Retro Sketch

About seven years ago, we took a trip out west to California, visiting San Francisco and Yosemite National Park. Far removed from the practice of sketching at the time, I none the less toted along a small sketchbook, some pens, and a few colored pencils. Here are two sketches I did in Yosemite, which barely begin to capture the awe-inspiring visual grandeur and mind-blowing dimensions of the place.

I will be taking a break from posting this week while I stuff my face and over-fill my belly during the one-two celebratory punch that will be Thanksgiving and Chanuka. Though the two holidays don’t share anything in common – one being a major American holiday and the other a minor Israeli festival – the convergence of the Gregorian and Hebrew calendars last brought the two events together 153 years ago, and mathematically will not do so again for roughly 70,000 years, so I plan to take full advantage of this once in a lifetime event to feast on copious amounts of oil-fried turkey, cranberry sufganiot, and of course, some fine craft beers!

Cheers, and go visit Yosemite!
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Lunch Lines

This building, located in the Foggy Bottom neighborhood of Washington, DC, caught my eye as being both an excessively ugly eyesore and a wonderfully detailed opportunity for a ┬áchallenging urban sketch. Over the five days it took me to sketch this, I faced many challenges; having the view blocked by delivery trucks (one dropped and broke a keg of beer right in front of me), overly-curious onlookers, intermittent rain, and a noticeably annoyed smoker sitting right in my sketching spot, whom I politely asked to move. Then again, this isn’t landscape painting in the middle of a peaceful meadow; urban sketching is done in the thick of the concrete jungle, and when that jungle is the wilds of the Nation’s Capital, then you better be ready to wield your sketchbook like a warrior!

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Retro Sketch

I took these visual tasting notes during a wine tasting back in 2006, before I even knew about a discipline called sketchnoting. The tasting itself featured five vintages of Hagafen’s Napa Valley Merlot. While others took more “proper” notes on index cards, I broke out the pocket-sized sketchbook, a Pigma Micron pen, and used dabs of the different wines to add some color. And yes; there are some phenomenal kosher wines out there, hailing everywhere from California’s finest vineyards to the world-class growing regions of Israel.

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Lunch Lines

One of the many things I like to sketch during my lunchtime strolls are food trucks, which are increasingly popular here in DC. Not only are their food offerings diverse, some are rather visually and graphically bold in order to attract attention. However, with limited time to sketch during my lunch breaks, I choose visually simple trucks, such as this red one, which offers up meatball-based dishes.

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Metro Sketch

Here are two pages drawn on two different days, but I liked how they came together on the spread. For the sketch on the left, I used a felt-tipped pen to capture the individual, whom was holding onto a pole on the train, and I ended up sketching the line for the pole into the crease of the spine down the middle of the spread. Later in the day, I quickly sketched some cars behind him while I was sitting at a cafe. The individual on the right was sketched with a fountain pen. Overall, it looks like the both of them could have been on the same train, on the same day.

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Retro Sketch

Here is the final post about my broken foot saga from 2006, captured with a small sketchbook, a Pigma Micron pen, lots of painkillers, and nothing but time on my hands. After my second round of emergency surgery, all that was left to do was lay on my back with my foot elevated, read, draw, and watch television. After two grueling months, the bone mended, and an additional two months of intensive physical therapy followed. Everything healed up fine, and I slowly got back to walking and cycling. I also stopped my massive dosage of painkillers, but the scar on my foot pretty much ended my dreams of being a foot model. Oh well, there’s always art. Thanks to everybody for checking out this series of Retro Sketches and thanks for the comments, and please, please, please; watch your step when walking down those seemingly benign ramps!

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Evening Sketch

Not only do I sketch during my lunch breaks (hence the “Lunch Line” postings), I also try to squeeze in some sketching after work as well. Such was the case here, where I focused on a particular section of this one building in the Foggy Bottom neighborhood of Washington, DC. As you can see from the notes on the side, I did this sketch as a freak weather front blew through the city, dropping the mild spring temperatures and slashing the city apart with cold, gusty winds.

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Metro Sketch

When I sketch on the Metro, I prefer to do the whole sketch start-to-finish on the train itself in order to preserve the spontaneity of the moment. However, this is not always doable, so on sketches that I really want to color in, but don’t have the time to do so, I jot down color notes on the sketch itself and color them in later with my markers, as was the case here.

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Retro Sketch

Continuing the story (read: “saga”) of my severely broken foot IMO this latest series of Retro Sketches, this drawing was a satirical take on my second round of emergency surgery. After the pins-and-wiring contraption assembled inside my foot from the first emergency surgery fell apart, the second surgery had to be as perfect as they come. And perfect it was: the surgeon performing the procedure was the official foot surgeon for a major league soccer team. Deft and agile as a watchmaker, he managed to bolt together the tiny pieces of the fragile shattered bone with one titanium screw. It was, as he claimed, the best foot surgery he’d ever done (he actually called his colleagues shortly afterwards in the post-midnight hours to brag of it!) Of course, surgery is still surgery, and my new prolonged period of recovery meant more time laying on my back with an elevated foot, so to help pass the time, I held my small sketchbook up in the air and scrawled away with my Pigma Micron pen, laying down as many lines, details, and dark areas as possible.

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