Tuesday, December 31, 2013

New Year's Eve Self Portrait

We've come to the end of another year, and what better way to mark the occasion than with a self portrait? OK, there probably are better ways, but not too many that can be accomplished using only my bathroom mirror and a set of pencils. If you're reading this, I hope 2014 is good to you.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Please Do Not Eat the Butterflies

This is an ink drawing of a crocodile with a mouth full of butterflies, taken from a photo in the Nature Conservancy calendar. Why the crocodile isn't just chowing down on the butterflies is a mystery to me. They eat pretty much anything, right? I certainly would if I were a crocodile. I suppose it's a good thing for the butterflies of this world that I was born to a species that prefers beer and nachos.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Coal Sifting Plant

This is an ink drawing of an abandoned coal sifting plant from a great set of photos I found on Flickr of old machine shops. The original photo is still up at http://www.flickr.com/photos/andrewjbacha/6535484845/in/faves-32535921@N08/ if anyone is interested in doing a comparison and pointing out all of the inaccuracies. I've been doing a lot of figure drawing lately and it was interesting to step away for that and draw something with straight lines.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Me vs. Michelangelo

This is a detail from a panel in the Sistine Chapel called "The Sacrifice of Noah." I did this with charcoal pencil in the trusty oatmeal sketchbook. Yeah, Michelangelo was pretty good.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Bill Nye the Science Guy

This is Bill Nye, drawn in charcoal pencil from a photo in Seattle Met magazine. I have a warm spot in my heart for people who bring science into popular culture. I think our country could use a lot more of that to stave off the superstition and ignorance that makes me want to hang my head and weep every time I hear someone on Fox News talking about global warming. This image is also dedicated to Congressman Paul "Lies Straight From The Pit Of Hell" Broun. Man, I'm really on my soapbox today. It's getting slippery up here with all this soap and outrage, so I'll step down now and get back to drawing, coffee-drinking, and voting for people who don't want to shut down the government.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Short poses at Art Not Terminal

I went back to the life drawing session at Art Not Terminal yesterday and, as usual, the model was great and there was a room full of people who were doing really amazing work. These were shorter poses, starting with five minutes and going up to 20. I think it did me a lot of good to try to work more quickly and focus on gesture. The images above were from a 12 minute pose and a 20 minute pose, done with charcoal pencil on newsprint.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Greek Sculpture at the Seattle Art Museum

I went back to the Seattle Art Museum last weekend to pay a visit to the little room upstairs with the Greek sculpture. According to the wall text, this is the head of a woman from a grave site, dating around 350 BC. This was done with charcoal pencil on oatmeal paper.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

This Sheep Isn't Taking Any of Your Guff

I saw this sheep in a nature magazine and thought, there's a sheep with serious things on its mind. I'm not sure what those things are, but I feel like they must be serious. Perhaps things along the lines of "please do not turn me into a plate of mutton." We'll never know for sure what, if anything, is going through this sheep's tiny brain, but that piercing stare makes it the Lee Marvin of the barnyard.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Life Drawing at Art Not Terminal

Another rainy Saturday in Seattle spent with the good people at the Art Not Terminal gallery. This was a longer pose that I worked on for the better part of two hours. Honestly, I don't think it looks all that different from the poses I work on for 40 minutes, although I did get into a bit more detail on the hands and feet.

A side note - I realize that this image is a little blurry and a little on the yellow side. This is because I took a photo in my apartment with overhead light on a dark, rainy afternoon using the camera on my iPhone. I cleaned it up as best I could in Photoshop, but it still looks a little rough. Any suggestions on how I can get better photos of my work, short of investing in a better camera or some fancy studio lights, would be much appreciated.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Party Time Again

In the immortal words of the Jazz Butcher: it's party time, better than a cold bath with someone you dislike. The party in question is, of course, Julia Kay's Portait Party. It's been a few weeks since I've checked in there, and what better way than with a sketch of a lovely woman with truly spectacular eyebrows. I hope I've done them justice.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Sketching at the Burke Museum of Natural History

Yesterday I took a trip to the Burke Museum of Natural History with a few friends from work. There are tons of amazing things to draw there, including the Daring Sword Ray (pictured at top). Someday I want to discover an extinct animal just so I can give it a name prefaced with the word "Daring." I suppose I could just re-name this blog "Daring Revenge of the Pencil," but somehow that just doesn't have the same ring to it. I also took a crack at the Stegosaurus skeleton and, while there are some parts of the drawing I'm happy with, I do wish I'd laid out the composition a bit more carefully at the beginning so it didn't run off the page in such an awkward fashion. It sort of grew in the drawing, as the mighty stegosaurus is wont to do. Who's going to argue with a stegosaurus if it wants to wander off the top of the page? Not me, obviously.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Return to the Portrait Party

One of the best things ever on the internet is the Flickr group Julia Kay's Portrait Party. Yes, I know I've talked about this before, but it's been a while and it bears repeating. It's a fairly simple idea - people post pictures of themselves, other people draw them and post their drawings. It has turned into a very active group over the years with some really remarkable work. It's also one of those things that's always out there when I feel like I want to draw but can't seem to think of a subject. These are a few of my recent efforts, all of which were done pretty quickly. I tend to treat these as a way to mess around with materials or techniques that I normally wouldn't use - an ink drawing all in line? An excessive amount of white conte on top of a charcoal drawing? Sure, why not.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

That Gum You Like is Going to Come Back in Style

This is an attempt at David Lynch in charcoal pencil. I may have inadvertently added a few extra pounds around the neck, but I like to think that I have captured at least a little of his essential Lynch-ness. I still have no idea what to make of "Lost Highway."

