Monday, February 16, 2009

For those about to Sketch . . .

You know, some of you may not like AC/DC, but I kinda dig 'em. Not like Sugar Smacks, but in the way that they sometimes get my blood pumping when I listen them.
My last post spoke of how I was riding the public transportation around my town and finding some pretty interesting people in my neck of the woods.

If you'll indulge me, I need to step back in time a bit and explain some things.

I'm a bit of an odd man. I like to cartoon. The world around me is a series of shapes and lines that imprint themselves on me and give me impressions of my perceived reality. To that end, I try to translate that reality to my sketch book pages. This comes from the written advice of a great guy, and a character designer by the name of Stephen Silver. The guy not only has interesting story behind him, but he also has some common sense approaches to sketching and becoming a better cartoonist, that I completely fall in line with.
The first and most important is to always carry your sketchbook with you, the muse chooses where and when to strike and you have to be ready. The second is to sketch from life, which I'm finding is not only important, but also goddam hilarious.

I'm going to post them all, starting with the sketches that made me work on this more from a certain Canadian Coffee and Doughnut chain that is nearby, and moving on to the SRTA sketches(SRTA is an acronym for Southeastern Regional Transit Authority, as I live on the Southeastern coast of Massachusetts, this would indeed make more sense now).

The sketches are generally started in either blue or red Prisma Colorase pencil and then inked up using them same three weapons of choice: my trusty Pentel Pocket Brush, an ultra thin Uniball ballpoint pen, and a standard Uniball ballpoint pen.

Here are the results and their explanations. Please feel free to comment and enjoy!

This is the guy that started it all. There I was, looking for something to sketch and this chubby little old man, who was all attitude and wool hat was sitting on the other side of the store, drinking his coffee. As I stole a few glances to work out the shapes and the details, he looked up at me. He was not happy.

That prompted this man a few days later. A funeral had let out and it looked like a bunch of people from that same funeral came into the Tim Horton's that I'd chosen to roost in. None of them were worth note, or interesting enough for me to sketch but the priest was well worth it! I wonder if I can be sent to Hell for sketching him? Is that a sin?

That same day, this girl came in. Now, I'm a sucker for red hair and freckles. So if you don't know, now you know. When this girl came in, it h ad nothing to do with the red hair, or the freckles that made me sketch her. It was this way that she cocked her hip out when she was waiting for her order and checking her cell phone that made this amazing action line that just needed to be sketched out. It came across as more of a line and movement, than an attitude at not getting a doughnut fast enough.

There was also this guy. He looked like that puppet that Jeff Dunham uses in his stand up ventriloquist act. Worse, he acted like him too. He went on a tirade for about fifteen minutes straight with a complete stranger about how technology and Ronald Reagan have screwed this country up completely beyond repair. For that, he deserved to be immortalized!

This guy? I saw him come in at a local diner, ooze into a seat at the counter and just begin to radiate this complete loudmouth asshole personality vibe to his friends and it just extended beyond the normal social circles that take up the nearby space in a group of friends. He needed to be put on paper, he just reminded me too much of Chet in Weird Science.

Now, from here I hit the library. While waiting to use the reference computers, I saw this librarian that was nothing but mass and shape.
I have to take a break here and explain myself for a few seconds.
If it comes across that I harbor some sort of dislike or hatred for people that are overweight, I absolutely do not.
To me, people that are larger than what is considered average are not only more beautiful to look at, but also have more personality that average and even skinny people too. I'm not just speaking about the social interaction aspect of their individual personalities, I'm also speaking about their movements, the way that they carry themselves and grow as people.
If you don't believe me, close your eyes the next time you see an overweight person.

Remove all malice, preconceived notions of them and any other sort of meanness from your mind and the way that will affect your eyes. Now open them and watch them move.
You'll see a more expounded and better version of the emotions that average and skinny people use in their postures, in their walks, and even in their appearance.
Any idiot with a pencil can sketch a thin nude model and make them show up on paper.
Give me a large model any day and I will show you true human beauty and character when that sketch is done.

The human comedy that rides a bus on a daily basis can never be out done, in my opinion. I've seen so many people on there that are so worth sketching, I'd run out of paper if I worked on all of them. From the bus driver who screams at people who cross the street in front of the bus; 'Take your time you fucking asshole!', to the lady who seemed high on speed and snapped at everyone getting on and off the bus, as if her stop was the only one that should have been allowed, to the three handicapped people who rode on the front of the bus and fought over why the blind guy decided that he need to call the lady with Downe's Syndrome a 'whore' at a party the night before, it's all there and can't be contained.

