Chicago Museums

We picked the right weekends to visit Chicago. The weather was perfect. We originally scheduled this trip for our Next season tickets. The Alps-themed meal turned out to be lackluster, but we had a lot of fun anyway.


We visited the  Art Institute of Chicago, which is HUGE. We even bought a season pass so Dani can go back with friends.

IMG_1624The next weekend we took the “L” to the west to Oak Park to see the Frank Lloyd Wright Home and Studios and take a very interesting walking tour of the other houses he designed.

IMG_1533We also got to see a bridge stuck up during the annual Chicago boat migration.

Speaking of museums, last year Dani and I also visited the nearby Museum of Broadcast Communications.


Back in 2014 Linda and I visited the Field museum.

And Dani and I visited the Chicago History Museum (which was quite good) and the International Museum of Surgical Science (which was… memorable).

And way back in 2007 we made Dani’s first visit to the Chicago Museum of Science and Industry while on her college tour.


Bottles and Bottega


Last month Dani and her friends visited Bottles and Bottega to drink some wine and paint a picture. It looked like so much fun I suggested we go there on the evening I arrived in Evanston, and Dani eagerly agreed. A bottega, as we learned, is an artist’s studio where students learn by doing.

The long, narrow space is divided into a painting area where a dozen people can work simultaneously, a lounge, and a party space at the rear. The evening begins with a half hour to enjoy any wine or snack you’ve brought, and then you sit at one of the tables where a canvas, paints and brushes have been provided.


Everyone works on basically the same picture, but it’s amazing how much variation occurs because of individual styles. Some useful but light hearted instruction is provided throughout the evening, and there are plenty of breaks for more wine.

I hadn’t really worked with acrylic paints before, and really liked the way they dried in minutes, and one color could cover another; quite the opposite of oils, were your colors keep mixing on the canvas for days.


Dani and I were both pleased with the way our masterpieces turned out.

by Dani
by Dani


by Steve
by Steve


Oil Painting Class

I took a one week break from my sculpture classes to attend a five day oil painting class taught by Ken Minami. Each day we spent the morning drawing and he afternoon painting. I leaned to use gray paper and conte crayon and to try to see the solid shapes (as opposed to my other drawing classes, which were about outline and shadow). In the afternoon we made color tests and then used the colors we discovered to do oil paintings. There were quite a few models for this class. We had three different morning models during the week, and in the afternoon there were two models to choose from, with one pair for the first two days of the week, and another pair for the remaining three days. So overall, seven different models, which gave us a lot of varied experience. Here are a pencil sketch, charcoal drawing, conte, and my two oil paintings.






Sculpture Class at the Evanston Art Center

This summer while Dani is at work I wanted something to do, so I went up to the Evanston Art Center  It’s in the three-story house on the lake, next to the lighthouse north of the Northwestern University campus. I intended to enroll in the Monday morning figure drawing workshop, but it’s in the evenings during the summer, so they suggested I take figure sculpture. I’d done that once before, about ten years ago, and enjoyed it, so I signed up.

The classes are in the basement of the Noyes Community Center, west of the Northwestern Campus. (This is the same building that houses the Piven Acting Workshop that Dani used to attend.) The model holds the same pose for three weekly sessions of three hours each. However, because of my schedule I won’t ever have more than two sessions to complete a sculpture, so I have to work fast.

I really like the instructor, Sheila, who is very good at working individually with each student, and making sure you understand how to implement her suggestions. She’s much better than my previous Orlando-based instructor. The next few sessions are by another instructor, Barbara, so it will be interesting to see how she compares.

I liked the class so much I also signed up for the Wednesday session, which is similar, but there is a different pose. So by the end of the summer I should have six sculptures total. Hopefully there will be time for them to dry so they can be fired in the kiln.

Both of these photos are works in progress, before the proportions were quite right. I thought it would be interesting to compare them with the finished products… or at least to have a photo in case they explode in the kiln!



Los Angeles, Las Vegas & Grand Canyon in Art 1996

Grand Canyon 96
The annual “Return of the WEDI” trip in 1996 went to the Grand Canyon for the only time.

When I travel I like to keep a journal so I can experience the trip again, years later. Now I use a laptop, but when Dani was little both of use kept travel journals using blank books and colored pencils. Here is a journal I made of our December 1996 trip to the West. Photos from this trip may be found in the Family and WEDI sections.

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