figure sketch

Between Riverside and Crazy

When I was in elementary school I loved to stage little plays with neighborhood kids. In junior high I played one of the red headed twins in Elmer and the Lovebug. Never heard of it? Oh well. And that was the end of my career as a thespian. But the wonder and delight of the stage never left. And now I may have found a way to get closer to that backstage experience, by going to some rehearsals. . .

This is our second year now of having seasons tickets to Left Edge Theatre, featuring left leaning, edgy theatrical productions. So I asked if I could come and draw at their rehearsals. The director said sure! I knew it would also be a great way to sharpen up my reportage sketching skills.

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fountain pen and watercolor in 9 X 12″ Canson Mix Media spiral book

My first try was in the second week of rehearsals for Between Riverside and Crazy by Stephen Adly Guirgis, which by the way opened last night.

I wasn’t yet sure how I was going to approach drawing a theatrical production. As the actors started drifting in, I introduced myself and started to learn their names and parts played. Meanwhile I had time to sketch the set before they started rehearsing.

I guess I thought there would be long pauses where the actors got more direction and I could do a quick freeze-frame captures. But this cast was already so far along that there were almost no pauses, and to my delight and dismay, the action kept moving! How to jump in with the pen and brush? It was like trying to catch a train as it’s leaving the station by running alongside until you get enough speed to grab a door handle and hop! So forgive me if I omit the rest of my scribbles from that evening.

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Before I went back a couple weeks later I thought I’d practice a bit using their PR photos from the website. In their glamor PR shots here they bear only a slight resemblance to the characters they play , but it was a good warmup with no pressure.

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Two night ago I was back to watch the dress rehearsal. [Let me interject here that I do not recommend sketching at performances like this unless you have already seen them or will be seeing them without sketching.]

This play gets off to a rip-roaring start and never lets go of your attention until the very end. So as soon as it started, I had an overwhelming urge to put down my sketchbook and say “this is impossible!”

But I had a sort of strategy, to start with the main character Pops, who hopefully would stay put in his wheelchair for a few minutes, and then just add other characters willy nilly as they appeared. I put a bit of watercolor on during the intermission and the rest the next day.

Leftedge8 I’m no theatre critic, but this is my blog, so I get to give my opinion. This play is outrageous, hilarious, touching, and full of surprises, with a cast of seasoned professional actors. It runs through Nov 10. I’ve already got my tickets for November 3, but you may want to hurry and get yours.

And there’s a whole season of plays coming up. Hopefully by season’s end I will have figured out how to sketch-a-play!

#oneweek100people2019

Are you getting your pencils sharpened and pens filled for next week’s challenge to sketch 100 people in one week, beginning Monday April 8, and share your sketches on social media? If you want to know the “rules” and the intention behind this fun challenge (now in its third year), go to the Facebook group page, join up and read a fun description with lots of ideas about how to participate. When you put your mind to it and form a plan, it is remarkably easy to do 100 quick people sketches in a week. And once you get going, sometimes it’s hard to stop!

And then, what good timing! You’ll be warmed up for the next Portrait Party at the Sebastopol Center for the Arts on April 18, 5-8pm. It’s getting to be a monthly thing, and I’m so glad because I’m meeting lots of new people, getting to sketch with beginners and professional artists both. See the details below and more about last month’s party here.

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Family Models

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Dip pen with Diamine Terracotta and Noodlers black ink in 8 x 8 ” HAndbook w/c sketchbook

This is my first post using apps on my iPhone! I’m practicing the new “mobile me” in preparation for the trip to Italy in 1 1/2 weeks.  You may have noticed that the appearance of the blog has changed recently.  That is also so it will be smart phone mobile friendly (with “fluid layout”).  I have a little gorilla pod to set the iPhone on and a fold-up wireless keyboard as new toys to make this possible.  Here’s what it looks like.

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Meanwhile, in an effort to keep sketching even while at home, I hunt down my son(s) who, bless their dear hearts, are willing to let me sit and stare at them.  With Ben I always get the finger picking guitar music as an accompaniment, a sort of icing on the cake, both visually and auditorily.

