Swashbuckling Etudes

I had to get back in the swing of drawing dynamic poses from scratch again, so in lieu of some insane figure drawing class I decided  to do some quick sketches off Pirates of the Caribbean

I could stand to do a lot more of this ...

What I find particularly fascinating is that, dynamic as these sketches may appear, I could never get as much energy in the drawing as I saw in the frame of film. Draw from life, folks! (Or filmed life, at least ...)

Air New Zealand

Air New Zealand flight 002
I have never before had cause to feel actual affection for an airline, but of all the companies who've flown me to various locations around the world, I have to confess my love for Air New Zealand.  I'd always thought long-haul trips were something to be endured rather than enjoyed, but I now find myself looking forward to the flight and wishing I had an excuse to fly more often.  It is probably just as well for the ozone layer that I don't ... but regardless, well done, Flying Kiwis.

Santa Monica Bay

Most of the time it's a monotonous concreted-over boxy dustbowl, but every so often Southern California can be so beautiful you understand what attracted people in the first place (who then built boxes, concreted it over, and made it as dull as possible).


Because Comic Con happens the same weekend as the opening day at the Del Mar racecourse, it's always a bit of an adventure to take the train. At the best, you get to eavesdrop on some hilarious drunk conversations, but sometimes there are delays or cancellations. I quite enjoy taking the train, even when it's crowded or late, but even I have to admit this year was particularly bad ... nevertheless I got a couple of good sketches out of it.
The train was initially delayed an hour, so I got to make a detailed study of some elegant turn-of-the-century architecture. We encountered a number of further delays until we were running almost three hours behind schedule, so someone managing the rail network back east decided to cancel the train entirely. They dumped us all off at the Irvine stop where we could catch the next train, which was apparently about 20 minutes behind us (actually more like an hour). It was a beautiful day, and the Irvine station is bounded by fields on one side, but no one else seemed to appreciate this ...

Toronto, Part 2

Toronto's been on my mind a lot, lately.  Then I remembered I never posted the remainder of my sketches from my trip there, when we went sketchcrawling at the Distillery.  It was super cool!  Unfortunately the sketches don't capture the amazing sky that day.


I know I spend too long on my location sketches, but I so enjoy being "in it" that it's hard to change focus too frequently.


In trying to alternate Polar Explorer posts with ... well, anything else, I find myself making recourse to yet more observational sketches. These were done on a recent trip to Alberta, which was lovelier than I had remembered.

Sucker for Ships

I did these sketches about a year ago, a long way from home...

There was a ship, and I like ships, so I drew a few drawings. One of the days I was there they had tours of the ship, and the captain was interested enough in my sketchbook that he let me stay aboard after my tour group left, and go sketch in some of the areas behind the yellow rope. This was my first experience of the Power of the Sketchbook, and while I haven't been able to exercise it since ... who knows where it'll take me next?


Toronto, Part 1

After New York, I took the train to Toronto. Hooray Toronto! I had a wonderful (if short) time there, and the first place I got to sit and sketch for an extended period was Casa Loma. It's like, this totally awesome castle?


Later research identified the woodpecker as a female Hairy, in case you were in suspense.

Race to the End of the Earth

The American Museum of Natural History has an exhibition on, relating to Scott and Amundsen's race* to the South Pole in 1911. As you may have noticed in previous entries, the Scott expedition is an ... interest ... of mine, and Disney insists on letting me walk away with a comfortable disposable income, so I went.

They didn't allow cameras, but they didn't take my sketchbook away. Who wants a load of sketches? You want a load of sketches? You got it!


*Captain Scott says: 'It's not a race! Stop calling it a race! Geez!'

San Francisco via Sketchbook

It's been a criminally long time since I posted any artwork on here. There are two reasons for this:

1. All my energy, talent, and initiative have been channeled into work; on the rare occasion I draw outside of work I really struggle with it. I appear to be useless without a story and layout department now. Waa, waa.

2. At home, I moved my laptop from the desk into my bedroom, which has made scanning just inconvenient enough not to do it.

Anyway, the long dry spell is at an end! (For the time being, anyway.)

There was a slope in the Tea Garden in Golden Gate Park that was a delightful arrangement of shapes and textures. I'm afraid I turned it into a mash of pencil. With any luck I might learn how to sketch a location gesturally instead of agonizing over every detail...

One night my sister and I went to a neat little wine bar near Market and Rose. We caught an F-line trolley back and along the way it started to reek of a certain illegal herb. There were very few people in the trolley and neither my sister nor I could see anyone smoking. A few minutes after we smelled it, this fellow picked up the odour and looked around. He gave us a questioning eyebrow. I shrugged theatrically. Perhaps it was the driver.

I sketched for a bit inside the Eureka at the maritime museum, in the dying light of the afternoon, listening to a guy practise the mandolin. I think we were the only two on the boat. It was very relaxing, and quite an atmospheric moment.

The Champion of the Seas model at the museum's Visitors' Centre. She was a clipper with such a hubristic name that it should come as no surprise that she met her end in a storm on the Straits of Magellan. It was a fantastic model, to the point that I could almost see it battered by waves and wind. Don't remember what interrupted this one (lunch, probably) or what caused that smudge at the last minute...

These regard Muir Woods day but were drawn after the fact. The first is an entertaining couple we kept running into along the trail; the short guy did all the talking and was from New York, judging by his accent. His companion was attentive but quiet and was probably a Time Lord.

The guys to the right were examining an educational sign that detailed relatives of the Coast Redwood around the world. It wasn't what the dark-haired one said that was funny so much as the genuinely astonished way he said it.

We had coupons for a cruise 'round the bay, under the bridge and around Alcatraz. When the boat pulled away from the dock a voice came over the PA system, rolling off what I thought was the usual safety spiel until it suddenly went hokey. This is how it would have looked:
Inspired by Kate Beaton but drawn without actual reference to her stuff on account of being on the train ... and of course not nearly as funny.

Captain Nemo and the PA guy never stopped – it turned out the whole cruise was narrated, either by them or various other characters. It was the sort of thing you could never get away with in Canada, unless it was at an attraction where you could be fairly certain no Canadians would show up, because it would be heckled and/or eye-rolled nonstop. As the ship drew back to port the narration followed suit, so it was obvious that the whole thing was carefully timed out with the recording. I thought it would be funny* if something went terribly wrong and the artificially jolly actors on the tape just kept going ...
*using that word broadly

I now know why Ronnie del Carmen enjoys sketchcrawling so much – what a perfect city for drawing. I'd have liked to have done more, but that will have to wait until I go back alone and can take things at my own pace.