A Is for Anxious Guy

A is for Age, Avoiding, Annoying, Anxious…

In April my sketch group decided to sketch things starting with “A” but I kept going with it. I had a lot of fun finding things about the people I sketched that started with A. Click on any of the pictures to see them larger with my notes in slide show format. As you’ll see from the times in the notes, I was working some long hours the past couple months which is why I’m so behind on posting. When time is limited I always choose painting over posting.

Waiting for dinner

(Mostly) Subway Sketches

Subway is TOO LOUD

Subway is TOO LOUD

I’ve gotten so used to sketching people in public that sometimes I forget to be subtle. Then I get glares or confused looks from people who can’t figure out why I keep looking at them. One day a guy down the train was holding up a camera and continuously filming everyone which I found annoying. Filming seems more intrusive since my drawings rarely capture a close-enough likeness for anyone to worry about.

Here are some random people sketches, mostly from my 13 minute subway ride to work. They are displayed first in a slide show (with arrows to click through) and at the bottom in “gallery” format. In gallery format you can click to enlarge a picture.

Please take the poll in between the two so I can learn which type of display for multiple pictures you prefer. THANKS!

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Subway heads 1, ink in Small Moleskine sketchbook

Subway Sketches and Exploding Head Decisions

Subway heads 1, ink in Small Moleskine sketchbook

Subway heads on way to work, ink in Small Moleskine sketchbook

It’s appropriate to be posting sketches of heads since mine feels like it might explode if I have to make one more decision! There is so much going on in my little life right now, and so many important and non-important choices to make that my brain wants to go on strike.

Some of the decisions have to do with traveling with oil paints for the first time to the Rose Frantzen 5-day workshop in Arizona in early February (ship supplies by UPS or USPS? risk checking paints in my suitcase? how to get wet paintings home? live-in or drop-by cat sitter while I’m gone? plus all the travel worries a homebody like me can drum up).

Subway heads 2, ink in small Moleskine sketchbook

Subway heads on way to San Francisco, ink in small Moleskine sketchbook

The guy on the left above was actually standing right above me on the subway and interested in what I had been drawing, posed for me. He was nice enough to say he liked it. I wanted to tell him I’d fallen in love with his chin, but figured that would be stupid.

Subway 3, Waiting

Subway people waiting, drawing slowly

Other decisions I’m dealing with have to do with some remodeling of my duplex to prepare the back unit (currently my studio) as a rental unit, replacing both kitchen/pantry/laundry room floors, moving my studio out to the new former-garage studio (easier now thanks to space planning help from my sister the amazing interior designer), and lots of sorting and getting rid of stuff to prepare for the moves.

And all the above lead to leaving my half-time day job and getting to paint full-time. But of course there are decisions related to that too, like when to take the leap, currently planned for about a year from now.

I’m grateful these decisions are all about happy, exciting, positive changes. But even happy things can be stressful. There’s even a word for that: eustress.

eustress: noun.  Stress that is deemed healthful or giving one the feeling of fulfillment. From Greek: eu ‘well, good’ + stress, modeled on distress

The trick for me is to just make each decision once and not rethink it. Decide. Done. Next. I’m getting there.

Quick Sketches in Stonehenge Kraft Brown Potato Chip Journal

Last Page Spread, Chip Journal, 6x7.5"

Last Page Spread, Chip Journal, 6x7.5"

I breezed through this little pamphlet-bound potato chip box journal in a few weeks. Since Roz Stendahl just posted about her problems binding this paper, I thought I’d share my results with binding and sketching on this paper.

Since my sketchbook was small, pamphlet-bound (stitched down the middle only) with just 3 holes, I didn’t have trouble with the pages cracking like she did in her case-bound journal. I found the paper too rough for drawing with a fine point or fountain pen and settled on a Faber-Castell Pitt Medium pen. I also experimented unsuccessfully on one sketch with a white gel pen.

I do like the paper for quick sketching and I’m going to continue experimenting with it. Roz says it’s good for gouache. I’d like to try it using black line and wash with white gouache for highlights. I used it for oil pastel and wasn’t happy with the results.

Apples, Delicious #1 (post fixed)

Big Red Delicious Apple, oil on panel, 6x6"

Big Red Delicious Apple, oil on panel, 6×6″

It’s funny how a small apple on a small panel can look so big! In the lunch room at the office where I work, people bring in boxed lunches from a nearby cafe. The boxes always include a petite Delicious apple but nobody eats them, preferring the sandwich on homemade bread, chips, and giant cookie.

So the apples are abandoned on the lunchroom table and I take them home to use as still-life objects. I have about a dozen of them now (they seem to last forever) and like setting them up to interact with each other like actors on a stage.

This painting is available on my DailyPaintworks gallery.

Mohawk Fashion Victim: Subway Drawings

Mohawk Fashion Victim, Ink & sticker, 8x5"

Mohawk Fashion Victim, Ink & sticker, 8x5"

You can imagine my glee when this gentleman in full Mohawk sat down across from me on BART. Entranced by his cell phone, he never noticed me sketching and held perfectly still. It must have taken him a long time to get his hair to stand up so perfectly–and why? Especially first thing in the morning? I awarded him a sticker (on his page) from National Geographic.

