Excerpts from the sketchbook

porttrait sketchesporttrait sketchessketches: horse and cat

In my mind, it was always ‘ceiling’ wax

face painted on a truckI need to exercise. I need a shower. I could use some groceries. I want to ride my bike; I want to clean the fish tanks; I want to write a bangin’ blog post as I’ve been neglectful the past few weeks, largely on account of traveling. Been mostly away the past two weeks. Delightful, but now it’s time to TCB*.

I am in a cycle of ramping-up: fitness, freelance, organization, creativity, ‘the very ceiling of my mind’†. I’m pulled in too many directions. (This is often the case; or else not nearly enough. Contradiction.) I’m catching shit from total strangers on OKC ’cause I seem ‘apathetic’. (But, truly, I am, as far as that goes. So much else takes precedence right now.)

While I was Upstate visiting family, one of my two goldfish (pond comets) died. Probably from ingesting a bit of the rusted metal that’s been flaking off the hood (poor design!), same as Toft.

Wink ate him.

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Haiku for a summer afternoon

A sudden downpour—
Shrieks erupt across the street,
the playground empties.

On revisiting good things (and people, places)

fortune cookie prize
I ordered Chinese food for lunch yesterday, and my fortune said

Good news will be brought to you by mail.

A few hours later I was headed out to pick up some things, and when I checked the mail, there was an envelope from a friend overseas! Inside was a beautiful double-sided card, collaged with all sorts of things, including a photo of us and maps of our respective neighborhoods in Amsterdam and Brooklyn. 002In the top corner of one side was a flap that said “open here”, in which she’d tucked a hand-written letter. So thoughtfully made. I’m looking forward to replying to her! We have been talking about the Artist’s Way, by Julia Cameron, and during her last visit to NY, we decided to stay in touch via real letters, written in long hand.

They are also the rumbling

When I watch the fishes in their tank,
that crystal stillness,
set apart from the rumblings of the city out the window,
the filter-soft bubbles cascading,
the plants breathing to them—
I see only their ballet.

They are water, they are breath,
they are words that will never be words.
They are also the rumbling.

They are the rumbling filtered
through a joyful heart, a broken heart, any heart.

They are all the words that will never be born,
to this morning, or any morning.
The silent ripples of life’s arabesques.

That they don’t know it is the beauty; it’s much of the draw.
They who have no words
swim what cannot be said, and cannot be heard.

City people in watercolor

watercolor paintings of people

It’s been awhile since I posted. I haven’t been drawing much lately— partly on account of work things and partly on account of the weather being too lovely to not be outside walking, cycling, or sitting in the park with friends.

These little vignettes are beginnings for a larger work that I’m illustrating for a client. I’ll post more as it progresses. I’m going to build it in layers.

Sincerest form of flattery*

Derby party at Commonwealth Brooklyn- a posterYou may recall this poster I designed, which I posted here on April 20th. Well, I went to the party in question yesterday to watch the Derby, and Ray, who commissioned the poster mentioned that I ought to page through the current Time Out New York, as there was an ad for the Royalton which bore a more-than-coincidental resemblance to my design.

Royalton Kentucky Derby Party ad

While it’s not an exact lift (clearly it was all redrawn and a different layout, fonts etc), I do agree with those who’ve told me it looks ‘copied’ from my design. Sadly, the designer didn’t bother to do any research— there is no saddle, for example, and the poor horse’s head looks more like that of a dog. Also: the Kentucky Derby is run on a dirt track, not turf. Please!

“It’s a lazy steal”
— Zac G.

Picasso is famous for having said “Good artists borrow; great artists steal.” But there’s a caveat: if you’re gonna steal or lift an idea, it’s incumbent on you to make it better than what you stole it from.

* A note on the title: the full phrase is “Imitation is the sincerest [form] of flattery”, coined by Caleb Colton. I share it because of its inherent contradiction: flattery is, by definition, insincere. (An earlier version was “Imitation is a kind of artless flattery”, coined by Eustace Budgell.)