I finished another sketchbook: my sixty-first. Usually it takes me closer to a year to fill a book, but this one was faster. Only four months. I’m not sure exactly why, but I have been sketching more lately (and, unfortunately not working as much on art pieces outside the book, I think.) As with each completed book, I’ll post some sample pages and links in chronological order.
The cover above is entirely unremarkable… no stickers, etc. this time around. The spine is fraying a bit… probably from all the exciting commentary free on this website.
The first page is a drawing of a sort of ransom notes aesthetic that the title of this blog refers to. I did most of this page when I first started the book, then added the brush pen note later. More on the brush pen below.
The first page inside the book was actually drawn by my mother Marge Linton, who passed away July 31st 2011, nearly a year ago. It’s of a cactus, something mom was fond of and collected hundreds of. At the bottom of the page her note reads “Jan 20, ’90 1st picture in my new sketchbook – a birthday gift from my beloved son, Joe.” Mom was definitely a patron of the arts, and she could draw. I have some drawings that she did when she was in Stockholm as an exchange student… which I’ve been meaning to scan and post… maybe I will do it around the anniversary of her death. I miss her a lot, and still think of her often – especially when I see/do art that I want to share with her. She only did one drawing in the book. I found it among her belongings and brought it home and decided to fill the rest of the book.
I gave a couple of talks (on CicLAvia) at Cal State Northridge earlier this year. In between the talks I sat and sketched people at the outdoor dining area there. When left to my own devices, I tend to do lots of invention – just making up people, etc., out of my head. Lately I’ve been trying to do more observation. I think it’s good practice for getting out of my cliches and drawing stuff that’s more interesting.
Like many sketchbook pages, this one contains two drawings that have little relation to each other. I kind of like the comic book cover on the bottom. It’s a tribute to Adrienne Rich who passed away on March 27th 2012. Rich was a fierce poet whose work I connected with when I was in college. I sometimes quote her famous poem Diving into the Wreck. Here’s the end of that poem:
We are, I am, you are
by cowardice or courage
the one who find our way
back to this scene
carrying a knife, a camera
a book of myths
our names do not appear.
Though her book of myths in which our names do not appear is analogous to patriarchal history that has undervalued the lives of women, I use her words to talk about bicycling in cities. When streets, laws, policies, etc., don’t make any accommodation for bicycling, then I call them a book of myths in which our names do not appear. (For some of my other comic book covers, see here.)
This is a drawing I did of the L.A. River, which I wrote a book about and write about infrequently at L.A. Creek Freak. Most of my shading is vertical, but, as I learned while I was working on the illustrations for my book, it’s best to use horizontal lines for water.
And, in case you doubt the vegetation in the L.A. River, photographic proof.
I did a lot of sketching during a May 2012 vacation trip to San Luis Obispo, mostly at the Los Osos Oaks State Natural Reserve.
I think that this is one of the best drawings I’ve ever done… when I go on vacation I really feel like I can make drawing a sort of job – getting up and going out to places to draw, and spending multiple days working on a drawing. This one took me four days, working 3-4 hours each afternoon. Afternoons onl, so I got more-or-less the same light.
Here’s a detail
More Sketchbook No. 61 SLO vacation sketches here (oaks) and here (non-oaks). After the S.L.O. trip, I continued drawing tree portraits, and I started doing a lot more drawings using the brush pen, which I found really useful for drawing oak trunks.
Apologies for the even-worse-than-usual scan on this one… It’s a sketch of Alison Bechdel speaking at the Downtown L.A. Public Library’s ALOUD series. Bechdel is a great comics writer/artist whose work I really enjoy. It was actually difficult for me to sketch her. She’s a lesbian who is fairly butch… and I would draw her and look at my drawing thinking that, though I know she’s a woman, the drawing looks male… so I drew a few different versions, none of which are all that great. Drawing her made me think about my cliches and preconceptions, what visual cues do and don’t tell us about gender, etc.
The brush pen dominates the work in the second half of Sketchbook No. 61, for example, these are some quick sketches I did of folks at the SoRo Street Festival (SoRo is South Robertson – part of Los Angeles.) I am having an art show at the Barbara Mendes Gallery in SoRo – opening on July 17th 2012. More information at the Facebook event.
I could go on and on… but I will close with this page, which is one of the few non-brush-pen pieces near the end of the book. The top image doesn’t really pertain the images below, other than that I drew them all the same day. I like the lower images, which show some of the L.A. Eco-Village garden. The second image is George Patton, a friend of mine who’s been a longtime presence in the Eco-Village gardens, teaching me a lot about growing, cultivating, pruning, etc. He was planting corn on a raised straw bale area, which he is sitting on. The drawing below I did while he took a break: corn starters and an old fertilizer bag that George had compost in.
If you’ve actually made it this far… and are interested in checking out more of my sketchbook work – look at my earlier finished-book posts: No. 60, No. 59, No. 58, No. 57 , and No. 56. I’ve also posted slideshows of sample pages from my first thirty and second thirty. Lastly, just look at the all the posts here in the sketchbook category.