Sketchbook Number Fifty-Seven – 18 April 2009 to 19 December 2010

The Front Cover of Sketchbook No. 57, about 8 1/2″ x 11″

Whew, I finished another sketchbook! Number fifty-seven. This one took longer than the previous ones. See No. 56 selections here where I also mention it taking longer than before… Seems like I am slowing down a bit – probably spending more of my creative time blogging (mainly at L.A. Creek Freak and CicLAvia.) Nonetheless I always carry my current sketchbook around, and I do quite a bit of work in it. I will have too look through past books and do a full statistical analysis on completion durations, but I’ve never had one that spanned more than two calendar years… and this one came close – so I felt a little pressure to get it closed out.

Just like 56, this one is a Watson -Guptill, archival quality, 224 pages. I ran two earlier images from it: a preliminary sketch of a baby shower invitation and a drawing of Adonia’s galoshes. Below are most of the cream of the crop – about a dozen images that I like best from 57:

(HUGE THANK YOU to Federico, who scanned these!! Fede is a great friend and someone who I owe a ton… I think by this point I will need to name my first born son after him! I chose ten of these and Federico picked a few more – see if you can guess who chose what.) 


Page one of Sketchbook 57 – watercolor and pen – April 2009


Front page – generally I do something nice here, so I can quickly start to show off the book.

Couple – April 2009

I like this guy, unfortunately I didn’t quite finish her. It’s got a bit of Grant Wood’s American Gothic happening. Couples I draw tend to appear to be incompatible and/or dysfuntional in part because I tend to draw one of them first, then add the other. I nearly always draw in pen, and don’t plan things out too far ahead.

Bob Blumenfield, Mike Eng – 1 May 2009

These are California State Assemblymembers Bob Blumenfield and Mike Eng, each speaking at a conference on “21st Century Transportation for Los Angeles.” I like the top image. I often try to distort faces when I am inventing, not as much when I am observing (for fear of offending my subject.) I played with it a bit here, and I think it worked well enough.

Long-necked Woman – July 2009

I like the angular geometric of this woman, and the way I played with her neck… though I think I might have played more with her arms. I like that the curve of the neck is the same as the curve of the back. The cross-hatching is a little more formally-angled than what I typically do (frequently I do just vertical hatching.) I didn’t quite finish the drawing.

Man with Baseball Cap – July/August 2009

This is one of the rare sketchbook images that feels really complete. I like playing with distorting face, hands, body – which was fairly successful here.

Profiles, lettering, etc. – July-August 2009

This is a more typical sketchbook page: unrelated images and lettering juxtaposed. Tierra Sol y Mar is an architecture firm that some friends of mine run; I think that they might have been giving a talk? Rapidograph is a type of pen I really like, though I don’t take good care of them and then they jam up and need to be cleaned out. They lend themselves to very tight line-work like the formal cross-hatching on the right. Heather in the chair is a Los Angeles Eco-Village member attending a meeting.

Bicycle Advisory Committee Meeting Sketches – 4 August 2009

These were done at the August meeting of the city of Los Angeles’ Bicycle Advisory Committee. I especially like the depth in the upper image. The below image is Alex Baum – a man who’s been Los Angeles’ leading bicycle advocate from before the 1984 olympics.

Southbound Amtrak Surfliner – 15 May 2010

I’ve drawn train (and bus) interiors now and then – often most successful when extending across a double page spread like this. This one was on a trip down to see my mom.

Bicycle Activist Daily – June 2010

This ficticious comic-book cover I think I drew mostly at some conference or meeting… but I don’t recally which. A lot of my art draws from comic-book visuals – and I read plenty of comics (from Alan Moore to Robert Crumb to Alison Bechdel to Mike Mignola to much less sophisticated fare.)

Seated Man – ~August/September 2010

This one is also very complete/finished… though not really planned out ahead of time (the table is cut-off and the feet kinda scrunched in.) The face has a bit of the comic book sequence, wherein a person props his face on his hands, then proceeds to melt down through the hands. (I thought it was by Basil Wolverton but I just tracked it down, and it’s by Robert Crumb – called Stoned Agin! and online here.)

Woman with Crossed Arms ~September/October 2010

This one is quite a bit more smooth, symmetrical and balanced than I typically do… though I think what works best in it are the asymmetries – in the eyes and hands. It features my more common default all-vertical hatching shading.

Los Angeles River scene – 11 November 2010

I drew this one one day when I found myself out on the L.A. River with about 90 minutes in between two meetings – not quite enough time to bike home and back easily. It’s a scene at the downstream end of the Glendale Narrows in Elysian Valley – where the river transitions form earthen bottom to concrete bottom. The natural stretch is gradually spreading into the concrete stretch; plants growing through the cracks. I think that overall it (especially the water) turned out nicely – though it’s a tiny bit rushed (it was getting dark as I finished.) A did a lot of river drawings (better ones, actually) when I was illustrating my book Down by the Los Angeles River… and when drawing this one, it occurred to me that I should sketch at the river more often.

Lettering: Bicycle, etc. – December 2010

This page is actually more typical of pages in this book… I tool around lettering some word or phrase… with varying degrees of success and obscurity. (Usually to pass time in meeting focused on the subject – in this case, some bike meeting.)

Thanks for reading this far!


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