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

House on 15th ave, Seattle

I've been walking by this house for a couple of years now and I've always wanted to stop and sketch it. It's got that "just run down enough" feel that gives it a lot of personality without making it look abandoned or haunted. My neighborhood could use a little more of that sort of thing. I did most of this on location from across the street, although I did finish off a bit of the detail from a photo when I got home.

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Back at the Seattle Asian Art Museum, Plus the Tragic Death of the Oatmeal Sketchbook

Yesterday I went down to the Seattle Asian Art Museum for a little sketching with a friend. It's always nice to draw with a friend, both because you can see how another person approaches similar problems and also because it reduces my tendency to mutter to myself while I draw, which means I get fewer suspicious stares from museum security guards who probably all think I'm about to snap and start drawing mustaches on the thousand year-old sculptures (in fairness, there were a few that really would look better that way). Anyway, the top one is a detail in ink of a piece titled "Buddha and Two Bodhisattvas" (sorry, I didn't have the time or energy to draw the bodhisattvas, so the Buddha is all you get) from Pakistan in the 2nd-3rd century. The bottom drawing was done with charcoal pencil from a near life-size Chinese sculpture labeled as "Monk at the Moment of Enlightenment" from the 14th century.

There is a tragic end note to this expedition. My oatmeal sketch book from Utrecht finally gave up the ghost midway through the day with about eight pages left blank. The paper is fine, but a year or so bouncing around in my Dickies bag has left the spiral binding in a state where the book is now impossible to open or close without damaging the pages. I'm really fond of these sketchbooks and I went ahead and ordered another one from Utrecht, this time hardbound to avoid a repeat of the Tragic Death of the Spiral Binding. I should note that I am no way employed by Utrecht Art, but if they wanted to send me a few bucks for the endorsement I wouldn't complain.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Me vs. Leonardo da Vinci

This is the final homework assignment for my life drawing class at Seattle Central Community College with the mighty Alexander Chubotin. I would recommend Alex's classes (yes, he and I do have the same first name. This wasn't just a case of me taking art instruction from the voices in my head) to anyone who wants to learn figure drawing, although prospective students should be prepared to leave behind the "everything is wonderful" approach that too many community college art classes fall victim to. Alex was more likely to stand next to your easel and tell you in a stern voice, "This line is wrong. Please remove it immediately." It did me a lot of good to be pushed like that and I feel like my drawing really improved throughout the course. Plus he provided cookies. I haven't posted any of the drawings from class since I don't feel like I produced much that I really consider finished, but I don't think that was really the purpose of the studio time. I did enjoy the homework assignments, which consisted of copying old master drawings, anatomy guides, and photos of classical sculpture. I'm fairly pleased with how my copy of this Leonardo drawing came out, although he appears to have a kind of smirk in my version that isn't there in the original.

Life Drawing Session at Art Not Terminal Gallery

The Art Not Terminal Gallery in downtown Seattle hosts a life drawing session every Saturday that I've been going to on a semi-regular basis. They have some great models there and the work produced by some of the other attendees is truly humbling. Me, I'm just trying to come up with something that looks more human than chicken. This particular model was a lot of fun to draw, especially when she posed with the skateboard. These were all done with charcoal pencil in 20-25 minutes.

Monday, May 27, 2013

The World Would be a Better Place If All Public Art Had Dragons

This drawing of a Chinese fountain was done from a photo my cousin took when he was traveling in China. I didn't actually get his permission to draw and post this, so here's hoping he doesn't sue me. That could make for some awkwardness at Christmas dinner.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Me vs. Ivan Mestrovic

I've been taking a life drawing class at Seattle Central Community College with a really outstanding instructor who has been pushing me to think more critically about my drawing, especially my use of line. He gave me a homework assignment to copy a photo of a sculpture by Ivan Mestrovic. I had never actually heard of Ivan Mestrovic before this, but I do have to agree with my instructor that the he had a real mastery of form and the human figure.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Chuckwalla at the Woodland Park Zoo

Yesterday I headed out with the Seattle Sketchers Meetup group to the Woodland Park Zoo. As I was making my way there on a gorgeous Saturday (one of the first Seattle has enjoyed in quite a while), I had visions of pulling out my skecthbook on a comfy bench in the shade, somewhere with an unobstructed view of a majestic animal that wasn't moving around too much. Imagine my surprise when I showed up around 1:00 and discovered that the place was insanely crowded and that any spot where one might get a decent view of an elephant or a gorilla was completely mobbed by children and their parents who were all jostling for a look. This led to me spending a good part of my visit wandering around in circles looking for something to draw, a quest that ended in the reptile house where I happened upon a chuckwalla that was kind enough to strike a dramatic pose while I sketched.

