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Saturday, July 31, 2010

The Sartorialist Speaks

Young girls typically (or stereotypically) grow up thinking that if and when they marry, their husbands will 1) weigh more than they do and 2) be less fashionable than they are.

I had to give up those preconceptions when I married Carlo. He's skinny and he's way more into clothes than I am. Or maybe I mean he's way more into fashion than I am.
In any case, he definitely wears clothes better than I do.
He came home a few months ago all excited about the great deal he found on these, um ... well, we'll call them shorts.
He tried them on.
"Do you like them?" he asked. (Carlo is always eager for his family and friends to like what he likes, so this is no idle question for him.)
"Ummm ... no," I said.
I thought I might as well be honest, since he only paid ten bucks for the shorts.
To my eye, they were ridiculously cut, and I wasn't a big fan of the strange, rust-colored wash that I was betting accounted for their place on the deep-deep-discount rack.

He queried the kids, who pretty much laughed.
Undaunted by our prosaic sensibilities, he wore them anyway. One day. Two days. A week.

If we were pro-rating the cost of the shorts based on number of wearings, we're quickly arriving at the point where the shorts will actually owe Carlo money for being worn. And, oddly enough, I am beginning to like them. Or to appreciate something about how dedicated he has been to the wearing of them, anyway.

My enjoyment of them reached a pinnacle recently when one of our kids referred to them as his "ghetto jorts." Which cracked me up to no end, and made me think of this website I'd seen a couple years ago.

So there you are. I threatened Carlo that I would draw him in his ghetto jorts, and I have. And for the sketchnerds among you, I will also boast that it took me a mere 4 minutes to do the gesture drawing that became the pen-and-ink and watercolor image before you. I was relaxed. I'd had two and a half glasses of wine. It's possible that I draw better when I'm a little lubricated, though this isn't a well-tested theory.

Oh, postscript: I have been informed by Carlo that I misspelled culottes on my sketchbook page. He is correct, but not correct enough for me to go to the trouble of Photoshopping a correction onto the page.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Ann Arbor Weekend

You're looking at a little pastiche of drawings done between more interesting activities during our Ann Arbor weekend. It was art fair weekend, of course, but also a chance to see established and brand-new members of the family.

The buildings here constitute a faithless representation, in that I took liberties with color and screwed up the spacing a little -- not badly. Kinda liking the tree treatment, though.
The humans in each end are a cheat. I snapped a few random crowd shots and then sketched them in later (using only the LED screen on my little Canon Powershot, no less!) as a guide. I liked the guy on the right -- how he looked in reality and how the drawing came out. He'd recognize himself for sure. I mention the photos because when I look at other people's sketches from out in the world, I often think, "How did s/he capture that so quickly?"

Sometimes the answer is, "that artist is more skilled at capturing images quickly." And sometimes the answer is, "s/he used a camera," though that's often not admitted to.

Here's the other thing, though. I like the random crowd shots I took, in terms of their usefulness for other sketch studies. So that might be a tool for you, too, if you have a need to know how bodies look when they're don't think they're being looked at.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Take a little stroll, will you?

This drawing is a little something done from Edgewater Beach in Cleveland. But hey -- and this is key -- you're only seeing PART of my take on Edgewater here.
To see the whole column (words and art), you must visit the fabulous folks at Ohio Authority, who not only publish my newish "Sketchbook Cleveland" series but also have great ideas on where to go and what to do in Northeast Ohio.

Thank you to Sarah and Ivan, who have labored hard to get this cool mag online.

Monday, July 12, 2010

How To Get Dumped

You will very likely have to click on this sucker to read the smaller text. At that point, however, it should all be clear.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

End of the Beach

A week ago today we were gutting out the 500-mile drive from the Jersey Shore back home.
Today I am gutting out a little gut trouble, which caused me to miss a sure-to-be-fun sketch crawl at the Cleveland Zoo.
In any case, I thought I'd post the last of the vacation sketch pages that I'm likely to post. There were a couple more, but nothing I'd want to look at again myself.

I ended up liking the very loose beach sketch at the bottom. It started out as a whimsical attempt to capture the feeling of all the umbrellas shoved into the sand. I think since it wasn't about architectural accuracy, I started out more relaxed than I usually do. By the time I got to throwing down some color, I was almost literally throwing down color.

Thursday, July 08, 2010

Sea glass

If I were queen of the world, one of my rules would be that anyone who owned a bookstore, antique shop or art gallery would have to be friendly and warm. They could be (and preferably would be) also weird in some way, but friendly and warm would be at the top of the list.

My experience is that this isn't true NEARLY enough. In which case, I want to say, "Retail? You're in retail WHY?"

After doing this sketch page on the local glass gallery on vacation, C eventually went back to this store (where we never fail to buy SOMETHING) and tried to get a bit of a discount for buying two items from the same company. These were relatively high ticket things, for what they were. He reported a very chilly reception, and ended up paying retail for both items. Which is fine. I don't object to the drawing-a-line bit, it's the chilliness.

