Category Archives: watercolor

The ‘Lightning Sketch Artist,’ a vaudeville act in the early 1900s

Not long ago, a friend alerted me to Gurney Journey, the website of artist James Gurney, and it has become one of my daily stops on my web rounds.

Gurney comes up with a wide variety of fascinating items, including the video above that shows sometimes about which I was completely unaware: the lightning sketch artist.

The lightning sketch artist was a vaudville act that was highly popular during the turn on the last century, and if you watch this video, you will understand why. This video comes from British Pathe and has been speeded up a little (but not much).

 

Check  all of them out on the GurneyJourney blog:

http://gurneyjourney.blogspot.com/2018/01/1898-film-of-british-lightning-sketch.html

http://gurneyjourney.blogspot.com/2014/02/lightning-sketch-artists-part-1.html

http://gurneyjourney.blogspot.com/2014/02/lightning-sketch-artists-part-2.html

http://gurneyjourney.blogspot.com/2014/02/lightning-sketch-artists-part-3.html

Shadows of Summer – four line and wash drawings

 


These drawings come from a watercolor class that I am taking at the local community college (Pellissippi State) this semester. They were executed in about an hour and a half.

The main point of these drawings was for me to learn something about “hot press” paper. In watercolor there are three kinds of paper: cold press, which is what I am most familiar with; hot press, which I rarely use; and rough, which I do not use at all.

Cold press is a paper that comes in various weights and has a texture that absorbs much of the paint and allows mixing of colors easily. If you are just starting watercolor, cold press is probably what you want to use.

Hot press also comes in various weights, but it has a smooth texture (though not as smooth as Bristol board, which I have use a lot for pen and ink drawings. Hot press paper and watercolor paint have a different relationship than that between cold press and watercolor. Hot press paper general is not as absorbent and paints mix less easily. You are likely to get harder edges to your color than on cold press paper.

The paintings here are “line and wash” because they mix pen and ink and watercolor. In this case, the lines were drawn first, mostly as gesture drawings, and then the color was applied afterward.

The subjects were taken from photographs in Don Honig’s wonderful book of turn-of-the-century baseball photos. Shadows of Summer. This large-format book gives an excellent look at baseball plays, managers, umpires, and even fans in marvelous detail. I have used this book before to practice figure drawing and will undoubtedly do so again.

So, enjoy. Shadows of Summer.

Urban Sketching is among us – so pay attention

People who draw and paint outside the confines of their studio are now known as urban sketchers. In fact, there is a world-wide organization —  a long-standing one, I understand — of Urban Sketchers with a substantial website.

Here’s the Urban Sketchers manifesto:

  1. We draw on location, indoors or out, capturing what we see from direct observation.
  2. Our drawings tell the story of our surroundings, the places we live and where we travel.
  3. Our drawings are a record of time and place.
  4. We are truthful to the scenes we witness.
  5. We use any kind of media and cherish our individual styles.
  6. We support each other and draw together.
  7. We share our drawings online.
  8. We show the world, one drawing at a time.

Manifesto is probably a bit heavy-handed, but we won’t quibble. This organization recently came across my radar, and I joined up (it’s free). There are local chapters just about everywhere, but unfortunately, there’s not one in East Tennessee, where I live. It may be time to start one before long.

Here’s the point: Drawing and painting outside the studio (house, home, apartment, whatever) is a natural activity for an artist and should be viewed as normal in a society where lots and lots of people spent inordinate amounts of time staring at their cellphones. We live in an age where art is devalued and where standards of quality have been blown away by the concept of personal expression.

I have done some “urban sketching” — outside, among people — in the past and want to get started at it again. I spent a couple of summers in Chicago in the late 1990s working for the Chicago Tribune, and I did quite a bit of it there. In fact, on July 4, 1998, I found myself at Wrigley Field watching the game between the Pittsburg Pirates and Chicago Cubs. I had taken some sketching tools with me, and this is what I produced:

As the game was over, and I was finishing up, a guy who was sitting behind me complimented the drawing and said, “I spent more time watching you than I did watching the game.”

That was a compliment worth keeping.

Check out the urban sketching website. You will see some amazing stuff — art produced on-site, on-the-fly. And take a look at CitizenSketcher.com

If you see an urban sketcher, stop and watch for a moment. Observe what he or she does and how it’s done. Ask, politely, to see the work in progress. If appropriate, offer a compliment or some kind of encouragement. Artists want attention and support.

Urban sketching gives you the opportunity of doing that.

Shakespeare’s appearance, Eleanor’s mastery, and Cronkite’s broadcast – plus a new book giveaway: newsletter, March 2, 2018

This newsletter was sent to everyone on Jim’s email list (4,151) on Friday, March 2, 2018.

Hi, 

We left February behind this week and are headed for spring. My reading and browsing have ranged far and wide, so there is a lot to share. Thanks to all who have written to say they enjoy the newsletter and look forward to getting it each week. I appreciate that more than I can say, and I am always delighted to hear from you.

We welcome about 500 or so new readers this week. I hope you newbies will stick around and maybe join in the conversation.

