Here’s a drawing done recently at our DC Drink ‘n Draw Meetup group. The evening’s theme was “When Hipster Zombies Attack”, which was relatively easy to do since Washington, DC has its fair share of hipsters, and as both a hardcore cyclist and punk rock aficionado myself – though not a hipster! – I had to work both of those into the theme (hence the mention of DC hardcore legends Minor Threat). While I may be a slow methodical perfectionist, this drawing was done in about two hours. I was planning on inking it in, but I found myself simply having too much fun with the pencil. DC Drink ‘n Draw is a great group of artists, and a great group of people; we meet at various bars around the city and enjoy good beer and banter while working away into our sketchbooks – a creative oasis in the middle of a city saturated in politics, business, and general legalese.
Happy Thanksgiving everybody; see you all next week, and if you get too fat from eating turkey, go ride a bike to burn off the weight.
Two more pages from my “Ugly Sketchbook”, a cheap 3″x5″ cheap scratchpad used to quickly capture or doodle just about anything. These two pages were inspired by some of the interesting people I see while making the long walk from the Metro station to my office here in Washington, DC. The top image was a hipster I saw longboarding along the street, while the second image was inspired by some guy I spotted sitting outside at a cafe, seemingly relying on his coffee for more than just an alertly-awake state.
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).
If you’ve ever ridden the Washington, DC, Metro, then you’re accustom to the unique interior colors of the train; a palette of burgundy, orange, yellow, and blue straight out of the 1970s. Though decades old nowadays, they still sometimes visually complement the colors of the clothing worn by some of the commuters. I sketched this individual on the Metro, noted down the colors, and then completed the sketch with my markers at a cafe immediately after debarking from the train.
Recently, my wife and I stole away for a relaxing weekend – sans children – to the Lancaster area of Pennsylvania, where we spent the time sleeping, sleeping, reading, sleeping, napping, and sleeping. We stayed at the lovely Swiss Woods Inn, just north of the very charming town of Lititz. If you’re looking for an incredible and relaxing bed and breakfast in the Lancaster area, look no further than Swiss Woods. The grounds are absolutely lovely, the amenities cozy and clean, the people warm and friendly, and for us hyper-busy Washingtonians, secluded and peaceful.
While I didn’t plan to do any sketching for the that weekend, I did tote along two small sketchbooks and some supplies, and I managed to do two quick sketches. Below was a 20 minute study of an authentic Swiss cowbell, part of a nice little collection of cowbells in our room (we cyclocrossers love cowbells!), and underneath that, and even faster two-minute sketch of an Amish horse and buggy, which was quite fun because how often does an urban sketcher get to sketch horses?
Some more sketches of people on the Washington, DC Metro, and just in case you were wondering, no; people really don’t smile too much on the Metro (followers and guests of Sketchbook Warrior have actually asked me about this…) Without waxing anthropologically, I can tell you that the masses commuting into DC in the morning are usually vey tired, somewhat defeated, and stare blankly into space as they contemplate another day in the DC political battlefield. They may be virtually catatonic, but they sure do make for some great life drawing practice.
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.
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.
Many buildings in Washington, DC are modular and patterned, which makes for great multi-day/multi-session sketching. Such was the case with this building, located in the West End neighborhood, which had both great composition and coloring. For this sketch, I stood across the street, sketching while leaning up against the entrance to the German Embassy, where I overheard diplomatic conversations in multiple languages on a daily basis, making this sketch all the more Washingtonian.