swashbuckling with a sketchbook

Swashbucklers 2015Shiver me timbers! That is a very Portland phrase for two reasons, first of all it’s a bit colder there than here, second of all you have the Portland Timbers soccer team (who just won the MLS Cup, well done!), and third of all, PIRATES (I know I said two reasons, but I lied like a lying lily-livered landlubber). Pirates. You will remember perhaps two years ago when I went to Portland for the Swashbucklers Ball, the big event where people dress up as pirates (and we’re talking seriously good pirate costumes too) and mingle with other pirates, dance to music, drink, and say “Yarr”. Oh, and in the case of at least two pirates, “draw other pirates” too. This year I went again to the Ball, this time with my wife (who doesn’t sketch pirates), and fellow sketcher and pirate Kalina, who lives in Portland. It was through sketching pirates at a Dr.Sketchy’s in 2012 with Kalina that we discovered this piratical culture of PDX, and it’s great fun. Above I sketched the Melody Ballroom while the band Chervona knocked out some tunes. The French flag flew above the stage in honour of the victims of the awful Paris attacks the day before.

Swashbucklers 2015 Angela and Kalina
Here are Kalina and Angela in pirate costume. My costume is not seen, but I had a black pirate shirt, a red sash, blue pirate pants, a big dark pirate hat, and a parrot. Oh and a lightsabre. At one point I congratulated one pirate on his weaponry and he got his big flintlock pistol out. I grinned and just went, bzhhooooommm. It’s a LOT of silly fun! (Unfortunately my ‘sabre doesn’t light up, but still.) I sketched, and danced, and chatted to pirates, and we decided that next time we would get the VIP tickets and get a table so we weren’t standing so much. Here are some other pirates I sketched:
Swashbucklers 2015
This fellow had a classic high-seas look and a feather too
Swashbucklers 2015
This bearded pirate (whose name was Justin) wrote “Yarrrr” on the sketch, and one of his companions had a parrot similar to mine, though with different plumage. They weren’t real parrots you understand.
Swashbucklers 2015
I loved this guy’s look, I remember him from the previous year. His hair reminded me of Balthus Dire (of Fighting Fantasy ‘Citadel of Chaos’ fame) which of course is immensely cool.
Swashbucklers 2015
I sketched this more mediterranean pirate a bit too quickly to make out the most interesting feature of his costume, the sabre with the large cobra’s head on the end.

Yarr!! And that’s all I did. Gotta love the pirates.

knights vs pirates

playmobil pirates and knights
A break from the Portland sketches, but this is connected, for those toy pirates were bought in a toystore in downtown Portland. These are some of my son’s Playmobil toys, pirates and knights. This year he got into knights in quite a big way, after we visited the Tower of London and picked up a couple of plastic swords and a toy knight’s helmet. Since then I’ve been battered in an onslaught of medieval mayhem (he has a plastic bow and arrow set also, which I’ve been on the rubber-suction-cup end of once or twice), although we’ve made our own shields (his design, of course). However it is always safer (for me) if the battles are between little plastic men, so I’ve upped his Playmobil collection with more knights, and of course (since I was dressed as one myself in Portland), pirates. Well this set of pirates has a cannon, so the latest game is called “knocking down the bad guys”, though it evolves into a general theme of knights vs pirates. Let me tell you, this plastic cannon is pretty powerful, but those knights with their shields are equally tough and can sometimes take a bit of a pounding before falling down. I love Playmobil toys, they’re the best, and they’re also great to draw. These ones are in his Stillman and Birn ‘alpha’ book, the one where I’m drawing his stuff.

shiver me timbers! the swashbuckler’s ball

2013 swashbucklers ball, portland Last weekend I put on a big hat and dressed up as a pirate, as you do. It was in Portland and I was going to the annual Swashbuckler’s Ball, a big party for pirates at the Melody Ballroom. And boy, were there some pirates! I was amazed at the incredible costumes, the level of dedication all the pirates went to was most impressive. My own costume (despite my amazing hat) was of the more subtle variety – but being a pirate is fun!

