On the heels of my last post, I've recently put up these sketches of the people I've been coming across in my limited travels throughout the South Coast of Massachusetts.
Now, I was having a conversation with someone the other day(to be fair, this person doesn't sketch or cartoon, so I can see why they didn't understand the point that I was trying to make), and it was brought to light that I might be coming across as a bit harsh, rude, or even in a light that makes it appear as though I am making fun of some of the people that I am sketching.
This is simply not true. As I've stated before about people that are overweight, human beings have weight, shape and character to them an their respective movement. I realize that average people that I meet have lives outside of my first impressions and have desires, hopes, dreams, and are in fact capable of the same heights of potential and depths of despair that I see in myself and in my heroes.
This being said, and also being a caveat of sorts on my part, the people that I decide to sketch are simply asking for it.
There may be a natural line that just strikes me a certain way, or just something that stands out and screams a natural beauty, beit beauty through socially implied ugliness, or beauty through the traditional standards, but a beauty nonetheless, or sometimes there's just a definitive amount of character in the way a person stands, sits, or even looks that requires and sometimes demands that I sketch them as I am left with the impression of them in my eyes and in my pencil.
To that end, I am not rude, mean to people that I hardly know, or evil. I'm a cartoonist. I'm poking fun at what I'm seeing around me and trying to make people smile, not make them cry or become angry.
I've actually gotten to know a little about some of the people that I've been sketching and I've also gotten to learn a little bit too much about how small the South Coast is.
So, on with the sketches and their descriptions.
The first is this woman. She's lovely and full of life. I would sit on the bus and look for people to sketch from time to time and I'd always see her. Normally, she would wear very dark colors, like a dark wool, Navy peacoat, a dark colored hat and scarf, and always with these bright and alive crystalline blue eyes peering out from under all of it. A girl of normal height, her personality would always shine through as she got on the bus as someone who is at once fun to be around, as well as intelligent, sure of herself and a very strong willed woman. As I do with just about any woman like this, I mentally equated her to Wonder Woman.
Only, she was less tall than an amazonian. So, I naturally dubbed her in my head 'Mini Diana'.
This next guy just sat a certain way with me, to tell the truth. The natural lines just kind of called for this stretch and squash of the anatomy that lent himself easily to some brush strokes. The fact that he was constantly smiling in a very nervous fashion also brought my eye to him more than once. I dunno, there's just something about the only guy on the bus that's both smiling and nervous at the same time that makes me want to keep a little more vigilant eye on him. Y'know, just in case a gun comes out, or he stands up and decides to produce a row of symmetrically placed dynamite sticks taped to his chest and scream out 'Allāhu Akbar!'.
Here is one of the security guards at the local library. Okay, Iknow that you must be wondering why there are security guards at a public library, right? Well, my local library also has some geological artifacts in it, as well as some works of art which hang on the wall for all to see and admire. You don't think someone with a firm grasp of the Dewey Decimal system and the annual average rain fall of Botswana is going to guard those things, do you?(It's 475mm, by the way.)
No! The couldn't possibly be asked to do all of the things that they do in a standard day and chase art thieves into the thick of danger! Hence, the guards.
Anyway, this one guard struck me as odd. Neither older, taller or very muscular, she struck me not as a security guard, but as a college student looking to pay some bills as a security guard. Not that there's anything wrong in that, but it just doesn't fit the normal stereotype of a security guard that you would automatically switch to when you hear the words.
One of the people that I've actually gotten to know, Rob is one of the three people that work as part of the kitchen staff at UMass Dartmouth. Pretty cool guy, liked my sketches, enjoyed the fact that I've cartooned him a few times, and when he looked through the rest of the book, he'd said that it 'inspires him to go home and draw some'. Words that I absolutely love to hear, because every time I look at some of my favorite artists works, it makes me want to draw. I dunno, something about the energy conveyed in their work that just transfers itself over to me and gets me going and motivated. So, when I hear that come from other people, it makes me think that I'm on the right track.
This kid is interesting right here. I used to see him every morning on the bus. He'd get on, keep to himself and get off downtown New Bedford. I'd always presumed that he was going to some sort of social schooling for behavioral children, or something that he volunteered at or was ordered to go to. I'd found out one morning that it just wasn't the case.
Y'see, every morning I'd look over at this fresh young face, dressed in the standard getup of a kid his age. You know the type, trying to look tough, keeping the world at arm's length and not realizing that at the same time, the world's trying to help him, so he misses out on opportunities afforded to him. A couple of times, I'd catch his eye and see that there's just a slight sense of remorse and pain in the look on his face.
It just turns out to be not the case at all.
I learn one morning from one of the more friendly and gossipy members of the public transportation community that he'd apparently robbed and old woman at gunpoint, was under constant surveillance by way of an ankle bracelet, and that each and every morning, he was heading over to a juvenile facility to do his time.
The next time I saw him, I saw a scared kid, trying to give himself a better life and hiding in his jacket from all of the terrible things that he'd done that got him to this point in his life and I had to sketch him then and there. I think he'd known what I was up to, because a couple of times later, I'd catch him moving his seat on the bus and sitting just close enough to see what it was that I was working on in my sketchbook. He'd never ask to see anything, but he'd always sit close enough to watch. Maybe it's my fault for not offering, but I didn't want to impose, so I never opened my mouth. Seriously, who wants to jam their work down the throats of normal people who are on the bus and just going about their days?
Here I am at the bus station and I'm scanning for my bus. (No shit, when I'm there, I let my head swivel from left to right, like I'm still in the gunner's seat during a hasty defense waiting for targets to crest the horizon line)
As usual, I glimpse some of the local color and occasionally, I see someone that I'd like to sketch, or just needs it. Such is the case here. I look over toward the brick wall and see that Harpo Marx was reincarnated into the Emo kid generation and is alive and well. Good for him for not wearing his traditional crumpled top hat, sack coat, and taxi horn. Bad for him for being in my line of site when I had my sketchbook and brush pens.
Every morning when the weather was terrible, I'd find that going inside of the bus terminal was a better alternative to staying outdoors. Not only was it a bit more comfortable and entertaining, due to the chatter from the guy behind the counter, but the local color also shows up in droves and never fails to produce one or two people that just strike me. This is a woman that I would see, just before she'd get on the commuter bus to Boston. A beautiful woman who dressed professionally, yet still came across as a bit young for her age, the chubbiness of age setting in slightly, she had to be sketched. A tribute to that point in your life when you just aren't ready to let go of the opportunities that youth affords to offer us, and the clashing of realizing that it is also an inevitability.
Nice! Every go out into public and just see a crowd of kids that is obviously pushing the limits of social acceptance while having a good time and just want to smack them for being ridiculous? Me too.
This mass of curved lines and simplicity was sitting behind me, on the armrest of a bench, burping. Not just loud, but obnoxiously so. As well as commenting, just as loud, on the amount of times that her friends were farting. A reflection in the window gave me everything that I needed to make it come alive in ink.
I've got nothing but respect for the working man. A guy(or girl for that matter) that works hard to support himself and his responsibilities is a great thing. Someone who can multi task while working hard is a little higher up on that respect ladder. A short order cook is pretty high up there, due to the properties of being able to multi task and working as though they are part Octopus. Billy here is the owner of the Table8 Diner over on Acushnet Avenue in New Bedford. (If you ever stop in, give him a shout for me!)
Billy's a good guy, makes a good meal that is easily within everyone's price range, and always is in a good mood. Therefore, I decided that a fish sandwich and a quick sketch later, I would plug his diner on my blog and see if I could do any good.