The Smithy

Lately, I've gotten more interested in drawing machinery, metal, tools and workshops. Sadly, I don't get to see too many workshops in New York, but I took advantage of a recent trip to Mystic to visit the blacksmith's shop. Not only is it nice and warm inside, but they have more tools than you can shake a stick at! Plus, how often do I get to see a forge? Not often enough! I have more drawings of the printer and the shipyard, which I will probably post at some point, but I think this was my favorite drawing of the trip.

And since it seems appropriate to put him here, here's a page from my sketchbook with the blacksmith who was nice enough to let me sit in the shop for hours.

Berlin iPhone Portraits

I recently got back from Berlin, and while I have great memories of fun at bars and cafés, and being out with friends, a lot of my time was spent companionably sitting around the kitchen table with Julia and our roommate Konstantin. So on the way home from Berlin, while the plane shook in the turbulent air, I distracted myself by playing with the Brushes app on my iphone.
Here's Julia; silk scarf, hair poof, freckles and all:

Konstantin was harder, since I don't know his face as well and I didn't have the original in front of me. I have promised a more faithful portrait the next time I have the chance.

A shout out to my friend Julia, who keeps a beautiful blog of her iDrawings, which were my inspiration. Also, here's a fantastic slideshow of David Hockney's iphone drawings narrated by Lawrence Weschler of the New York Review of Books, as well as a video of a New Yorker cover done by Jorge Colombo with the app.

Liberty Bell Reportage

The Liberty Bell is a symbol of independence, liberty and justice. It was rung on July 8th, 1776 to summon the citizens of Philadelphia to hear the reading of the Declaration of Independence. It was also rung at the beginning of the First Continental Congress, and at the Battle of Lexington and Concord in 1775. I've been meaning to get to Philadelphia to see the bell, which hangs in front of Independence Hall. Fortunately, a full scale replica hangs at the Magic Kingdom at Disney World, in Liberty Square. Below is my panoramic drawing, as well as some stamps.

(click on the drawing to see it larger)

Time for Sake

While my very favorite drinks are caffeinated (the title of my blog is "Time for Tea" for a reason), I have been known to indulge in stronger stuff. I recently had an opportunity to taste some sake, although I opted for plum wine, or umeshu instead. Technically, to the Japanese, I was still drinking "sake" which refers to alcoholic drinks in general (it must be true, I read it on Wikipedia!). Plum wine is made from green unripe plums, or ume. The one I tried came in a bottle that looked like so:
Those are little ume floating at the bottom. The particular type I tried was called Kairakuen, and the lady was nice enough to write down the name for me in kanji.

She poured me a tiny little glass, and even gave me an ume, which I ate last. The little green plum was so strong—sour and filled with alcohol! It was quite a zinger!

In fact, even though the glass was only a few ounces, I was completely tipsy as I did these wine labels. Maybe that even helped? They feature ume (of course), as well as plum flowers, and the kanji that the helpful Sake lady drew for me.

The uber-minimalist one with the plums:

And here are a couple with the same design elements in different proportions. They're not exactly labels yet, I kind of like them just to describe a mood.

New Mexico Hiatus

I'll be away for a few weeks while for a vacation in New Mexico and Arizona, so I won't be able to post until mid September, earliest. See you then!

Day Five

You may notice that there's no "day four," but it's not a mistake. We had an unexpected museum day, which doesn't really fit in with the theme I've got going here. But we were back on Friday!

I probably won't be able to post from Florida, so this may be it for a few weeks. I'll try and make up for it when I get back!

Day One

Today was the first day of my three week long drawing/illustration class. I can't promise that I'll post everyday, but here's some highlights from our first day of drawing.

This last one is actually two separate drawings, but the poses, and their placement on the page almost look like some kind of acrobatic act for Cirque du Soleil.

1000 Voices Part II

This illustration if for my friend Mimi. It illustrates her opinion for Evan Turk's A Picture for a Thousand Voices project.

Often, I do a couple of versions. Here's the other one that I liked:

Equality is achievable if we keep our hopes alive,
because the minute we back down is the minute
they'll think they've won! - Mimi

Mostly I wanted to express Mimi's determination to persevere, and her hope that, through that perseverance, over time we can achieve equality. Since Mimi's opinion was fairly general and abstract, I kept the illustration abstract. I hope she likes it!

Cherry Blossom Festival

A few months ago, when spring had just sprung, I visited the Cherry Blossom Festival at the Brooklyn Botanical Garden. It felt like walking in a fantasy garden. The trees were laden with pink and white blooms, and every time the wind stirred the trees, pink and white petals would float past. It was magical.

It was also nice to see New Yorkers of all kinds, usually known for our "rush-rush-rush" approach to life, gathered to appreciate something as simple as a garden. Many were sprawled underneath the trees to contemplate the beauty of the blooms.

And of course, there were plenty of children. These three girls were posing to have their picture taken by their father (in the plaid shirt at the left).

The trees themselves are so much fun to draw, with their twistings and movements in space. They are *almost* as satisfying to draw as people, and they certainly move around less!

A Picture for 1000 Voices

My friend Evan Turk has a blog called A Picture for 1000 Voices that seeks to" create a dialogue about the individual hopes for the LGBT equal rights movement through the medium of illustration." I've submitted an illustration you can see below. Hopefully, you'll be able to see it on Evan's blog soon:

My illustration is about trying to quantify and weigh an abstraction like love. How can the law say that someone's love isn't valid and in some way not equal to someone else's? I think it's pointless to try to weigh them on some kind of scale. Anyone should be able to have their relationship legalized, if that's what they want. Please check out Evan's blog, and if you are an illustrator, definitely submit a piece!

Figure Drawing

My first love was figure drawing. Before I wanted to do anything else, I always wanted to draw people: their expressions, their gestures, their body language, I wanted to capture exactly what it is that makes each person different from anyone else. I've had the chance the past few weeks to work with some amazing models. Below is one of my favorites. 

La Guli

As some of you may know, I have quite a sweet tooth, often baking my own treats, and just as often sampling the toothsome delights of New York bakeries and cafes. At the end of 2008, my friend Jen and I went out to Astoria to the La Guli Bakery to draw their adorable shop.

Not only are their baked goods top-notch, but they were very nice about letting us take up a table in their tiny bakery for few hours. They had so many amazing-looking sweets, but I thought the Baba Rums deserved some special attention!

More from Mystic

One of the high points of the weekend in Mystic was a meeting in the blacksmith's shop. It was a gathering of (mostly) men who are interested in blacksmithing. I appreciate the interest in bygone ways of doing things and lost arts. It's refreshing to find people that are still interested in crafting things by hand, as these people are, in our increasingly digital world. The physicality and the labor intensiveness of the work seem the exact antithesis of our digital present. At the same time, while so many of us are making out livelihood away from it, our physical being is still tied to that world, we still need, will always need things. Ships still need to be built, and not everything can be done by a machine, at least not yet. So here are two of the head blacksmiths, who host these meetings at the Mystic Seaport Museum, and teach others the craft.