Intersecting with life

2 February, 2019. One of the interesting things about Urban Sketching is the way that the act of drawing can sometimes very unexpectedly intersect with unsuspecting members of the general public. Let me give you an interesting example from this morning.

Today is the first Saturday of the month, the day our chapter congregates and descends upon a prearranged location. Our group of sketchers arrived at an unusual eatery called The Parlour with the intention of drawing what we eat, as well as those eating around us. The Parlour is a very casual, leisurely place comprised of several food vendors and bars, each with their own specialty product. Spread out over two floors in a sort of food court fashion are tables and arm chairs – exactly what the name implies, a place for patrons to “lounge” and visit. It’s definitely a “no pressure” vibe.

Our group was large today, with maybe forty of us dragging around bags full of sketching and painting supplies. We arrived early and claimed one end of the second floor, staking out numerous tables and arm chairs. Then we ordered food and proceeded to sketch our fare.

A couple in search of seating wandered through, not realizing we were all together. Sitting across from me they suddenly noticed everyone had sketchbooks and they made a move to leave. Before they could rise, one friendly member of our group greeted them and asked them to stay with us. They learned much about our chapter and Urban Sketchers. And within minutes they both had pens out and were making Artist Trading Cards with others in our band.

And while they sketched, I drew them drawing and munching on empanadas.

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All the World’s a Comedy.


2 September, 2017. I find that a lot of my sketching takes place in restaurants and pubs. OK, so I enjoy good food, great wine, and people watching. Sketching those around me is, I recognize, just a little bit voyeuristic. But I have always loved the idea that the world is a comedy in which we are all the players. The snippets of observed life from the tables around me are edited scenes in which we may only be privy to the briefest view of a much longer narrative. In fact, I feel like these sketches can be considered a second cousin to the art of street photography.

Right or wrong, fairly or unfairly, these sketches reflect the observation of a moment or two. They are the most memorable aspects – to me, at least – of a given time and place, the  distanced confluence of my world with that of others who I will likely never again chance upon. And it’s out of these briefest of encounters that I enjoy weaving my own narrative, a sort of cartoon of life.

(Sketched with a Uni-Ball Deluxe and Kuretake No. 40 brush pen in Canson 180 sketchbook.)

Direct Drawing

6 April, 2016. Today I post a few random sketches. They’re not really linked together by place or subject, or even time frame. In fact the only reason I scanned them together this evening is because they happen to appear sequentially in my sketchbook: they represent (a) the fact that I’ve taught art more than made art over the past few days and (b) that I’ve had to play “catch as catch can,” slipping in some fairly quick sketching, given that opportunity has been limited.

After scanning them I also realized another thing that connects these sketches: No pencil. Each of these are direct sketches made without benefit of an underlying graphite sketch. Even though working direct in ink usually means the drawing is less faithful to life, it often results in a drawing with energy. The guy at the top of this post was just a fellow I saw this evening, eating dinner and drinking beers with his wife at a local pub. I’m pleased with how the scribbled lines bring out a range of values, as well as the texture in his face and beard. The clothing feels rumpled to me. The environment feels dark, but not forbidding. I like that this simple sketch accomplishes so much.

This fellow was sitting on a bench outside a different pub. Super fast sketch, the idea being to capture the gesture and hope for the best with the likeness.

A few days ago I visited Eureka Springs, Arkansas. The architecture in the small, hilly village is eclectic and diverse and often built right into the side of a hill. There’s not a flat spot in town – not one! Walking along the sidewalks is always a hike up or down a steep incline. Stopping to make a quick sketch at this location was also an opportunity to catch my breath!

Another simple sketch, which kind of reminds me of a children’s book illustration.

I find each of these to have a sort of simplistic charm. Unlabored. They are what they are, no more and no less. Just sketches.