A painting like this comes around, “Once In A Blue Moon”

A girl on a beach holding a bouquet of flowers stares out at the moon ... which is actually a blue rose!

A girl on a beach holding a bouquet of flowers stares out at the moon … which is actually a blue rose!

As I look back on this painting, technique-wise I think it’s one of the finest ones I’ve done this year. It’s such an unusual painting – (especially for me) and I’m hoping that there’s built in-story appeal to the visual.
Previously, I had done a grand total of four paintings featuring females.
I’ve always thought of myself as something of a hack when it comes to painting or drawing females, going back to a drawing class I took at Mizzou where we had live female models. My drawings always did them a great disservice.
Yet I was excited about the prospects of painting this surrealistic image. The idea behind this one came from a variety of sources, as many of my paintings do. I was paging through one of my Rene Magritte books and ran across one of his coolest paintings called, “The Tomb of the Wrestlers”. It features a giant red rose, overwhelming an empty room. The rose is almost the height of the room itself, boxed in by two blank walls while the third wall features a window, draped by some red curtains. So I decided I wanted to do something with a rose. But what? I have no desire to copy Magritte, I merely like to emulate him.
So I kept searching. Many of my paintings have some water aspect to them and the sea at night seemed interesting. So I began searching for images of ocean scapes at night – which led me to several photos featuring the moon. That’s when it hit me – I would show a blue moon only in its place, I would feature a rose. I knew there were blue roses, just like there are blue moons.
Once I had that core idea in mind, I thought of having the man in the bowler hat staring out at the moon but that seemed slightly out of whack. So I decided it should be a young girl. Then I decided that not only should she be staring out at the blue moon, but she should be holding a bouquet of flowers in her hands as well.
Were they given to her? Were they from someone who had gone away on a voyage and left her behind?
My initial working title for the painting was “Flower Girl”.
When I was just about done, the name of the painting came to me in my sleep. “Once In A Blue Moon“.
The actual painting had its own challenges – trying to paint a glowing blue rose in the night and giving the entire painting a night time feel. I struggled with the sky and the reflection on the water. I added a few large rocks to the shore but at one point, there were considerably more. I painted over all of them, keeping just a few rocks, bleeding off the edges of the painting.
The young girl went through considerable changes and most, were for the better. I wanted her hands to be delicate and I wanted the bouquet of flowers to stand out. I was pretty happy with both as well as the multi-colors of her dress that echoed the color palette of the rest of the painting.
The size of this painting is 30″ x 40”. It’s quite striking when you see it up close and would look great in a frame and on someone’s wall.
You can order prints at my other web site: http://tom-blood.pixels.com
You can also order the image on a variety of items – tote bags look pretty cool, notebook covers, iPhone covers, even yoga mats.
It was a joy to paint, even though it had its moments … they all do!

In addition to creating advertising and marketing communications by day, I also paint by night and have established quite a following of the artwork I create. If you know someone who might enjoy reading more about my process and getting updates on what I’ve been up to, please invite them to sign up for my newsletter at http://tblood.faso.com/email-newsletter

Don’t shoot! It’s a sinkhole!

I’m pretty sure that Phil Pressey and Mark Mihal don’t know each other – yet here they are, brought together courtesy of my own twisted logic.

Phil Pressey is the point guard for the Missouri Tigers who continues to fail at trying to make game winning buckets in the last 30 seconds. Mark Mihal is the golfer who got swallowed up by a sinkhole while contemplating his third shot on the par 5 14th hole at Annbriar Golf Course over in Waterloo.

I don’t know which is more amazing – Phil’s inability to realize that the best thing he could do at the end of the game is to NOT SHOOT THE BALL!!!

Or that Mark could be swallowed up by a sinkhole, get his shoulder separated and horror of horrors – not be able to finish a round where he was just 1 over after 13.

I can’t fathom why Frank Haith doesn’t have a don’t-shoot under any circumstances during the last minute of any Tiger game for Phil.

And I can’t even begin to imagine what went through Mark’s mind as he stepped into the depression he saw in the 14th fairway and next thing you know he’s ankle deep in mud and staring up at the sky, 18 feet below the surface of the ground.

