Today is the last day of the seven-day Israeli festival of Chag HaMatzot, known loosely in English as “Passover”. Here’s a page from an older sketchbook about Passover. We eat lots of matzah and make lots of crumbs.
I’ll return to regular posting later this week.
I sketch people all of the time, and this practice has vastly improved my life drawing skills – an area I used to be very weak in. Another area that I am weak in, and currently so, is sketching buildings and street scenes. Luckily, Washington DC is a great place to practice, as the architecture is generally boxy and angular. Such was the case with this home, which I took a stab at sketching quickly during my lunchtime stroll.
People are visual and detailed. You notice this when you sketch people almost daily, taking note of visual elements unique to different ethnicities, genders and ages. The latter was the case with this lady, as she stood out for both her wonderful visage and the fact that she was reading a book about bird watching amongst a sea of commuters immersed in their Washington Posts, Wall Street Journals, and the latest viral grumpy cat meme on Facebook.
Continuing the selection of pages from a 1999 sketchbook compiled when I was working in retail, this page not only shows a fountain pen I randomly drew, but also a little story inadvertently recorded on a series of Post-It Notes as I attempted to contact a customer about their purchase, which was eventually declined due to a bad credit card number. The page was finished with some credit card promotion stickers, sales stamps, and lots of clear scotch tape. Slow days in retail may have yielded less revenue, but they did allow for lots of creativity!
The key to sketching happiness, especially when time is tight, is to find a reliable subject matter. For a little while, I was sketching the streetlights on a busy nearby corner. The more that I drew them, the better I was able to think visually about them. I eventually found the one that I really wanted to draw, and what details in particular I wanted to focus on. Hence, here – after about two weeks of sketching streetlights – is my 10 minute masterpiece. Enjoy.
Sketching on a commuter train is all about speed and decision making; whom to draw, what to focus on, and whether to color or not. In this case, it was redhead, smart dress, and smart phone. The ink bleed from the previous page was unintended, and the ballpoint ink lines from a young child was unexpected.
This is from a sketchbook back in 1999. I compiled the early pages while working at the Fountain Pen Hospital in downtown NYC, in the shadows of the World Trade Center. In addition to general pen play (with expensive fountain pens) and experimenting with whatever could be found laying around the cash register, I did little illustrations based on the Wall Street stock brokers, power lawyers, and political guys whom worked in the area. The drawing on the page below is not based on any socio-political stance, just an random thought on how people with powerful jobs with the ability to affect the lives of others are, in the end, really just people going to work.
Urban environments are a treasure trove of endless objects to sketch, especially for quick lunchtime sketches of ten minutes or less. For a while, I turned my focus on traffic lights, such as the one shown below.
In the ever-unpredictable scenario that is sketching on the Washington DC Metro, I never know what kinds of drawings I will end up with by the end of the ride. This page was no exception; a quick rough sketch at the bottom and a nice simple color study of the gentleman atop the page.
Back in 1999, I was a young illustrator in NYC doing the routine of working retail during the day and freelancing at night. I’ve always loved artist materials, so I worked at art supply stores to pay the bills and score discounts on art supplies. Along the way, I fell into specializing in fountain pens, and eventually ended up at the Fountain Pen Hospital in downtown NYC (in the shadow of the World Trade Center). I spent my time not only selling pens and supplies to the likes of Bill Cosby and Mayor Rudy Guliani, but also filling up sketchbook pages with pricey pens and whatever I could scrounge up from behind the cash register. The owners of the store smoked cigarettes almost nonstop, which inspired this little drawing. Incidentally, one of my coworkers gave me a gift of a red Lamy Safari fine-point fountain pen to draw with – the same pen used for many of the sketches and drawings on this blog.