Of course, I sketched. I first sketched the Portland pirates last year at Dr. Sketchy’s. Also sketching was fellow pirate sketcher Kalina Wilson; her work is incredibly good. I personally was struggling a bit – drawing pirates who keep moving about is pretty tricky. I felt oddly self-conscious of sketching people armed to the teeth with swords and cutlasses (only joking), so I kept it quick, and here are my results. I did enjoy sketching the view from the back of the ballroom (see below), though I did the lettering and shading afterwards. In fact apart from the painted backgrounds, I didn’t get my paints out at all, just stuck to the penwork. 2013 swashbucklers ball, portland The music was great, (Chervona, Abney Park, and another band whose name I have forgotten but who appear in the sketch above) and got a lot of pirates dancing. Even I danced, which may surprise you. Whenever I was struggling to sketch, I would wander off and dance. Below is an attempt at sketching dancing pirates. 2013 swashbucklers ball, portland I did manage a couple of quick individual pirate sketches, to which I added my own observations on the type of pirates I thought they might be. Lots of pirates reminded me of other people – there was one guy who was the spit of Richard Attenborough, a very jolly face, while another reminded me a bit of Ivan Vanko in Iron Man 2 (I think Mickey Rourke would make a really good dastardly pirate). There were pirates of all ages and styles, and one or two Jack Sparrows. The pirate I drew in the green sketch below (who is probably a lovely gentle pirate) actually reminded me of the sort of villainous pirate you’d get in old BBC kids shows from the 80s. I really wish I had had the courage to ask a pirate to pose for a sketch, just for a couple of minutes, but I am a lily-livered land-lubber, so that didn’t happen. 2013 swashbucklers ball, portland 2013 swashbucklers ball, portland I stayed until all the music was done, and then walked home, dressed as a pirate, back to my hotel. I certainly enjoyed being a pirate for an evening, and will surely do this again (but next time I’ll sketch on an old yellowing rolled-up maritime map, yarrr). I’ll build up my swashbuckling look. And my pirate lingo too, say “be” instead of “am”, learn all the insults, get a parrot etc.

Incidentally…you can order a print (or even a mug) of my Swashbuckler’s Ball sketch from the Society6 website at http://society6.com/PeteScully/Swashbucklers-Ball-Portland-2013_Print.

To find out more about the Swashbuckler’s Ball (and hey, see you there next time!), visit their website at: http://www.swashbucklersball.com/ YARRRR!!!!

yo-ho-ho!

PDXYAR Dr Sketchy's
Yarrr! Or is it Arrr? I never did learn to speak Pirate. I did get a big dose of Pirate while in Portland though, and what fun it was. On the Sunday evening I attended ‘Dr.Sketchy’s Anti-Art School‘, the Portland branch of the national Dr.Sketchy’s thing that is popping up all over the country. I had never been to a figure drawing meet before, and this one was a lot of fun, featuring Portland’s ‘premier pirate group’, PDXYAR. It was so much fun! The pirates really were very elaborately dressed (and just as elaborately undressed) and stood in a variety of poses lasting between two and twenty minutes each – not an easy task, but one they performed incredibly well.
PDXYAR Dr Sketchy's
PDXYAR Dr Sketchy's
As I say, I had a blast. It was so liberating to mess around with quick figure drawing, just focusing on the gestures as much as possible. The pirates had so much personality, and a decent array of weaponry.
PDXYAR Dr Sketchy's
PDXYAR Dr Sketchy's
I tried a few sketches on the pad of grey paper I had picked up at Muse art shop on Hawthorne. It was different; I think it might be more effective for pastel work, but I’m having fun with it.
PDXYAR Dr Sketchy's
PDXYAR Dr Sketchy's
PDXYAR Dr Sketchy's
And I even won a prize! A PDXYAR beerglass (with a beer in it) and rum shot glass. I shall treasure them. I guess I’ll have to get me some rum. I chatted to some of the pirates afterwards, a great bunch of lads and lasses (one was even from north Davis!), and I became convinced I wanted to be a pirate too. I went home to the hotel with my head lost in thoughts of sailing the seven seas, parrots on my shoulder, avasting ye landlubbers, cutlasses swashing buckles and so on. I do have a pirate-like name, Captain Scully, yar. Well ok, maybe I won’t make it as a pirate, but next time I’m in Portland I’ll certainly try to sketch them again, I dare say with a bottle of rum. Yar!!!
PDXYAR beer glass

You can check out PDXYAR at http://pdxyar.org. Yar! If you’re in Portland, try to catch them at the Swashbuckler’s Ball on November 17. Yar! You can see other drawings done by my fellow sketchers that night at the Dr.Sketchy’s/PDXYAR Facebook event page.