UPDATE: Larry Hatfield sent me this link to a great Mohawk at a crazy website: People of Walmart where photos of actual shoppers and products at Walmart make you laugh, cringe and/or swear never to go to a Walmart.

Sedate Subway Reader

Sedate Subway Reader

And above, bonus BART rider sketches, people reading actual books, not a cellphone/Kindle, etc.  And below some subway feet sketches.

BART rider feet

BART rider feet

I was amused by the variety of guys shoes, from super point to square toes to waffle soles.

Wintery Rider on Way to Work

Wintery Rider on BART

Wintery Rider on BART

There’s something about this sketch that really says winter in Northern California to me: bundled up, boots on, bare trees out the window, and a sense of quiet.

Now that I only work in the office two days a week I have fewer opportunities for sketching on my 13 minute subway ride but always enjoy the adventure of trying to sketch someone, not knowing if they’ll get off in a minute at the next stop.

Bundled Up and Busy on BART

 

Bundled up and Busy on BART, ink sketch

Bundled up and Busy on BART, ink sketch

 

I’m wrapping up the last of my sketches in my last handmade sketchbook with these two subway sketches and next time, my end-of-journal self portrait. I didn’t get around to binding another journal one in time and so switched to a Moleskine watercolor sketchbook as a stopgap.

 

Wheelchair Rider with Rear View Mirror

Wheelchair Rider with Rear View Mirror

The Moleskine would be perfect if only it wasn’t in horizontal format. I hate the way two-page spreads become very long and skinny. Trying to sketch in it vertically is awkward to hold. Working in it for a few weeks has given me the incentive to get a new book bound ASAP!

 

Copper Pitcher, Copper People

 

Mom's Copper Pitcher, ink & watercolor

Mom's Copper Pitcher, ink & watercolor

 

I needed to draw and paint something fun and refreshing after the ordeal with the last oil painting. I reached into my still life cabinet and pulled out this fun little pitcher. This gave me the idea to draw my complete inventory of still life items, one at a time. And that gave me the idea to draw everything I own. I wonder….

 

BART Snoozing in Copper, ink & watercolor

BART Snoozing, ink & watercolor

The day before I’d drawn these two guys snoozing back to back on BART. The coppery paint mixture worked perfectly for them too.

 

Subway Drawings: BART Riders

Shaky train, shaky pen; ink with digital coloring

Guns Before Butter; shaky pen & digital coloring

This lady carefully marked up her cheesy crime novel, “Guns Before Butter” with her pencil as she read.  The train ride was really bumpy and so my ink line got pretty squiggly. I switched to drawing her after a big guy with a bike got on and completely blocked my view of the man above her.

Two guys in green, ink & colored pencil

Two guys in green, ink & colored pencil

I experimented some more with the brown craft paper sketchbook, drawing with a black brush pen on BART and (above) adding white pen and colored pencil at home.

More Brown Paper People

More Brown Paper People

And below, some ink drawings done on BART with watercolor added at home later.

Waiting patiently, ink & watercolor

Waiting patiently, ink & watercolor

Elderly Asian couple, ink & watercolor

Elderly Asian couple, ink & watercolor

Birth of Impressionism Show and Gopher Close Up

Sketches from visit to Birth of Impression, ink & colored pencil

Sketches from visit to Birth of Impression, ink & colored pencil

I’m not a fan of crowds, blockbusters or standing in line, but I put up with all the above to visit the Birth of Impressionism show in San Francisco’s De Young Museum in Golden Gate Park. I had planned to sketch in the park after the show but various delays only left time for these done while traveling there and back on BART and SF Muni.

I made a number of discoveries at the show and am looking forward to seeing it again, hopefully at a time when it will be less crowded. I really enjoyed many of the exquisite pre-impressionist paintings, and especially loved seeing the quite large “Whistler’s Mother” in person. Although the mother’s face appears soft and doughy, I could see in her eyes the universal worries, hope, dreams and sorrow all mothers experience.

Whistler's Mother

Whistler's Mother (click to enlarge)

I liked the detail of the little foot stool her son provided for her comfort but my niece and I chuckled about the ugly shower curtain hanging to her left. (Seriously, it looks just like a plastic shower curtain I saw on sale recently.)

I was also struck by how unskillfully made some of the early impressionist paintings appeared to me. I found myself thinking that if I’d painted them I wouldn’t have been satisfied with them. That made me consider what a harsh judge I must be of my own work. Then I wondered whether all the paintings in the show (and in museums generally) are considered fine works of art or are included in collections simply because they are historical records of work by famous artists?

And now for an abrupt change of topic….

Have you ever seen a gopher close up?

As we left the museum I saw a gopher pop his head out of a hole in the grass. He continued popping up and down, busy pushing dirt out of his hole. I thought he was so cute until I saw the close up (below) on the screen.

Gopher Close Up (click to enlarge if you dare)

Yikes! We had gophers in my first San Francisco house. I kept planting things in the garden and the next morning they’d be gone, pulled under ground by a network of gophers. I finally gave up gardening at that house. Between the fog and the gophers it was hopeless.

