26 April, 2008

Dear Pal Pete, leading citizen of Rochester, music and car enthusiast, and my host for the next week.

We went to high school together in Chino.

That's where Pete's "world weariness" must come from....

25 April, 2008

Free pizza happy hour!

Drawn while sitting in the backyard of Rochester's "South Wedge" hot spot, LUX. A western New York sunset was my only illumination--that and the crowd.

Accompanied by Dear Pal Pete, and met by D.P.P.'s squeeze, Patrizia. Waiting for my brother to get into town.

15 April, 2008

Here's a problem I am experiencing. Trying to draw this guy's head. He worked at the Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf visited yesterday. He had a very specific mix of features that I am finding hard to recreate. This sketch was made after returning home.

This one is close-ish.

14 April, 2008


I found myself at a Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf this morning. I thought I'd try something different.

I was disappointed.

The vanilla in my latte was not syrup, but powder, and it was slow to dissolve.

A gritty experience. Also gritty using this new pen, the Faber-Castell Pitt Artist Pen.

But the staff was endearing.

I went afterward to a car wash. The grizzled mug was spotted at work toweling down a Lexus mega-SUV.

He seemed more genial in real life than I managed to capture. Here he looks...bitter.

13 April, 2008

Dear Wife accompanied me to the notoriously chic 'Gundo Plaza SBUX this morning. It's hard for me to relax enough to draw if someone else is with me. I'm pretty antisocial while sketching. But today was great. Thank you, Dear Wife, for joining me! She was not a fan of SBUX coffee ("Too acidic"), but after tasting the new Pike Place Blend, she has changed her mind. I also think her great affection for Seattle has helped woo her into the fold.

It is still a great disappointment to me that I didn't sit down and draw anyone in a St. Louis SBUX. An incredibly necessary cultural comparison, and I failed to perform!!

A very young Boxer pup showed up, (above), and Dear Wife went bananas--though she was very critical of its master ("Who's the leader of the pack??").

Then a very, very young black lab pup showed up, and she was beside herself.

10 April, 2008

Kinda gaggy, I know. She had a very nice but too-juvenile profile. She loitered forever in front of the counter so I had a good view. Should have drawn her outfit, which was a very classy yellow cotton dress--looked like a nice couture piece, very summery in a nice broadcloth. But she was used to people staring at her, even at her very young age (17? younger?), and that took all the fun out of drawing her.

This lady had a great face that I only caught for a second and made these sketches from memory. They're not as far off as my commentary suggests--but still, nature is such a brutal master....

"O Lord, how can my humble work approximate thy glittering and multifoliate creation??"

09 April, 2008

I liked this one. From yesterday.
I started to fill in the black silhouette of the fashionista chick, but that was going to ruin it--or at least trash the nice feeling of the outline.
This drawing might be nice redrawn in a more finished way, with the black filled-in. What I failed to capture here was what drew me to her: the gangly eccentricity of her body--her neck was longer, and her head pivoted oddly off of it at the top of her 6' 3" physique.

The writing at the bottom is my commentary on the conversation being held at my elbow. O, the humanity!

I should note these drawings came from my first venture to a SBUX I used to pass on the way to work--it's on Sepulveda, just south of LAX (cross street of Grand?). It was hoppin'! I got a great seat. The line consistently had 10 to 20 patrons waiting to order.

Yes, patrons. Like SBUX, I respect my fellow latte-sippers (it's a given we're all voting for Obama).

Funny note on that: a couple sitting in front of me (striking because the guy was completely silent for 45 minutes as the girl talked at a very deliberate pace the entire time--I don't really see that so often, whatever the stereotypes floating out there)--they were waiting for a plane, and the whole time she was talking about the election, but from a weirdly insider-perspective. They were travelling for work, and it sounded like they were on their way to Colorado for some political purpose, I think they had some connection to the McCain camp (??? they didn't look it)(McCain had been in S.D. the day before at some event they were talking about)--maybe they were press? Maybe press-liasons or publicity consultants or PR flaks or something? Sorry, but I not only have a hard time talking while I draw, I have a hard time listening, too. But they sounded respectful of Obama, and a little flummoxed about his resilience. The tone of dry professionalism dominated, though.