I love Phil Pressey as a player. I’ve watched the majority of MU games and know how important he is to the team. He’s a playmaker. He’s not a shooter. And he’s definitely not a shooter at the end of the game.

With Mizzou about to embark on their first SEC tourney and with them needing to probably win three games to avoid the dreaded 8 or 9 seed in the NCAA tournament, it behooves Frank to tell Phil that he’s got to dish it at the end. No matter what. Pass the ball.

Mark says he can’t wait to get back on the golf course but he’s not too sure about returning to Annbriar. I think once he rehabs his shoulder, he needs to go back to the 14th and resume his round. I’m quite sure Annbriar would give him a rain check.

He needs to hit that wedge shot and then gingerly approach the spot where the sinkhole swallowed him, spit on the ground, raise his club to the sky and proclaim his dominance. No stinkin’ sinkhole is going to keep him from finishing a round of golf.

So good luck to Phil and the Tigers over the next (hopefully) few weeks. And good luck to Mark and may your return to the links be a speedy one.

I’ll be watching the Tigers and on my next visit to Annbriar I will tip my cap to Mark as I hack my way through the 14th hole, not worrying at all about any potential sinkholes that may swallow me up like the whale got Jonah.

The sinkhole was in the middle of the 14th fairway.

That’s one area of the course I don’t think I have ever visited.


Guns and butter

Dr. Walter Johnson, my Econ 51 professor from my Mizzou days, had a lecture he gave every year about guns and butter. If memory serves me correct, it dealt with the laws of supply and demand in relation to whether our economy could afford the cost of war (guns) and the cost of domestic programs (butter). In theory, if you invested more in one, you’d have to sacrifice with the other.

That basic thought passed through my brain as I was perusing today’s ad-packed edition of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Tuesday is never a big news day for the paper and today’s daily was certainly no exception.

Yesterday, I decided  I hadn’t written much about advertising recently so I vowed to scour the paper to see what ads really stood out to me. The only one I can remember in my day after recall is about the P-D’s cutest pet contest but that’s because I have a vested interest in it and encourage you to vote for Annie, the dog!


But I digress.

Today, I once again scoured the paper, looking for some ad to inspire me, to make me say, “Wow, I wish I had done that.”

Sadly, there were none to be found.

In fact, the only full page ad in the entire paper on Tuesday was for Denny Dennis Sporting Goods – only there were no soccer balls or football gear to be found in this sporting goods ad.

This was an ad for hunting gear – which is absolutely fine – though I do wonder what type of hunting is done with Ruger 9 mm pistols with lasermax or .380 Bodyguard pistols also equipped with that helpful laser sighting. The Optics ready .223 automatic rifle or the Flat Top .22LR also grabbed my attention as being great for blowing the absolute smithereens out of bunny rabbits.

If these are hunting rifles, someone please tell me what game they’re after.

These are guns for blowing away bad guys which brings me back to my whole guns and butter analogy.

If the largest advertiser in a major metropolitan newspaper is selling guns, what does that tell us about where we’re spending our money these days?

In the good old days of newspaper, full page ads used to showcase new fashion designs available at leading department stores (not many left) or hype non-stop airfares by major airlines (flew the coup) or feature large brokerage ads touting bullishness on America (not quite so bullish anymore) or at least full page ads from area grocery chains touting their latest sales that might even include … butter.

Those good old days are long gone. Newspapers across the country are struggling to stay in business. Large spending advertisers have taken their money elsewhere leading to a bunch of retail ads trying to sell gutters, tune ups, hearing aids, duct cleaning and for two days only – guns and ammo.

Demand for guns is up. In a city that has a reputation as being one of the most dangerous in all of America, I don’t like that as a leading economic indicator.

Please, buy more bread. And pass me the butter.


Invasion from Kansas

They’re coming. In fact, many of them are already here. Some already live among us. They are KU fans.

Rock chalk Jayhalk – whatever that means.