Important: The newsletter usually includes this:

Viewing tip: Click the display images link above if you haven’t done so already.

But that, I am told, has confused some folks, so here’s the point: Make sure that the images in the newsletter are displayed. Some browsers and email programs will display them automatically. For others, you must click on a link to make that happen. However it’s done, please make sure that happens. That’s how we know that you have opened the newsletter, and that’s important. Thanks.

What did Shakespeare look like?

The simple answer is: We don’t know, exactly.

But, of course, it’s more complicated than that. William Shakespeare was born in April 1564; we don’t know the exact date, but we celebrate his birthday on April 26. He died in 1616 at the age of 52. During his lifetime, he achieved some fame and fortune, and it is quite likely that a gentleman of his standing would have commissioned a portrait of himself. If he did, that portrait was not mentioned in his will or by any of his family members and is lost to us today.

BShakespeare-Chandosut we have an idea of his appearance from two sources. One is a half-length statue commissioned by his family and placed in Holy Trinity Church in Stratford-on-Avon, Shakespeare’s hometown, in 1622. The other is an engraving that appeared in the frontispiece of the first published collection of his plays, The First Folio, pirnted in 1622 and published a year later. Both of these would have been seen by people who knew what Shakespeare looked like.

During the next 400 years, six portraits have made some serious claim to represent Shakespeare’s likeness. One, the Chandos portrait (right), is accepted by many but not all scholars as close to genuine. The others have had adherents but are generally dismissed by today’s scholars.

On JPROF.com this week, I have written a piece on what we know about Shakespeare’s appearance and a little about each of the portraits that have made the claim to be genuine. And, just to make life interesting for myself, I produced my own watercolor of Shakespeare. Check it out at the bottom of this newsletter.

Finally, last week I asked if you had a favorite word or phrase that Shakespeare first used or coined. A couple of your chimed in:

Peggy G.: Bravo and Huzzah ( spelling ) So, “Out damned spot” is my favorite Shakespeare quote ( insert your dogs name I place of spot ) 

And from LuAnn R, check out the Best Quote of the Week — a few Shakespearean lines — below.

 

The first Roosevelt America heard after Pearl Harbor

All during the day on Sunday, December 7, 1941 — the day the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor — no serious consideration was given to having the president speak to the nation via radio. Franklin Roosevelt spent the afternoon and evening meeting with government and military officials and working on his address to Congress, a request for a declaration of war that would be delivered the next day.

Across the hall from the Oval Office, Eleanor Roosevelt was preparing to go on the air. She had a regularly scheduled radio program on Sunday evening, and she was rewriting the introduction to that show in light of what had happened at Pearl Harbor.

Both Eleanor and Franklin were masters of radio. Their mastery is well documented in an American Public Radio radio show titled The First Family of Radio. You can hear that show at this post on JPROF.com and find out what Eleanor Roosevelt said to America on the first day of its participation in World War II — and what she did immediately after the broadcast.

 

Inside the making of the greatest dictionary of the English language

When I turned 18 in 1966, just a week or so before I headed off to the University of Tennessee as a freshman journalism major, my sister gave me a copy of Webster’s Seventh New Collegiate Dictionary. It was an incredibly wonderful gift that I used frequently during and after my college days. Today, a half century later, it sits on my shelf, still ready for use at a moment’s notice.

Samuel Johnson

 Dictionaries are marvels of any language. But English has resisted the orderly cataloguing that has been routine for many other tongues. Early lexicographers believed they could impose some necessary order on the language by setting down spellings and definitions and making them permanent. But the language quickly showed them who was boss.

Samuel Johnson (right) recognized this inability to tame the language in the preface to his great dictionary (1755) when he wrote: “We laugh at the elixir that promises to prolong life to a thousand years; and with equal justice may the lexicographer be derided, who being able to produce no example of a nation that has preserved their words and phrases from mutability, shall imagine that his dictionary can embalm his language, and secure it from corruption and decay.” More about Samuel Johnson here on JPROF.com.

The Guardian of London newspaper has a “long read” look at the history of dictionaries in English and the efforts of the editors of the Oxford English Dictionary to keep up with the language in this digital age. Highly recommended.

Giveaways and Amazon gift card winner

Art of the ArcaneArt of the Arcane: Ides of March Mystery, Thriller, and Crime Giveaway. Once again, I have teamed up with a number of excellent writers to put together a truly fine selection of books to give away to our email lists and newsletter readers. This one has some great titles in it (including, of course, Kill the Quarterback), and you have an excellent chance of finding a great weekend read. Head on over there right away and see what’s available:https://artofthearcane.com/march-mystery-giveaway/…

The Prolific Reader. Kill the Quarterback is listed there along with some other great mysteries. https://theprolificreader.com/mystery/

https://www.instafreebie.com/gg/HCqRcAvQK0Pr9IpLcGT4

 

Addictive Suspense and Thrillers Giveaway. This giveaway, which includes Kill the Quarterback, is a carefully compiled selection of high-octane, fast-paced mystery-suspense-thrillers, full of action, suspense and drama from debut to bestselling authors. Some of the books are already available while others are coming soon. Take a moment to check them out and claim any that intrigue you for absolutely free.

