Friday, August 27, 2010

Expect the World: Two Drawings Today!

When I take the bus home from work at the end of my day, there are always tourists talking (sometimes shouting) in French or German, and I can't help but wonder what their expectations of the city as newcomers are like. If the bus is in the theater district, I assume they are something like this:

When I am a tourist, I inevitably tour with expectations - about the architecture, the natives, the food. I try to keep an open mind, but you can't help visiting a new place, especially if it is well-known, without carrying some preconceptions with you. The woman in the drawing above may simply be riding the bus through the theater district of Manhattan, but in her mind she is cruising through Streets of Enchantment (S.E.'s), avenues of Romance (A.R.'s), and boulevards of Mystery (B.M.'s). There's a handsome hipster (you can tell he's a hipster by his longish locks and rakish facial hair) out there in the throng, hipstering his way in to sweep her off her feet. Maybe he'll burst into song when he meets her, and take up her gloved hand in a dramatic, Broadway-style embrace. Or maybe she'll run away screaming from the naked, out of work actor who clumsily tried to seduce her on 45th street. In either case, it is possible that her expectations of Manhattan would actually be satisfied.

Sometimes it can be fun to make a drawing work by powering through my various screw-ups. The real woman on whom this drawing is based was not actually wearing a glove, but I mangled her hand so badly that I had to do something to cover it up. I also left an enormous blank space to her left, because her friend (to whom she was actually holding out her hand), got up and moved to another seat. Thus, the ghostly hipster was born, and suddenly this was all about fantasy and tourism, instead of just a sketch of some French people on the bus.

One last note about this drawing - maybe I'm being overly sensitive, but I think there is a marked difference between the woman (who I drew based on a real person) and the man (who I made up). The drawing of the woman is more immediate and lively. The drawing of the man has less spark, but his finer details - proportions, anatomy, particularly his hand - are cleaner and more consistent. What I would love to do is draw from memory with the same spontaneity with which I draw from life, and handle the details of my quick life sketches with the consistency as when I draw from memory. This is probably what every person who draws wants, and will also probably take me a lifetime to get right.

To be fair to myself, the woman in the above drawing was fidgeting a lot, so drawing her hands accurately would have been tough. Here are some "serious" (well, maybe dour) hand-drawings in pencil, to prove to y'all that I actually can do these things with some degree of accuracy (though they do have some anatomy/proportional problems). Enjoy!

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