My experience with the salesguy in question was that he just had the "weird" thing going, with perhaps the tiniest bit of disdain for his tourist clientele. He probably figures everyone who goes on vacation there is made of money, and whatever trinkets they pick up at his store represent mere chump change. He probably gets resentful because of that assumption. Of course, in our case, he would be wrong.

Anyway, we have our not-chump-change trinkets, but I confess I don't like them as much as I did before the salesguy was kind of a jerk to Carlo.

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Buff Men and Fat Ladies

Click on these images for a better look.

I might've remarked on this before, but maybe it's worth repeating.
If you're the kind of person who likes to draw, and you find yourself wanting to draw people -- even just a little bit -- you might eventually find that drawing people who are not perfect specimens is more interesting than drawing Adonis.

Last year, we did some life drawing classes at school. There was this very beautiful, buff guy who posed naked with macho props like swords and footballs. Perfect musculature. The guy must've spent his life at the gym. (Well, that's not completely true, because I remember being stunned to see him in real life, fully clothed and eating lunch at the bistro at one of my favorite bookstores. But you get the idea.)

Anyway, he was great to look at, and perhaps a better model for understanding the structure of the body than a heavy, out-of-shape person would be.

But when I'm at the beach, just looking around, I find that the people I want to draw are more misshapen. They're also more likely to be women. And when I notice myself being drawn to draw these people, what I think is, "If misshapen women are more interesting to look at, why do I give myself such a hard time for my own misshapenness?"

Of course, "interesting to look at or to draw" doesn't equate to "attractive," in the classical sense. So there's your answer. We all want to be consideredd attractive. Even when we're well past the meeting-and-mating phase of life. Still, these folks are literally attractive -- they're attracting my eye, which is interested in variations and warps, and is pleased by radical curves and imperfections.

We don't expect everyone else to be classically attractive, do we? I don't. I'm perfectly pleased with some people being large, some small, some thin, some average, some fat.

And if you're hanging around waiting for a more profound conclusion than that, then we've come to the point at which I must inform you that it's time to be disappointed.

Still, I think it's interesting.
Anyway, you're seeing these vacation sketch pages in order. And for the record, the fact that I drew my kids in our condo right after the fat page does not mean you're supposed to assume they're part of the fat-sketch-theme. They're not. But they are part of the beautiful-people-theme, which includes the fat ladies on the beach.

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Loosening Up

One of the cool things that happened while I was drawing on vacation last week was that I actually produced some sketches.
By that I mean that I found the spirit of the quick sketch, which you can see here in my rather dashed-off version of the Atlantic ocean.
The little girl on the lower left was sitting chest-deep in a sand hole she'd dug with her father.

Of course, at the far right horizon line you can see that the watercolor bled a bit. Almost looks like there was a little explosion under water or something.

Monday, July 05, 2010

Want to Look at My Vacation Pictures?!?

Hahaha! The answer is NO!
And I will not make you look at them. You may bow out quietly at anytime, my dears, and I will be almost none the wiser.

Yet in the coming days I will insist on posting my sketchbook pages from last week, when we reveled in our all-too-brief summer idyll on (I used to be able to say this with a straight face) the Jersey Shore. Stone Harbor, New Jersey, to be precise.

I will probably remind you of this with every new posting, but if you actually care enough to read the pages, you'll do yourself a favor by clicking on the images to enlarge them.

Friday, July 02, 2010


The melancholia really set in last night.
For one thing, I was looking ahead to today -- the last day of our sweet Stone Harbor vacation, which is never long enough except for the separation from the dog, which pains me, and the end of which provides something to look forward to upon return.
But secondly, we saw Toy Story 3 last night. The plot, in case you missed it, is that the boy Andy -- who was a little kid when the first Toy Story came out in 1995 -- is now grown and about to head off for college. He hasn't played with Woody and Buzz Lightyear and the gang in years, and they all get loaded into a box to be donated to a daycare center.

I was watching this movie and remembering our old neighbors, Matthew and Susan, and how Matthew used to mow their little rented yard with big headphones protecting his ears, while their then-preschooler, Alexander, toddled behind. Alexander had a Buzz Lightyear. I want to say that Alexander might've even BEEN Buzz Lightyear for Halloween. Could Toy Story have been that long ago?

The entire end of the new movie is about what happens as Andy is making final plans to head off to college. There's a scene where his mom is looking around at his empty room, remembering him as a little kid, and tearing up. Andy says, "Oh, mom." And she says, "I just wish I could always be with you."

That's just it, isn't it? It's not that we don't want them to head off on their own adventures. We just wish they could do it while also always being with us, too.

Alas, they can't. They have to pack up for college, and soon. Sooner than you think.

Thursday, July 01, 2010

In summer, I think of winter ...

In winter, I think of summer. I wish for it, yearn for it, imagine warm sun on bare skin.
In summer, I think of winter and how I will be thinking of summer and yearning for the very feeling I have right now. I never yearn for winter anymore, like I did as a kid. It comes, and I accept it -- don't we all? -- but it has become something to be endured. Whereas this thing we have going on right now -- well, it's just sublime.

But never mind that. This dude and his board just killed me.