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Pentel Pocket brush pen in Canson Mix media sketchbook

Andrew, who is no longer home, likes to do crosswords at breakfast, like his mother.  Here I’m practicing quick gesture drawing, which I like a whole lot better than my labored drawings, but only one out many turn out this good.  Believe me, you don’t see the others!

Pocket sketching

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Tombow pen and watercolor in Pentalic Nature Sketch journal 7 X 5″

These days sketching the figure in public almost always involves an electronic device.  Good thing actually, because it renders the figure (the human being) into at least a temporarily frozen state.  While waiting for my car to be serviced I discovered that this was true even for a very squirmy child.. . at least for a minute or two!

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The woman next to me, of a different generation was frozen in position by the archaic form of entertainment, the printed page, making her an excellent subject for a slow pen drawing.

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Pitt Artist pen and watercolor in Moleskin pocket sketchbook

Another day recently I was at a photography opening for the work of my husband and other photographers. I sat down with my glass of wine to wait for him. Four preteen boys blew in with their skateboards and iPhones and plopped down right opposite me.  Of course I am somewhat invisible to people that age, so I brazenly whipped out my pen and book.  I did eventually “get caught” by the youngest one, but he was friendly and appreciative and thoroughly charming.

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I have been listening to the news of course and feel a little sheepish showing this sketch when my east coast friends are in the deep freeze!  I am very empathetic and wish I could send a bit of sunshine your way.

Model on a Rotisserie

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Tombow brush pen on hot press paper

Lulu had excellent posture which never sagged, only I couldn’t deal with the idea of a straight vertical line.  I thought it unwise to tell the model to slouch, since this might not have been a problem for anyone else.  So I rotated my paper to do the sketch, then added in some other sketchers when I still had time.  The Tombow pen bleeds when you wet it, for quick and messy form shading.

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Tombow brush  pen and watercolor

The model turns as on a rotisserie to face different artists each time.  Once again a ramrod straight pose.  I could almost hear a parent saying “now don’t slouch dear”. So this time I turned the paper more than once and exaggerated the form (really hard for me to do for some reason).  I loved mixing the Chinese white in with the watercolors to make them more chalky.  Nowhere near a likeness, but that was not my goal.

Greco Roman Beauty

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pen and graphite on hot press paper

There’s nothing more appealing to sketch than a model who is comfortable in her body.  A pair was modeling at the Thursday Nite drawing group and together they conjured the illusion of Greco Roman statuary – chiseled, timeless, monumental.

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Maybe it’s the graphite, but there’s a stone sculptural feel to this one.  I’m using a little cake of graphite which activates with a wet brush so you can paint it on.

Sketch With Pants On Fire!

Have you become a master at multi-tasking in this wired world?  You have five minutes and you can get five things done with time to spare?  I know I’m at least always trying.  Seems to be the only way to manage this life without getting desperately behind.

So of course at the Bay Area Model’s Guild figure marathon on Sunday my choice was to sketch one and two minute poses, even though there were models who were sitting still for 3 hours. Look how much MORE I was accomplishing! (now there’s an embarrassing revelation about my nature! and me a meditator.  . .)

One minute, two minute, five minute, ten minute and twenty minute poses happening simultaneously and three models to each of four stages. And the best, most active/athletic/expressive poses only last a minute, because who can balance on one foot for longer than that? So I had no choice but to hold my breath and draw. . .whatever part of the body I could get down in a minute.

bamg6I used the uni-ball VISION Elite pen, which bleeds when you run a wet brush over it, which I would do after every pose while the models changed position.

bamg5This young man was so cute!  Must be a mime in his “other” life.  He wore a conductor’s cap and workman’s overalls and had big black expressive eyebrows.

bamg7This one is probably about 25 minutes worth of these quick poses  Just put the pen on paper and draw from one point.

bamg1And then some five or even ten minute poses, which began to seem like such a long time after the one minute ones!

bamg2You may have noticed I was particularly interested in drawing the young men.  There were lots of women as well, but I just loved these “costumes”.

bamg3Now this is a good model, who can make the back of him as interesting as the front.

bamg4No time to sketch hands and somehow I don’t even miss them.