Friday, October 12, 2018

The Last Few Pages, Part 2

It's #inktober on the Gram and everyone is posting their ink drawings on a daily basis.  So I thought why not bring it to the blog world and do the second post of the last few pages of my Moleskine Sketchbook No.5.  During the weeks leading up to the Sugarlift event I began sketching subway riders as a way to prepare myself for it.  It was fun while it lasted, and also very frustrating.   
You think you have a perfect candidate to drawn and shortly after you begin the sketch they get up and leave.  This one I had to finish from memory, not bad I guess, but would have preferred for this guy to remain seated while I finished drawing him. 
This guy remained in his seat long enough for me to get some of his feature but my gosh did he move around...a lot!  It's hard to capture fidgety people, and also it's hard to draw people while others are staring at you.  Sometimes it made me feel like a creep, forcing me to close my sketchbook to hide the proof that I have been watching someone else.
Then you have the "sleepers" which are the perfect catch, if only they also would stay still.  There are some who don't move while they sleep, then there are those who in their sleep swing from front to back and sideways, or like this guy, just changing their position every few minutes.  Even though he moved a lot it was good to have him in front of me as reference during my half hour train ride into work.
For one of the last few pages I went back to drawing trees.  I had free time one afternoon after work and I walked through Central Park, and while admiring runners I came across this tree and I couldn't resist the urge to draw it.  I only had time to get some of the outlines done before I had to leave, but it was enough to get something going. 
I finished that tree drawing from memory poolside at a friend's home in East Hampton...not a bad way to conclude my fifth Moleskine Sketchbook. 

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

The Last Few Pages, Part 1


Recently I completed my fifth Moleskine Sketchbook which is great because I get to move on to another one with endless possibilities, and on the other hand it is like saying goodbye to a long time companion.  Once the book goes on the shelf I rarely look at it again.
The last few pages of this sketchbook were exciting because I started working with different things such as fountain pens and watercolor. 
I've always know that this sketchbook is not meant for watercolor, but decided to try it out anyway.  The paper is thick enough that it should be able to hold up.  To my surprise it absorbed water quicker than expect, it wasn't ideal but it did exceed my expectations.  Only down side is that the yellow color of the paper can change the appearance of colors.  I'm working with old Moleskine Sketchbooks when they used to be made with a very yellow paper and a little thicker than the newer ones.  I was able to buy a few at a discount when I worked at Kremer Pigments many years ago and then a received 5 free ones from Moleskine when I participated in their first sketchbook tour which exhibited books from around the world at different art and stationary fairs. 
As always my trusted tool remains the UniBall Vision Elite pen.  Ink flows great, it sticks to the paper right away and it dries fast.  No smudging has ever occurred from using this pen. 
The fine point of this pen also allows me to get more detailed if I need to and gestural when necessary.  I'm a big fan of this pen. 
I'm mostly a tea drinker, and at nights when I'm home there's nothing better than making a pot of tea and sketching the night away. 
There are times though when the mood is right I end up at a coffee house and all I want to drink is a cappuccino.  An Italian friend made fun of Americans for drinking cappuccino at any time of day, she said that it is only a breakfast drink and that not respectable Italian gets caught with one after breakfast.  True or not I don't care, I love cappuccinos and I live in America, so the Italian rules don't apply.  Besides it goes well with my sketching and fountain pen. 
Another cup of cappuccino down in the late afternoon...I'm such a rebel!  I'll be posting a few more of the last pages of Moleskine Sketchbook No.5 in the coming days, so come back and check it out. 

Friday, September 14, 2018

Moleskines to Die For!


Doing a random search online for Moleskine sketchbooks I came across these three artists.  It's always interesting to see what people do in these little black books which have a huge following world wide.  Each one of these three artists has a different vision and style, but all are connected through the expression of drawing/sketching on a regular basis.


These three books are a testament of how creativity is boundless, all you have to do is pick up a pen or pencil and start putting down some lines on paper, you might be surprised where that may take you.  I hope you enjoy these videos by Marco Mazzoni, Nicolas Weis, and Little Su.

