Landscape Watercolor December 2020


Slightly retouched for color:

Not much else turned out. I guess I wasn't feeling it. The watercolor pens are a great idea, and that's mainly what went into this attempt.

John le Carré 1931-2020


What's all this about spies? John le Carré wrote about human rights, plain and simple.

John le Carré, whose given name was David Cornwell, died on Saturday, December 12, at the age of 89. The cause was pneumonia, his publisher, Penguin Random House, announced in a statement on Sunday.

The best-selling author and onetime actual British spy is widely known as perhaps the world’s greatest spy novelist, and his most famous creation, George Smiley, the best loved literary spy (save perhaps for James Bond). He has been remarkably productive and consistently good since the 60s, writing iconic works like The Spy Who Came in From the Cold, which Graham Greene called “the best spy story I have ever read,” Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, The Night Manager, and The Constant Gardener; his most recent novel, Agent Running in the Field, was published just last year.

His agent Jonny Geller described le Carré as “an undisputed giant of English literature. He defined the cold war era and fearlessly spoke truth to power in the decades that followed . . . I have lost a mentor, an inspiration and most importantly, a friend. We will not see his like again.”

Earlier this year, he was awarded the Olof Palme Prize, an award given for “an outstanding achievement in any of the areas of anti-racism, human rights, international understanding, peace and common security.” He donated the $100,000 prize to international humanitarian NGO Médecins Sans Frontières.

Watercolor by Shibasaki


If this leads to a renaissance of watercolor painting, then I'm all for it:

A 73-year-old grandfather may seem like an unlikely social media sensation, but Japan's Harumichi Shibasaki is defying stereotypes. 

The painter's YouTube channel, Watercolor by Shibasaki, features a series of how-to art videos and has amassed more than 700,000 subscribers. His most popular video, a tree painting tutorial, has been watched more than five million times.

"When it comes to drawing a tree, people generally focus on the fact that there are many leaves. But I advise them to observe not individual leaves but the bigger silhouette of the tree," Shibasaki tells CNN.

Shibasaki is building up quite a following, and with good reason. 

He creates videos to show how his techniques can be used and, by making them with state of the art social media tools, he can bring in followers and viewers who might not otherwise pick up a brush. And you don't have to paint to be entertained.

One of my favorite watercolor artists is Iain Welch. You should follow his work here.

David Chase Has Another Opportunity to Ruin the Sopranos Ending


Every time I turn around, someone is giving David Chase another chance to ruin the way that he ended the Sopranos by killing Tony Soprano.

The streaming premiere, set for a one-night-only event on December 27 at 7pm GMT, will include two bonus features: the first being a reunion of key cast members at Il Cortile, a Little Italy restaurant the actors would go after their characters had been killed off. 
The second bonus will offer fans a rare interview with creator David Chase, reminiscing on his childhood memories of Newark and his plans to take The Sopranos to the big screen next year.

Here's to a whole new round of Sopranos related interviews and documentaries where Chase inadvertently tells people what he really meant when he had those hitmen shoot Tony in the face in front of his family, which maybe didn't happen now that we know that Chase changed his mind about that years ago. 

Everything Should be Virtual Until COVID-19 is Eliminated


Why is this even up for a debate? We should be making plans, right now, to hold virtual gatherings and keep people safe for as long as it takes to get to a point where everyone is safely vaccinated. 

There will be no “virtual” Oscars.

“The Oscars in-person telecast will happen,” a rep from the Academy and ABC tells Variety exclusively.

This year, the Academy of Motion Arts and Sciences moved their annual telecast back two months to April 25, 2021, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Sources inside the Oscars say that by pushing the awards ceremony back, the Academy hoped that theaters would be open again in the spring, thus allowing for more movies to compete in the annual celebration of the year’s best films.

But even if movie theaters stay closed, by holding the Oscars later in spring, organizers are now focusing to make sure that the event continues as it always has live. That may still create some questions as to exactly how many people are allowed inside the 3,400-seat Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles, where the ceremony traditionally takes place.

There is no reason to risk anyone's life. The Academy Awards, and everything else like it, should be held virtually.