A name for this newsletter?

For a couple of weeks now I have been asking about a name for this newsletter, and many of you have responded. Last week I proposed The Hot Stove League for consideration. Here are some of the responses to that:

Peggy G.: As to the name for your newsletter… how about the “Pot-bellied Stove League” I live on the West coast so there are more pot-bellies sitting around a barbecue, the league infers that you ( not you,you ) but, us are not alone.

Fred F.: How about “A Day on the Porch”? We used to gather on the back porch in the shade and talk about everything that happened that day. That’s when I had a family gathered around me and had fun doing everything together. Perhaps not what you were looking for, but that’s what we called it then.

Robin K.: Name for the newsletter popped into my head when I saw this subject in my inbox – sorry, I have a rather irreverent sense of humor – “Jim’s Jabberings.” Or Jabbering?? Mostly tongue in cheek, but I do like the alliteration!

Joan H.: Just read the latest newsletter and wanted to let you know I like The Hot Stove League. Of course I also like Jim’s Jottings.

W.: I HATE HATE HATE HATE ….. that name. Hot Stove sounds like a romance title. I am not creative but something like The Prof’s thoughts

Angie L.: After reading the newsletter today, I thought of another possible name.” Inside the Stove”

Cynthia G.: I think you’re on the right track with The Hot Stove League, because it includes your readers.

Janet K.: I like the Toasty Stove. Hot Stove is a show on MLB Network.

Sapphire L.: I think that I really like “The Hot Stove League”. It really is a name that stands out from the crowd and is unique. You should stick with that name, if you want.

Debie C.: I really like The Hot Stove League.

Erin S.: The Professor’s Prose heehee

There’s no consensus yet, but the tide of opinion seems generally toward The Hot Stove League. I’m leaning that way myself. If there are other opinions out there, I would love to hear them.

Vietnam, 1968: The Walter Cronkite broadcast

One of the seminal events in America’s long involvement in Vietnam occurred 50 years ago this past week. CBS newscaster Walter Cronkite — often called “the most trusted man in America” — narrated a prime-time documentary that called into question the American government’s rosy predictions about the war’s progress. Cronkite did not come out against the war. Rather, he said:

“To say that we are closer to victory today is to believe, in the face of the evidence, the optimists who have been wrong in the past. To suggest we are on the edge of defeat is to yield to unreasonable pessimism. To say that were are mired in stalemate seems the only realistic, yet unsatisfactory, conclusion.”

Even this mild statement was a stunning blow to the story that the administration of Lyndon Johnson had been trying to sell to the public. Author Mark Bowden, writing for the New York Times, has an excellent article about Cronkite’s broadcast and its effects on the events that followed.

Finally . . .

This week’s watercolor: Mr. Shakespeare

 

 

I have done a good bit of reading this week about what we know concerning the appearance of William Shakespeare. I decided to weigh in with my own contribution. I have not been taken with the portraits that I have seen as I think they lack character and personality. So, the watercolor painting above is what I think.

Best quote of the week (contributed by reader LuAnn R.):

Sleep that knits up the raveled sleeve of care,

The death of each day’s life, sore labor’s bath,

Balm of hurt minds, great nature’s second course,

Chief nourisher in life’s feast.

William Shakespeare, philosopher and writer (1563-1616)

Do not forget the victims of Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, Maria, and Nate. Add to these those devastated by the California wildfires — and now floods. These and many other disasters mean that people need our help. The United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR.org) is my favorite charity. Please make a contribution to yours.

Keep reading, keep writing (especially to me), and have a great weekend.

Jim

Jim Stovall 
www.jprof.com

You can connect with Jim on FacebookTwitterLinkedin,and BookBub.

His Amazon author page is where you can find more information about his books.

Last week’s newsletterA name for this newsletter; more on Shakespeare; the lost eloquence of the sports page

 
 
Cades Cove Sunday morning - 3

Testing the palette: One subject, three paintings

Painting a subject more than once, especially within a short span of time, is not my usual thing.

But this was different. I wanted to test out three color approaches, and I wanted to do it with a landscape that would not be too difficult to render. So here’s the result:

Cades Cove Sunday morning – 1

This watercolor began with some neutral tints, and once I got everything established on the paper, I went back in with mostly cool colors and combinations to do the forms and the shadows. I was generally pleased with the outcome.

Cades Cove Sunday morning - 1

Cades Cove Sunday morning – 1

Cades Cove Sunday morning – 2

Here I stuck with warm colors to begin with and then tried to build the shapes and shadows with other combinations of warms. I tried to stay away from the blues (cool colors) but used violet where I had to in order to get some darks. With the folks who had seen all three paintings, this seems to be the favorite.

