Funny how I thought I didn’t do any decent drawings this week and yet there are a few. Sure, one is just a doodle from a restless moment (and there are a few more like it that I didn’t post), but I’m pleased to have accomplished even this much. Work has been wearing me thin, making it nearly impossible to do anything with the evening hours except stare in a glazed manner and be cranky. The weather’s been lovely though–a fluctuation between hints of autumn and lingering, languorous summer.
I like to draw downtown, on my lunch hour, on the bus or at events like the Arts Festival. Because I’m working fast to capture something before my subject moves, they aren’t always lovely drawings, but they do have life and maybe a bit of energy, and I like that about them. My favorite subject is a well-dressed man in a suit–it can make my day sometimes when I get to draw one–but the fun thing about drawing whoever appears before you is that you end up with some great subjects that you might not otherwise have chosen. I hope you enjoy this collection.
These are the better drawings from the last few weeks. I’ve been working a lot from memory, and while it is a great exercise for strengthening recall, it doesn’t usually result in anything worth sharing. One day perhaps. It does have the virtue though of being entirely original, and hopefully, captures more of what I feel essential in my evanescent subjects. People do not like being looked at, especially not by the penetrating eye, but a glance is usually beneath notice. These glances, few or many, if the memory is good, will build an image solid enough to hold in your hands. Practice sketches along similar lines provide a skeleton these fragments can cling to.
Unconsciously, I’ve taken the same path to better capture the flamenco practices. After the last session, I knew I wanted to study the forms of the dance in more detail and chose to do that by grabbing stills from online videos. With enough familiarity, I’ll see more as I watch and sketch the practices, distill more of the motion and character of the dancers, which is my objective. It’s always my objective: I watch people to understand them. It’s what children do, but fortunately for the little ones, no one objects to their wide-eyed stares or fears the conclusions their gazing minds will draw.
Each of these series spiral out from a sculptural inspiration–Classical Greek in 1987 and a modern piece for 1994. Analyzing, exaggerating, imagining, developing the variations, each new idea springing from the last forms. I was serious about learning to draw in the 80s and had patience for learning exercises then that I don’t seem to have any more. Patience, that is. It’s a great way to work though.
I liked this woman’s pose–one hand in her rumpled hair; the other dropped casually to her side, dangling a cigarette–and it offered the challenge of rendering her leather jacket. I did the pencil sketch fast, adding detail and shading, trying to keep it light, and then went for the watercolor. I took the color a little further than I meant to–I had planned only subtle washes and no background–but I still like the final effect. I went back touched up the drawing when it was dry to tighten it up a bit. I think next time, I want to try watercolor over charcoal.
My friend Susan, who dances with Alba Flamenco here in Pittsburgh, invited me to sketch at one of her Tuesday night castanet practices. What a joy! It was fascinating to watch serious artists train together in a discipline I know nothing about, but I can see how one could carried away by the rhythms in the music. I did.
I captured no more than a hint of the drama and grace of the postures, the hyper-extended gestures of the hands, the joy of the women dancing, but I sketched as fast as I could, enjoying every minute. I hope I get to visit with them again–with practice, I will get faster and bring more of what they do to the page. Thanks again, Barb and Susan!
I got to mix in some quick sketching from life this week, something I’ve missed. Anymore, it’s so busy at work that I rarely get free for lunch before 2:00pm, so the lunch crowds are pretty thin by the time I show up. No suit-guys, no old guys with their sandals and knee socks, no office girls on the make in their huge sunglasses and skirts too short for sitting in. It’s mainly just couriers and shopkeepers hurrying to grab their own lunch, but I did find a few business types to draw.
I’m also still trying to master expression and age; it’s so interesting what time and character can do. The marker drawing was inspired by the work of Nicole Franzen Photography–she does terrific work. I especially love her New York City photos. The other one is a little overworked, so you can tell I struggled, but I like it anyway. It’s harder than I thought to suggest someone speaking.
I’m getting close to finishing this sketchbook, started last April. That’s fast for me. I may post a video of it when it’s done. Look for it!
Oh, it was an exciting week in drawing! Why? Because I kept doing it. I often wonder why I do it, but I figure, sooner or later, I will discover the reason. I have a feeling that the stories and the drawings need to go together, though I’m not sure how. Meanwhile….keep doing it.
I had some fun yesterday at the Handmade Arcade craft show with my friend, Greg: he did his Christmas shopping and I bought cards, art by April Bleakney and children’s comic books by Nathaniel Taylor. (Nathaniel’s blog, Something’s Out There, has great content too–check it out.) The last time I went was years ago when it was held in the cold, grubby warehouses of Construction Junction, and the atmosphere was one of a fun, impromptu grunge party. The food, served from folding tables, was offered by small local restaurants. This year the show was held in the spartan, white-walled Convention Center, with food offered from a concession stand. (It may have been catered by a local restaurant, but it didn’t look inviting so I didn’t find out.) Considering the crowd-volume, a place that size was a necessity. I think the vendor selection was much better though, and it was a pleasure to spend a few moments talking with the artists.
As for my own work, I didn’t do as much this week as I might have wanted to, though several hours did go into gift-related work. I didn’t get to the museum to sketch Thursday night either; it had been an exhausting day and when 5 o’clock came, I was ready to go home and crawl in bed. Maybe next week. I’d say my drawings were evenly divided this week between sketches from life and from photo reference, and overall, I like what I made. Maybe in another 40,000 sketches, I’ll start to do really brilliant and abundant work, but till then, I have a lot of new inspiration from all I saw this weekend.