I can’t say I’m happy about it, particularly when Mizzou so abruptly exited the tournament in the first round. That was painful and made even more so on Sunday when mighty Norfolk State got crushed like a bug.

All those 3’s that were falling against the Tigers were boinking and doinking and clanging off the rims. Their colossal center who manhandled the offensive and defensive boards was easily stifled. Later that night, my hopes had risen slightly as Purdue was taking it to the Jayhawks and an upset was in the air. But it wasn’t meant to be. Somehow, the Jayhawks came back and for that, I give them credit. They are a good team. Bill Self is a great coach.

But to me, KU are the Yankees of college basketball. You could say the same about Duke, of course and you’d be equally correct. But since KU is our near neighbor and since I know so many Jayhawk fans both in St. Louis and Kansas City, the animosity just seems that much greater to me.

I’m not trying to offend anyone in Kansas City but I’ve always felt as if they have a big chip on their shoulder and a personal grudge against St. Louis and a natural distaste for Mizzou. I’ve sensed it in meetings before. The 240 miles that separates the two largest cities in Missouri is a bigger gap than many of us realize. It’s true, St. Louisans have a superiority thing going with Kansas City and likewise, I think Kansas City has a certain inferiority complex with St. Louis. KC certainly has a lot going for it – but please don’t ask me to name more than five things because I’ll quickly run out.

As for all those who are a little bit more westward in the lovely town of Lawrence – okay, how good of a town can you be to start with if your name is Lawrence? I know KU is a good school. I think they produce a lot of architects. And a lot of good basketball players go there – not so much with football. Their fans are fiercely loyal. They travel well. They support their team.

Now, they’re here in St. Louis. I hope you enjoy your stay. And I hope it’s a short one.

Shall we dance?

The NCAA Tournament kicks into high gear tomorrow at 11 am central and the productivity of our nation’s work force will take an immediate hit as attention spans will be short and online activity to the CBS website will receive gargantuan numbers.

I am no specialist when it comes to picking teams. I have been lucky in the past, winning about three or four office pools but that’s with multiple entries over a long, long period of time. So actually, not so lucky.

I truly love March Madness. I love how these college players are not high-salaried prima donnas, expecting great things to just be given to them. I love it when the underdog wins. That’s what’s truly great about this tournament – the underdog winning. It doesn’t happen often enough. Most times, the basketball elites end up exactly that way – making their way into the Final Four as if they deserved to be there all along. The Kentuckys, Dukes and North Carolinas of the world feel as if it’s their rightful place – and often, it is, for they are all truly great basketball factories.

There is no mistaking the fact that major money rules the NCAA and that the major programs have the recruiting dollars, the reputations and the skilled coaches to keep the best players knocking on their doors year in and year out. But boy is it ever fun when the little guy wins, even if it does destroy your bracket.

I will be the first to tell you that I thoroughly enjoy it whenever Kansas bows out – and the earlier, the better. I have nothing against KU – well, I’ll take that back. I do. Their arrogance in basketball has always bugged this Mizzou alumnus in a big way. Nothing pleases me more than seeing Bill Self screaming at the top of his lungs as his star-studded recruits foul out or make the inadvertent turnover. Bring on Belmont, baby!

This year, KU seems to have a nice pathway that will lead them to a showdown against North Carolina to determine who travels to New Orleans. I can only hope that Detroit knocks them out in the first round but in reality, that is highly unlikely. Belmont is in their bracket though and don’t think that’s by accident. The NCAA committee would love to see a little re-match and so would I except for the fact that I wish KU would be knocked out before that even happened.

As for Mizzou? I am cautiously optimistic. I will assume they get by their first round match. But then I think they’ll be taking on Brad Beal and the rest of his fellow Florida teammates. It’s a shame Brad didn’t decide to play for Mizzou coming from Chaminade but you can’t argue with the success of the Florida program and an NBA star named David Lee took the same Chaminade to Florida to the NBA route and is doing quite well. Still, in a tournament where guard play is often the key factor, consider the fact that Mizzou has four standout guards. You’ve got to like that even though they do lack a big tree in the middle.

