Tom Petty: 1950 – 2017

I’m not one to have heros or to worship celebrity.  But I am one who appreciates people who are the best at what they do and Tom Petty was one of those.  As I write this I’m listening to I Won’t Back Down, a tune that was meaningful to me at a time in my life when meaning was important and hard to come by.  I’m not much of a portrait artist but I felt the need to draw this.  Rest in peace Tom.

 

I Don’t Do Portraits

Oops…I guess I do.

One thing the art world has taught me is that I don’t have the “people are interesting to look at” gene.  While everyone else attends life drawing classes and draws portrait after portrait, I prefer to draw fire hydrants, buildings and telephone poles.  I don’t know why but if I were to rank sketching subjects, people would be at the bottom of my list.

BUT, sketching a person walking by a fire hydrant, that’s an interesting idea and so I spend a fair amount of time doing quick, loose sketches of people.

Yet another BUT is that I’ve come to realize that being able to draw a likeness can get you into places.  My buddy, Yvan, is always drawing people and because of it people in groups immediately understand him and what he does.  It’s harder to comprehend a fire hydrant sketcher.

Canson Mi-Teintes (5x7) using a Col-Erase pencil. Very hard to get darks

Also, to me, there are several “core” skills that make up drawing.  These are 1) the ability to measure/estimate angles and proportions, 2) achieve accuracy of line and form, and 3) mastery over whatever materials you’re using.  I’ve spent the last 3 1/2 years, starting out trying to draw cubes, with a rather myopic “gotta learn those things” approach.  I’m getting so that my ability to assess angles and proportions is becoming a feature, not a liability in my sketching, and I’m ok with pushing my fountain pen around (watercolor is another matter).

Canson Mi-Teintes (5x7), Namiki Falcon, De Atramentis Document Black - This is tough with pen but I barely know which end of a pencil to put to paper.

Canson Mi-Teintes (5×7), Namiki Falcon, De Atramentis Document Black – This is tough with pen but I barely know which end of a pencil to put to paper.

It seems, however, that fire hydrant drawing can only take you so far when trying to learn form and accuracy and so I’ve spent a lot of time in museums, drawing all sorts of stuff that I would never “choose” to draw, all in the name of improving my accuracy, ability to see half-tones, and the rest.  I figure I only have another 40-50 years of doing it and I’ll have it figured out.  By the age of 115, I might be able to call myself “artist.”

All of that is to say that I’m even drawing portraits… kinda.  I head to a local park every Thursday night, where a small group sits on the porch of a small chapel and we sketch one another, during 20-minute poses.  I’ve never mentioned it before because… well, I’m pretty bad at it.  I thought, however, I would share a couple of the sketches I’ve done recently, just to change things up here just a bit.  It’s ok to laugh.

Canson Mi-Teintes (5x7), Namiki Falcon, De Atramentis Document Black - I'm really lost when it comes to hatching really light shades that are the form of the face.

Canson Mi-Teintes (5×7), Namiki Falcon, De Atramentis Document Black – I’m really lost when it comes to hatching really light shades that are the form of the face.

Portrait Sketching in Quebec City

I’ve been sketching for about ten months now.  When I started my goal was to be able to draw some of the unique buildings here in Quebec.  That is still my goal and I’ve been happy with my progress.  Heck, I’d be happy with any progress as I spent most of my life believing you had to have special talents to draw.

I’ve approach that goal in single-minded fashion, first drawing a gazillion boxes and finally buildings.  It’s only been recently that I’ve even added trees and such to my building sketches.  I think that trying to keep it simple has helped me considerably as I climb the learning curve.

But I’ve met a group of sketchers that have me conflicted over my approach.  They meet once a week and draw portraits.  They are Yvan, Denis, Jean-Marc, Sylvie, Katherine, Catherine, Han, and Celine.  While their names don’t mean much to you, take my word for it; these are some of the nicest, most talented people you’d ever want to meet.

I met some of them during our recent sketchcrawl, and I decided to attend their portraiture session last night.  I didn’t sketch.  As I said, I’m trying to stick with buildings and while the US Government can decide that corporations are people, I have a hard time convincing myself that people are buildings.

But the ‘esprit’ of that evening session, and the enthusiasm of its participants, is infectious and I’m afraid I have been infected.  I shouldn’t.  I know I shouldn’t.  Stick with the plan, Larry.  But…but…I feel the need to participate.  My only participation last night, aside from being amazed by the sketches done by these artists, was to pose for a 20-minute session.  It was fun.  I hope to do it again.  If you’ve ever wondered what I look like, this sketch by Yvan is a very good likeness.