First of all, I have no professional training. I do this for fun. All of my drawings are location specific, based on life experiences and the people I've met. So,in order of the drawings, here are the stories behind them.
Test Drawing 1 - TROPHY POINT, WEST POINT (September 2019)- Up until the fall of 2019, I never used colored pencils before for any serious project. I was trying out some acrylic and oil paint but failed spectacularly. I know I can draw, but painting would take years of practice, so I switched to colored pencils. This was my first test. I had no idea how well it would work.
Trophy Point at West Point, home of the United States Military Academy, is also called the Million Dollar View. It is an amazing view up the Hudson River, 50 miles north of New York City. Placed throughout the area are cannons and historical monuments. The large one on the left is Battle Monument. The statue up front left is that of Union General John Sedgwick. The spurs on the statues boots actually spin. Tradition states if you are failing a class, and you spin the spurs at midnight, in your full dress (parade) uniform, you will pass the class. I did this for Cow (Junior year) English and it worked. Must be true. The bagpiper in the distance is in honor of one of my classmates who plays the bagpipes to this day. He also played it at Airborne school. The instructors loved it. The other people which were never colored in were supposed to be First Class Cadets walking around on Ring Weekend. One senior cadet is accosted by a Plebe trying to see the ring. I intend to recolor this one and finish it. Also plan to redo this one completely. For now, it stays as the test.
Drawing #1 - MILLER BEACH, INDIANA (October 2019) - Miller is a small suburb of Gary, Indiana. As immigrants from Hungary, my parents settled there after getting married. Going from top down and left to right. Top left are the Gary steel mills. Below that is the train that took my dad to work in the city of Chicago as a mechanical engineer. The yellow building is the train station, the white building with red roof still exists today as Miller Pizza. The brown building at the top is the admin building. To it's right is the town drug store, Miller Drugs. Above it is the skyline of Chicago, which is visible from Miller Beach. Second row from top are houses on my street. The yellow and orange home is where I lived. The trees next to it represent what it is today. The house no longer exists. Obliterated from urban blight after we moved. Marquette Elementary was where I went to kindergarten. The third row represents Marquette Park, an amazing park that still exists today. In the winter, I learned to skate on the ponds and there was a great sledding hill. Marquette Park is a part of Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore Park. On the left is the Pavilion and on the right is the Gary Beach Bath House. The two bridges in the middle that span the pond are still there. And of course, the beach. I spent a lot of summer days there as a young kid.
Drawing #2 - St. JAMES CATHOLIC CHURCH AND ELEMENTARY SCHOOL (December 2019), Arlington Heights, IL (December 2019) - We moved from Miller to Arlington Heights, IL in the summer of 1977. For first grade I started attending St. James Catholic School in Arlington Heights. The building in the back is the Parish Center which held several masses, theater productions, and basketball games. The building also held the Junior High classes for 7th and 8th graders along with administrative offices. The house on the right is a friend's house who lived next to the school. The building on the front right is the elementary school which was torn down a few years ago. The church remains and was expanded after the elementary school was torn down. It looks amazing. Had a chance to walk through it in the summer of 2019. There was no playground. We played at recess on the blacktop pavement. My mom wasn't too thrilled with all the holes in the pants from diving on concrete. Anyway, I recall clearly the different games we played...Indian Pinball (a version of dodgeball), Butts Up, football, and kickball. And yes, I clearly remember girls playing football with the boys. Some of them could run like the wind.
A little added description of Indian Pinball and Butts Up. On the left you see the two boys and two girls throwing the typical red rubber gym ball at each other with two orange cones standing on their tops. The object was to either knock out all the players like regular dodge ball or knock over the two pins on each side. You could catch or pick up a ball after it bounced twice. So you could knock someone out by bouncing the ball once at the defenders around the cones. It was a blast. Have never heard of anyone else playing this game
Butts Up - just to the right of Indian Pinball, are three boys playing Butts Up. The object of this game was to throw the tennis ball at the wall and catch it. If you dropped the ball while attempting to catch, you had to run to the wall and tag it to be safe. If you got beaned while running to the wall three times, you had to stand against the wall, and everyone playing would get a free shot of pegging you with the tennis ball. Brutal and barbaric.
