art drawing lettering

Hand Lettering BKLYN Days 6 & 7

More fun in the world of hand lettering.

Step 1

I wanted to get a flowing ribbon curve shape.




NYC could be on a fist, like on…brass knuckles!


The finish

Hand lettered drawing of BKLYN NYC


And then this morning I made this one in a whimsical mood 

A whimsical hand lettering of Brooklyn New York City

art drawing lettering

A New view of BKLYN – Hand Lettering Day 5

Something about this makes me feel like satellite dishes and radio towers and cellphone monitoring.  BKLYN is an urban zen-tangle!

BKLYN-day5 Hand Lettering Zentangle

art drawing lettering

Energy arises – day 4 of hand lettered drawings of Brooklyn

So as I started this one at 7am on Sunday, it was like an old vine arising from a sturdy branch.  The waves of energy were coming up and blooming around.


Hand lettered Brooklyn


art drawing lettering

Hand Lettered Brooklyn – Day 3

I was thinking of my favorite time of day when the light is magical in the periwinkle of twilight.  I didn’t quite capture the silhouettes but maybe tomorrow?

Day 3 of my Hand Lettering of Brooklyn NYC

art drawing lettering

Hand Lettered Brooklyn Day 2

Feeling a bit like I need some grass and sun and warmth. What a winter it has been!

Brooklyn, NYC, day 2

art drawing lettering

Hand Lettering Brooklyn, Day 1

Okay so here’s the first of a series.  It’s not so great, but it was sure fun and meditative.


Hand lettering of Brooklyn NYC
My first one
art drawing joyful living lettering

Giving Myself Permission…

Or Releasing The Fears And Rules Of Others To Get Back To Your True Self

I’ve recently realized I need to draw/doodle  for my own sanity.  Back in high school, I was a pretty good visual artist and actually had to choose art or music as a career path.

I chose music, but I’ve felt something amiss in not drawing anymore.   I didn’t feel like I had permission to waste time doodling or drawing – there was work to be done!    [Note:  You could insert any activity here really: drawing or painting or writing songs or anything you passionately love.]  But yet, it was like a part of me kept bugging me, like a piece of grit in my gut that was forming itself into a pearl.


I’ve always envied the life of the independent cartoonist.  I was never really into comic books like Spiderman or Marvel stuff.  Instead, I was attracted to people like Bill Watterson (of Calvin and Hobbes fame) and Gary Larson (The Far Side)  who could command their own worlds and enjoyed international fame and fortune.  But problem is, I couldn’t really see myself writing and drawing my own comics.

A Seed Is Planted

Years ago, I read Hugh Mcleod‘s amazing book Ignore Everybody.  I was so envious, jealous even!  How did he escape the big ad agency and claim his own life!    At the time I was still involved with interactive advertising world.   And to think that Hugh was not even an Art Director, but a Copywriter who drew these crude cartoons!  Though I didn’t do anything about it, it planted a seed deep within me.




About a year and a half ago, I came across a book about this process called Zentangle which had this entire process of making simple abstract art from rules.  It was like a drawing meditation and I started to play around with it and found I really liked it.  I also got to buy myself some really cool pens and pencils!

This was fun, but it still felt a little bit like I was wasting time and needed to go and do real work.  It’s amazing what your previous programming does to you.  I was hearing the voices of authority in my head from parents, teachers, society, etc.   But, it felt so fun!  And, I was only doing a little bit each day.  It’s like my version of sitting on the couch watching television, which I don’t really do.



Then I came across this great book, the Sketchnote Handbook about note-taking using drawings!   This was so cool!  It’s kind of like giving myself permission to draw because I was doing some thinking work at the same time.  (Or I was note-taking at a meeting or I was learning a new subject.)  This also re-awakened in me an awareness of hand lettering and calligraphy, something I used to know about back when I was a teenager.

Starting to feel a little inspired, I bought this great book called Creative Lettering, Techniques and Tips from Top Artists by Jenny Doh.  It was actually hard for me to justify doing this, so I think I used some points to purchase this book.  And what a breath of fresh air!  It is a review of beautiful lettering by many different artists.  I loved it so much, I started to add little lettering features to my daily list of lesson plans for my music students.

Here’s some examples.

IMG_1324 IMG_1319 IMG_1290



Then about a week ago, I was in a coffee shop and came across an artist sketching some beautiful abstract designs in his notebook.  It turns out, he does this just for fun too.  He has a real job in technology, but you could tell this really turned him on.  We spoke a long time about ideas, letting go, pens, paper and giving yourself permission.

It seems that we often don’t honor our true nature.  Instead of doing what feels good and right, I was trying to do the “right thing,” which paradoxically is not so.    The other thing I haven’t been doing enough of is writing fiction. But that’s another long post!

I Give In

So I’m going to start a series of hand lettered designs.  I live in Brooklyn and it’s apparently the center of the Universe, according to those who live here. 🙂    So stay tuned for my series of hand drawn Brooklyn.   I’m feeling better already.  It’s like going through life with one arm tied behind your back.  Now to get the kinks out and get the blood flowing again!


art joyful living musings

Creating a personal mission poster

I found this cool tool called Wordie that allows you to create a typographic poster of words you put in it.   It also allows you to put in a URL of your website to create a word poster of your website.  Very cool.