Cades Cove Sunday morning - 2

Cades Cove Sunday morning – 2

Cades Cove Sunday morning – 3

This painting is done entirely with Kuretake watercolors (Japanese). They have a quality of brightness that is not generally found in Western watercolors, but they can be tricky to mix. On the paper, they tend to spread apart if you put two colors together, so you have to mix them mostly on the palette. The church roof gave me momentary fits when I put down a red that was way too red. I had to do some work to get it toned down, and then I tended to use that color as the shadow color for other parts of the painting.

Cades Cove Sunday morning - 3

Cades Cove Sunday morning – 3

So, there you have it. Let me know if you have any comments or critiques.

Another painting giveaway; Amazon gift cards; Pliny the Younger, Rome’s great eyewitness reporter; newsletter, Feb. 2, 2018

This newsletter was sent to everyone on Jim’s email list (4,222) on Friday, February 2, 2018.

Hi,

I watched a super moon, a blood moon, and a lunar eclipse this week. Not as spectacular as the solar eclipse we saw last summer but still pretty phenomenal. Nature has its moments — many of them, in fact, if we would just pay attention. I don’t do that as much as I should.

Then there’s the Super Bowl, a decidedly unnatural phenomenon. That occurs this weekend. A bit more below.

Viewing tip: Click the display images link above if you haven’t done so already.

Pliny the Younger: Rome’s eyewitness reporter

Last week we went back to the nineteenth century to take a look at Eugene Francois Vidocq, the world’s first private detective. This week we go back even farther — all the way to the second century — and leave behind, for the moment, the world of private eye literature. Pliny the Younger did not write detective fiction, but he could have. He had a prose style that was, for its time, as succinct and straightforward as that of Dashiell Hammett.

Pliny the YoungerPliny the Younger was a much-traveled, widely experienced lawyer and government official who wrote dozens of letters about what he had seen and heard. He is one of the best sources we have as to life in ancient Rome. Two of his observations — scoops, as we would say in journalism — stand out from all his others, however.

Pliny the Younger gives us the first non-Jewish description of Christianity that we have in all of ancient literature. In a letter to Emperor Trajan written about A.D. 111, Pliny — then governor of an area that today is Turkey — describes his dealings with Christians as well as their attitudes and practices. It is a fascinating read. I have posted a short article about it on JPROF, which includes the letter to Trajan and Trajan’s response.

Pliny has an even bigger scoop than that to his credit. In A.D. 79, when he was still a teenager, Pliny was an eyewitness to the most spectacular event of the first century: the eruption of Mount Vesuvius and the destruction of the city of Pompeii. I will have more to say about this next week.

Pliny the Younger beer: Yes, it’s the same Pliny the Younger. The beer is produced by the Russian River Company and is a limited-distribution, draft-only ale. Pliny the Elder beer is also produced by Russian River; it is a Belgian ale, bottled, and available year-round. It is named after Pliny the Younger’s uncle and adoptive father.

 

The passing of Ursula Le Guin

The world is diminished when a writer of power and imagination dies. So it was a few days ago when the world lost Ursula Le Guin. Science fiction fans will know her work because she was an unabashed and unapologetic defender of that genre.

Ursula Le GuinShe had her reasons. Science fiction allowed Le Guin to imagine worlds that, while not perfect, had left behind many of the problems that beset us today. Le Guin was a powerful writer who could keep readers in her grip.

She was also an acerbic though not unkind critic of modern life. I have written a short piece about her on JPROF with links to other reviews of her life and work.

True crime podcasts: In the Dark (again)

A true crime podcast that I recommended last week, In the Dark, deserves another word. In the Dark examines the kidnapping and murder of Jacob Wetterling from his rural Minnesota home in 1989. The crime sparked a world-wide manhunt that turned out to be futile. The crime was unsolved for 27 years, but it led directly to many of the sex offender registration laws that are on the books today.

That’s why I am putting forth this recommendation again. Madeleine Baran, the chief reporter for In the Dark, examines these laws — their effectiveness and their justice — in Episode 6 of the podcast series. As you listen to it, you may find yourself re-examining the way we treat sex offenders in this nation. I did.

Baran doesn’t stop there. Part of the news narrative in these cases is that “. . . the police are doing all they can. They’re turning over every stone, following every lead, . . . etc. etc.” That narrative is comforting to hear and easy to report. Unfortunately, in this case and in others, it isn’t true. Baran takes a cold-eyed look at this part of the narrative (Episode 7) in a deep investigation and finds the real story not at all comforting.

The journalism of In the Dark is truly outstanding.

Giveaways

Be Our Valentine gift card giveaway. Once again, I have joined with a number of other independent authors to sponsor an Amazon gift card giveaway. We have two $85 gift cards that are the prizes for this month’s giveaway, so don’t miss out. Go to this link: https://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/ad6cea03… You will need to enter a valid email address, and that address will be shared with the authors who are participating. The giveaway lasts until Feb. 15, so head over there today and get your name on the list.