And finally, on the right middle above the kids playing kickball is the infamous Spit Pit. If any ball dropped into the stairwell going into the basement, the retriever had to dodge a hail of expectorate from his buddies. Boys will be boys.
Drawing #3 - Chicago - Hungarian Scout Camp in Woodboro, Wisconsin (January 2020) - I am very proud of my Hungarian heritage. Both of my parents come from Hungary. As a kid, every Saturday my brother and I went to a full day of Hungarian school where we learned the language and customs. My mom was one of the teachers. On Friday nights, we went to Hungarian Scouts in Chicago. It was a lot like Eagle Scouts along with continued learning of Hungarian language, stories and traditions. The scouts were also Co-ed.
Every summer, we took a one week trip to Woodboro, Wisconsin (near Rhinelander), to a property of one of the scout masters. We set up tents and had a week of fun, learning and field craft. At the top, we played Number Wars, which was capture the flag along with having numbers tied to your head. To knock someone out of the game you had to get close enough to read off their number out loud before they got yours. It was a lot of fun. One of the coolest (oddest) traditions was jumping over the campfire. There was a campfire song that would pair up a boy and girl (of course you always hoped you'd get paired up with your crush). At the end of the song, the pair would hold hands and jump over the fire together. I seriously doubt they do this anymore. Talk about a safety and insurance liability, but great memories. There was a lake with the floating platform. On the far right, you see the Rhinelander Hodag monster.
Drawing #4 - Downtown Arlington Heights, IL (March 2020) - So one of my goals or these drawings is to work on building details. I tend to rush creative projects and was hoping these drawings would force me to slow down. So the next drawing is downtown Arlington Heights - mostly buildings and businesses from the 70s and 80s. These were around when I lived there.
Starting from top left to right. Arlington Theatre where I first saw Star Wars, Arlington High School which closed in 1984 and then the Arlington Memorial Library. Spent a lot of time there. Next row includes Cock Robin Ice Cream, Jimmy's Hot Dog place, Mitchell's Jewelers which still exists, and then the building that housed Hobby Lobby. Spent a lot of time there as well buying plastic tank models and toy soldiers. Next row is Persin and Robbin Jewelers, J Svoboda Men's Clothing, and Chin's Restaurant. The final row is Dunton House Restaurant, Eddie's Lounge and Restaurant (still there), the train station and Hagenbring's Fabric Store. I fcused on the buildings. Not a lot of people in this one. Plus, I inked the buildings and then remembered I didn't leave openings for the people. We have a few movie goers who love Star Wars and some Arlington High School students hanging out at Jimmy's.
Interesting fact - locals know that Arlington High School is where they filmed many indoor scenes from the movie Lucas, starring Corey Haim and Charlie Sheen. That will set up the next drawing...
Typically I would work on these drawings at night after work. This is the first drawing I finished after the COVID19 lockdown started for us on March 12.
Drawing #5 - Shermer, IL (April 2020) - "You know what I found out about Shermer, Illinois? There is no Shermer, Illinois." At the same time, my daughter was getting into all the John Hughes movies - Ferris Bueller, Sixteen Candles, Weird Science, Breakfast Club and Pretty in Pink. I loved all the architecture in those movies - the huge Chicago houses and old high schools. So I took on the project of drawing a collage of people and locations from those movies. Originally, I was also going to add Uncle Buck and Vacation in there as well but ran out of room.
Front row is Sixteen Candles - Samantha's House, the church, and Jake Ryan's house along with Long Duk Dong, Jake and his Porsche, The Geek and Caroline in the Rolls Royce and the two nerds and two jocks. One of the nerds is John Cusack.
Second row is the high school from Breakfast Club along with Bender walking across the football field with fist pump at the end of the movie. The end of the second row includes Andie and Stef in front of high school from Pretty in Pink.
