Recent Drawings

2016-01-16 Scepticism white   2016-01 Two-2 2016-01-03 Adam Driver  2016-01-14 Sirius 2016-01-23 Jumper 2016-01-20 discovered

Here is a selection of my recent drawings in the usual media–pencil, markers, colored pencils–and now I’ve begun dabbling with ink washes. Of course, I’m still obsessing about Star Wars, so much so that I’ve decided to set up a new gallery page for the new and old work. It should be ready in a day or two.

I still find myself short on time when it comes to doing drawings, but more often than not, even with quick sketches, I’m pleased with the results. That feels really good and everything, and shows that three years of daily practice is paying off, but maybe it makes me wonder….is it time to stretch in new directions?

Silent Star

2016-01-12 Lillian Gish

Inspired by the luminous silent film star, Lillian Gish. I recently watched her 1919 film directed by D.W. Griffith, True Heart Susie. It turns out I was familiar with one of the stills from an old film catalog from my college film school days, but I wasn’t aware of which film it was. The pacing of the silent films takes some getting used to, but there was much that was charming in this one.

There’s something about Gish’s wistful child-woman face that I find appealing, so I had to try to draw her. I love the lighting in these old films and publicity photos, and I’ve drawn from them before, namely Marie Prevost (and here and here and here). I believe the still was a publicity shot; if it was from a film, I don’t know which one. I know it isn’t a good likeness of her, but it is a good drawing. I want to try another one soon.

(media: Prismacolor markers)

Retro Friday: Star Wars Love (1982)

1982 Luke_0002 pale 1982 Luke cap 1982 Leia WC2 1982 Leia WC 1982 Luke pencil 1982 Luke pencil2 1982 6 heroes cap 011 crop 013 Three cap

Star Wars love is in my family…I have it…my sister has it….

Like so many, many others, I’m geeking out about the new Star Wars movie, The Force Awakens. Like any self-respecting nerd, I have a few gripes, but overall, I think this new story is pretty terrific. Not that Start Wars love is exactly a new thing for me; I’ve been a fan for 38 years. I saw the original Star Wars movie in the theater in the summer of 1977–Dad took all of us kids, expecting to fall asleep, but didn’t–but I really fell for the series with the arrival of The Empire Strikes Back in 1979, or rather, with its re-release in 1982. That year, the stars were aligned and I was enraptured. I have pages of little doodles and cartoons of these guys, I drew them everywhere, all the time, but here are some of the best things. I hope you enjoy them. They still bring me pleasure.

I’m busy drawing Star Wars again–new characters and old, prequel, classic and the latest and greatest. I’ll post them when I have a nice collection to share. Till then…

May the Force inspire you!

(Media: watercolor, pencil and ink wash)

Speed Drawing: Moving Faster than Thought

2015-11-12 man 2015-12-24 WmA 2015-12-27 Luke

I think too much.

This isn’t news. Anyone who knows me, knows it’s true. You’d think when it comes to exercising any skill, including drawing, that a thoughtful approach is the best. Sometimes it is. Sometimes, the best way is to study the proportions, carefully mark the features, follow the contours with patient care. It’s what I try for when I really want my drawing to come out right.

The problem for me is that I get so wrapped up in the problem-solving aspect of the work that the soul goes out of it. Or never got into it to begin with. Maybe the issue is with what I mean by right.The finished product may be well-made, but it feels dead. I look at it and have no idea what I thought or felt about the subject based on what’s on the page, which makes me wonder why I bothered. Well, I bothered because I actually did see something I wanted to capture: something I loved, something I wanted to understand, something that called to me. Why isn’t it in the drawing then?

It’s my theory that my brain gets in the way; I’m thinking more than drawing. So my solution has been to shake my practice up a little with speed drawing: getting the line down as fast as I can, scribbling the forms and emotions, sweeping through the movement, exaggerating. I’ve done it before–here and here–but I first began doing it consciously when I was drawing the flamenco dancers in motion and was confronted by a pose that excited me, but I didn’t know how to render. If I did nothing, it was gone. So I made a few big marks, fast, fast, trying to grab whatever I could, hoping that I had captured something of what I’d seen, maybe found a clue to the truth of the pose. And more times than not, I really liked the result.

The same has proved true when sketching from a photo. My line quality is more varied and interesting, there’s more emotion and energy, and the result is more vivid than if I’d taken more care. If I’d thought about it…instead, I drew. Let my hand and my eye do what I’ve spent all these years training them to do. The work I show here won’t always be in this manner–there’s still so much training I want to do–but eventually I’d like to venture beyond the safety of pencil to try this style in markers and maybe, one day, in pen and ink.