The Prolific Reader. Kill the Quarterback is listed there along with some other great mysteries. https://theprolificreader.com/mystery/

https://www.instafreebie.com/gg/HCqRcAvQK0Pr9IpLcGT4Addictive Suspense and Thrillers Giveaway.This giveaway, which includes Kill the Quarterback, is a carefully compiled selection of high-octane, fast-paced mystery-suspense-thrillers, full of action, suspense and drama from debut to bestselling authors. Some of the books are already available while others are coming soon. Take a moment to check them out and claim any that intrigue you for absolutely free.

Crimes against English (continued)

My hobby of collecting redundancies, which I wrote about last week, drew a number of responses, both to JPROF.com and directly to me.

Jim S.: Of course, the classic redundancy: I never repeat myself! Never!

Laurie B: I love these! I “collect” some odd literary things too. Mostly oxymorons like “jumbo shrimp,” etc. I also love when people’s names form a sentence, like Britney Spears, Ben Folds, Stevie Nicks, Jeremy Irons…

Vince V.: A redundancy that seems to have come into common usage recently (I heard it several times last night in the University of Tennessee’s win over Vanderbilt) is saying that someone can “score the basketball.” For instance, a sportscaster might say, “So-and-So was having trouble with his 3-point shot, but he is really scoring the basketball now.” Pray tell, what else would he be scoring?

So what do you collect?

Please, keep the responses coming. What crime against English have you discovered?

 

Finally . . .

This week’s watercolor: The hit

Breaking through

The Super Bowl, an American phenomenon, occurs this weekend. I won’t be watching — I haven’t watched one in years — but some of you will, so this watercolor is for you. I did this several years ago, and it later served as the cover art for Kill the Quarterback.

Another painting giveaway

In the newsletter last week, I set up a giveaway of some of my original watercolors — things I would never hang (no wall space left) and probably would not get rid of. I did not know if anyone would want any of them, Well, it turns out that many of you did. They were all claimed within three hours of the newsletter going out.

So, I thought I would do it again.

The rules of the giveaway are the same as last week with one exception. I am asking you to pick a first choice and a second choice.

Go to this page on JPROF.com. Right now, the offer is only to readers of this newsletter, and the post is password protected. The password is watercolor.

If you would like one (or more) of the paintings or drawings that are being offered, fill out the form. If it is available (first come, first served), I will let you know and ask that you send me $10 for shipping and other expenses through PayPal. Once you have sent the $10, I will ship it out to you. More details are on the form page.

Why am I doing this?

Two reasons. One is that I doubt that I will ever have a show or try to sell any of these. So, rather than have them languish in my closet, I would like to get them into the hands of people who might like them.

Second, I want to use this to encourage you to do what I mention each week — that there are many, many people in need these days and we should be trying to help them out. One way to do this is to contribute to our favorite charities that have been established just for this. Mine is the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR.org). If you get a painting, consider making a contribution. It’s that simple.

Best quote of the week:

“Hard times are coming, when we’ll be wanting the voices of writers who can see alternatives to how we live now, can see through our fear-stricken society and its obsessive technologies to other ways of being, and even imagine real grounds for hope. We’ll need writers who can remember freedom — poets, visionaries — realists of a larger reality.” Ursula K. Le Guin (1929-2018)

Do not forget the victims of Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, Maria, and Nate. Add to these those devastated by the California wildfires — and now floods. These and many other disasters mean that people need our help. The United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR.org) is my favorite charity. Please make a contribution to yours.

Keep reading and have a great weekend.

Jim

Jim Stovall 
www.jprof.com

You can connect with Jim on FacebookTwitterLinkedin, and BookBub.

His Amazon author page is where you can find more information about his books.

Last week’s newsletter


More on JPROF.com

 

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Raymond Chandler and the development of the ‘private eye’; newsletter, Jan. 12, 2018

This newsletter was sent to everyone on Jim’s email list (4,500) on Friday, Jan. 12, 2018.

Special note: If you have unsubscribed to this list previously, I apologize for this email. I had some problems with the list over the past couple of weeks — due mainly to my incompetence — and some unsubscribers may have been added back in. Click on this link Unsubscribe or the one at the bottom of the email to get off this list, and I will do my best to see that you don’t get any more emails from me.


Hi, 

This second week of the New Year brought some interesting items my way, and I am sharing a few of them with you in this newsletter. I hope that your New Year has gotten off to a great start.

Viewing tip: Click the display images link above if you haven’t done so already.

Raymond Chandler takes the ‘private eye’ to a new place

He was a man troubled by many demons — among them alcoholism, promiscuity, and possibly depression. Despite those problems, Raymond Chandler has become a gigantic influence in the development of the “private eye” character of modern fiction. Chandler is the author of books such as The Big Sleep and The Long Goodbye, in which detective Phillip Marlowe went beyond Dashiell Hammett’s Sam Spade as an expressive and complex character.

Raymond ChandlerChandler was educated in the English public school system, and when he decided to write detective fiction, he studied the genre intensely. His writing is imbued with similes and metaphors that give his scenes and characters a depth that few other “hard-boiled” writers have achieved.

I have written a short post about Chandler’s contributions on JPROF.com. (And if you like this post, please share it on Facebook, Twitter, or other social media. Just click on the buttons to the right of the post.)

