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.)

Late Spring

Coming through the window—
BBQ, coal fires, wood fires.
And in the sky’s dome,
the incandescent moon, waxing.

A reflection of infinity
can fit on the rim of a teacup.

Charcoal pencil sketches

charcoal pencil sketchA couple of drawings from imagination on kraft paper with black and white charcoal pencil*. I’ve been enjoying drawing hair lately. It was nice to get the charcoal out after a long time. The chiaroscuro technique of bringing highlights up from a medium tone is satisfying— although I’m out of practice, and without model or reference can be tricky to guess at convincing highlight and shadow.

* Edited: it wasn’t a black charcoal pencil, but a conté pencil— far less subject to smearing!

charcoal pencil sketch