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

DRAW: The Event

(with friend and painter Robert Szot) 

Sugarlift's DRAW: Artists Take Over the Subway event last Saturday was a success.  More people than we expected showed up to draw with us and many of them very talented.   There was an incredible energy at our meeting spot in Union Square, as artists from all walks of life introduced themselves and chatted.  Before you knew it sketchbooks were being shown off and everyone talked about what they did and how they went about it.  We were all dorking out with each other, an experience I've never had before in my years as a practicing artist in NYC.  
This is the group of five sketches I made during the event, the one on the top left was done while I rode the train on my way in to meet the group.  I had more time to work on it…the rest, well, there was no time.  I don't think anyone realized how quickly it would all go, the train ride from Union Square to 96th St. on the Q train was only about 15 minutes, not a lot of time to find your victim in a train car packed with artists and then draw said victim.  But we all did what we could and had fun with it.
I'm new to drawing subway riders, I mostly draw my imaginary landscapes in the moving train which works fine for me, but this was another beast.  I experienced difficulty when in the middle of making my first drawing my fountain pen stopped working.  I got another fountain pen out and as I opened the cap the ink splattered on the paper.  Then it turns out the the inks were different shades of black, one greener the the other, and the new fountain pen had a thicker nib.
The following drawings were done with another finer fountain pen I had, not bad I guess, just wish I had more time to get a good sketch.




 (Installation view of Robert Szot's work and mine)

After going up to 96th St and back down town we all walked to the gallery space at 2 Rivington St, where the host artists frantically put the last finishing touches on their sketches and hung them up.  
 (Installation of Robert Szot and Anne Watkins' work) 

These are a few shots of some of the work that was up during the opening.  The sale of all the drawings done during the day by the exhibiting artists and door cover fee went to Young New Yorkers's #ArtnotJail program.  It is estimated that we made $2 - $3K for this program.  Not bad for a bunch of artists doing a little sketching.

(Installation of Sugarlift Director Wright Harvey's drawings on left, next to Guno Park's subway riders)  
 (Guno Park's subway riders) 

This was an amazing experience, so much so that I think I may keep drawing subway riders.  I was inspired by a lot of the people I met on Saturday, and I took a few pointers as well.  Stay tuned.
(Drawings by Evan Kitson) 


Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Wayne Thiebaud, Draftsman

"Most of these are private drawings to find out something, to make notations, or just to experiment.  You want to feel that these are things that will never be seen."
 - Wayne Thiebaud -


A small, yet great show, Wayne Thiebaud, Draftsman, has been on view at The Morgan Library since May.  I recently had the chance to make my way there, mostly to have a look at the Gainsborough drawing exhibit which was up until last Sunday.  Not knowing what to expect I walked into the gallery where works on paper with iconic imagery hang, pies, ice cream, and other sweet treats call out to the viewer with their richness of color.   
The subject matter is well known even to those who do not know about art, but what I felt was the biggest treat among the sweets on the walls are Thiebaud's "private" sketches.  Quickly drawn with pen and ink they capture moments and ideas as they come into the artist's periphery.  They are notes for possibilities, problem solving for compositions. 

I was immediately drawn to these, no pun intended.  Maybe it's the similarity of how we box in our ideas, or the use of pen.  Whatever it may be I felt like I was having an intimate conversation with the man himself.  It's a language very familiar to me and I was eating it up. 
I was happy with the selection on view but I craved to see more sheets, maybe even a number of sketchbooks.  It was like reading a few pages to a really good book and then the story stops.  Perhaps a larger exhibition dedicated to Thiebaud's sketches might not be so bad, I would definitely go and see it.

So what is it about pen drawings/sketches that are appealing?  On a personal level I love them because I can relate to them and allow me to understand the artist.  Sketchbooks and journals have become a thing, you can search the internet or log on to Instagram and find that not only are there many more people drawing but that there is a very large audience for it.  The amount of likes I get on Instagram on my sketchbooks is by far more than my actual "art work"(paintings and monotypes).  The reason is because those who don't draw, paint, or create are intrigued by the way the artist's mind works.  Sketches and sketchbooks are portals to places people don't experience in their daily lives, and through some marks on a page they hope to find some secret, something that will make them feel like they are part of the creative process of an artist.  So, if you are one of the legions of people who love this sort of stuff then this exhibition is for you! 
Wayne Thiebaud, Draftsan is on view at The Morgan Library until September 23, 2018.  For more information and for a cool video with the artists click here.