***

Word of Sue Grafton’s death last week brought several responses from readers, these among them:

Morag F: So sad to hear about Sue Grafton, I have read a number of her alphabet books. Such a great writer.

Janet E: I too was shocked to hear the news of Ms. Grafton’s death. I am probably the only person in the world, maybe, the universe, who has not read any of her books that go by the alphabet. I plan to start doing so, very soon.

Peggy G: Thank you for your email regarding the death of Sue Grafton. I am at a loss. I developed my love of mysteries and mystery solving reading her books. So sad. Just a thought but, after a time maybe her fellow mystery writing friends and colleagues could each write a chapter of her unwritten “Z is” book as a tribute and (please excuse the trite) closure.

Helen P: Sorry to hear about Sue Grafton’s death. She was one of my favorite authors. Although Spencer has lived on with other authors, I cannot see that happening with Kinsey. I will miss her as I do Amelia Peabody Emerson and other characters who took on a life of their own. RIP

Here’s another tribute to Sue Grafton that her readers might enjoy: Victoria ComellaG is for Gratitude: Remembering Sue Grafton.

Alabama vs. Georgia, 1962: Not a national championship but more protection against libel suits

Bear BryantWhen Alabama played Georgia during the regular season of 1962, Alabama won handily, 35-0. The following spring, the Saturday Evening Post published a story saying that the game had been fixed because of collusion between the two coaches, Georgia’s Wally Butts and Alabama’s Bear Bryant (right). Both Butts and Bryant sued the magazine for libel. Butts won his suit in a trial, and Bryant later reached a settlement with the Post.

But the cases were appealed and eventually made their way to the U.S. Supreme Court. They became part of a set of cases that the court used to rewrite libel laws in the United States to promote free expression and more open debate.

You can read more about this case and its outcome in a post I’ve written on JPROF.com.

True crime podcasts: Atlanta Monster

Atlanta Monster. Just when I was about to retire my podcast recommendations (at least for a while), a new one pops up that I need to tell you about. Atlanta Monster looks at the puzzling case of the Atlanta Child Murders.

In the late 1970s, young African-American boys in the Atlanta area began to go missing. When bodies of some of the missing children were found, police concluded that one person (or set of persons) was responsible. In other words, Atlanta had a serial killer on its hands. The search for the killer was widely covered by local, national, and international news media. This podcast reviews what happened during that difficult time and who was eventually brought to justice. Here’s how the producers of Atlanta Monster describe their podcast:

From the producers of Up and Vanished, Tenderfoot TV and HowStuffWorks present, ‘Atlanta Monster.’ This true crime podcast tells the story of one of the city’s darkest secrets, The Atlanta Child Murders. Nearly 40 years after these horrific crimes, many questions still remain. Host Payne Lindsey aims to find truth and provide closure, reexamining the disappearance and murder of over 25 African American children and young adults.

The first episode is now available and more should be coming soon.

See what other real crime podcasts we’ve recommended here on JPROF.com.

Giveaways

The Prolific Reader. Kill the Quarterback is listed there along with some other great mysteries. https://theprolificreader.com/mystery/

https://www.instafreebie.com/gg/HCqRcAvQK0Pr9IpLcGT4Addictive Suspense and Thrillers Giveaway.This giveaway, which includes Kill the Quarterback, is a carefully compiled selection of high-octane, fast-paced mystery-suspense-thrillers, full of action, suspense and drama from debut to bestselling authors. Some of the books are already available while others are coming soon. Take a moment to check them out and claim any that intrigue you for absolutely free.

Crimes against English (continued)

I continue to receive responses from readers who have identified crimes against English. They are endlessly interesting, and I appreciate them all. Please keep sending them. Here are a couple that have come in in the last two weeks:

Jim S.: You asked for misused words that irritate. I have one.

First, I need to refer to something told to me soon after I quit smoking many years ago. They said, “No one is more irritating than a reformed smoker.”

I guess the word I selected falls into that category since I used to use it incorrectly. While I was part of a Toastmasters group, I heard someone else use the term Podium when they meant Lectern. After their talk, they were corrected for their misuse. 

Being a person who loves words and such a nerd as to getting engrossed in reading parts of the dictionary, I felt self-chastised for my blatant misuse of the word Podium.

Podium is a stage on which people stand or sit. A Lectern is a stand, sometimes on a Podium, where a first time speaker places his notes and nervously grips the edges.

So, now, being a reformed mis-user of Podium, I cringe and grind my teeth when I see its abuse.

The word Podium is so frequently used in place of the word Lectern that i would not be surprised to see its meaning changed in the near future. I was really surprised when I found Grisham using the word Podium several times to refer to a Lectern in a courtroom. My edit groups would never let me get away with that, at least I hope they wouldn’t.

This is a lot of words to refer to the misuse of one word. That’s me, blah, blah, blah.