Pinole and Pen, Paper, Ink Tests

Pretty Pinole from Peets, Ink and Watercolor

Pretty Pinole from Peets, Ink and Watercolor

Warm sun, green hills, blossoming trees and a great Peet’s cappuccino to sip at an outdoor table while sketching was made even better by a pen that actually worked in my sketchbook. After struggling to find a pen that would not skip, scratch, smear, show through or bleed on the Arches 90 lb cold press paper I’d bound in my journal, I discovered that my Lamy Safari fountain pen was just right.

Pens

All of the pens I normally use were giving me problems. The Sakura Pigma Micron skipped, scratched over the textured paper when drawing, and was even worse for writing in the journal, whether I used my favorite .01 or a fatter-tipped .05.

Pitt Artist Pen and Sharpie tests

Pitt Artist Pen and Sharpie tests

I tried using an Ultra-Fine Point Sharpie since it would at least produce a strong line (above). But I found that the ink flowed too quickly, bleeding and spreading if held in one spot and worse, showed through to the other side.  I also tried the Pitt Artist Brush Pen on this page, which worked OK but was a thicker line than I like for general sketching. The black ink in the finer-point Pitts seemed paler than the Microns, but it might also be that they resist the sizing on the paper more.

Testing Prismacolor .05 Pen

Testing Prismacolor .05 Pen

Prismacolor Illustration pens are similar to the Sakura Pigma Micron and Pitt Artist Pens and are very nice and comfortable to hold. But they too performed poorly on the Arches CP. In the sketch above I was trying to do a contour drawing of what I saw on the BART train but my lines were barely visible until I redrew them with a Sharpie.

Testing Noodlers & Carbon Platinum Ink

Testing Noodlers & Carbon Platinum Ink

Then I tested my Lamy Safari F-point fountain pen and was delighted to see that it was a pleasure to write and draw with on the Arches CP paper.

Ink

I’d last filled the Safari with Noodlers Black Bulletproof ink, which is supposed to be waterproof but actually bleeds a fair amount when a wash is applied after it’s dry. I used a dip pen to test Platinum Carbon Ink and it held up better, barely bleeding at all.

So I squirted out the remaining Noodlers in my Lamy and refilled it with the Carbon Platinum ink. I’ve been a happy sketcher ever since. The ink is a rich black, doesn’t bleed, is great to write with on this bumpy paper, and is comfy to hold. Yay!

Paper

Now that I’m halfway through my journal it’s time to prepare for binding the next one. I’ve been testing papers and I think I’ve found the one. When I finish my tests I’ll post them. I have a feeling I might have found the perfect paper for ink and watercolor journaling.

Innocent Vixens

First Camellia of Spring; watercolor, painted directly without drawing first

First Camellia of Spring, Watercolor

Yesterday’s rainy-day post was a bit dreary so I wanted to post something bright and cheery today. When the first camellia on the bush bloomed I painted her directly in watercolor, without drawing in pencil or pen first. This little vase looks as intended; it is nearly flat in really life, probably intentionally squished by the potter, with just a sort of slot in the top.

I think this sketch makes good use of the watercolor paper in “The Mutt” (the name I’ve stenciled on the outside of the sketchbook I bound with watercolor paper.) I named it that because it’s a little homely and imperfect but still perfectly lovable.

Innocent Vixens, the full page

The full page

Here is the page where the above sketch resides. I like to make good use of my sketchbook pages. Lately I’ve been grateful for messed up sketches because they become pages that I use for journaling right over the bad sketch. More about that in another post.

Innocent Vixens(?), BART riders, sepia pen

Innocent Vixens, BART riders, sepia pen

And if you were wondering about the post title “Innocent Vixens,” it was from something I heard on the radio. Someone said “innocent victims” and for some reason my mind wandered to “innocent vixens.” It seemed like a concept that might be fun to sketch someday and I wanted to remember it, so into the journal it went, above these innocent (though a bit dorky) BART subway rider guys.

Rainy Day Plaza and People

Rainy Day Plaza, ink & watercolor

Rainy Day Plaza, ink & watercolor

Despite the rain I had a great walk to the Farmers Market at El Cerrito Plaza last Saturday. When the rain stopped I sketched and painted at an outdoor table at  Peet’s Coffee across the street. Then I continued my walk to do half a dozen errands. One was to pick up the second disk of  “Five Days” from the video store.

I’d rented the first disk from Netflix and couldn’t wait for it to go back and part two to arrive. I had to find out what happened. Five days is an incredibly suspenseful, well-written and perfectly acted British TV mini-series about a woman and her kids who go missing.  I’d had this movie sitting around for two weeks when I finally sat down to watch it and then couldn’t turn it off. If you like suspenseful police procedurals with great character development, this one is great!

Subway rider, ink & watercolor

Subway rider, ink & watercolor

Rainy day, patient, meticulously groomed woman, riding BART.

Susie, ink & watercolor

Susie, ink & watercolor

Didn’t catch a likeness in this quickie sketch, but did catch a bit of her spirit.

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