My first dose came with these two men, the tall man in sunglasses talking about how if the cops wanted to, they could storm the bus with shotguns and shoot everyone if there were trouble going into the terminal, his companion smiling and nodding with his greyish blue eyes blazing wide. They just needed to be put on a page more than Steinbeck's Lenny and George.

This old man got on the bus with a broom an kept a tight grip on it for the entire ride. okay, two thoughts on this; who rides the bus with a broom? and if the broom were so important that it required a tight grip for the entire trip, then why didn't he just fly home on it?

This guy was waiting for the same bus as me one morning. He looked like a college bound Al Borland and that sort of pop culture reference, you just don't let go to waste.

Well, it was pretty cold this day and it gave me a whole slew of subjects to sketch up! The first was this guy in his ball cap and ear muffs. He saw me sketching him out of his peripheral vision and decided that sunglasses were the way to go. You have to wonder if John Walsh might have been looking for him or something. Then, there was this extremely Alan Alda looking older man, in a gray wool overcoat, who'd thought that it might be warmer if he hugged himself and tucked way in, close to the window. All while looking very worried, as if something were going to come through the other side of the bus and rip him out. Lastly, there was this girl. A wide base of a woman, albeit pretty, that tapered off into a magenta colored flight jacket and a white woolen and furry cap with sprigs of red curls poking out from under the base of that same cap. All worth the numb fingers that night!

This next guy was great. I guess he works the kitchen staff at UMass Dartmouth and every morning, him and two other people get on and they talk about their shift. Only he falls asleep and I never noticed it, because they usually sit behind me, but this morning, I caught the truth of the matter. He sleeps, the other two people talk about work. Still, it was interesting to sketch him, all shapes and action lines. Very cool and fluid to me.

From here, the rides get better.

Sitting in a bus station, sketching, a guy like me tends to get approached by all sorts of people. Mostly by people that want to see what I'm doing. Whether its to get to know me before I reach the point where the feel that I'll make it huge and become a millionaire, at which point they can say 'I used to watch that guy draw at the bus station!', or to challenge me and see if I can be stumped at drawing something or someone. I can't.
Such was the case this day. I met Janelle. She not only wanted to see if she could stump me, but she also tried to get me to rip one of my pages out of my sketchbook and give it to her. For free.

People, allow me to set the record straight.
I am a professional. The economy is in the toilet. I have bills to pay. My sketchbook is mine and it's personal to me.

That in mind, as a Graphic Designer, I bill out at appr. $65 dollars an hour to start.
Do you have any idea what I'll charge you for a sketch if I don't know you, or feel like your cause in just not worthwhile?
You can tell from Janelle's posture and attitude, she was not happy about my answer or the outcome of the day's events in that bus station.

Next to last one, but still one of the funniest.
It's freezing. I mean I'm shivering and I usually don't get cold easily. There's a group of us waiting for the Fall River bus and only one of us is a tad under dressed.
I found out later, from some tool who got on the bus later and shouted her name out that it was Alex.
Alex was kind of this conundrum and almost a contradiction. From the floor up, she was wearing Chuck Taylor All Stars, canvas shoes with no support. No socks, which could only add to the frigid feeling of being outside in that terminal, and what appeared to be very thin and therefore not able to withstand the cold, yoga pants. From the waist up, it was all North Face coat with a very furry collar attached to the hood.

What struck me as even more odd, was that before Alex sat on the sidewalk. Yep, you read right. She folded down the top of her pants and exposed the top of her ass crack to all that were within eyeshot. So, th image is as follows: Poofy coat, thin pants, bare ankles, Chuck Taylors, ass crack.
It didn't stop in that terminal either, no siree.

This sketch, if you'll pay attention to the waistline, has Alex's ass partially hanging out of the back of her pants as she sit on that bus, on her way to the tanning salon. Again, information obtained by her tool of a male friend, right before he whipped out his cell phone and proceeded to purchase a gram of weed over the phone in a very public setting, only going to prove that he was a freshman and therefore dumb enough to not only get caught, but quite possibly brag about the ensuing anal rape that would befall him for getting caught. MAN! I wished I sketched that kid! His name was Dmitrius, which I think is Greek for Dumbass.

