...never stop tinkering...

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Some days I don't recognize myself

I did these self-portraits over a series of days a while back. They got me thinking. Why do I recognize myself in some but not others? Is it that I wasn't paying enough attention to my lines, shades, measurements?

That's probably one of the reasons. Another one is that I wasn't in the mood to draw. I forced myself to make a selfie every night for a week, just for practice.

Have you ever drawn when you didn't feel like it? How did that affect your results?

I guess what I'm trying to get at is that good drawings, at least for me, happen when I'm in a good mood. If I'm not in the right mindset, but I have to draw —as part of my job at the newspaper, for example— I need to readjust my attitude, then lines start flowing better.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Two visuals, one illo

The juxtaposition of two seemingly unrelated visual elements often proves an effective formula with conceptual illustration. To illustrate an article about the emergence of white hip-hop, I combined a flock of birds and an a boombox. The first are meant to symbolize the white musicians; the latter, the beat of hip-hop music.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Kind caricature of co-worker

To be a successful political cartoonist, drawing good caricatures isn't enough. You have to ridicule and poke fun at your subjects, and I think that requires a certain type of personality that I don't have.

But ask me for a light-hearted caricature and I feel in my element. This one of Lance Dickie, a Seattle Times editorial writer who recently retired from the newspaper, may serve as an example. It was part of a commemorative page presented to him by the newsroom as a gift.

Original art in ink.

Digital version in grayscale.

Digital version in color.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

35 hours in Rio de Janeiro

My stay in Rio during my recent trip to Brazil for the Urban Sketching Symposium was very short, just about 35 hours, but quite memorable nonetheless. Here are some moments I recorded in my sketchbook.

Exuberant locals strutting down the endless sidewalk along Ipanema beach.

It was elbow-to-elbow at the mountaintop with the iconic statue of Jesus.

How many cities can boast a viewpoint like this one from the Sugarloaf? I was in awe.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

A treasure trove of Life magazines online

I have a bunch of old Life magazines at home that I've been browsing recently in search of inspiration. Whenever I find work that catches my eye, I mark it with a post-it note.

Here's an example: An article written and illustrated by Bill Mauldin, the creator of the award-winning "Willie and Joe" cartoon chronicling the travails of a pair of American soldiers.

These particular drawings by the legendary cartoonist stopped me because of their journalistic nature. Turns out the magazine had sent him to cover a meeting of war veterans and he produced both the text and the artwork.

My collage of scans above only shows the illustrations but, guess what, to read the actual article and view the layout in all its glory, you don't have to borrow my dusty copy of the magazine. You can simply go to the archives of Life Magazine on Google Books. Just type "Bill Mauldin Legion" in the search box, check the "Search all issues" box, and, voilĂ !

What a treasure trove that collection is! Next time, I think I won't bother with the scanning.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Model exhibit at the Seattle Architecture Foundation and joint fundraiser with Urban Sketchers

Architects and sketchers share a similar interest in drawing and design, so it's only fitting that two organizations like the Seattle Architecture Foundation (SAF) and UrbanSketchers.org would want to collaborate. This year, the Urban Sketchers chapter in Seattle is partnering with SAF to raise funds.

A silent auction during the opening of SAF's Annual Model Exhibit will feature original sketches by members of our group, including Logan Bingle, Kate Buike, David Chamness, Tina Koyama, Mark Selander, Kay Tyllia, Gail Wong, Jane Wingfield, and yours truly.

The opening night reception takes place Thursday, Sept. 11, from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Foundation's headquarters (407 Union, Rainier Square.) I've been invited to say a few words at the event and hope to see you there! If you miss it, consider stopping by on another day to see the exhibit and sketches. They will be on display through Oct. 3.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Urban sketchers in Paraty, Brazil

I just returned from a week in Brazil, where I sketched and partied with this awesome crowd. We are the participants and faculty of the 5th International Urban Sketching Symposium, which took place in the beautiful coastal town of Paraty, home of the best preserved colonial architecture in the country. Were you there? As an organizer of all previous editions of the Symposium —Portland, Lisbon, Santo Domingo and Barcelona— I can honestly say that the event keeps getting better and better. It was an honor to be part of this year's organizing team, along with Elizabeth AlleyEduardo BajzekJason DasOrling DomĂ­nguez and Fernanda Vaz de Campos.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Summer of Seth

Family and friends rarely visit us in Seattle. Most of them live just too far away, either on the East Coast or Spain. But this summer, we hit the jackpot with a special guest. Our nephew Seth, a 19-year-old journalism student at Ohio University, stayed with us for almost three months. He spent his time here well, working at a deli and doing some freelance writing and photography (Don't miss his blog.) And whenever he had free time and we weren't at work ourselves, we took him to as many places as we could. Below are some of the sketchbook pages I filled recording our time spent together. We miss him already!

Fishermen's Terminal and the Fremont Troll.

Snoqualmie Falls.

Folk Life Festival at Seattle Center.

Stanley Park in Vancouver, B.C.

Monday, August 18, 2014

I see sinking ships

I first heard of a "sinking ship" building in reference to a Seattle parking garage built on a sloping street near the iconic Smith Tower.

When you look at it straight on, the building resembles the bow of a ship sinking into the street.


The optical effect is the result of a tricky perspective, the kind I have to think through carefully before putting pen to paper. The key is to realize that the vantage point for the sloping street is high above the horizon line. Then, to understand the positioning of the garage structure, I imagine it as if it was on flat ground. That helps me notice that the windows aren't parallel to the sloping street, but to the base of the building hidden by the inclination of the street.

The experience of sketching that garage by the Smith Tower years ago still comes handy any time I sketch similar perspectives. Most recently, I encountered this other "sinking ship" in the Denny Triangle during a sketch outing with the Seattle Urban Skechers:

For more tips and examples of drawing architecture, check out my upcoming book, The Urban Sketching Handbook, Architecture and Cityscapes. It's coming out this fall!