I’d like to hear your thoughts on speed drawing or any other methods to draw with less brain in the equation.

Inspiration from Many Sources

2015-10 Mary Kirk and Manga Girl

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2015-11-2 from Frank Stockton 2015-11-30 from Moebius 2015-12-01 from Skottie Young Oz mini 2015-10-25 Lizella multi 1_0002 dk mini

With my focus lately on wrapping up the Duckworth revision, I’ve not been posting as many of my drawings, but of course I am still drawing every day. There have been the usual ups and downs: late in October I was doing a lot of work I enjoyed, but more recently I’ve been on a downturn. With writing sliding into the back seat for a few miles, I hope to focus more on drawing through the end of the year. To kick off a little more intensity, I decide to post the best of what I’ve been up to.

I’ve been looking to many sources for inspiration: Downton Abbey, Star Trek, manga, people I see around me, Drawing Tutorials Online (especially the work of June and Alex), and the work of Frank Stockton, Skottie Young and Moebius. There are rendered portraits, original characters in several styles, caracatures….just about anything that struck my fancy. I imagine the ideal would be to be very serious and focused, working through various exercises to gain definite skills and improve where I’m faulty, and I hope that day won’t be far off, but for now, what I want to do is have fun when I draw. And that’s what this work is, the fruit of fun.

It is said that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery; I hope so. I’m trying to learn and so I choose the inspiration I like the best.

(Media: markers, pencil and colored pencils)

On Missing Someone–Rachael O’Ceiran


Thanksgiving means I’m missing someone…

Rachael O’Ceiran was my best friend.

No one was so beautiful, so full of life. No one ever supported me, believed in me (without retaliation or competition); dreamed my futures with me in sync with dreams I actually had for myself; stuck needles into me to resolve arthritis pain whether I believed in them or not (it felt so good); re-taught me the principles of wu wei (we’ve been here before,lives and lives); shopping for Halloween stuff, her favorite holiday; registering as “Morrissey” whenever we made reservations; bonding over David Lynch, punk and John Waters; laughing over too much wine (in the gravy) while I cooked Thanksgiving dinner…

Once her life had come apart–divorce, kids dispersed, love in ruins–she often came to stay over Thanksgiving. We had so much fun together. Sure, she was a handful–bi-polar is no cotton-candy theme park ride–though she never told me what drove her to her extremes…that came out at her memorial. I just took them as given. I’m not an easy ticket to draw either–and I think we always got that about each other.

I never knew a person so alive…Was it because of the bi-polar I didn’t know about until she was gone? Or was she just a human fireworks show that somehow came into a little still-life world like mine? I still see her sometimes in dreams (once she appeared and said “You know I’m dead, don’t you?”) and I know I’ll see her again, as I have before, more times than I can account for…

We met in college (this time) when I was a film major and one of my projects was an 8mm study of her which I titled “You Don’t Need to go to College to be a Success,” from a clipping pasted to her dorm wall. (Same woman who had an Eraserhead poster as a part of her newlywed apartment decor.) Maybe the film has disintegrated too much after 30+ years, but I need to see if I can recover it. If I can, I’ll post it here.

The film ends with a candle flame and the words of a The Smiths song:

And if a double-decker bus
Crashes in to us
To die by your side
Is such a heavenly way to die
And if a ten ton truck
Kills the both of us
To die by your side
Well the pleasure, the privilege is mine

You were only 20. I was 28. The best of times. Still so grateful and so thankful. I understand the need to be done with it all; I really do. Still. Still, I miss you.

Rach, how I wish you were here.

More Drawing from Downton Abbey

2015-10-08 Downton Abbey

2015-10-10 Downton Ep6

This practice of drawing from Downton Abbey has gotten addictive. You can see there are some goofs and exaggeration, but I’m drawing with marker without preliminary pencil sketches to guide me–so what you see is what you get. You should still be able to recognize the characters, I hope. It such a pleasure to watch all of these wonderful actors in this high-class soap. Very well written, too.

Drawing from Downton Abbey

2015-10-05 Downton Ep2

I’ve decide to re-watch Downton Abbey (is it still ongoing?) and last night, on episode 2, I got out the markers to draw. I’ve drawn from Downton once before–Edith–and probably will again, it is so full of beauty and human interest.

This is at the point in the story where the Crawleys arrive. I didn’t do Matthew justice, but it was fun drawing the varying reactions of the girls–sorry, Sybil, you slid off the page!–and of course, the withering gaze of Carson. The composition is haphazard, sadly, but I need more practice at that sort of thing. My sister has always been a natural at composition while I tend to get lost in the details. Time to shore up the weaknesses. This drawing and the manga from the weekend have been fun ways to practice.