Third row is the where the house party at Wyatt's house was filmed for Weird Science. It was only used for the inside. I made a mistake and mistook the outside as well. Included in the cast are the motorcycle riders from the apocalypse, Gary, Wyatt and Lisa, Chet, a young Robert Downey Jr (Iron Man) and Deb and Hilly. Next to the house is the Kand Bar, and then moving back to Pretty in Pink is the Trax record store with Duckie and Andie, Andie's house, and Stef's house with Blane standing in front of it.
Finally in the fourth row is the high school from Ferris Bueller, Ferris' house, Cameron's house including garage and Ferrari, the Chez Luis with Snotty (Snootie) maitre D, and the police station. And of course the parking attendant's flying the Ferrari through the streets and air of Chicago.
Save Ferris everyone!
PS - why is Jay and Silent Bob in this drawing? You'll have to watch the movie Dogma.
Drawing #6 - DC Sports (Private Commission - April 2020) - This was a favor for a family friend. The request was a drawing of Nationals Park. We've lived in the DC area for 15 years now. Since I like drawing multiple buildings, I figured I'd honor all the DC Sports teams, especially since the Capitals, Nationals, and Mystics have won championships in the last two years.
From top left to right, you have the old Redskins stadium - RFK stadium which was torn down last year. It was the home to the DC United soccer club for several years. Then of course in the middle, our nation's capital building and then Fedex Field, current home of the Washington Redskins. Next row is the new Audi Field, home to the DC United, than Nationals Park in the center, and then Capital One Arena, home to the Washington Capitals hockey team, Washington Wizards basketball team, and the Washington Mystics, the WNBA women's basketball team.
In front of Nats Park are our family friends along with the racing President mascots, Ted Leonsis, members of the Champion Mystics team, and mascots from the Caps, Wizards and Mystics.
Front left is a building from University of Richmond in honor of our friends. Then the Nationals and Caps parade buses. Who's in the pool? Washington Caps players celebrating their Stanley Cup win in the pools of Georgetown DC. Parade onlookers include fans with shirts from the Redskins Superbowl years, a Hogette, George Mason and VCU Final four fans, the ladies who dressed up as the Stanley Cup and the World Series trophy, Washington Bullets championship players, and Rapunzel and Flynn Rider. Inside joke.
Drawing #7 - AOL Call Center - Albuquerque, New Mexico (May 2020) - I left the Army in 2000. My first job was at a call center in Albuquerque, New Mexico. I loved Albuquerque - fun town. Big enough to meet every interest. Great people. Great food.
The big green glass building in the center is the AOL building, currently occupied by Lowe's In front of the building are my coworkers. After the DC drawing, I got more comfortable drawing people but it still makes me nervous. To the left of the AOL building is the Blue Corn Brewery. Wednesdays were $1.50 pint nights. Great beer. To the left, Scarpa's Pizza - best pizza I've ever had.
The next row includes Sadie's - some of the best New Mexican food. Also a two margarita maximum. Don't try sneaking to the other side of the large restaurant for a third. They know. Trust me. The grey castle looking building is Stone Face Tavern. Great Hefeweizen and awesome atmosphere. Why is Santa standing in front of Stone Face. We went to Stone Face on Halloween after work. Other employees told us they have a great Halloween party so we went in costume. We were the only ones there in costume. Santa, a Ladybug, and a cross dressed Wednesday Addams. My team at work got to choose my costume.
Above Stone Face is the Frontier Restaurant - open 24x7 with the best cinnamon buns you've ever had. Finally, random houses including mine, the hot air balloons and the Sandia Mountains. If you've never seen the Hot Air Balloon Festival in Albuquerque, it is a site to behold. 2000 hot air balloons ascending at once. Locals not always thrilled as all the tourists are gawking at the balloons while driving - just a bit dangerous.
