Today I finished the last page of my current sketchbook. This is a semi-big deal only because I have shelves full of half-finished sketchbooks in my studio. This was a particularly good one: soft, smooth high-quality paper, stitch-bound and with a leather jacket. Virtually indestructible. And just about every sketch uploaded to this blog came out of it. I used to use those spiral-bound sketchbooks you get at the art store, but the spirals bend and pages come out, or it pokes you in the arm giving you tetanus or something. Or the cheap paper covers rip off in the backpack. I’ve got of few of those on the shelves too. No, this was a good one. I think I got it at Borders for about $ 12 or so. The new one replacing it is a bit bigger, hardbound in good fabric and with excellent paper. The pages are square, too, which might yield some interesting results. Got it from one of those fancy paper stores in Old Town Pasadena. A long time ago I got quite intimidated by hardbound sketchbooks. I thought, what could I possibly draw that’s good enough to go into a book like that? But I came to realize, it’s not about “good enough”, it’s about not falling apart after a couple months’ use. That’s all, no big deal.
This is the first watercolor I’ve done in a while, so I felt a bit rusty, sitting there on a folding chair at the river’s edge. I think, if I were to try it again, I’d emphasize the dramatic diagonals of those big trees sweeping in from the upper left; and I’d add a kid floating in from screen right on an innertube for scale and human interest. I don’t know. Maybe it’s ok as is…
As a teen-ager I had a poster of this painting thumbtacked to the wall above my bed (I wonder what my parents thought). Frank Frazetta, the artist who created that picture, was one of the reasons I even entertained the idea of becoming some kind of professional illustrator someday. Just this evening at the weekly get-together after work the costume designer mentioned he had a documentary about Mr. Frazetta. He popped it into the DVD player and I watched about half of it. It brought back all the feelings I had as a kid about Frazetta’s work – the savage energy, the beautiful women, the crazy drama, the seemingly effortless draftsmanship – and a bit of the story behind it all, which I hadn’t known. For instance, he painted most of his pictures in over the course of eight to ten hours each, usually the night before they were due. Another tidbit is that he never worked from reference; it was all in his head. That alone is mind-blowing. His official gallery has a ton of biographical information, and this unofficial site has a ton of fairly high-res scans of his paintings and pen-and-ink drawings. As I was checking out his site I happened upon this page showing sketches he made as a kid in a single night from an anatomy book in an effort to “learn anatomy”. They appear to be from George Bridgeman, only – forgive me for saying it – but more polished than Mr. Bridgeman’s drawings, in my opinion anyway.
I envy the student who happens upon Frank Frazetta for the first time.
As we ate dinner in the waning evening light on the banks of the Big Sur River, the kids patiently stacked water rocks. They made sixty – sixty – of these little sculptures while we dined.
Here they are looking for more rocks.
I’ll soon post all the sketches from the camping outing, I’ve just been enjoying finally having enough stuff to post daily.
They got mostly craw-dads with slices of hot dogs as bait, but Jack did get a small rainbow trout and a couple of mud-suckers. All were dutifully thrown back of course — after being given proper names like “Dragon” and “Son of Dragon” and “Rocky”, etc.
I like the way the kids sit with their knees up to their chins. I wish I were still that flexible!
This is the view from the “front door” of our tent. It’s a very family-friendly campsite, lots of parents having fun with their kids.
Here’s our home-away-from-home, the venerable two-room tent, veteran of at least eight or nine annual family camping trips. We had a beautiful spot right next to the Big Sur river where the kids could raft down it and catch craw-dads in it. I drew a lot while camping, so there’s lots to post…
Our family will be off to Big Sur for a week-long camping trip! I’m planning on doing lots of sketching during that time, hopefully inspired by the beautiful surroundings. If I draw anything worth posting I’ll put it up here for sure…