Saturday, July 16, 2011

Maybe Carmageddon

Maybe carmageddon will become a full-fledged holiday.

Passing part of this nice day, not driving, but drawing at my office. Being at the office on a Saturday is bad form, but it is nice here, and I am successfully not driving, so that's a good thing.

Wait a minute, what am I thinking? I live north of the Sepulveda Pass, I can drive anywhere I want (except, of course, down there, but why would I want to do that?). You know what, screw that, no driving for me.

Everything's fine; I think I'll stay put and draw - above the fray, in the Santa Clarita Valley.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Nothing if not Versatile

It was too hot today in Santa Clarita to do anything except evaporate. It was too hot even, to draw. So what did I do?  I defied the heat and did draw anyway.

For this scene at the mall, when I started to draw, I was in the shade. However, since it was near noon, the angles changed quickly and I was soon engulfed in the firey maw of the day. Scrambling feverishly with pens and markers I hastened to finish. Dermal trauma notwithstanding, I'm happy with the result.

As if that weren't artistic accomplishment enough, I also got to use the phrase "engulfed in the firey maw of the day" in a sentence. I've been meaning to do that for a while. Like has been said, I'm nothing if not versatile.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Life, Light, and Values

Life pulses through the parking lot.

Sometimes it conveys, along straight lines that converge, somewhere on the horizon, in one-point perspective.

Sometimes it resolves as gentle foothills, receding in the distance, reduced to simple contours, that diminish, as the atmosphere intervenes.

Then again, organic shapes too, assert themselves, often in lumpy little clusters of three.

But always, as light drapes itself over all surfaces, majestic and mundane, it can be simplified into five values. A monochrome spectrum.

If only everything in life were as simple, to be so rendered, as light resting on the surface, of every thing. And I see.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

A Small Slice of Canyon Country...

... from my office window.

This is a somewhat urban perspective, but Canyon Country is actually very naturalistic and picturesque.

This morning I did a 3 mile cross-country run in the wilderness next to my community. Literally, I open a gate run up a hill and for the duration of my run I'll be much more likely to see quail, rabbit, snake or hawk than I am to see another human. Life is good!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

A Quick Little Drawing!

In addition to all my other happenings I've been drawing and playing guitar the last couple of days. Yesterday I did a sketch of a "CAUTION! WET FLOOR" cone. How's that for inspiration; impressive, right?

This modest little drawing is just a view from my office. Sure beats toiling in a dungeon with no windows!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

A Source of Inspiration, Drawn

When I was a little boy, and before I had a vocation (obviously) I was an artist; I was always drawing. I wasn't accomplished, per se, but it was natural for me, and it was part of my being.

It was also in the time of my youth that I developed an interest in airplanes, probably from seeing them first in movies, but also from just seeing them flying around. I was fascinated - the glint of sunlight off the wingtip of a sleek and beautiful flying machine was inspirational.  So much so that when it came time to have a vocation I chose aerospace engineering.

I am glad I chose that path, and that profession has benefited me, but... after five years of school, five semesters of college calculus, decades of employment, some good projects, some bad ones, two layoffs, productive encounters with a handful of smart people, and many more encounters with idiots... I find myself drawing an airplane in the desert. Not any old airplane though. This airplane is one of the exact model that I remember being inspired by as a youth.

Funny thing, a person can always "be" an artist, but he can't always "have an engineering job". That's because artist is a state of being while engineering is just a job.

Once again "being" is better than "having".

I am richer for simply being an artist than I could claim by merely having a job as a engineer.

I am fortunate and grateful for that.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

An Angular Armored Vehicle!

On an unseasonably warm spring Saturday I baked in the sun and did draw this vehicle. The location was the War Museum in South El Monte. 

At the beginning of each of these sessions with my drawing class I have seemed to struggle with the method. Then I sit with the instructor Will and I explain the problems I've encountered. Each time he has provided directly applicable help which I then apply.

I am happy with this drawing, and I learned (or re-learned) some important techniques and/or concepts: 
[1] for this type of sketching it is counter-productive to attempt super accurate perspective
[2] make sure to accurately capture the height and width of the front of the subject
[3] make depth measurements relative to the front-facing view
[4] use a "double stroke" to execute lines to achieve a lively and  "sketchy" effect.

Sorry there is no humor within this post; I suspect that it was evaporated out of me in the brutal heat of that day.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

A 5 Value Stag Beetle!

I've actually been busy with my drawing, pretty much, among other things, but, as for posting here, not so much. Once again though, the activity of drawing beats the activity of posting, pretty much.

Anyway I've been introduced to a new method of sketching. It's a five value system that uses warm gray markers applied to an oatmeal colored paper. I really enjoy the process and the results I am getting. More to come soon!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Be Alive... draw! drAW! DRAW!

