Tag Archives: pencil sketches

Drawing in Polska

3 Oct

These drawing are from a recent trip to Poland to attend a conference on word and image at Kazimierz Wielki University in Bydgoszcz. I was presenting a paper about the experience of creating my graphic novel and how it posed some interesting questions about the dynamic relationship between text and image and how the narrative of the text takes on new dimensions through the medium of the comic. Some of the work from the graphic novel can be seen here

To my eyes, Bydgoszcz was a friendly and beautiful city. I hope one can sense the warmth in these drawings through the clearly satirical bent, as there was full respect for the complex social, political and cultural landscape of the Poles. I got caught a few times, most notably by an old woman who sat next to me after I had quickly turned the page of a drawing I had just started of her. She sat next to me and rather unnervingly stared as I drew, giving audible bursts of approval. Needless to say I needed to find a new perch from which to draw.

Reportage drawing is the central focus of my Mphil/PhD study at the Royal College of Art and Design. I am looking at how the act reveals intuitive visual language and speaks to the multiple layers of both perception and commentary on the social, political and cultural conditions of the subjects themselves. I am also bringing in other reportage practitioners to contribute to a greater understanding of this highly challenging and revelatory act.

Enjoy Polska!

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The Drawn Out Debate – A Happy New Year in Drawing

30 Dec

As a draftsperson working in the modern world (although ignoring a considerable chunk of its visual culture) I am regularly considering the significance of drawing in relation to other media and how drawing itself is being pushed and often re-imagined by artists. The debate has been clearer than the problems that have spawned the debate.

The debate is anchored in two deeply held beliefs. One, that drawing is a practice utilizing traditional materials and built on an observational craft typically grounded in the acquisition of representative drawing skills. Those skills based on well defined western ideals. From a foundation of traditional skills, the artist can then depart on one’s own and develop into an art maker with a singular voice.

The other belief is that drawing is indistinct from all other art making activity. Where the previous belief puts drawing at the center of the creative process, (or at least an independently important endeavor) they see drawing indistinguishable from installation art or painting and see it as fluid, above and perhaps beyond the limitations and restrictions of craft.

While this is an oversimplification of an important debate, it does show the inherent problems with both arguments. While the traditionalist may believe that the contemporary approach to drawing is resulting in half-born art, lacking in a fundamental understanding of form and therefore a mere exercise rather than a grounded piece of the art continuum, the contemporary artist sees that as an archaic limitation to a more expansive view of drawing as the delineation of just about anything and that this perspective expands the art and practice of “drawing for drawings sake”. Either way, both parties, stuck in their ideological camps, are failing to see the bigger problem. That problem is quality.

I could talk about quality and the guardians at the gate, (seemingly asleep at their post) but I am interested in something else. As we are getting warmed up in the twenty first century, I propose that drawing take on more important matters. For one, I believe it is important to look at drawing as a distinctive activity bringing a level of personal expression and communication that achieves what no other medium is capable of; an encapsulated autobiographical record (Berger) of the artists thoughts and intentions. Whether that is in the form of a line of bricks in a gallery installation or a pencil drawing on a napkin in a bar, we need to renew our love of a media that is, at its core, profoundly human and filled with the surprise and invention that result from the mysterious connection between mind and hand.

I say we re-dedicate ourselves to pushing our media and make the power of drawing self evident.

 Drawings above are from recent trips to England and Spain.

Flesh on Parade

22 Sep

Here are some more drawings from North Carolina. After three days I had nearly filled up my sketchbook and exhausted my tolerance for drawing fat people. I had also found what I was looking for. Pushing yourself to always finding something new can render a prescribed result. 

On a cheery note, these drawings have become the springboard for some pretty funny animation ideas that will be brought to full moving color very soon.

Still shaking the sand out of my sketchbook

21 Sep

Here are some more drawings from North Carolina. It isn’t quite the deep south but as you can see, it is deep enough. It is a strip mall paradise and too hot for rational thought. I found myself having much more sympathy for the people I was drawing. Usually I snicker to myself and gloat as only a Northeastern liberal can when witnessing the true ills of Red State America. Instead I felt sad. Sad for them and sad for me that this country doesn’t work very well. We have let our Southern neighbors figure it out on their own and they aren’t doing a good job (neither are we for that matter).  So I ventured forth. With pencil in hand I drew the voluminous patrons of Ocean Isle Beach and imagined that maybe all is well (or at least as it should be). After all, they are only fulfilling their duties as gross consumers of all things. As a Blue State liberal, am I just horrified at how American they really are? Damn right!

The meek shall inherit the earth – at least what’s left of it

17 Jul

Here are some summer drawings. They were all done either this summer or last in a variety of places. I can remember the time and place I did these drawings with such clarity that I could almost tell you what I was drinking and wearing when I did them. Beer and shorts would apply to many of them.


I wonder what the founders of this country would think if they saw us at the edge of a more perfect union measuring our success in flat screen TV’s and cars the size of small houses. The poor are fat and the rich are skinny. I think they’d be booking their flights to Paris tout de suite.