My son has rather a lot of Batman toys. He quite likes Batman, and Super Heroes in general. This is one of his Batmobiles. I drew it in the Stillman & Birn Alpha book that I am drawing my son’s things in. While the current crop of Batman movies aren’t really suitable for a five year old, I did get him the original 1960s Batman movie, which I loved, and which he also loves. One scene in it though reminds me somewhat of the later sequences of the Dark Knight Rises, “some days you just can’t get rid of a bomb”. If only they had Batman flying around with a nuke and bumping into nuns and ladies with prams. Then there is Miss Kitka…
It feels like I’ve not been sketching as much lately. This is true. Though my busy 2013 initially brought a burst of sketchbook activity hitherto unseen (or so it felt), I’ve had little energy to go out and sketch as much as before. Well, that and the dreaded allergies – it’s that time of year. This always happens to me at around late March, early April: not just the allergies, but a general slowing down of the manic sketching. I refer to it as my annual “what does it all mean” phase. It picks up again pretty quickly. The weather is getting hot already, but we’ve had a lot of wind as well. Sneezing city. Anyway, I did take a lunchtime last week to try out a lovely new sketchbook I was sent by the kind people at Stillman and Birn. It’s their latest product, from the new extra heavyweight ‘Zeta’ series. Much smoother paper, but super thick too, 180lb. I usually try out new sketchbooks at the comfort of my living room table, where all the elements are just so, and let’s face it that isn’t how I do most of my sketching. So I took it downtown, and used a worn-in micron pen. It took a bit of getting used to – while the paper is smoother, my penwork is used to the slightly less smooth paper of the watercolour moleskine, but I got the hang of it. I am relishing doing a big pen-heavy piece. I was also drawing in a larger format than usual, and I always forget that takes a bit longer. I added the colours at home. The paint, that was going to be the test, and yes it’s different from watercolour paper, but it really takes the paint very well. It’s thick paper, so it doesn’t buckle at all, but unlike some other smooth papers the paint doesn’t bead up. Overall, very exciting paper!
This is that block on Third Street I have sketched several times.
Roses! More flower drawing. These were for my wife’s birthday, over a week ago (they are lasting pretty well), and I drew them with brown uniball signo pen in the Stillman and Birn ‘Beta’ book. I have been saving that book for a while but finally cracked it open, and it’s very nice, lovely thick paper. I watched the movie ‘Brave’ with my son while drawing these, that’s a good film.
Sometimes you just need to draw a shoe, and what a shoe! This is one of my son’s beloved Lightning McQueen shoes. It’s not drawn in the book which chronicles all of his shoes (those are in black and white), rather it’s in the Stillman & Birn Alpha book (which I’m using to draw his things in colour), and this merited colour. The heel has little lights embedded inside which flash when he walks. This whole drawing took me a couple of hours, while watching Spaced. It is a busy, trying week, this week, and sometimes you just need to sit back and draw a shoe.
Back in May I did some sketching for the Pence’s Garden Tour, and one of the things I drew was a set of birdhouses which I just loved. I sold the original, and I wanted to draw them again but never got around to it, until now. I drew these lovelies on the Stillman & Birn Delta paper (very nice for these types of things) using the sepia uniball signo um-151 pen (the pen of choice) with a bit of watercolour to wash it.
Right now at the Pence Gallery in Davis is a great show called ‘If The Shoe Fits’, which is all about Shoes. I was invited to display some of my shoe drawings, and as some of you may remember I have been drawing every one of my son’s shoes since he started wearing them, all in one book. So I redrew some, this time with colour, on Stillman and Birn Gamma paper. Above is the first shoe he ever wore, at age zero, the Robeez rocket shoe.
Next one, the blue Van’s shoe. I liked these ones. This is from age one. By then of course he was walking and running.
Finally, a shoe from age three, in fact the first shoes he ever chose himself. He has good taste. These got a lot of wear, before the feet outgrew them.
All were drawn on that S&B Gamma paper in either copic multiliner or micron pigma pen, with watercolour added. If you want to see (or buy) these, and a lot of other great shoe art from some amazing artists, go down to the Pence Gallery on D Street in Davis.
Those feet just keep getting bigger and bigger…
Continuing with cars, after a period of non-sketching after London I finally got out and drew something, this little mini parked near Mansion Square on E Street. This was a quickie alright. Across the street is Uncle Vito’s, a pizza place and bar (I always want to called it De Vito’s, because De Vere’s is just up the road). Of course, this is a ‘new’ Mini, not a proper one like the really small Minis. That would look funny in America. I always feel these ones are really just regular sized cars trying to bend down.
Yesterday was Cinqo de Mayo (Happy Cinqo de Mayo!), being May the 5th. We were in Santa Rosa, and went to a garden party at my mother-in-law’s house. I took the opportunity to sketch, to practise my garden sketching before today’s Garden Tour, and to try out the Stillman & Birn Delta series book. Nice paper! Being thicker and great for watercolours. I may still have the same issues with the pens ultimately of course but this felt pretty nice, so I’m going to bring that with me today. I only got as far as this garden ornament, and I started a larger piece showing the whole garden but gave up early, and went for a beer. Met a nice bloke originally from Glasgow.
Another lunchtime sketch; taking a risk with my allergies flaring up like 70′s trousers, so kept it quick, a drawing of a digger outside work. I used the hi-tec c in the stillman & birn gamma book. The workmen came along as I was getting near the end, and were kind enough to let me finish before driving the digger away.
Another lunchtime sketch, braving the pollen (allergies are really bad this week) but more importantly, braving the squirrel. I sat beneath a tree besides the bike racks to draw Kleiber Hall (or half of it; I must master that trick of turning the page sideways to fit more in) when along came a squirrel. Nothing unusual about that, but this one seemed, I don’t know, determined. I thought it might be after my mint M&Ms (which are, I must confess, bloody amazing), but it wasn’t aftre food. It kept creeping right up to me from every angle, a look of indignance and annoyance on its face, like an Englishman who has been rudely queue-jumped but won’t actually say anything. No amount of shooing, chasing, stamping my feet, making vague threats was going to get this squirrel away. I was worried it might have rabies, except it was obviously competely sane, even if I appeared not to be. This furry thing was fearless. It took me a while to realise it was just territorial and that it owned the tree I was sat near (it had a Monopoly card to prove it, and I think the rent included nuts), so despite informing this squirrel about my rights to sit and sketch beneath any public tree I damn well please, I gave in and moved to the shade of a different tree. The squirrel, all pleased with himself, immediately leapt into his tree and sat on a branch like a little lord. Like he couldn’t have done that anyway!!
Next time I’ll draw the squirrel. If I’m brave enough.