Sketch exchange.

25 February, 2020.

I went out Saturday morning to scout locations for our upcoming April sketch walk and exchange with USk Sevilla. Seville, Spain is our sister city, and the Plaza, with its Spanish-Influenced architecture will serve as the backdrop for the sketches we’ll exchange with our friends in Seville.

Time suck.

24 February, 2020.

Procreate, I’ve discovered, is a tremendous time suck. I begin by playing around with a sketch, and before long it’s become apparent that I just can’t leave the damn thing alone.

I enjoyed an unhurried meal at Corner Cafe on Friday evening, loosely sketching some of my fellow diners.

I awoke the next morning, a thought having occurred to me in that weird state between sleep and consciousness: I began to rework the sketch, taking it into a very different visual direction. From time to time, I’ll work with a black pen and a white gel pen on Stillman and Birn gray media, breaking my composition down into areas that are discreet from one another: white/middle tone/black and flat area/textured area/color. The addition of color is done with gouache; the contrast of that opaque color against the toned background is attractive in my eyes. This sketch is the digital doppelgänger to that paper-based approach.

Lonely existence

23 February, 2020.

Friday night, dinner on my own. As I wait patiently for a platter of catfish to arrive, I sip from a tall glass of iced tea and study the booths around me. There are a surprising number of patrons who – like me – are dining alone. Many are completely entranced by something on their cell phone. What a lonely looking existence, I think to myself.

Did his horse come in, I wonder?

21 February, 2020.

The best part about sketching at the horse track in Hot Springs a couple of days ago is the diversity of people subjects on hand. Sketching in a grand stand turned out to be great, not only because of the range of characters available but also because those subjects tend to stay in one place, allowing me more time than usual to focus on details.

Drawing a crowd.

20 February, 2020.

I’m not certain how I’m supposed to feel about a horse race. Outraged at the way these magnificent animals have been bred and engineered and molded? Excited by the gambling? Keyed up as each group of horses thunder around the track?

To be frank, each of those thoughts crosses my mind. I’ve arrived early enough to stake out a prime location right on the finish line. I figure the crowds will gather here first – as it happens, my guess is correct, despite my inexperience with horse tracks. And to be equally frank, my interest this day is more about the people gathered here than anything else.

Many people stay in one location long enough to capture a likeness. I’m working first with a pencil to capture the gestures as quickly as possible – something I almost never do anymore, preferring to jump right onto the page with a pen. I also have a composition in mind already, which I seldom do. This particular arrangement was in mind before ever I saw the track, and reality happened to fit in nicely with my imagination… and boy, that almost never happens either!

Building a crowd drawing is really an act of “collage-making” because the crowd moves and by the time one figure has been sketched the group dynamic has changed completely. It happens over and over again, so my sketch isn’t about a single moment in time as much as it is a time exposure.

Pencil, Uni-Ball Vision and Pitt Big Brush pens, water brush, and watercolor in Stillman and Birn sketchbook.

Just a walk in the park.

19 February, 2020.

Long, full, snowy white beard flowing in the warm breeze, with an equally snowy mane, unruly as a toddler, he walks his tiny black poodle or pekinese or whatever passes for a toy dog these days, across a small grassy park.

Uni-Ball Vision and Pitt Big Brush pens in Canson 180 sketchbook.

Hot Springs, Arkansas

18 February, 2020.

Eight hours of drive time later, I found myself driving past a row of bathhouses in Hot Springs, Arkansas. Nestled among rolling and forested mountains and narrow paved roads, this part of the city is a throwback to a time when people traveled long distances to “take the waters,” bathing for their health and wellness in naturally occurring hot springs.

Each bathhouse had its own distinctive personality, lavishly decorated in varying architectural detail: one structure embracing Byzantine elements, another Mission style adornment, while still others in Art Nouveau, Beau Arts, and so on. The building profiles fluctuate wildly.

Uni-Ball Vision and Pitt Big Brush pens in Canson 180 sketchbook.

Side Streets

14 February, 2020.

A small community, swallowed in its entirety by the surrounding metropolitan thing, and now merely a subset of the whole – and a tiny one at that. Still, a neighborhood personality shows through, an individuality unique to this street, and this street alone: one block to the north an interstate system rushes past, a gulley that bisects what was once a single town, slicing it away to be nestled among one or two side streets, all but ignored by nearly everyone except the residents.

Watercolor and pencil on Strathmore Aquarius II watercolor paper, approximately 5 x 7 inches.

Caught by Surprise

13 February, 2020.

A visit to the wholesale club for dog food was the order of the morning. The canteen was bustling with people, surprisingly filled with old guys sitting around munching on pizza and sipping sodas. Usually, this is the morning setting for the local McDonalds, so I was caught by surprise.

Uni-Ball Vision pen and watercolor in Stillman and Birn Beta Series sketchbook.