Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Portrait of the Artist With Portrait of Toilet

Do blogs have birthdays? Sure, why not. Today marks the first anniversary of this blog. I've had a lot of fun with this over the past year and I really appreciate everyone who visits and leaves comments. Especially the comments. Those really make my day.

I've decided to mark the occasion by showing off a still-life I did of our toilet topped by a pair of my wife's shoes. She doesn't normally keep her shoes on top of the toilet, but there was some housecleaning going on and, amidst the chaos, the top of the toilet seemed as good a place as any.

Happy birthday, blog. Enjoy your cake and don't tell anyone what you wished for.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Dauphine Street, New Orleans

I headed down to French Quarter on a chilly Sunday morning to do a little ink drawing. I did this one from across the street while lots of tourists in Middle Tennessee football gear walked by and tried to pretend they weren't watching me draw. I think I might have to make myself a T shirt that says "It's OK to talk to me, I am not a famous artists producing an immortal masterpiece. Also, I can hear you whispering to your friend while you watch me draw and it's actually making me more uncomfortable than if you just walked up and said hello." The T-shirt is still kind of a work in progress, as I may have a bit more text than I can fit in a legible font size.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Village Elders in Afghanistan

These were drawn from a series of portraits of tribal elders from the area around Khan Neshin, Afghanistan that appeared in the New York Times "Week in Review" section a couple of weeks ago. These were all done in ink with a few splashes of color in watercolor pencil where it seemed to fit.

I've decided that an alternate title for this post is "People Who Really Do Not Care Who Tiger Woods Slept With." Actually, I'd like to add myself to that list, although I'm not sure that I'd have much else to talk about if I were stuck in an elevator with these guys.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Yeah, I'll Bet You Didn't Know What a Cuora Galbinifrons Was Either

I will grudgingly admit that I'm not sure exactly what "Cuora galbinifrons" means, but I suspect it translates roughly into "turtle." I drew this from a photo in a wonderful set of images posted by a herpetologist from the Tennessee Aquarium, which is available here and is well worth a look.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

I Think We're Ready if General Sherman Comes Back

I was recently driving around Harahan, Louisiana - just minding my own business, thinking about dinosaurs and socialism and whether or not the new Mountain Goats album is better than the new Slayer album (the jury is still out) - and I came upon a giant cannon sitting on a concrete slab in front of the VFW hall. Of course I had to come back as soon as possible to try to capture this intimidating piece of military hardware collecting dust amidst the suburban sprawl. Drawn on my lunch break with a charcoal pencil.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

My Neighbor's Truck

This is my neighbor's truck parked across the street from my house. Drawn in charcoal pencil while looking out my living room window.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Sketch Crawl in City Park

Today was the 25th Worldwide Sketch Crawl, put on by sketchcrawl.com. The original plan was to meet up with some other aspiring New Orleans artists at the New Orleans Museum of Art and spend the day running around City Park with our sketch books. Sadly, a storm rolled in and it was raining all day, which meant that I was the only one there to draw (although a very nice guy named Bill did come by to say hello and set up some other drawing sessions). Here's what I came up with:

This is a lamp post in front of the New Orleans Museum of Art.

This is not actually a real alligator - it's a sculpture by Elizabeth Shannon called "Camille II" that I drew looking out the window of the museum coffee shop.

This last one was done in about ten minutes during a break in the storm. I would have liked to have worked on it longer, but it started raining again and I had to run off. Note the trash bags lined up under the bridge and the hoses poking out of the water - I think they had it set up that way to prevent flooding if the storm that kept all the other sketch crawlers away turns out to be bigger than expected. Here's hoping we can get a few more people next time around.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

CC's Coffee House, Jefferson Ave, New Orleans

This is the CCs Coffee House at the corner of Jefferson and Magazine in uptown New Orleans. Those with a keen eye for detail and a knowledge of the coffee houses of New Orleans may have already guessed that this is the very place where I sat and drew this. Actually, now that I think about it, there's really no way anyone reading this could have made that connection unless I told them myself. So, if you did guess, you are probably either my wife or you are stalking me, in which case I'm either about to make popcorn and watch "Westworld" with you or I'm calling the cops. Anyway, it's a nice place to get coffee and a very cool old building.

Monday, November 16, 2009


This post was spawned from an exercise that I've mostly been using for warming up or for when I feel like doing some drawing on my lunch break but don't feel like leaving the warm, fluorescent confines of my cubicle. I go to http://flickr.com/photos, click on the first image that comes up, and start drawing. The trick here is not to cheat - whatever comes up, just draw. What I have discovered is that 90% of the images on flickr are of people and, of those, the majority are either photos of children or photos taken at work/family gatherings. There also seems to be a strong correlation between whether or not a person is holding an alcoholic beverage and the likelihood that a person's image will end up on flickr. These odds increase if the person's facial expression suggests that they are about to yell "woo!". Anyway, here are a few of the results of my flickr perusal, most of which were done pretty quickly. This has turned out to be a really interesting and challenging exercise that has resulted in a lot of really terrible drawings (no, I won't post those) and has pushed me to look at subjects that I might have otherwise shied away from.