Drawing #8 - John Hersey High School - Class of 1989 (May 2020) - Some people know I used to draw comic strips about certain high school teachers. It was all in good fun, and most of the time they won the battles. I was asked to do a Hersey drawing a few weeks ago so I figured I'd put it in queue earlier. I had to figure out the layout to include the school, the teachers, the clubs, and the sports. And of course, had to fit in the favorite lunch and evening hangouts - in Chicago, that means hot dog joints and the mall. OK - so in the front row we have the teachers, the Dean, the principal and the mascot. All but one of these teachers I had for a class. Behind the teachers are clubs, activities and friends. Included are Powder Puff, Debate, homecoming, Yearbook, NJROTC, Homecoming King and Queen, theater plays including Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, Once Upon a Mattress, and Brighton Beach Memoirs. Finally, the school newspaper and Orchesis dance team. Every person in this drawing is someone specific. Then of course you have the school. The next row include the athletic clubs. Starting from left to right, women's basketball, women's volleyball (2nd in State), Track, Cross Country, Gymnastics, Golf, Men's Soccer, Tennis, Baseball, Women's Soccer, State Champion Football team from our Junior year, Softball and Cheerleaders. Final back row of people includes members of the Flag team and the Pom team and more track/cross country runners. And the final final row includes our favorite hangouts - Nikko's, Randhurst Mall, Town and Country Mall, Peep's, and Wag's. And oh yea, Cub Foods which was across the street from the high school and the nearest point of school grounds where you could smoke.
Drawing #9 - Highlands Ranch, Colorado (June 2020) (Private Commission). This was done for a family member who was moving from Colorado to the midwest. Included in this drawing is their wedding at Winter Park, CO including the lodge, the Highlands Ranch hospital, Highlands Ranch Library, Cherry Hills Church, Northridge Elementary School, Smokin Fins, Rover's Run dog park, their house and Crossfit Modig. In the background is downtown Denver.
Drawing #10: St. James - Arlington Heights, IL - Class of 2020 Graduation (July 2020) (Private Commission) A friend and classmate from St. James, Class of 1985 asked me to draw this for her, which she presented to a parent of one of the graduates. This is based off a photograph which my friend provided. This was a lot of fun to draw. What a crazy year 2020 has been, especially for our children and students.
Drawing #11 - West Point, R-Day (Reception Day) - June 28, 1989 (August 2020): Well, this really could be any class' R-Day, especially in the 80s and 90s when we wore those awesome Gym Alpha shorts and t-shirts. R- Day (or Reception Day) is the first day of basic training for New Cadets at the United States Military Academy at West Point, NY. Going from top left to right, you see New York's World Trade Center towers in the distance along with the Bear Mountain Bridge. The first building on the left is the Hollader Center, where Army hockey and basketball plays. There, you and your family members are given a five minute speech and then you are told you have 90 seconds to say goodbye to them. Then it's onto buses for transport to Arvin Gymnasium which you see on the top right. Inside Arvin you are given uniforms, equipment, immunizations, and physical fitness tests. From there you move into the barracks area for haircuts and lunch, ifyou are lucky. The soldiers in the bright green shirts on the top-middle right are members of the United States Military Academy Prep School l (USMAPS). While in the barracks area, you continue to receive new uniform items, you report to the Cadet in the Red Sash, and then the company First Sergeant. All the New Cadets are assigned to units, just like an army unit. There are nine companies: A through I and four platoons each. These will become your academic year companies later on. By 4pm, all 1000+ New Cadets have been processed in and conduct an oath ceremony on the parade field in front of all the parents. Pretty remarkable. Ah yes, because of that parade, the only thing you are asked to bring with you on day one is a broken in pair of shined, black shoes. Everything else is issued. Hence, everyone running around in black shoes and black knee high socks even in physical fitness attire. A few Easter eggs, especially for the class of 93. The Batmobile parks in front of Hollader Center because that movie with Michael Keaton and Jack Nicholson was released a few days prior and was the last movie most of us saw. The group in red shirts carrying the man in white shirt is the gang from Dead Poet's Society which was also released a few days before our arrival, and included one of our classmates as an extra in most of the classroom scenes. The two Chinook helicopters are in honor of our classmate whose helicopter was shot down in Afghanistan in 2005, which can be seen in the movie "Lone Survivor." The tail numbers are 33 for Turbine 33 and 20 for his baseball jersey number while he was a cadet.