The more observant among you may notice that this creature is looking a little puffy, but I assure you this is how it really was. At the time, I thought this was because it had just eaten some sort of mid-sized rodent (I often looked this way after meals when I lived in New Orleans), but I was later told that the chuckwalla can puff itself up to ridiculous proportions as a way to scare off predators. I hope this doesn't mean that I did anything to offend it. I think it's much more likely that all of the children blatantly ignoring the "do not tap on glass" sign were to blame for its agitated state.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

It's Manatee Time!

As most right-thinking people are well aware, it just isn't Wednesday without a manatee. In the interest of full disclosure, I should confess that I drew this last night, making this more of a Tuesday manatee and introducing the possibility that I've violated the space-time-manatee continuum. I apologize for any black holes that may appear as a result.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

A Self Portrait and a Lesson Learned About Vine Charcoal

I've been using a lot of vine charcoal lately. You can't get the deep, rich blacks that you get with compressed charcoal, but it's really malleable and fun to work with. So malleable, in fact, that if you don't hit it with fixative you can pretty much wipe away an entire drawing with your fingers or, if you're as clumsy as I am, you might drop your drawing and send it sliding, face-down, across your kitchen floor and wipe out the bottom half of the face in a self-portrait that you were pretty happy with. It's possible that this resulted in a few phrases being uttered that were not entirely appropriate for younger readers. Being the fully-grown adult that I am, I then proceeded to throw a tantrum and put the drawing in the closet for abut two weeks before I worked up the gumption to pull it out and re-draw the mouth and the neck. From here on out, I vow to keep the fixative close at hand when working with vine.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Robert Sedgewick Knows More About Algorithms Than You Do

I've been spending a lot of time staring at this man's face over the past few weeks. This is Robert Sedgewick, a professor of Computer Science at Princeton and, in an act of remarkable generosity, the instructor of a course on algorithms that is currently available for free on Coursera. As someone who makes his living as a programmer but who did not actually study computer science in college, this has been a huge help to me. I know, you're all shocked to learn that I don't earn enormous amounts of money selling my drawings. My (sometimes painfully slow) efforts to work through the lectures and exercises really have given me a much deeper understanding of some really fascinating and important topics. Thanks a lot, Bob. May I call you Bob? How about if I promise to buy you a beer if you're ever in Seattle?

Monday, February 18, 2013

The Man Whose Head Expanded

I normally try to stay away from portraits of rock stars, writers, artists, and other famous people I admire. There's just too much baggage involved in hero worship. I had to make an exception for Mark E. Smith, longtime evil genius behind The Fall. The man has a face like no other. Granted, many of the distinctive features of his face are the result of decades of rampant alcoholism that should not be imitated or romanticized. And yet, despite all this, the man still managed to make "Hex Enduction Hour" and "This Nation's Saving Grace." The mind reels.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Back to the Seattle Asian Art Museum

How great is it to live within easy walking distance of Volunteer Park? That was a rhetorical question, of course. The relative greatness of proximity to enjoyable places is a very difficult thing to measure, although I'm sure someone at Google is working on it. The highlight of any visit to Volunteer Park is the Seattle Asian Art Museum, which has a lot of interesting work on the walls (I'm a big fan of the Japanese wood blocks) and tons of sculpture just begging to be sketched. This particular piece is of horse from the Tang period (insert astronaut joke here), dated around the 7th or 8th century. Thinking about how much time that really is and the fact that some human being's hands actually made this thing that I am standing in front of more than 1,000 years later makes me feel totally insignificant. I hope some piece of my life stays around that long, even if it's just the styrofoam I throw in the landfill.

Note: I realize that the bottom of the stand is falling off the page in a really odd way. This is because I violated one of the first rules that any beginning art teacher will tell you and did not fully plan out my composition before I started work. Mea culpa.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Me and Stanley

I've recently started taking a portrait drawing class at Seattle Central Community College. Except for the fact that I had a terrible time finding the room the first night (who knew that the art building was on the other side of the street from the rest of the college?) I've been really enjoying it. Drawing portraits from a model is a vastly different experience from drawing from a photo or even a self-portrait in a mirror. There is real geometry when the head is right there in front of you that just doesn't show up when you're working from a 2-dimensional image.

The first drawing is from an exercise we did in class with a model named Stanley, who did an admirable job of holding the same expression for two solid hours. The second one is a self-portrait I did in front of my bathroom mirror where, true to form, I have captured an expression that makes it look like I'm thinking about destroying something small and cute. Someday I'll learn how to smile and draw at the same time. I also realize that the eyes are wildly mis-placed, but I decided to post the drawing anyway. That's the sort of painfully honest approach that we here at Revenge of the Pencil Enterprises have always pursued despite the protestations of friends, family, and legal counsel.