Saturday, March 28, 2009

Sketching Adventures

A few weeks ago I was sketching in a small eating space at SuperTarget. My own "target" was a woman sitting across the way with her young daughter. My sketch was not coming out well at all. I would glance at her when I hoped she wasn't looking, and try to correct the mess. After a while of this, the woman pointed at me and clearly whispered to her daughter (as though it were me that was on display and not her): "Look at that man over there - he's drawing." I was utterly flummoxed, and that was that, but a bit amused too.

Fast forward another week. I am in an Einstein's Bagels sketching a man at the opposite end of the place. He is in a booth, completely absorbed in conversation. My small Moleskine notebook is hidden behind the book that I am not reading. My basket with the half-eaten bagel is to the side. People are between us. I am completely safe. I cannot be seen.

My wife says that when I draw, I make all kinds of facial contortions: peeking this way and that, squinting, biting my lower lip, etc. I choose not to believe this. I expect that it can't be true, or everyone in Einstein's (and every other place I do this) would stop what they are doing, drop their bagels and their jaws and stare. And they don't do this. At least I don't think so.

So I am drawing the man, hoping that his conversation will last forever so that I can get a detailed drawing, when he abruptly gets up and leaves. I sketch a few more marks on the unfinished head. And again, that is that.

This is when the couple next to me loudly exclaim, "Now what are you going to do?!" with exaggerated shrugs and smiles and winks. So what can I do? I show them my drawing, and we have a nice conversation with introductions all around. Can you think of a better way to start the day?

Here is the unfinished picture of the man's head, along with the sketch of a girl I saw at a Florida Turnpike rest stop a few days before.

I had better luck at a Panera's. This man was so absorbed with his laptop that there was no chance he would notice (and his eyes really did bug out just like that,I swear):

Heads, heads. Got to expand my horizons.
Back at the Fort Lauderdale airport, I was able to sketch this entire girl at the baggage claim.

Here is another sketch done at the airport of a man looking at flight information. I had less time for this one.

Still, this evening I visited That site flashes 30-second sketches of poses. What a workout!

My conclusion? Everyday there is so much to do, but there is always time for a sketch or two.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

My First Blog Post - An Introduction

From my earliest days in school to my years in the working world, the margins of my papers and pads have always been filled with drawings. With pencil or pen in hand, a drawing would appear. The most natural thing. A dance of mind and hand, without provocation or thought.

So I've dabbled in art every now and then, but never seriously. There were obligations, first as a student (not in art), then as professional and as husband and father, and other interests and labors of love that would take my time. I think maybe I had a tendency to dismiss what came most easily as least important.

But recently I have made a conscious effort to cultivate this part of myself. At first it was like chipping away at ice. Now it is more like the drip, drip, drip of a leaky tap. Soon, I hope, the creativity will flow. There is also much learning to do.

I am an admirer of artists and writers - creative people of all types. The internet is often a window to their creativity. Generous professionals and amateurs alike share their work on websites and blogs. So I have browsed and admired and dreamed, and through Flickr I stumbled upon a blog a few years ago that I truly enjoyed, Janey's Journey. Here was a very creative self-trained artist using markers to express herself in a unique way. From there I discovered other blogs and sites.

Then one day, Janey mentioned in her blog that she would give a postcard with one of her drawings on it to anyone who would ask - for free! Greed reared its ugly little head, and I sent her an e-mail talking a little about how I've dabbled in art, and much about my admiration of her style. She sent me an e-mail back that was longer than her blog that day. What a wonderful thing! And in that e-mail she wrote matter-of-factly, "Do you have a blog? I'd love to see your drawings. And I'll take a look at the ones you mentioned."

Blog? I don't have a blog. Why would I have a blog?

Well, why not?

I expect that her comment was the seed from which "Dan's Canvas" is sprouting, although I still really don't know why. A few things I do know. I would love for you to follow along and to comment if you are ever so inclined. I also hope to make the virtual acquaintance of others of you with similar interests or blogs of your own. I would like to share blogs and sites that I find and like. Only a few are posted now. Others I'm sure will come with time.

The main goal for me, I guess, is to expand my art skills. The internet is a marvelous distraction, and I am going to have to remind myself that browsing, and even writing this blog, takes me away from my main objective. I have limited time. (Don't we all?) Maybe you can help me stay motivated, stay on track.

Nowadays, I am mostly drawing and sketching. I think of it as calisthenics. I have filled one large sketchbook, and have now taken to carrying around a small back-pocket Moleskine for furtive drawings of people. I am most fascinated with people, and my blog will probably reflect this, but a blank canvas, as you know, has many possibilities, and I am open to them.

As an introduction, I will be posting fairly recent drawings I have done before this first blog post, along with scattered drawings I do as they come.

To start this blog off, here are some drawings I made on a flight from Richmond, VA to Fort Lauderdale, FL. Drawing in planes is great if you have the right angle because your subjects cannot see you, for the most part they do not move much, and they are captive audiences. In other venues the challenge is that people move - what a bummer - so my drawings are less precise.

9" x 12 ", Pilot Precise V5 pen

Thank you for joining me.