axyd after eggys.
And the goode wyf answerde that she could speke no frenche.
And the marchant was angry for he also could speak no Frenche but wolde have egges and she understode hym not.
And thenne at laste a nother sayd that he wolde have eyren then the good wyf sayd that she understood hym wel
Loo (?) What sholde a man in thyse dayes now wryte egges or eyren, Certaynly it is harde to playse every man that is in any
reputacyon in his contre. Wyll utter his comynycacyon and maters in suche maners & terms that fewe men shall understonde theym…
Earth Spirit (Wayne Ferrebee, 2016, color pencil and ink)
Here are some more little sketches from my little moleskine sketchbook. The first one is probably my favorite–it shows an angry Tibetan protective spirit surging up from the fecund Earth. Various actinomycetes and spores dance within the rainbow between his hands. The worms, slime mold, and fungi cavort on the ground he springs from.
Art (Wayne Ferrebee, 2016, color pencil and ink)
Industry (Wayne Ferrebee, 2016, color pencil and ink)
Art and Industry are self explanatory–though I wish I had drawn “Art” more beautifully and I wish i had worked harder on “Industry” (particularly that unhappy pig).
NJ Freeway (Wayne Ferrebee, 2016, color pencil and ink)
This is a quick pencil sketch of the freeway in New Jersey which leads to the Lincoln Tunnel. I went out to visit friends in Montclair and had a million problems with the buses. On the way back, I was sitting right behind the driver and looking out the huge picture window he looks through. I could see a whole constellation of cars rushing along ahead of us into the city. I wish this sketch gave a full impression of the scene–but there are a lot of things going on on New Jersey’s highways and they happen pretty fast.
Characters in Space (Wayne Ferrebee, 2016, color pencil and ink)
This is a study for a giant Sumerian space flounder I am drawing in my studio. There is not enough space art, so I am trying to draw more in 2016 (more space art and more in general). Ironically I like the simplified flounder the least of all in this picture, but the simplified mammalian dolphin is ok. As always, thanks for looking and let me know what you think!
As I promised, here are some sketches from my little book which I carry around with me and draw in. The first one, above, is another one of my enigmatic donuts. This one seems to exist in the gloomy darkness of evening. A fire burns on the horizon as a grub-man calls out to a woman with a scientific apparatus. The reindeer seems largely unconcerned, by these human doings. In the picture immediately below, an orchid-like flower blooms by some industrial docks. Inside the pedals it offers rows of cryptic symbols to the viewer.
Here is a quick sketch of Manhattan’s San Gennaro festival. I walked to the corner of the street to draw the lights, wile my roommate got her fortune read by a jocular and likable (yet ingeniously avaricious) fortune teller located in an alcove just to the right of the composition!
I sketched a cornucopia with some invertebrates while I was waiting in line at the post office (there was only one clerk who had to deal with a vast line of Wall Street characters sending elaborate registered packages around the world). It was not an ordeal for me–I had my sketch book, and was getting paid to wait in line! The guy beside me stopped playing with his infernal phone-thingy to watch me draw. Note the multiple mollusks which flourish in the painting. I think the ammonite has real personality
Last is a seasonal composition which I really like (maybe because I used my new brown pen, which thought I had lost). A lovable land whale cavorts among autumn plants as monstrous invaders monopolize a cemetery. For some unknowable reason there is also a bottle gourd. The ghosts and bats are part of the October theme. As ever I appreciate your comments! Also I still have have some sketches (and general observations) from my weekend trip to Kingston, New York.
Today Ferrebeekeeper travels again to the arid scrubland of the Sahal, on the hunt for one of the most ridiculously named inhabitants of all of the earth. Well, actually I should clarify that this creature’s common English name is ridiculous. Its proper Latin name sounds at least fairly proper–Steatomys cuppedius. Steatomys cuppedius is a rodent which lives in the semi-tropical scrubland of Benin, Burkina Faso, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, and Senegal. The little mouse seems to live a life not unlike that of other scrubland mice, but for some reason colonial taxonomists saddled it with the name “dainty fat mouse.”
Perhaps (or maybe I should say “hopefully”) your sense of humor is different from mine, but every time I read that phrase I burst out laughing. I keep imagining a fussy refined mouse sitting amidst chintz and porcelain and scarfing down cucumber sandwiches till it becomes morbidly obese. It could be the subject of a children’s book, except I don’t think children read about things like that (at least not since the death of Roald Dahl).
Anyway, back in the real world, the dainty fat mouse (snicker) is apparently not common—but it lives in inaccessible and inhospitable places and it is not endangered. Perhaps it will have the last laugh. It is also photo-shy. I scoured the internet but I could not find a single photo of Steatomys cuppedius, so, during lunchtime, I broke out my colored pencils and drew my own picture. This illustration may not be zoologically accurate, but it certainly conveys a lot of anxious personality (and maybe speaks to the zeitgeist beyond small rodents of the Sahal). I also drew one of the magnificent alien mud mosques of Timbuktu in the background to give the dainty fat mouse a sense of place!
Today was another day which rushed by! Here are three more sketches from my little book. I doodle these during lunchtime, my commute, and other spare moments so they are not very polished, yet they sometimes attain a robust charm with their spontaneous verve. I particularly like the mysterious haunted landscape above with the sphinx, the red spider, and the vampire (to say nothing of the absurd tragicomic ghost). I keep putting mummies in my pictures: these ancient human remains are a very tangible and fascinating link with our ancient past (but they also are a solemn reminder of mortality). I think of all the characters in the drawing, the worm rising from the pit may have the most personality.
Here is a picture of fireworks drawn from a Williamsburg rooftop as my friends and I watched the East River Fourth of July show (you can see the towers of Midtown there at the bottom). Below is another enigmatic allegorical donut. The snack sits atop a stone crab while a gorgon glowers between two dancing pink shrimp. The entire piece has an elusive votive quality, but its religious overtones are greatly eclipsed by the outright miracles of the last picture.
This final selection shows a flying saint soaring the sky with a large heron. The holy man (an angel with a bowl of broth?) is soaring up to a castle surrounded by a fearsome carnivorous garden. More benign flowers also bloom in the castle garden as the first pink tinges of sunset stain the sky. I imagine he is bringing nourishment to the castle-dwellers, but it is hard to tell exactly. As always, I welcome your comments! Thanks for looking at my little pictures.
I promised a Fourth of July post, but one of my old friends came back to New York for a weekend after a decade abroad, so there was catching up to do (plus eating cherries and watching decorative explosions in the sky) and I missed writing a post. The recollections of erstwhile times reminded me that this blog has changed quite a bit too–we used to feature a lot more posts about turkeys–magnificent American fowl which dominate the poultry-yard, the dinner table, and the month of November, I decided to present a retro-post of patriotic turkeys as a belated Independence celebration–the founders never really meant for Independence to be celebrated on the fourth–so maybe we can respect their wishes with these star-spangled red-white-and-blue birds. Happy July. It doesn’t get better than enjoying some decorative birds in summertime!
Any purists who are tutting disapprovingly about how turkeys should stay in their lane ought to be reassured that I will blog about them plenty when November rolls around. I’m really fond of the big galoots!