I was thinking that I could use this to create a self-motivational poster using Dr. Stephen Covey’s ideas of roles.  In his 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, he talks about planning your day/week/month using the roles of your life such as Father, Employee, Husband, Church-goer etc.  This allows you to plug in an activity in each of your role areas ensuring you don’t give one short shrift, like say Husband.  “Bring home flowers!”

Here’s something that I made today.  I’ll probably make other ones that make me focus on my goals and ways of being, example “Loving kindness.”

roles poster

I’m also planning on using this with some of my music students to help motivate them to practice more.

Check it out here: Wordie

art drawing lettering

Friday October 11,2013


Thank god it’s Friday. A long long week. How does Obama do it? Or anyone in power? It must be the intoxicating mix of absolute purpose and power that gives a lift in the body, mind and heart.

art film/video

Creating an interactive children’s book using Apple iBook Author

So I’ve just found out that my iPad interactive iBook, Play Piano For Kids, has been launched in 32 countries around the world at the Apple iTunes store.  Yeah!!!

This project has been on my mind for close to 5 years, and only in the last few months has it been a burning priority.  With Apple’s  January 19, 2012 announcement of their new free software iBook Author, I finally knew I could create this.

So what’s the deal with iBook Author?  There’s a lot of pros as well as cons to this software.  On the positive side, it is really quite easy to start laying out beautiful pages.  If you’ve used any of Apple’s other products like Keynote or Pages, then this should be very familiar.

Drawing objects and placing type is the same as Pages.  In fact it seems like they started with Pages and then added some additional functionality.  The use of Widgets for interactivity is pretty simple, but somewhat limited.

Because my book is aimed at young pre-literate children, I would have loved an easy way to have the kids touch the animated character (a penguin named Pontus) so he could do things like giggle or jump or whatever.

Creating a multimedia book using Apple iBook Author
Page thumbnails on the left and the page canvas on the right

Using the widget, I could only add pre-made videos either from iMovie or exported from Flash or even Keynote presentations.  By using a combination of these software packages, I could achieve a simplistic animation style that was both compelling (for young pre-reading kids) and not too detail oriented that I would get bogged down in production.

You can see the intro video I made which shows a few examples of the different animation techniques.

One thing that I toyed with in the pre-production phase of this project is the idea of including an onscreen keyboard so that anyone can start playing.  Right now, you need an external keyboard or piano to use – which is actually better to really learn piano.  But for those times when you’re in the car or on a family trip, being able to call up an onscreen virtual keyboard that you tap on the glass would be an acceptable substitute.  This turned out to be near impossible to do without utilizing some more technical things like a Javascript library for sounds.  Perhaps in a future version, I can address this, but I’m hoping that an update of iBook Author will allow for this in that easy Apple way.

Here’s an animation that was created in a combination of iMovie and Flash.

You can learn more about the book at Play Piano For Kids.

art music

Music for Theater, Instinct

I wrote music for this theater production of an original play by Matthew Maguire.  It opens this weekend in NYC at the Lion Theater on Theater Row.  An outbreak is spreading and scientists are racing to save the world whilst dealing with their own troubled relationships.  The play is smart, witty, fast and very disconcerting. What’s scary is how plausible this is!

Here’s an excerpt of the music from it.

art film/video food joyful living

Empanadas – a film, a life, a recipe

My mother in law Beatriz passed away 3 days before Christmas 2010.  It was a long hard year when we heard the diagnosis of her late stage brain cancer.  She was such a well loved, vibrant, energetic and insatiably curious soul who could befriend someone in an instant.  So many of our friends who met Beatriz became instant friends.  One time at a beach in New Jersey, we met an acquantaince with a child adopted from Colombia.  She was excited to meet Beatriz who grew up in Medellin, in the state of Antioquia.  Within 20 minutes, it was like they had known each other for years.  When my wife and I lived in Hong Kong, Beatriz came for a weeklong visit.  Right away, a dear friend of ours made plans to visit her and to share recipes and shopping adventures.  The age difference of 30 years did not make any difference! They kept up writing letters to each other for years.

A few years ago, I had a sense that perhaps we should preserve and capture one of “Abuelita’s” signature recipes.  So armed with a basic point and shoot digital camera (a Fuji FinePix F20) I shot and edited this film Empanadas Antioquenas (in iMovie) and now it’s gone past tens of thousands of views on YouTube.  Beatriz has become everyone’s mother and Abuelita. I still need to add English subtitles, but you can pretty much follow along even without knowing Spanish.

In Loving Memory of Beatriz Valencia Agudelo

May 31, 1940 – December 22, 2010

art travel writing


Sticky sweet juices running down my fingers.  I lick my lips and smear my face with the back of my hand.  Whoever told me eating a mango for breakfast on the Hong Kong – Lamma Island ferry with just a pocketknife was a good idea?  And no napkins either!

The air is hot, pregnant with moisture, holding cloudburst full of the rainy season air.  And I sit on the lower deck satisfied, sweet and and watch as the constant breeze of the South Pacific dries the mango juice on my hands.

It is a brief respite, an enjoyable journey to start the day.  I have no desire to leave my island hideway to face the political backstabbing hordes of Hong Kong and the veneer of 2 faced “friends”.  How did I arrive in such a situation?

I wanted to change the world and somehow got bowled over by the first big wave of my career.  So naive!  So unprepared!  I was just a sweet plump mango waiting to be plucked, eaten and discarded.