Friday, August 17, 2018

DRAW: Artists Take Over the Subway

I'm happy to announce that I will be partaking on this drawing event / exhibition on Saturday August 25.  A group of selected artists will be hosting this even by hopping on the 2nd Ave train line and making art.  Other artists are invited to join for fee and draw with us, or if you're an art lover come and watch us make some cool stuff while riding the train.  Artwork will be up for sale later in the day for the cost of a 30 day MetroCard.  100% of the proceeds go to Young New Yorkers' Art Not Jail Program.  For more information take a look at the press release below.  This event is made possible by Sugarlift.       



Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Sketch On and Sketch Some More

My sketchbook keeps getting filled with ideas, some of these are becoming more detailed, so much so that I think they are more like finished pieces and will not get turned into prints or paintings.  But yah never know...
When people see my sketchbook they become mesmerized by it, I've been told many times that it is an object that deserves to be displayed like a finished piece.  I've been asked if I would even sell my sketchbook.  The answer to that is no, I'm attached to my book and all it's content.  Way too personal to let it go.  I get why people love looking through its pages, I also love looking at other artists sketchbooks and become mesmerized myself.  Speaking about books and sketchbooks I recently got in the mail this cool book "Meyer Schapiro Abroad: Letters to Lillian and Travel Notebooks."  Some of the architectural drawings in it are just exquisite!    
Another recent treat I got myself is a new Faber Castell Loom Fountain Pen in a shinny gun metal finish.  Not only does it look super sexy but it also glides beautifully.  I think I'm in love.
Just look at it, you can't deny how sexy this pen is!  
The new pen led me to pull out another fountain pen I've owned for two years but never used.  This one by Jean Pierre Lepine is a model called Winston and is shaped like a cigar…pretty cool if I do say so myself.  I got new walnut ink for it, I thought it would go nicely with the brown color of the wood body.  Now I get to play with two fountain pens with different colors.
As much as I love my fountain pens I still can give up my UniBall Vision Elite pen, and so I go back and forth. My pen collection keeps growing, the pouch in my back pack is too full and it will not hold any more!  I tried a new case for a couple of days but it was too bulky and it did not hold as many pens as it should, mostly because it was designed to hold pencils and not pens, which tend to be a tittle thicker.
My solution to the bulky case is THIS!  I made this hand stitched leather case for my beloved pens.  Everything is more compact and more stylish than the big boring black case.
I made this case in two nights, I figured out the size and how I would execute it in bed right before going to sleep.  Like a crazed person I was cutting leather late into the night.  The following night while watching random Netflix movies I stitched it up and voila! I had a new pen case for my lovelies.  I know you may be wondering where did i get the leather?  I have a lot left over from that one time I decided to make my own sketchbooks.  I never get rid of things because you never know when you may need them.  Stay tuned for more sketchbook stories.  

Saturday, July 21, 2018

100 and 1...Frenchies?

Last summer I wrote a post about a commission I had been given to execute a watercolor design for a Christmas card.  This year I have been commissioned again by the same clients and I have been working hard to deliver the image they have in mind.  The commission changed a bit last year to include a portrait of the clients' French Bulldog Peter.  This year we are sticking to the same theme with more of a focus on him.   
The idea is to have the little Frenchie share a surfboard with a Christmas tree while riding a big wave. 
 The pencil sketches above are the preliminary compositional sketches to determine what would work best.  It was decided that I should combine these last two sketches into what would be the final image. 
This is the first take in full color.  I'm very proud of this wave, I looked at Japanese wood blocks for inspiration and I think this has some of that essence. 
Moving on to a second take.  Changes needed to be made to the dog, but thank God for the magic of Photoshop I did not need to recreate the wave.  I only had to paint Peter, the tree, and the surfboard and they will get dropped in to the image of the wave. 
I just finished working on the third take, more changes needed to be done to the dog.  I had to make a few more sketches to be able to get it right. 
This is the third revision on Peter and I believe this will be it, cross your fingers that this is it!  I will be submitting this image for review on Tuesday, let's hope I meet the clients' wishes.  Thank you for reading this blog and I hope your dog days of summer are splendid.