Drawing 12: Red Dawn (Movie from 1984) - Calumet, CO (really Las Vegas, NM) - October 2020: Sometime this summer I was watching the movie Red Dawn (one of my favorites). Red Dawn was released in 1984 and depicts a group of high school students conducting guerilla warfare against an invading combined Soviet/Latin American force. Released in the middle of Reagan's presidency and the height of the Cold War, it takes place in the fictional town of Calumet, Colorado. It was really filmed in Las Vegas, New Mexico, an hour and a half from Albuquerque where I lived for three years. I did not know that when I lived there. I would have visited. Anyway, there are some iconic moments and locations in that movie that I captured in this drawing. Starting from top left to right, the school where the Russian paratroopers land, the "Wolverines" yell from Aardvark. The helicopters chasing the gang and Robert taking aim with his RPG. There is the gas station, the Rough Riders statue, the Calumet painting on the side of the building (which still exists today), Jed weaving his way through the streets of Calumet during the initial attack, some of the building in Calumet, the ambush of the Soviet soldiers from the foxholes, the student guerillas portrayed by Patrick Swayze, Charlie Sheen, C. Thomas Howell, Lea Thompson, and Jennifer Grey. Harry Dean Stanton makes it into a second drawing of mine ( he is a tiny figure in the Shermer drawing as Andie's dad from Pretty in Pink), the attack on the airbase and prison, the park where Jed and Matt take their dying breaths as brothers, the library, Partisan Rock, and the building used in the final battle of the movie. This was a fun drawing but there were so many more buildings and icon moments I couldn't fit in. Maybe a sequel drawing.
Drawing 13: "Dreams of Legends" - Chicken Fried Toys' Dime Novel Legends: (October/November, 2020). Inspired by what toy store shelves looked like during the Kenner Star Wars phenomenon, this was done for the Chicken Fried Toys team who created the "Dime Novel Legends" western cowboy line up via Kickstarter. Right now, only figures are available, but some day, perhaps the rest of the sets will be available. Hence, the dreams of Legends.
Drawing 14: Arlington Market: Arlington Heights, IL (November 2020): I've been wanting to do Arlington Market for awhile. Sure, it's just a strip mall, but many memories there. From top left to right....Arlington Club Beverage Company, a friend's house, Recreation Park, Grandt's Shell, Weber Grill Factory, 7-11, Dicky's Dogs and Beverly Lanes (Bowling), the American Legion, Heller Lumber, Douglas Savings and Loan, Jewel grocery store, Treasure Chest Coins and Stamps, Eros Restaurant, Danegger's Pastry shop, Hahnfeld Music, and Unicorn Hallmark. Jewel was my first real job. I was a facer, which meant I had to pull items forward on the shelf so the shelves always looked full. Stacking baby food jars was the worst. Eros is where all the teens went to eat. Most people took their first date there. Danegger's Pasty shop was outstanding, and Hahnfeld Music was where we purchased a piano and I also took music lessons. We bowled a lot at Beverly Lanes during high school, and drank a lot of Slurpees at 7-11 after soccer games. I didn't frequent the other businesses but always remember seeing them. You can still purchase Arlington Club Beverage sodas at the Arlington Heights Historical Museum.
Drawing 15: The Hungarian Park (Magyar Liget) in Spring Grove, IL. (December 2020): While growing up in the Chicago suburbs, 14 Hungarian families (there is a large Hungarian-American population in Chicago) pitched together and purchased a 32 acre "farm" in Spring Grove, IL. It had one large lake and about 16 other smaller ponds. Almost every pond had bass, blue gill and sunfish in it. We spent every Sunday there for almost seven years. There was so much to do. Hide and Go Seek in the pine trees, go carts, soccer, volleyball, and a swimming pond. It was a lot of work for the parents. The dad's mowed the grass. The moms cooked authentic Hungarian food. On Labor Day and Memorial Day we typically had a huge picnic for the entire Hungarian community. Hundreds came, were fed, and partied. New Years Eve included all night parties where the kids skated on the ponds until the sun came up. At one point we had a horse and three ponies. What a place for the kids. My only regret was not making use of it during high school. That would have been fun. As the kids went off to college and jobs, and the ton of work it took to maintain, it was finally sold. The new owners have turned it into a resort of sorts. Check out www.shoresofturtlecreek.com.