25th Worldwide Sketch Crawl - November 21st

The 25th worldwide sketch crawl is coming up next weekend. What's a sketch crawl, you ask? It's a loosely organized event where artists, amateur artists, and anyone else who feels like picking up a pencil head out into their respective cities, draw what they see, and then post the results back to the forums at sketchcrawl.com. This is going on in cities all over the world and I'm hoping to get at least a few people from New Orleans to come out and represent our city.

The plan is to meet up at 10:30am next Saturday, November 21st, on the steps of the New Orleans Museum of Art and head out into City Park for a day of drawing (or an hour, or fifteen minutes - whatever you're up for). There's a thread on the sketchcrawl.com forums that has a bit more info (click here). Anyone reading this who will be in New Orleans on November 21st is heartily invited to join in.

And no, there are no pictures in this post. Sometimes life has its little disappointments.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Another Truck Out in the Weeds

I guess "The trucks of Jefferson Parish" doesn't have quite the same ring as "The Bridges of Madison County." In fact, it probably holds about as much dewy-eyed romance as "The Used Tires of Alameda County" or "The Giant Pile of Dead Fish that Threatens to Destroy Milwaukee." Still, these slowly decaying vehicles are kind of interesting to look at as I drive around the suburban/industrial wastelands that lay outside New Orleans. Longtime fans of Revenge of the Pencil ("Pencilteers," for those in the know) may have already guessed that this truck was parked in the weeds along Elmwood Park Boulevard not far from where this was drawn.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Frankenstein Attacks Whiteboard

With Halloween fast approaching, I decided it was time to take a few minutes out of my workday and dive into another session of whiteboard art. A surprising number of my co-workers were unable to identify this as Frankenstein, which may say as much about my co-workers as it does about my drawing.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Ink in the Back Yard

This is, more or less, what my back yard looks like. I think the ink wash on this one may have gotten away from me a little bit. Sometimes ink has a mind of its own and it becomes one of those things, like national health care, that you just have to accept will be inherently imperfect but will be a hell of a lot better than letting millions of people die of preventable diseases no matter how many times Sarah Palin opens her fool mouth and starts spouting off about death panels. So, yeah, this is a pen/ink wash drawing of my back yard.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Me vs. Van Dyck

Copying an old master drawing is always a humbling experience. Every time I've tried it I have come away with a much greater appreciation of how the "master" in question has earned his title. This is my attempt at Anthony Van Dyck's creatively entitled "Seated Man, Leaning Backwards."

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Kitchen Still Life

For no good reason at all, I've gone a few weeks without posting. Apologies to my legions of loyal fans. This first one back is a sketch of my kitchen counter, complete with coffee maker, tea kettle, coffee grinder, and vitamins. This is about as tidy as it ever gets.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Yeah, It's Another Dinosaur

As anyone who has ever been to New Orleans in August will attest, it is currently far too hot for me to run around the city drawing buildings and parks and whatnot. If I'm going to draw from a photograph, I can think of no finer subject than a triceratops.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Dinosaur Attacks Whiteboard

My new cubicle came with a whiteboard and some dry-erase markers. I managed to hold out for about a week before I started using it for extracurricular drawing.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Spider sculpture in City Park

I can't believe I've lived in New Orleans for this long without ever having been to the sculpture garden in City Park. I spent a couple of hours wandering around there this morning and would have done a bit more drawing had I not been driven out by the punishing heat. I'll be back for sure.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Sally Timms

Here's another in my ongoing series entitled "Portraits of Middle Aged Musicians With Cult Followings Who Would Be More Famous Than U2 If There Was Any Justice In This World" (see also, Howe Gelb). This is Sally Timms from the Mekons, one of my favorite bands ever. Anyone who likes rock music, has a pair of functioning ears, and has never heard Fear and Whiskey or Honky Tonkin' should do themselves a favor and purchase both of these albums as soon as possible.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Making Pickles

Yet another drawing from a photo in the New York Times. This is Chef Josh Eden from Shorty's 32 making pickles.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Sunday Morning in Audubon Park

My wife and I spent a good part of our morning sitting in Audubon Park drawing the trees. I think we both might have wanted to work on our drawings a bit longer, but by 11:00 the heat was so intense that we were more than ready to head over to Cafe Luna for some cold drinks. Even with the heat, it was still a very nice way to spend a Sunday morning. I came away with this drawing of one of the magnificent live oaks in red conte.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

