Wine Tasting

11 March, 2017. I’m done – really, really done.

I have to be upfront and honest about something. I know I said I was looking forward to the “One Week, One Hundred People” sketching challenge, but around fifty or sixty I began to feel like I was really, really, really done with the assignment. I’m not good with focusing on a single aspect of drawing, to the exclusion of all else. I like my sketches to tell a story or to allow me to comment on what I’m feeling or experiencing at a particular point in time, a particular place or experience. Focusing on the number of people meant persisting and finding new ways to hold my interest. Frankly, that’s the reason why my choice of media kept changing last week – I needed to create new challenges so that I didn’t feel like every drawing was a repetition of the ones that came before. A friend of mine said, “I love drawing people so much, I didn’t want to turn it into a job.” Exactly! And by the time yesterday rolled around I just wanted to get back to using my sketches as a mode of journaling, which is how the wine tasting sketches came to be.

So, even though I didn’t reach the “hundo” mark, I am officially done with this challenge! (And the wine tasting was my unofficial celebration for reaching that finish line.)

Having run short of “sketch pamphlets” – those quarter-sheet, accordion-folded booklets of watercolor paper that I carry around for location sketches – I cut up a fresh sheet and experimented with a new stitched booklet configuration. The experiment is less a pamphlet and more like an experimental sketchbook that incorporates a bunch of gatefolds. The end result is that I have a lot of choices for motif, ranging from vertical to horizontal to very horizontal – indeed, some spreads will be absolutely panoramic in nature.

I began with the sketch above, simply adding overlapping sketches of people walking. I tried to keep the composition interesting by varying the scale of each figure or figure group. Later, I added a couple of touches of color with gouache just to establish a bit of eye movement.

Although I use my sketches to tell stories, it may be that I’m more of a fiction writer when I do so than a true reporter. I feel no qualms about taking rough pencil sketches and substantially reinterpreting them when I ink those lines and add color later on. Take this scene for instance. The tall figure on the left was actually a man. He had long hair and my pencil did a reasonably good job conveying that fact. But as I inked in the lines later on, the figure emerged as a woman. The scene, too, began to evolve, sometimes simpler than the original location, and in some places becoming more complex.

I like to leave negative space intact while I sketch, in order to provide some form of caption or narrative or commentary. I also like to include typography. I don’t like to refer to this as “lettering,” because I’m quite awful at that art. But as a skilled typographer, inventing new letterforms and arrangements comes as second nature to me. Typography is a form of architecture, and that kind of structural approach to a design simply makes sense to me.



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