This Is Roz Focusing: The Ukulele Question—Part II

September 17, 2011

See the complete post for details.

Above: Cockatoo sketch using Pentel Pocket Brush Pen and watercolors on a journal handmade with Stonehenge paper. (Journal is approx. 7.5 x 7.5 inches.)

Saturdays are days I allow myself to check out some ukulele music on the internet. Really we have to keep a cap on this obsession. The other day I wrote 4 songs, one of which, "I Used To Be a Valley Girl" makes me giggle (which I don't ever do; and no I will never sing it for you, some things are too personal). Then I came up with a couple album titles, of course. So we all know where this is going—and I don't even have a ukulele yet (though we are going to look at some tonight)—I'm going to be making fake album covers just as I enjoy making fake book covers! I have to fill my spare time some how.

In the meantime I thought I would share a little movie scene I wish would find its way into a movie:

Sir Sean walks into a subway and down the platform, and as he walks we hear it, the little picky tones and strumming of the busker playing on his uke. Sir Sean tosses a couple bills into the gig case and keeps walking.

Once you fall in love with ukuleles you can't help imagining them being used EVERYWHERE!

110804CockatooStonehengeDet Left: Detail from the cockatoo sketch so you can see how the watercolor works on the paper, and see the little bit of white gouache added in the orbital ring.

So what's with the cockatoo sketch for today?

1. I'm still working on my State Fair scans.

2. I'm making two artists books (one an edition of 6 and the other an edition of 30) based on the State Fair scans and the deadlines are perilously close.

3. Despite the heartfelt encouragement of other ukulele fans who've written in to me, I doubt that I will ever sketch a uke (mine or someone else's) so I had to come up with something to illustrate this post.

4. Haven't you caught on by now that 99.9 percent of my bird portraits are self-portraits and that this one, even though it pre-dates the creation of the song is exactly what I would look like if I were to sing, "I Used To Be a Valley Girl." I thought you could enjoy it this way. (Actually I lived in San Jose, but I can do a good Valley Girl if I have to—just don't ask me under which circumstances such a portrayal might be necessary; my life is complicated.)

Oh, and the fortune that's stuck to the featured page spread reads: "The difficulty is not on [sic] coming up [with] new ideas, but to undo the old one."

Now how is that for serendipity!?

Fade out to a snazzy ukulele tune (just perfect if you're being chased by spies), which is actually a fun little tutorial as well.

    • LizzieBo
    • September 17, 2011

    I love your cockatoo sketches. What a wonderful way to start (or end) the day. Okay, now I am wondering under what circumstances you might have to do a valley girl impersonation. And what is an artist book? Just a book that an artist makes? Is there something which distinguishes it from a book? And why the categorical statement that you won’t sketch a uke? I can imagine many circumstances where that might be necessary (and/or desirable). I’m clearly confused.

  1. Reply

    Roz: My son is crazy about the ukelele. If you want to see the guy who can really play check out Jake Shimabukuro on youtube. Have fun.

    • PeggySu
    • September 17, 2011

    Last fall we saw a great art exhibit about vinyl records that included some cool fake record covers!

  2. Reply

    Jon, I’m glad you have a ukulele player in the family.

    Jake Shimabukuro opens the Mighty Uke documentary I saw, which started all this. His work is breathtaking.

  3. Reply

    LizzieBo, glad you enjoyed the sketches. As for VG impersonations (like I said, my life is complicated). An artist’s book is a limited edition, often single copy only book with some handmade elements (typically). It’s hard to nail down because so many things get incorporated into the definition.

    Here’s what wiki says

    And as for drawing Ukes, inanimate objects (I do not count stones as inanimate) typically don’t interest me much. There isn’t much that I want to interpret about the form of the Uke, which I think for my mind and interest (documenting and observing my life) would be better captured in photos. But that’s just me and my predilections.

  4. Reply

    Maggie, if I do take it up we can have a band!

  5. Reply

    PeggySu, thanks for the fun link, I must have been looking too quickly and not reading the captions closely enough, but I just saw one fake record cover. But that one was pretty cool. My favorite photo in the gallery was the bird’s beak playing the record!

    Thanks for passing this along! Now I’m even more convinced I’ve got to get busy!

    • Pam
    • September 17, 2011

    Roz, did you hear the interview with singer/songwriter Ingrid Michaelson on NPR this week? She played the ukulele live. Her songs appear on TV in shows and commercials. Listen on the web at

    P.S. I had a uke when I was a kid!

  6. Reply

    Pam, I didn’t. THANK YOU for drawing this to my attention and sending a link. I’ll check it out.

    And why don’t you play any more?

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