I had free afternoon in downtown Silver Spring, just north of Washington, DC, so I decided to take my DC-honed urban sketching skills on the road. Since I like sketching buildings with lots of roof tiles, I decided to draw this house, which doubles as an office building. I’m not happy with it, though, because the chimney, which was very tall and didn’t actually fit onto the page, has been “chopped” to fit. I really wanted to get those little details atop the chimney,and the whole structure itself, but in hindsight, I would have been happier with keeping the sketch as honest and real as possible.
Note: I’m taking next week off from all things digital (including blogging) to dedicate the week to sleep. As a family guy, working professional, and cyclist, I’ve heard about this “sleep” thing, but have only dabbled in it slightly, so next week, I plan to indulge fully in slumber. As always, thanks for visiting Sketchbook Warrior, and I’ll see you all when I wake up.
Every Washingtonian riding the Metro commuter train on a daily basis is quite familiar with the drab interior colors of the older model cars. I did this sketch less as a life drawing subject, and more of a color study of the train itself. The carpets on the train are a mauve color, but lacking a mauve marker, I worked with the nearest color marker I had, which was purple. On the adjoining page, you can see where I took color notes, both of the lady and the train itself, as I colored this at home later that evening.
This was drawn in 2008, as I – along with practically everybody else – was caught up in a massive wave of layoffs nationwide. As many of the layoffs came from the white collar sector, I drew this one afternoon while sitting in a cafe surrounded by my newly unemployed counterparts, playing on the whole notion of “pink slips” for the white collared-crowd (though you don’t really get a pink slip, just a company-branded folder containing information about severance, COBRA, separation policies, etc…)
Similar to the previous Metro Sketch, this sketch was also done with one continuous line. On the opposite page was a little prose I wrote down while musing on the relationship of thinking and drawing.
Washington, DC has some beautifully stately buildings of remarkable grandeur and international renown. It also has some pretty ugly buildings tucked into the many neighborhoods in the city. Of course, ride by the White House or spot the Capital Dome on a daily basis, and you start to appreciate the unique character of the ugly buildings. This building in the West End/Foggy Bottom neighborhood is one such specimen. It’ll never make a postcard, and no tourist will ever gawk at it, but this white building with a stark red exhaust pipe running up the side more than deserves a spot in the sketchbook of at least one urban sketcher, and I enjoyed capturing it little by little each day during my lunchtime strolls.
I drew this some years back while training for a 10K foot race. Though I’m a hardcore cyclist, I’m not a runner, and I did the 10K at the bequest of family members participating in the event. I spent a month training, which I found both utterly boring and torturously painful on legs and knees conditioned for nothing but pedaling. I hit my goal of a sub-hour race, knocking off the course in 54 minutes, pissing off a few of the runners on course because we cyclist are a bit more aggressive than runners. With the race finished, I said goodbye to running, and hopped right back on my bike.
I’ve been sketching people on the Washington, DC Metro for over two years now. Not only has it kindled an interesting and incredible source of practice for life drawing, something originally doused by dulling figure drawing classes in school, it also gave me a unique insight into my fellow Washingtonians. However, after doing so many of these sketches, I realized that I was drawing the same poses, the same actions, the same clothes, and the same faces over and over again. Needed a new angle, I decided to sketch people with one continuous line. By keeping my pen nib on the page for the entire sketch, I was drawing the same old subject, but with new and unexpected results, and a fun challenge to boot!
Being an urban sketcher is more than just sketching in a city versus the peaceful countryside. Urban sketching also involves dealing with the dynamic and unpredictable urban life itself. Here in Washington, DC, that includes suspicious federal agents. As I was completing this sketch one afternoon after work, I found myself being observed rather closely by an individual, whom started to ask me questions. The questions became a little too personal, to which I eventually objected. Turns out, my interrogator was Steve, claiming to be a federal agent (he showed me a badge), and informed me that he was in the area watching an important individual, whom I assumed worked for the law firm in the building I was sketching. Steve tried to play it off nice and friendly, but I decided to tell him to have a nice day, subsequently ignore him and continuing to sketch. He eventually left me alone, but then again, such is urban sketching in paranoid, pressured, security-freaked Washington, DC.
I drew this in 2008; I was sitting in a cafe on a cold spring day with not much to do but drink coffee and pass time with a sketchbook and a bunch of drawing tools, which included a blue highlighter.
One of those days on the Washington, DC Metro: open your sketchbook, break out your drawing tool of choice (Lamy Safari fountain pen w/EF nib), and catch what you can. Here’s what I caught on this particular day.