A Big Man With a Big Grin

This was drawn from a photo in the New York Times. Apparently this guy is a manager at a company called AMB, which does some sort of complicated real estate thing that I don't understand but which is probably destroying our economy in some way or another. I don't think I actually captured much of a likeness, as the finished drawing looks to me like a cross between Lyndon Johnson and the Penguin from Batman. Even so, it was a lot of fun to work on and I think it's a good learning experience to draw portraits of people who have unusual sorts of features and facial structure, as this guy most certainly does.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

House on Jefferson Avenue, New Orleans

This is a house on Jefferson ave in New Orleans, just across the street from the CCs coffee shop at the corner of Jefferson and Magazine. I drew this in a few sittings, starting out from a table in front of the coffee shop and then finishing off a few of the details from a photograph at home.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Asian Art Room at the New Orleans Museum of Art

I've spent a lot of time over the past couple of weeks wandering around the New Orleans Museum of Art. The Asian art room is especially cool. I drew this suit of Japanese armor in several sittings over the past three weeks:

I went a little quicker on this Chinese statue. They have two of these in a case side-by-side and I think I may go back and do a more detailed study.

Friday, June 5, 2009

More Figure Drawing at Fair Grinds Cafe

I've been going to the figure drawing sessions at Fair Grinds Cafe almost every week for a while now and I've really been enjoying it. My first few drawings last night felt a little flat, so I started switching back and forth between ink and pencil in an effort to force myself to take a different approach. I'm pretty happy with how these came out and I'll probably start doing more of these in ink when I go back next week.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

City Park, New Orleans

I went out to City Park a couple of times this weekend and found myself wondering why I don't go there more often. This is one of the many gorgeous oak trees, drawn on newsprint with charcoal pencil.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Calhoun Street, New Orleans

I spent a good chunk of last Saturday morning wandering around uptown looking for something interesting to draw. I really liked the way these trees on Calhoun street formed a sort of arch in front of the houses. This is one of those drawings where I'm really not sure if it's finished or not. I ran out of time while I was working on the cars and thought I might put in more detail on them when I got home, but looking at it now I think they might be better if I just leave them the way they are.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Soup's On

My wife made soup last night and, while I wasn't much help in the preparation, I did my best to capture her delicious efforts in my sketchbook.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Figure Drawing at Fair Grinds Cafe

Fair Grinds in mid-city has a figure drawing session on Thursday nights. I went down last week and had a great time drawing from a model for the first time in many moons, although I had to leave before the long pose. Still, I think I got a few good ones in from the 5-10 minutes poses. Note for anyone who might be viewing this page at work: these are drawings of a model posing without the burden of clothing.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Sketching in the French Quarter

Steeple of Saint Louis Cathedral.

A doorway in the courtyard at the Royal Grounds Cafe, which is by far my favorite place to get coffee in the Quarter.

This stern looking gentleman of the law was not actually present today, at least not in the flesh. This is the statue of Justice Edward Douglas White on the steps of the courthouse on Royal Street.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Watercolor still life

Here are a couple of attempts at a watercolor still life with some apples and my wife's extremely stylish green dress. On the second attempt I decided to try to work in a little ink to draw out some of the lines. I should note that I did this in a couple of sittings and that I had to do the last few shadows from memory after the apples started to smell a little funny and I was forced to throw them away in the interest of olfactory happiness throughout my household.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009


I've been taking a watercolor workshop over the past few weeks with Joan DaGradi (see her blog), a wonderful local painter who has also turned out to be a really excellent teacher. I'm still getting a handle on the materials and trying to find ways to keep my paintings from degenerating into untamed maelstroms of dripping chaos, but I've really been enjoying it. Included below are a couple of my early efforts. The self portrait was done in front of the mirror while the hippo, sadly, was not drawn from life. Someday I will head down to the zoo and try that for real.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Another Mardi Gras Photo

I drew this from a photo I took during the Thoth parade on Saint Charles ave. Being a New Orleans police officer during Mardi Gras seems like it could be really aggravating and stressful, but this guy had a giant smile on his face the whole time he was out there.

I worked on this over a couple of sittings with a charcoal pencil and, while I am mostly happy with it, I think I kind of blew it on the left arm and a couple of proportion issues throughout the figure. There was a good stretch when I was living in San Francisco when my wife and I got pretty into figure drawing through some sessions with City College, but I haven't been able to find anything comparable in New Orleans. Working on this drawing has left me with an itch to get back into it, so hopefully I can find a place to draw from a model. I'd appreciate any suggestions if someone reading this knows of a place around town that isn't too expensive.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Z'otz Cafe Window

Z'otz cafe on Oak street is quickly becoming one of my favorite spots in New Orleans. My wife and I spent a good chunk of our morning sitting in their courtyard, enjoying some coffee and some amazing weather. I also took the opportunity to sketch their window and a few of their many plants.