Mongolia Monday- A Short Intermission

I leave on a trip to New York tomorrow to attend my first meeting as a member of the Board of Directors of the Society of Animal Artists, then I get to hang out for a few days with a couple of other artist friends. Don’t know what my internet connection situation will be, but I’ll post on Friday if I can. Otherwise, I’ll be back next Monday for the next installment of the current series.

“A Republic If You Can Keep It”

This blog is primarily about my art and adventures in Mongolia. But I’m also an American and I’m very concerned about what is going on in our country. Not just economically, but the “body politic”. Who will have time for art if we lose what fundamentally ties us together as a people? I have no intention of changing the focus of my blog, but it also doesn’t exist in a vacuum. Civilization and a civil society are required for culture to flourish. Our society, thanks to a vocal few, has become anything but civil. We have lost our ability to have honest disagreements and work them out. The shrillest and most extreme voices are prevailing. And it needs to stop. Now.

“All that is required for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing. “ Edmund Burke.

How many of us stood by for the eight years until President Obama’s election while the Constitution was dragged through the mud? I’d have to raise my hand. How many of us stood by while, at the very highest levels of government, fear was used to control people and keep them from seeing that we were engaging in a war of choice, that alleged enemies were tortured and that the civil rights upon which we all depend were deliberately, consciously and with malice aforethought eroded?

Andrew Sullivan, who blogs over at the Atlantic Monthly, posted something very important today. The title of this post is taken from his. It is a quote from John Adams. It is the best explanation yet of the situation that America now finds itself in. Whither goest our grand experiment in self-governance? Please click through and read it. Thank you.

New Wildlife Art Magazine Debuts!

UPDATE 7-13-16: Unfortunately this online magazine had a short run and is now defunct. For awhile it looked like someone else would take it on but that never happened.

I just found out this afternoon that Wildlife Art Journal is now up and running. Members of the Society of Animal Artists got a heads-up a few months ago and we were able to view a preview version, but the real thing is available now here. Todd Wilkinson, who many will remember from his excellent articles in the old Wildlife Art magazine, is the editor and co-publisher of this new online-only publication. The plan is to update the content on an on-going basis instead of using the old monthly print magazine model. There is a blog also. It’s obvious that a tremendous amount of work and care have gone into creating this, driven by a deep love of wildlife and animal art.

I personally want to wish them all the very best!

No Electricity, No Problem?… And Plein Air Painting in 1930s Scotland

I may have found the perfect solution to safely heating water in a ger without a fire or electricity. Whoever designed this really backed up and asked themselves what problem they were trying to solve. And what they came up with was this:

Esbit Pocket Stove
Esbit Pocket Stove

This is obviously perfect for backpackers or anyone who might find themselves in a survival situation. The two upright ends fold down flat, so the dimensions are 3″x4″x 3/4″. It weighs 3.25 oz and is made in Germany, can you believe it. I haven’t tried it out yet, but it uses a solid fuel that is non-explosive. It burns about 13 minutes and is supposed to boil a pint of water in about 8 with no smoke. No kerosene bottles or other stuff that the airlines don’t like or allow.

I’ve thought of another use for it, too. Last winter around eight children died in Mongolia when they got caught out in an unexpected storm while herding animals and couldn’t get back home. What if they had had something like this to stay warm long enough for rescuers to find them? And the adults who also died in the cold too, of course. I’m going to see what I can find out about the issue when I’m there and see what might be done.

Plein Air Information Discovery!

I’ve been down with a cold since a week ago Saturday and it’s been a tenacious one. I’m almost over it, but still needing to take it easy. I’ve been doing a lot of resting and reading and decided to dive into the Peter Wimsey mysteries by Dorothy Sayers. I’m not a mystery fan, but I love these because they are so delightfully and excruciatingly English. I just started “Five Red Herrings”, which takes place in the western borderlands of Scotland. The area is heavily populated with artists, one of whom doesn’t play well with others and is deceased by page 17. Wimsey visits the site where the body was found. It appears that the artist was painting on location, took one step too far back from the work in progress and fell off a cliff, the kind of thing that can be an occupational hazard for those working in the great outdoors. In any case, Wimsy thoroughly paws through all the artist’s things, possibly providing clues but absolutely recording what a plein air painter in Scotland circa 1930 would be hauling around.

He gave his first attention to the picture. It was blocked in with a free and swift hand, and lacked the finishing touches, but it was even so a striking piece of work, bold in its masses and chiaroscuro, and strongly laid on with the knife.”

“Idly, Wimsey picked up the palette and painting-knife which lay on the stool. He noticed that —– used a simple palette of few colors, and this pleased him, for he liked to see economy of means allied with richness of result. (My emphasis. Wouldn’t we all?) On the ground was an aged satchel, which had evidently seen long service. Rather from habit than with any eye to deduction, he made an inventory of the contents.

In the main compartment he found a small flask of whiskey, half-full, a thick tumbler and a packet of bread and cheese, eight brushes, tied together with a dejected piece of linen which had once been a handkerchief but was now dragging out a dishonored existence as a paint-rag, a dozen loose brushes, two more painting-knives and a scraper. Cheek by jowl with these were a number of tubes of paint. Wimsey laid them out side by side on the granite, like a row of little corpses.

There was a half-pound of vermilion spectrum, new clean and almost unused, a studio-size tube of ultramarine No. 2, half-full, another of chrome yellow, nearly full and  another of the same, practically empty. Then came a half-pound tube of viridian, half-full, a studio-size cobalt three-quarters empty, and then an extremely dirty tube, with its label gone, which seemed to have survived much wear and tear without losing much of its contents. Wimsey removed the cap and diagnosed it as crimson lake. Finally, there was an almost empty studio-size tube of rose madder and a half-pound of lemon yellow, partly used and very dirty. The large compartment, however, yielded nothing further except some dried heather, a few shreds of tobacco and a quantity of crumbs, and he turned his attention to the two smaller compartments

In the first of these was, first, a small screw of grease-proof paper on which the brushes had been wiped; next, a repellent little tin, very sticky about the screw-cap, containing copal medium; and thirdly, a battered dipper, matching the one attached to the palette.