 

Tod: Ever since I can remember I’ve often thought about the notion of simplifying English spelling rules, after reading Dolton Edwards’ story “Meihem in ce Klasrum” in Astounding (1946), and some of Mark Twain’s comments on simplification. http://www.angelfire.com/va3/timshenk/codes/meihem.html

In the early 1800s Noah Webster compiled his first dictionary of (American) English, and one of his goals was to prefer spellings that matched the verbal pronunciation. From then through the early 20th century, various dictionaries and style guides influenced the evolution of American English from British English (no examples needed, I’m sure).

So my “crime” is how we find stories, articles, and other compositions written by American authors using American spellings that are “translated” by overzealous editors of Commonwealth printing or publishing outfits such that “color” becomes “colour,” “traveled” becomes “travelled,” and the suffix “-meter” becomes “-metre.”

I have repeatedly come across this bizarre and eccentric (and totally unnecessary) correction of words just because they don’t conform to the local standards. Take a news story from the New York Times or Atlantic magazine that has sections quoted by writers writing for The Times of London or The Economist and there will be words that some copy editor redlined. Or entire books: I’ve bought paperbacks of American authors like Asimov and Griham and every flavor and fetus becomes flavour and foetus.

So, to copy editors in the Commonwealth, don’t mess with our American language. You lost in 1776 so get over it! Go niggle the French if you have to pick on a language.

Thanks to both Jim S. and Tod for their thoughts. What are your thoughts?

 

Finally . . .

This week’s watercolor: Spring Training

Now that collegiate football is out of the way for a few months (congratulations to Alabama on winning yet another national championship and to Georgia for a great game), we can move on to the really important stuff: baseball. Spring training is less than two months away. Enjoy these two watercolors that celebrate the game.

Best quote of the week:

What really knocks me out is a book that, when you’re all done reading it, you wish the author that wrote it was a terrific friend of yours and you could call him up on the phone whenever you felt like it. J.D. Salinger, writer (1919-2010)

Do not forget the victims of Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, Maria, and Nate. Add to these those devastated by the California wildfires — and now floods. These and many other disasters mean that people need our help. The United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR.org) is my favorite charity. Please make a contribution to yours.

Keep reading and have a great weekend.

Jim

Jim Stovall 
www.jprof.com

You can connect with Jim on FacebookTwitterLinkedin, and BookBub.

His Amazon author page is where you can find more information about his books.

Last week’s newsletter


More on JPROF.com

The ‘private eye,’ in the beginning: Dashiell Hammett

Dashiell Hammett knew what a private detective should be. He knew because he had been one, and he had been taught by the very best. 

The 100 best nonfiction books of all time: a list from The Guardian

Robert McCrum, the co-author of The Story of English (1986), has compiled a list of the 100 best nonfiction books of all time, and the list was recently published in The Guardian, a well-respected newspaper and news website in Great Britain.

Jean Ritchie: 60-plus years of contributions to American music and culture

If you play the dulcimer, you owe Jean Ritchie a debt of thanks. If you have heard a dulcimer, seen one — or even know what one is, Jean Ritchie is the person responsible.

Jeannie Rousseau, a diminutive spy and an extraordinary tale of courage

She was small, too small to be a danger to anyone. And she was attractive, a good-time girl, maybe even a little flighty. Plus, she had a talent for getting people, particularly men, to talk to her. Those traits hid her steely courage, creativity, resourcefulness — and, maybe most importantly, a photographic memory.

Unsubscribe | 2126 Middlesettlements Road, Maryville, Tennessee 37801 

High in the Air, watercolor

High in the Air, watercolor © 2018

Even this grouchy ex-prof (football coaches are paid too much) who is not even a football fan (baseball is the only REAL game) has a touch of championship fever.

Congratulations to Alabama and Georgia, and best of luck to my many friends on both sides of the stadium.

For those who are interested: This watercolor was done with Kuretake (Japanese) watercolors, which dry cleaner and brighter than ones I normally use. One of the downsides, however, is that colors don’t mix together very well on the paper.

 

Here are some of the Facebook comments

  • I just want you to know that your paintings are just great you are so creative. An author, a painter, and a teacher, a true renaissance man. Thanks for sharing them.
  • If it’s football I’m going to like it! (Long story behind that statement). Even this HUGE UT fan loves this painting. You are so good!!!
  • Love it. I have both Georgia and Alabama fans here so it’s all good with me.
  • Never used that type of Watercolor, so thanks for insights.
  • Barely have done any watercolors. Prefer acrylics, perhaps because I used them first when I “discovered ” painting a few years ago.
  • Great painting Jim but we must say Roll Tide Rolll!! Love my Bama football!
  • Awesome painting. Your talent (God’s gift) is amazing. I’ve been showing a lot of your postings to Douglas and he realizes even more how fortunate he is to have a piece of your work. Looks like Sally chose a paint that describes her. Beautiful and vibrant.

[button link=”http://www.jprof.com/tag/watercolor/” color=”teal” border=”#050005″]More watercolors on JPROF[/button]

 
 

At the corner of Banjo and Watercolor

A couple of weeks ago, I went onto YouTube (the modern source of all wisdom and knowledge) to find a video of someone playing or singing “Cumberland Mountain Deer Chase,” an old Uncle Dave Macon tune. My local dulcimer group was playing it, and I needed to get a good idea of the melody.

