Lunch Lines: Get a Pencil!

Here’s a building that I was sketching in the historic Georgetown neighborhood of Washington, DC. I was sketching this the way I’d been doing all of my lunchtime sketches up to this point; straight from pen to paper; no pencils and no erasers, just skill and visual analyzation. Of course, Georgetown has some pretty complex structures, and this one got the better of me. After rendering the window on the left much larger than the one on the right, I had just gotten it too wrong to continue. Not a big loss; it’s only a four dollar sketchbook, and I wasn’t too excited about the building to begin with. Yet, it was a sign that I needed to up my “urban sketching” game, and start bringing in some quick pre-pencil sketching prior to laying down ink.

Lot’s of client and project work coming up in the next two weeks; see you all in February, and don’t forget to start following the 2015 pro cycling season, which begins at the end of January at the Santos Tour Down Under in Australia and the Tour de San Luis in Argentina.

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Lunch Lines

Happy 2015 everybody; hope we all have a great creative year ahead of us (yes; if there can be a business year, a fiscal year, and a budget year, there can also be a creative year!)

To kick it off, here’s a scooter I sketched during a lunchtime stroll. Not only can you spot some interesting bicycles parked on the sidewalks of Washington, DC, but some interesting scooters as well. This lovely blue Vespa is a regular is always chained up to a parking meter just around the block from my office, and one day I finally decided to sketch it.

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Lunch Lines

Here’s another bike I drew during a lunchtime stroll here in Washington, DC. It was an unnamed fixie, though the owner nicely matched the matte black frame to blue bar tape and chain. However, the Weinmann wheelset probably made for a stout, yet heavy ride. Oh well; bike like this aren’t about speed; they’re about utility with a side of vanity.

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Lunch Lines

Last summer, food trucks became all of the rage in Washington, DC, especially in neighborhoods where lunch options were fewer in numbers. Though mobbed by long lines during the height of lunchtime, if you planned your lunch just after the peak hours, you had a clear view of the trucks, making them easier to sketch (though you never knew when they would drive away).

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Lunch Lines

There’s a Trader Joe’s supermarket near our office, and I often see this Gitane fixie locked to the bike rack outside. Far from Gitane’s heyday as one of the premier French brands, which included providing the bikes to French cycling legends Bernard Hinault and Laurent Fignon (the 1988 Systeme U team bikes are one of my all time favorites!), this old, battered, and very characteristic Gitane still always caught my eye. One day, out to pick up my supply of frozen lunches, ground coffee, and craft beer, I spotted the Gitane, and finally decided to sketch it.

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Lunch Lines

I spent the past year sketching buildings and street details all over the West End neighborhood of Washington, DC, during my lunchtime strolls. While this skill – “urban sketching” – eventually became relatively well-practiced over time, I still had some days where I was still very much in the experimental stages. Such is the case below, where I did a quick 20-minute sketch with ink and markers of a scene based on a construction crane. Not as well-developed as the sketches that I did after this one, but the goal was simple; sketch enough of a capture of the scene that whenever I look at it, my memories of the moment fill in the missing details.

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Process: Office Building Sketch

Why do I choose to sketch certain buildings here in Washington, DC? Amongst several factors is whether the building can be sketched in small increments over several days, as I do these while out for quick strolls during my lunch breaks . This one particular building presented such an opportunity. Very modular, with a nice balance of symmetric and subtle asymmetric details, it was an easy building to draw to a certain identifiable point one day, and pick up from there the next day, as seen in the process shots below.

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Lunch Lines

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.

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Lunch Lines

This abandoned building, in the upscale West End neighborhood here in Washington, DC, is surrounded by the trappings of gentrification; shiny new buildings with trendy restaurants, hip stores, and luxury apartments. Soon enough, this building will fall to the wrecking ball, and a generic gentrification building, with a pretty facade and empty soul, will take its place. Decrepit as it may be, it still has plenty of beautiful visual character, and that’s why I chose to sketch it little-by-little during my lunch breaks over the span of seven days. The last day’s sketching was done huddled under an umbrella as the rains fell, the sense of urgency apparent as I wasn’t sure when this building would soon fall as well.

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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  challenging 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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