Feeling absolutely no inspiration to draw? Force yourself to do a self-portrait! For added difficulty, do it in smeary ink with a camera over your shoulder.
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Prompted by a short essay from Children of the Days: A Calendar of Human History.
For twenty-two years the FBI tapped his telephone, read his mail and went through his garbage.
They spied on Einstein because he was a spy for the Russians. So said his bulky police file. The file also said he had invented a death ray and a robot that could read minds. It said Einstein was a member, collaborator or fellow traveler of thirty-four Communist front organizations between 1937 and 1954, and was honorary chair of three Communist organizations. It concluded: “It seems unlikely that a man of his background could, in such a short time, become a loyal American citizen.”
Not even death saved him. They continued spying on him. Not the FBI, but his colleagues, men of science who sliced his brain into two hundred forty pieces and analyzed them to find an explanation for his genius.
They found nothing.
Einstein had already warned, “I have no special gift. I am only passionately curious.”
This week’s assignment: read this New York Times article from 1987 and come up with an illustration. It starts with jotting down your own short summary to wrap your mind around what the article is fundamentally about. My take on this article:
Walter Mitty is real–a small but significant portion of the population are happily spending more than half their lives in a fantasy world.
The next step is to fill a page or three with quick idea sketches. The idea is not to create a great drawing, but to come up with a concept or composition that tells a story.
After deciding on this one, I did another series of small sketches to come up with a composition I liked. As I’m sure I’ve mentioned before, solving problems at the thumbnail stage saves a lot of frustration in the drawing stage. I think I still have a lot to learn about color and contrast, but this approach has really taken most of the pain out of the drawing process.
By the way, I have no idea why my first two illustrations for this class involved the subway. It wasn’t intentional–I’d rather walk any day of the week!
This may look like a rough comic strip, but it’s actually the first homework for my latest “continuing education” (i.e. old person) class at the School of Visual arts, which starts tomorrow. Here’s the prompt:
Here’s my paragraph, with a disclaimer:
Cheating a bit. My first thought was the first time I visited NYC, flying in from L.A. in 1999. Even though it would take another seven years, I knew I would move here. I went back and looked at a journal entry from the time, and found a paragraph that sums it up perfectly.
I felt a strange sensation as we pulled into Grand Central Station. It persisted as we walked up to the exit on 42nd Street. And suddenly I was outside. I looked around. It was as if I had gone through the looking glass. I had seen New York countless times before, but never in three dimensions. Sure, Los Angeles has the Hollywood sign, but you can’t reach out and touch it. New York has New York—no matter what street I ended up on, I was surrounded by icons of American culture: cabs, subway stations, hot dog and peanut vendors. Starting with Sesame Street, I was brought up accustomed to these things, even though I never actually saw them in real life. In a sense, I was instantly comfortable.
(Oh, and to explain one of the panels: There’s a New York diner mainstay called an “egg cream,” which is just chocolate syrup, soda, and milk. No eggs, no cream.)
Did Spring come late, or does it just take a while for my histamines to catch up? At any rate, g’bless me.
As is usually the case when I draw my stupid mug, this rare non-digital watercolor was homework for my never-ending Saturday art class. Oh wait, did I say never-ending? Apparently the school is closing in the Fall after a mere 192 years! Word on the street is that funds were colossally mismanaged by new management.
What is it with 2017 and amateurs running great institutions into the ground?
It’s hard for me to think of my Uncle Mike without picturing a pool cue in his hand. Sure, he had a lot more going on, but rarely did I see him light up as when he would explain to his nieces and nephews the physics behind his favorite trick shots. He was a billiards nerd the way I’m a…nerd, except for him it was actually lucrative, keeping his young kids fed and in diapers when money was tight.
Everyone gets older, people pass on, and yearly traditions once taken for granted run their natural course. In my mind, Thanksgiving at Uncle Mike and Aunt Anita’s, in the hills above Napa Valley, has coalesced into a single, timeless memory, like a movie I’ve watched again and again.
The sound of gravel being kicked up as we pull into the long driveway. The boisterous hellos and the giddy anticipation as we hover around the busy kitchen. Plates piled high, the popping of corks, and unrestrained laughter. The beckoning dessert table, and the strategies concocted for trying every type of pie without literally exploding.
And then, finally, people falling into their post-feast rhythm. On the main floor, the true adults settle in for stimulating conversation, while those of us craving more of a show head downstairs to watch Uncle Raymond razz Uncle Mike, as Uncle Mike effortlessly runs the table and looks for his next victim.
No takers? Then it’s time to learn from the master, as he shows us how to win money placing pool hall bets using a knowledge of angles and english, and clever uses of spit.
We try to take it all in. For a moment, becoming a pool shark seems like a real possibility, and we try to think of ways to fit it into our schedule.
And then we snap back to reality, realizing that it’s easier just to live vicariously through the tall, lanky, seemingly unflappable hustler turned entrepreneur turned cool friendly uncle.
And finally, the long goodbyes, the yawns, the hugs among a soundtrack of crickets under a starry country sky, and the sound of gravel under rubber once again. We look back and wave, never thinking it’ll be the last time.
Inevitably, one time, it is. But that’s okay–I know it all by heart.