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.
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.
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.
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.