Friday, June 14, 2024

Published on Wednesday, March 14, 2018

English Ivy and Creating Opportunities

Henry Ford

“Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty.”

— Henry Ford


The worlds of design, art and graphic production have all evolved very rapidly over the past 20 to 25 years. It has never been easier to create what you can visualize, then produce it at what seems like lightning speed.


Perhaps, though, we are losing the art of creating imagery using paint, pencil and paper.


Botanical drawingWith that in mind and the quote above by Henry Ford, I decided to push my limits a bit, dust off my pencil box and get back to some artistic roots. And by “roots”, I really mean it.


I am taking a class in botanical drawing.


Graphite and pencilTo say it is going well is a stretch. I’m having a very difficult time slowing down and being patient with the process. It’s an entirely different world than what I’m used to. Compared to the sweeping, fast-paced use of charcoal and graphite sticks, botanical drawing is a tedious and exact process that requires sharp-pointed pencils and attention to subtle details.


We started with English ivy and willow sticks, and are moving into more flowering plants where we need to incorporate dry brush water color technique. This has tested my patience and put into question whatever talent I thought I had going in. The instructor is encouraging, which is good.


Invasive ivyAlong the way, though, I am learning many more new things. Did you know English ivy is an invasive plant to this area? While it is everywhere, it chokes out native plants and probably should be pulled out when possible. Did you also know that willow stalks are either male or female and that they will grow if you plant one of its branches?


Just a few more classes to go. I’ve promised my wife something suitable for framing for our guest bathroom. I do plan on coming away with something tangible. We’ll see if she finds my attempt suitable for framing.


Woodstock and One Zero CharlieI met Michael Stanard over 30 years ago when I walked into his Evanston design firm. He purchased a Nomadic Instand he designed for a client. About every year or so, I hear from Michael about a new project. It’s always great to talk with him.


Michael has been in Woodstock, Illinois for a number of years and his agency, One Zero Charlie, is a real class act. Recently, Michael designed and managed the production of a 118’ long outdoor mural for the city of Woodstock. Learn more about the development of the Woodstock on Film and on the Stage Mural by watching this video.


Woodstock muralI applaud Michael and the artist on the successful installation of a mural that pushed the limits of the ordinary. Michael’s explanation in the video that good design is not a challenge or problem, but rather an “opportunity”, has made me look at what I do everyday in a new light. I hope that is reflected in how I work to provide more than just display “solutions” for my customers.


Henry Ford would be proud of both of us. Well, maybe more Michael than me, however.


If his next project needs some English ivy added to it, perhaps Michael will give me a call.

Steve Moskal 

English ivy drawing

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Steve Moskal
Steve Moskal

Steve Moskal

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Full biography

Steve’s journey in the trade show and event world started in 1983 with one of the original Nomadic Display sales organizations in North America. In 1994, he co-founded Prairie Display/Chicago.

Steve was an Allied Board Member of TSEA (Trade Show Exhibitors Association) from 2007 to 2011 and recipient of the TSEA President’s Award in 2009. He also served as Financial Chair of the Midwest Exhibit and Event Professionals (formerly the Chicago chapter of TSEA) and as a commissioner with the Elmhurst Economic Development Commission from 2011 to 2016. Currently he is Vice President of Education for the Addison/Elmhurst, IL Toastmasters Club.

When not working with customers and co-workers at Prairie, you can find him trying to spend more time biking and pursuing other creative endeavors. Steve lives in Oak Brook, IL with his beautiful and equally understanding wife of 26 years, Shelley.

Steve is a graduate of Northern Illinois University, with a B.A. in Journalism and a Fine Arts minor.


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