A new day, a new drawing! Drawing is a great human activity; I'd like to do it more often. However, sometimes obstacles assert themselves to defeat the urge to draw. Today I have one particular obstacle in mind.

Any idea what obstacle I am talking about? You might be surprised, because the obstacle itself is essential to the activity of drawing.

Curious? Well the obstacle is the brain, my brain in particular.

My brain sometimes doubts my ability to draw, and I think to myself, "self, maybe today's drawings will not be very good."

Weird, huh?

My brain says, "let's not draw if the drawings are not going to be perfect." That's bad.

Now I am not saying that my brain always defeats me from picking up the pen, but sometimes it does.

I suspect the way out of this dilemma is to realize that the act of drawing itself is more valuable to me than any products that may result from the act of drawing, i.e., "my drawings."

I started this thought and this post out pretty innocuously, but in fact I think this insight is rather profound.

The lesson for me is that drawing is a perfect opportunity to be "alive in the moment," to be fully "present." Isn't that what I want? Isn't that a better outcome than having in my possesion "some good drawings?"

For me the answers to these questions are yes, and yes. I would rather "be alive in the moment" than to "have some good drawings."

How would you answer these questions for yourself, for whatever activities are important to you?

Now brain, step aside, I have some drawing to do! (One thing though brain, don't go away too far; I still need you, even for this.)

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Back In the Saddle!

I am a machine! A biological machine, but still, for the purpose of exposition, a machine.

Like any good machine I have different gears and drive trains that whirl and twirl, meshing smoothly for the most part, but sometimes grinding, and at other times just plain old "getting rusty."

All this to say that my art gears have been idling for a time as I focus on other grand schemes. Hence no posts recently.

Regardless, I have drawn and posted once again. This picture includes a special cameo appearance of my index finger; isn't that special? My finger demanded credit, saying (in silent finger talk) it would not cooperate next time I wanted to dial a rotary phone if I didn't make the mention. With so much at stake, I acquiesced. I mentioned my finger. I hope that by so doing, I avoided, an arguably, only-very-remotely-likely-event.

At least my narcissistic machine finger is happy.

Friday, January 21, 2011

This Week in Sketchville!

Well, really, there is no such physical place as Sketchville; rather, if it is anything, it is a creative place-of-mind, so to speak.

Most art starts out as a blank piece of paper, with an artist, who is wondering what to draw, hovering nearby in physical space.

After that the artist has to intentionally occupy a creative space. Starting with a mental picture of what he wants to draw, often triggered by an interesting subject in the immediate environment, the art commences.

This creative space is one that transcends the mental and the physical; art starts with the brain and takes shape within creative space.

So, for this little collection, I found myself, the artist, sketchbook at the ready, in a physical space, which was, once again my local Starbucks. I had a mental picture of what I wanted to draw ("those people over there... a chance to improve on my straight-ahead drawings of faces").

When pen hit paper, I transcended the realms of the physical and the mental, and I occupied creative-space; welcome to Sketchville! The drawings commenced their mysterious birth.

Born, yet never to age, these are my babies. Go now my babies, take on the world and be joyful, but no matter where you go, remember that you were born on this day in Sketchville!

Monday, January 10, 2011

New Year's Day with Irreverent Muppets!

Time rolls on and so does my art - Happy New Year!

Part of my new year celebrations included seeing a limited engagement show at the Barclay Theater on the UC Irvine campus. The show was "Henson's Alternative - Unstuffed and Unstrung."

"What's that?" - you say. Well, basically it is a live-on-stage Muppets show, done improv style. The Muppeteers "animate their characters from below" (that sounds funny to me) while improvising a scene that has been suggested by the audience. Video-capture records the "'top half of the action" (again, sounds funny) and plays it back real-time on large suspended monitors, also on the stage towards the back. So the effect is two shows in one. It was witty and well done, replete with foul language and adult situations; very entertaining!

I was fortunate to be seated far off center with respect to the stage, in the second row - just perfect for drawing! Close enough to see the performer's expressions and their staging, and seated to the side which made for a great perspective view.

The image I've posted here is composed of three parts: [1] far upper left shows the stage director and several audience members (the stage director interacted with the audience to select and set the scene, and change the scene in-progress for comedic effect), [2] lower left - a closeup of one of the Muppet characters, and [3] entire right half - shows the performers and Muppets, in action together (note that the performers are looking downward in order to see their monitors to make sure their characters and filling the video-recorded scene properly).

I enjoyed this experience a lot. It was very satisfying to accomplish my own art while being audience to the art of others.  Important take-away for me from this experience - Drawing did not distract me from enjoying the show (although I thought it might)! - that's a great lesson to have learned in itself! Score!