I found a lot more than I had bargained for.

One of the guys I watched do this tune was Patrick Costello. He was doing it on the banjo, and he was using the tune to teach frailing, a method of playing the banjo. I have played bluegrass (another method of playing the banjo) for many years and have never felt I was very good at it. I had read about frailing once, but the description of how to do it convinced me that it was way beyond my talents.

But there was Patrick, describing frailing in the simplest of terms and saying, “You can do this.”

I was hooked. I watched several of this tutorial videos, and by this time I had swallowed the hook and the bait. I got out my banjo, which I hadn’t touched for months, and began trying to do what Patrick was teaching. It was awkward and difficult, but Patrick kept saying, “You can do this.”

That was two weeks ago. I am nowhere near where I want to be with frailing, but I’m better than I was a couple of weeks ago thanks to Patrick.

So what about the watercolor?

Well, this week I was trying to think of something to do during the painting group meeting, which comes together each Wednesday. At the last minute, I got this idea of putting the banjo in a rocking chair in my den and then imagining it on the front porch of some old cabin in the mountains. I managed to pull of the banjo-in-the-rocker thing and surrounded it with some banjo-related atmospherics.

The result is at the right:

Banjo at Rest

Banjo at Rest, watercolor, 11 x 14

Meanwhile, I joined Patrick’s Facebook group, Daily Frailers, and decided to post the painting as my first post. (I’m nowhere near good enough to do a video of my banjo playing just yet, which is what most of the posts on that group consist of. One guy worth listening to is Pete Glaze, who does neat songs and has a cool hat to boot) Some of the folks there made very kind comments about the watercolor, and a couple of them even requested prints, if they were available.

I went to a local office supply store yesterday and had several non-archival prints made. I will be shipping those off to the folks who have requested them next week.

And that’s how Banjo and Watercolor intersected for me this week.

I’m now thinking seriously about doing a watercolor with the banjo and rocking chair on the front porch of a mountain cabin with the wall of the cabin and may some of the surroundings in the background. I still have yet to work that out completely.

Meanwhile, I am frailing away.

 

Watercolors for the beekeepers

Here are a couple of recently-completed watercolors that I am donating to the Blount County Beekeepers Association annual auction on Monday evening.

Both have mountain-ish backgrounds, and one is based on a recent photograph by my good friend Jim Bennett.

The BCBA auction raises money for grants to new beekeepers, one of the many great things the association does.

Queen Anne's lace, watercolor, 11 x 14

Queen Anne’s lace, watercolor, 11 x 14

scenicgrazing

Scenic grazing, watercolor 11 x 14

Swag for the Front Page Follies, 2016, part 3

Ayres Hall, University of Tennessee, watercolor by Jim Stovall, 5/2016

Ayres Hall, University of Tennessee, watercolor by Jim Stovall, 5/2016

A watercolor of Ayres Hall on the University of Tennessee campus was one of my contributions to the silent auction for the Front Page Follies  last year, and a couple of people told me they bid on it unsuccessfully.

Well, this year they get another shot.

This is a watercolor of the big building at the top of The Hill, built in 1919, that has become a symbol of the university. It’s done in a loose style but one that captures (I hope) the intimate and deep feelings that many people have about the place.

The Front Page Follies is the annual musical revue and roast of politicians and events from the previous year. It is sponsored by the East Tennessee chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists and raises money for scholarships for journalism students at the University of Tennessee and Pellissippi State.

This year’s Follies is set for June 11, 2016.

The Follies always honors an individual who has made an outstanding contribution to journalism in East Tennessee, and this year’s honoree is Jean Ash.

I have many friends involved with the Front Page Follies including David Lauver, who writes much of the script and many of the songs, Jean Ash, Georgiana Vines, Mark Harmon, Vince Staten, Susan Barnes and others. I’m always honored that they ask me to make a a contribution.

The Follies is operated by the Front Page Foundation.

Ayres Hall, atop The Hill, at the University of Tennessee

Ayres Hall, atop The Hill, at the University of Tennessee

The painting of Ayres Hall at right is the one I submitted to the auction last year. With the full tower and lots of sky, it’s more dramatic and dominating than the view this year’s painting.

Part 1 of my contributions was posted a couple of days ago, and I’ll post Part 2 is here.

Swag for the Front Page Follies, 2016, part 1

Cades Cove in winter, watercolor

Cades Cove in winter, watercolor

The Front Page Follies is happening in a couple of weeks, and I am donating a couple of items to the silent auction.

One is this watercolor, Cades Cove in winter, which I completed this week.

The Front Page Follies is the annual musical revue and roast of politicians and events from the previous year. It is sponsored by the East Tennessee chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists and raises money for scholarships for journalism students at the University of Tennessee and Pellissippi State.

This year’s Follies is set for June 11, 2016.

The Follies always honors an individual who has made an outstanding contribution to journalism in East Tennessee, and this year’s honoree is Jean Ash.

The Follies is operated by the Front Page Foundation.