The only prediction I will make is that I will not get any of the various brackets that I have filled out on ESPN, CBS, KFNS, StL Today and maybe one or two more before this night is through correct. I say that with 100% confidence.

Other than Mizzou and any team that plays Kansas, it’s tough to say who I’ll be rooting for each round. I have picked such a wide variety of outcomes in my various brackets that probably in any given game, I will have a win on my side – and a loss as well.

And in the end, nothing to show for it.

But that’s okay. Bring it on. Let the dance begin.

Return to Mizzou

This past Friday, Chris and I took Tom Jr. down to Mizzou for a campus tour that also included a tour of the journalism school.

Tom is still undecided not only on where he wants to go, but also on what he wants to do. I knew going in that Tom was not a big fan of the school. Too much rah-rah for him. Though Tom loves sports, he certainly doesn’t live and die by them. His interests revolve around music, creativity and friends. We’ve told him that he can find all three in abundance down at Mizzou, yet he remains skeptical.

But this post is not about where Tom’s going to college. I want to review Mizzou from my perspective.

Schools have certainly changed a lot – that’s my understatement of the day. I went to St. Louis Univeristiy High school. When I was there, (doesn’t this sound old already?) we had no home stadium for football games. We did have a dirt patch for a field, surrounded by a cinder track where if you fell, you’d end up with black grit lining your scraped knees. The school was compact, the auditorium doubled as the theatre. It was absolutely fine by all of us. Today’s SLUH is a campus featuring a new field house holding an expansive gym, a great football field surrounded by a synthetic track, a baseball stadium, a great soccer field, a new multi-purpose room that serves as the new cafeteria … you get the idea.

Mizzou struck me that same way. Everywhere I went, there are new structures, new dorms, a new alumni center. The buildings are impressive. We went into the new Business School and I had to remind myself that this was a school, not some sprawling corporate headquarters with a giant atrium. We strolled through the new alumni center and there were multiple functions going on and the money-donating process seemed to be in full swing. We toured the new recreation center with its wave pool, multiple workout rooms, some devoted to cardio, others to heavy lifting, other rooms for racquetball or self-defense classes – I’d never been in such a facility before so totally devoted to working out.

The dorms are still dorms but now they have these fabulous dining facilities where you can choose from a wide variety of menu options and eat to your heart’s content (or discontent). I was a frat rat and we didn’t stroll through greektown at all but I did see my old fraternity, now dwarfed by a huge building on the other side of the street. It seemed small and insignificant but that happens when you’re opposite a monolith.

When we toured the j-school, I didn’t recognize hardly any of it. We were in the section where I used to roam but even that had a completely different vibe. Everything was up-to-date. Everything was high-tech. A professor stepped out during our tour and showed us some new app that’s being developed through some company hooked in with the j-school. It was a Harry Potter type thing where when you held your i-phone or whatever scanning device you have up to a still picture and somehow the picture turns into a video. Imagine the front page of your newspaper with the cover photo – you scan it and suddenly that photo is a video. It was cool, eerily futuristic and I guess one of the many directions where journalism and communications are heading these days.

They have a new sequence within the j-school called “Convergence”. This deals with how journalists must learn to work with whatever media may be appropriate – interactive, print, broadcast – it parallels interactive marketing and seems to make a lot of sense. One impressive statistic the school could boast about was that 90% of all journalism graduates find work in a journalism-related field upon graduation. Students come from all over the U.S. and it seemed like the program has become somewhat female-dominated. Overall, the j-school is a far different place then when I roamed its halls – as it should be. If it all seemed the same, it would be horribly behind the times.

My impression of Mizzou is that it’s a very, very strong state university. It’s a big place – more than 34,000 students in all and that’s a tough number to grasp. If I had the chance to do it all over again, I would – at least as far as picking my career choice. I can’t say that all of my antics would be wise to repeat but I won’t go there. Like Mark McGwire says, “I”m not here to talk about the past.”

Nor am I here to talk about Tom’s future. But it’s coming at him fast and decision day will soon be looming. We’ll see what happens.