No, wait! I almost forgot this last sketch and the story behind it!
This lady gets on the bus, sits in the first seat right across from the driver, near the door. She appears very fidgety and anxious, like she's either done something wrong or ingested HUGE quantities of somethings that she really shouldn't have a lá Crystal Meth, or Crack Cocaine. At each traffic light, she gets visibly aggravated. At each stop, she gets completely irritated with people getting on the bus. She'd even commented to a few something to the effect of 'Just shut up and get on the friggin' bus!'. At one stop, the bus picks up this very pretty and happy girl, who has obviously just gone shopping. (It's only obvious, because she's carrying the bags with her on the bus and places them in the seat next to her, get it?)
When she takes her seat, it the seat that is one over from Ms. Loudmouth Fidget.
You can tell that as the rides progresses, the happy shopper is getting uncomfortable. It becomes obvious in the way that her youth smile that she was wearing when she boarded the bus, has now been reduced to a shy smirk. It is even more apparent in that her body language has now pointed itself away from her neighbor, and her torso has begun to shy away as well. Almost as if subconsciously, she were expecting Fidget McLoudmouth to whip out a pistol, or worse, a live chicken and bite its head off in some sort of tribute to Ozzy Osbourne on Public Transportation. Anyway, i found it to comedically tragic to NOT sketch, so here it is.

Anyway, that's the end of my public people sketches for now. I think I'm going to carry thins thing a lot more often now and see what sort of hilarity fate throws at me by way of my everyday interactions!

As usual, feel free to comment, leaving me a reason for the way you feel and enjoy!


New England Bites said...

OMG, you are so talented. You've completely nailed these people, and I swear I've even seen some of them! I can't sketch (unless you want to see a bunch of stick figures and that 3D cube), but I'd love to draw those freaks I used to see on a daily basis. Allow me to explain:

There was this large woman whose top seemed to operate separately from her bottom. She was always twisting and gyrating - it was a little disturbing. Perhaps the fanny pack she always wore had something to do with the different movements. Anyway, she got caught in one of the bus turnstiles one day. What a pile up. Apparently the people behind her didn't know she had gotten stuck, so they all kept ramming into her back. I should mention that it was a bus that was coming from People Incorporated (they help mentally challenged people get jobs). Oh, and she looked like Pat from SNL.

Then, there was the guy with bowed legs. This man perpetually looked like he just got through sitting on a large barrel lying on its side. His legs looked like the entrance to a dog house. It was the oddest thing. To top it off, he seemed to be quite the ladies' man at the terminal. Everyone loved him. I guess it doesn't really matter what shape your legs are in, as long as you got The Kavorka.

Finally, there is the man with no chin. When I worked for The Herald News, a photographer told me that this man tried to kill himself by putting a gun under his chin and pulling the trigger. Well, the only thing that happened was severe disfigurement. He is now left to roam the streets chinless. At first I kind of felt sorry for him, but then I got annoyed. I guess he lives in my area because he's always around. I don't know if he can talk or not, but one day he got a little tired of walking and decided to take a rest - on my car. Oh, and I was on a lunch break and had to get back to work. Terrified to move him (or the car - the man has enough problems), I waited ... and waited ... and waited. Finally, he slithered (yes, he moves like a snake) back down the street, and I had to explain to my boss that I couldn't move my car because of a man with no chin. She didn't buy it.

Edward S. Smith Jr. said...

OMG! I've seen the guy with no chin!
I thought I was seeing things at first, but I looked again, and saw no chin. Very much like you, I felt pretty bad for him.
Unlike you, I thought that he looked like an earthworm and not a snake. Although, now that you mention it, he did sort of slink and slither, more than walk when I saw him.
I though he reminded me a little of that buzzard that chases Bugs Bunny in that old Bob Clampett cartoon, the one where Bugs thinks that his heart is a carrot when fall to the Earth into a set of cattle bones?
Yeah, that's the one.
Oh God, please don't let me have my sketchbook if I see him again! I will DEFINITELY go to hell when pencil goes to page that day.

New England Bites said...

I just sketched him for you, to save you from damnation. Although I can't sketch, and I don't think my scanner is working properly.

So basically I have a crappy drawing of the man with no chin sitting on my bureau. I signed it, if that makes any difference.

New England Bites said...

Hey! Are you on Facebook?

Edward S. Smith Jr. said...

Yes I am. It's where all of the hip and trendy older crowd go to die a technologically impaired death.