Just thought you'd like that. Wish I would have done a better job listening to them, but with the guy's near-total silence and the girl's avidity, I felt self-conscious paying too much attention.

08 April, 2008


This is a typical page, maybe a little busier than most. I'm drawing in a Holbein "Multi-Drawing Book", 3F in size, which is a Japanese/Euro designation I think? It's 9" by 10.5". Nice sturdy paper that allows me to ink on both sides of the page without any bleed-thru worries--very economical.

Today's pen was a Faber-Castell "PITT Artist Pen" in black. It's a felt-tip that weakly imitates a proper brush--there are better felt-tip "brush" pens than this, but I thought I'd give this a try. The ink is pretty transparent so all the overlaps show--I find that distracting compared to the merging blacks of my Muji pens. And that Pentel Japanese brush pen I picked up in France is the best at giving dark blacks--I think the majority of my drawings here have been drawn with the Pentel, come to think of it.

No pencil or under-drawing with these. All done from life unless done from memory--no photo reference (except for Karen Tumulty, way back). I am not against the use of photos, but the purpose of these drawings is to train my eye to grab the "essence of life from life being lived before my eyes"...or something like that.

So I will take a page like this, scan it, and dice it up into little bite-sized images.

07 April, 2008

I arrived really early today at the Rosecrans and Douglas SBUX (between Sepulveda and Aviation, if that means anything to you). Our barrista this morning was very, very chipper. I was rooting for her, even though her sincere "How's your day going?" (with follow-up questions!) was beyond me to answer coherently. No lame "I need my morning coffee" excuses from me; I just couldn't talk. Maybe I was already in my left right brain. (It's the right side, isn't it?)

My fellow patrons were struggling, too.
Hey, it was still dark outside.

05 April, 2008

Sketched way back on the second. I'm on empty today. And this one deserved an airing, don't you think?

04 April, 2008


I just needed to check the spelling for that word. I have no recommendation to make.

Hey Blogger, I like the auto spellcheck!

She looks Finnish, doesn't she? Again, spied at the 'Gundo Plaza. ('Gundo is my new shorthand for El Segundo.)

There was a sort of grimness to the faces I saw this morning. Even the seemingly happy, carefree ones. Maybe its just the way I was drawing them.

I started on this older fellow and got totally distracted by a friendly South African-accented man who complimented my skills. I cannot claim any poetic truth or likeness for this drawing. In fact, it looks like my old friend Cantor Shelley Merril. I can't really talk and draw at the same time.

Only someone raised in a foreign land would compliment someone drawing in public. That's spoken without rancor. It's probably not true. But in my vast-ish experience, it's true about 70% of the time.

The girl's profile, however, does capture something of that early morning, rushing-to-work-with-wet-hair grimness.

Doesn't it?

03 April, 2008

Skanky guy climbing into his hi-po 5 series BMW spotted at El Segundo SBUX. I'm probably just as guilty of this as my subject here (though I don't drive a BMW), but gawd I hope not. I can't help but find it distasteful when I see it. What exactly is it--a weird dissonance, no? Two clashing postures--is it just the bad taste that I object to, or the apparent hypocrisy? Is it hypocritical to dress in a deliberately scruffy manner while driving an expensive German sedan? I'm cranky in my old age. SoCal is about having it all.

02 April, 2008

A fruitful morning. From the El Segundo Plaza SBUX. I sat for the first time at the bar, and this perch was very good; it would be better if the coffee machines didn't block my view of the patrons as they ordered.

I lack the courage to draw any of the staff here. Maybe one day. Watch this space for future developments.

She is reeking Schadenfruede. Probably waiting for me to mess up.

I'm down to two-and-a-half pumps of vanilla syrup in my Venti. Forestalling my diabetes by at least a decade.

01 April, 2008

Extra for the fool's day. From San Diego.