Sorry I didn’t post the last few days; I finished my work in Milwaukee much like a fireworks finale. I worked over 135 hours in my two weeks I was there, and it was amazing. And I finished everything I told them I would finish! Not that I would slack on my duties, but I did have a back-up plan in the event I couldn’t get it all done. Pictured is the last mural I made, a fairly simple 6′ x 4′ sign painting that had to look a bit aged. Again, it’s a shitty photo, but oh well.
The last few days of my trip, I made 20 or so drawings for various projects. Some will go on t-shirts, some are for the bathroom signage (step-through Dutch bike for women; flat-bar Dutch bike for men), and some are for a bicycle map of the city. For the map, I drew Milwaukee landmarks and those images will be integrated into the map. Then there are other drawings I made for the labels of some yet-to-be-imported beers. Those will be revealed later this summer. So there was a lot of drawing! I signed the rights away to these drawings so I can’t share the specifics of each work, but here are some vague group photos of the drawings:
Hi guys. Sheesh, I have been busier than a swarm of busy bees. I wish I could share all the stuff I’ve been working on, but alas, I’ll have to wait a few months. I’m developing the artwork for three new beer labels, and it’s been fun and challenging with just a shit ton of drawing involved. I love it. Old callouses have returned. Weird hand cramps unique to drawing have crept in. Jars of pencils and pens and markers have pushed my paints out of the way. Drawing is my first love, and it’s as comfortable as an old pair of slippers. Not always as dazzling as the high heels of painting, but cozy. Utilitarian. Monochromatic.
I can share a part of a sketch that I’ve been working up as the basis for a new mural I’ll be painting in May. It’s coming along, and I like the look of an in-progress drawing so much. It’s a shame it’s going to look so much better as a painting.
Here’s a look at my jars of drawing things:
I got a message today that a fellow seller on Etsy featured my coloring book on her blog, www.jemibook.com. What an honor! Her blog is full of amazing things, and you should all be reading it.
Do you listen to podcasts? Are you listening to WTF with Marc Maron? It’s amazing. Truly. On his second-to-latest podcast, he interviews Conan O’Brien, who laid out this nugget: “When you turn the thing you love into a career, you’re playing with fire.” Truth.
Also, my favorite band, Decibully, ended their ten-year run this past week. Decibully was, in my humble opinion, the best band to come out of Milwaukee. They went out with a bang, putting on an epic show at the Cactus Club (which I missed) and releasing their final album. It’s available on bandcamp here as a pay-what-you-will download. It is, hands down, the best last album of any band, ever.
I spent this afternoon drawing my first self-portrait in a long time. Total apologies for the terrible lighting in the photographs. In these first stages, I set up a few architectural lines to act as a framework for the image.
As the drawing progresses, I add more detail, working from the inside of the face to the exterior contours.
I stopped wearing contacts a few years ago, and I will tell you that it’s a lot easier to draw yourself with glasses. They make for visual rest stops, making it easier to see the planes of the face.
I used just two pencils on this drawing, an HB and a 4B. I waited until the very end to go in with the 4B, something that I never used to do. And in the end, the drawing isn’t perfect. There are a lot of things I would fix, but that’s why you keep drawing. You don’t draw or paint to finish the thing, you draw or paint to draw or paint. I’ve done maybe one to two thousand drawings and paintings of myself, and each one is different. I am my own snowflake.
So today I had a phone conference with my friend Sara about the images I’m drawing for her dog blog, and I think we came up with something nice (I’m doing the final drawing right after I write this post, so it should be up on her site within the week.) But I think it’s nice to look at all the sketches in one photo, so that’s why I took this photo. I like doing this sort of stuff as much as I like making series’ of paintings, because I get a different kind of pleasure doing assignment work. Sometimes it’s a lot more fun to do “assignments,” rather than come up with stuff on your own. Being creative is hard, yo. What’s funny is that the font we agreed on is the handwriting that I use when I’m imitating Sara’s handwriting. When I do sign painting and the person wants a nice, easy to read font that is pretty yet a bit artsy, I go in my mental Rolodex and use my “Sara Stathas” handwriting. Oh artists, all we do is copy. Each other.
This past summer, I helped my mom organize my grandma’s basement. A lot of the stuff I went through belonged to my grandpa, who was an industrial and mechanical engineer. He did a lot of freelance engineering; in fact, he was hired as a consultant for Pabst to work on the efficiency of their bottle line system (think “Laverne and Shirley.”) I took the majority of his old hand tools, drafting paper, and drawing supplies. Some of them I knew I’d use right away, and some of them I wanted for nostalgic purposes. I took his mechanical pencils, but I never thought I’d use them because they are all much harder leads than I like to use (light pencils are “H” leads, and I use “B” leads.) All of his stuff is in perfect working order and, funny enough, the same brand of pencils that I use today. Anyway, back to drawing. In doing the lettering for Sara’s blog header, I realized that everything gets scanned nowadays and good computers pick up everything, including incidental marks from a pencil. I thought, “Wow, if I only had one of those dumb ultra-light lead pencils.” And I did, in a box, eleven inches from my nose. Dumb pencil…
So I spent last night drawing ideas for Sara’s dog blog logo. I don’t want to post all the drawings since I haven’t gone over them with Sara yet, but I can share the first drawing I did. This is Penny, our Boston Terrier. This drawing reminds me of Jay-Z, because I was listening to him while I was drawing.
Also? There is nothing cuter than gold-winning Canadians. Say what you will about ice dancing, but the couple that won the gold last night couldn’t have been sweeter up there on the podium. They sang with feeling! And enthusiasm! Like Canadians!