Sketchbook Drawing: Progress

Here’s a drawing shaping up in one of my sketchbooks: an imaginary cityscape, something of which I have been drawing quite a lot of lately. After a year spent sketching buildings here in Washington, DC, I started doodling little imaginary buildings while on phone calls, coffee breaks, and waiting for large graphic files to save. I soon progressed to doodling a few more of these buildings into imaginary cityscapes, with details culled from my local urban sketches. I decided that I wanted to do a more polished version of these doodles, and finding a 6″ x 8″ sketchbook laying around in a freecycle area was my inventive to give it a go. I’ve since been working on this drawing little by little, completing sections during various drawing Meetup groups here in DC.

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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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Urban Sketch

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.

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Metro Sketch

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.

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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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Urban Sketch

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.

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