The third and last compartment of the satchel offered a more varied bag. There was a Swan vesta box, filled with charcoal, a cigarette-tin, also containing charcoal and a number of sticks of red chalk, a small sketchbook, heavily stained with oil, three or four canvas separators, on which Wimsey promptly pricked his fingers, some wine corks and a packet of Gold Flakes.”

“A wide cloak of a disagreeable check pattern lay beside the easel. He picked it up and went deliberately through the pockets. He found a pen-knife, with one blade broken, half a biscuit, another pack of cigarettes, a box of matches, a handkerchief, two trout-casts in a transparent envelope, and a piece of string.”

I find it interesting that the paint is measured in pounds. With variations for personal taste, however, I suspect that any regular plein air painter’s kit today would have a similar accumulation of odds and ends. But….Peter noticed that something was missing. And since I’m only on page 50, I haven’t the faintest idea what it is and wouldn’t say anyway.

Visit the AFC site here

Re: Facebook TOS- VICTORY!

It took about 48 hours, but a pretty satisfactory response has come from Zuckerberg and company. This was posted on one of the Groups that formed to fight the change. The Facebook-formed Group mentioned below has almost 30,000 members as of 7am PST.

I do believe they’ve got it:

OFFICIAL RESPONSE FROM FB SPOKESPERSON BARRY SCHNITT:

Hi everyone,

First, I want to apologize for the delay in response. It’s been a long day with lots of interesting and constructive discussions. Second, I want to thank you for your questions and concerns. As Mark expressed in his blog post on Monday, it was never our intention to confuse people or make them uneasy about sharing on Facebook. I also want to be very clear that Facebook does not, nor have we ever, claimed ownership over people’s content. Your content belongs to you.

We do need certain licenses in order to facilitate the sharing of your content through our service. That’s where the Terms of Use come in. The fact that you’ve raised the questions you have is proof that we haven’t done a good job explaining these licenses in the actual language of the document. In fact, as we were working to answer your questions, we realized the new version of the Terms might technically permit some of the hypothetical situations people have offered. I can assure you, however, that these hypotheticals aren’t ones we had in mind when writing the Terms, and that selling user information for profit or using it to advertise Facebook in some way was never part of our original intent. Assurances aren’t enough, though, and we plan to codify this in our revised Terms through simple language that defines Facebook’s rights much more specifically.

In the meantime, we’ve decided to revert to the old Terms as we work to address this. Mark has explained this in more detail in another blog post (http://blog.facebook.com), and we’ve created a group where people can provide input (http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=69048030774). We hope you’ll join this group and post comments. We promise to use these comments to help construct a new Terms of Use that reflects the principles around how people share and control their information, and that’s written clearly in language everyone can understand.

I hope you don’t think your participation in this discussion was a waste of time. Honestly, your questions were very helpful to us in arriving at what we believe is the right decision. Also, I think your questions will continue to be useful as we’re crafting a new Terms.

Again, thanks for the fruitful discussion and a special thanks to Anne Katherine and Julius for setting up this feedback forum. We hope you’ll all join our “Facebook Bill of Rights and Responsibilities” ( http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=69048030774 ) group and continue discussing these issues there.

Any Artist Or Creative Person With A Facebook Page Needs to Read This

Facebook recently changed its Terms of Service (TOS) in a way which explicitly gives them unlimited, forever rights to whatever content you post there. Three Groups have formed so far to fight this.

Read more about it here

Regardless of the fact that we all might as well accept that anything we put up on the Internet is there forever and can’t really be controlled, that does not give someone like Facebook the right to appropriate their user community’s intellectual and copyrighted property for their own possible future profit. That’s not sharing, it’s theft.

This Just In- America 2.0

Dear World:

We, the United States of America , your top quality supplier of the ideals of liberty and democracy, would like to apologize for our 2001-2008 interruption in service. The technical fault that led to this eight-year service outage has been located, and the software responsible was replaced November 4th. Early tests of the newly installed program indicate that we are now operating correctly, and we expect it to be fully functional on January 20. We apologize for any inconvenience caused by the outage. We look forward to resuming full service and hope to improve in years to come. We thank you for your patience and understanding.

Sincerely,

The United States of America

(from http://www.theartistscenter.com, going the rounds by email, apparently)

There’s some great marketing info. at the site here

YES WE CAN!

With hope in my heart, I’ll be watching the Inauguration of Barack Hussein Obama tomorrow morning (Pacific time). The  Dark Ages are over. It’s a new day. Finally, we can together, as “one nation, indivisible”, move forward into the 21st century.

Andrew Sullivan, among other journalistic endeavors, writes a wonderful blog for The Atlantic Monthly. Here is the link to an article by him about Obama that just appeared in The Times of London. VERY highly recommended. Read it and thank the deity (or not) of your choice that this man will be the next President of the United States of America. We can be proud of our country again.

(All comments are moderated. If you wish to continue the vulgar, verbally violent public discourse of the past eight years, tell it to a mammal who cares. It won’t appear on this blog.)

Bill Maher: “America can reboot.”

One of my favorite quotes from the whole election cycle tonight on Larry KIng when Maher was asked what the election meant for the country.

I’m thrilled that Obama won and so pleased and impressed by John McCain’s concession speech.That’s the McCain this life-long Democrat always respected.

We Did It.

And now the work begins.