Philosophical pirates, intellectual outlaws

Watercolor drawing / collage
Watercolor sketch from the Moleskine 

When I was young, probably in college, I’d occasionally hear a person talking about this or that luminary, describing them as a “Rhodes Scholar.” My lack of awareness at the time meant that I’d only ever heard the phrase, not seen it spelled out. I had no idea. In my adventurous young mind, I heard it always as Rogue Scholar, and that turned itself into something I longed to be. Was it some sort of philosophical pirate? An intellectual outlaw? How did one arrive at an occupation or a moment where ‘actual’ scholars began describing one as a rogue of same? There was an implied concurrence that such a person was, indeed, learned, an expert— but somehow off the beaten path, or got to it by some unknown route. Delicious. Intriguing.

I realize it all sounds rather silly, but the idea has never disappeared from my mind; it has percolated in the recesses. In retrospect, I’m sure I knew it was my own fiction, but I was loathe to lose or destroy the whim. It’s probably still what I want to be when I grow up. Perhaps, if I ever found a grant for creatives, recipients thereof will be known as Rogue Scholars™. (The title alone will act as the first phase of weeding, of triangulating appropriates* for the honor.)

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*Ha! That’s an appropriation of an inappropriate word. Maybe appropirates.

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Two drawings and two dreams, all unrelated


Saturday: it’s windy and feels like l’automne; fans dormant and kitchen window lowered almost shut, so things on the table there don’t wind up on the floor.

one.

I was traveling in some parallel Europe; Scandinavia, and without much in the way of maps or even plans. Improvising. I followed a couple out of a stalled subway train, assuming they were also traveling locally, only to find myself on a large, old intercity bound for Nice.

two.

I was visiting my brother, who’d taken up residence in a box-shaped apartment in Manhattan. The interior was the same green as those buildings in Gowanus. I’d been elsewhere, somewhere rough, and a friend of his found a dried up bird leg tangled in my hair.

She was revolted.

I was fascinated— where had that come from? I felt I’d imagined it into being, as I’d been hallucinating things— there was a dog’s snout stuck in the glass of the window. It hadn’t broken through but kind of sunken in and got stuck, as if the glass had been still soft, just for a moment, The rest of the dog was gone; just the end of his snout, teeth bared.

Disembodied parts of things were following me.

1 Week : 100 People [day one]


This month, Urban Sketchers Chicago is holding a 1 week 100 people symposium. I’m not there, but have only recently heard of this particular challenge, so I decided to give it a whirl. (They do it in 5 days, but I’m going to allow myself seven, as 7 days makes a week.)

Anyway, I did fourteen drawings of people last evening. These are mostly imaginaries, not from life (although a couple were ones I glimpsed on Netflix, on in the background). I’ll be in the park this evening, so there will be loads of people to observe and draw there, too.

Black ink bleeds into paint; makes the colors more tertiary

I tried a different approach for this first one— paint first, ask questions later. But when later arrived I decided not to go back in with ink at all; I rather like the floaty quality of it, so left it as is.

Above is one I drew earlier in the week out at the beach— the abandoned buildings at the end where Riis turns into the Rockaways. I painted it a few days later, and here, too, a new approach— a desire to be less literal about my use of color, or at least my placement of it. I like how the bleed of the G2 pen worked with the color.

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Boy in the loud sweater (signing his check)

watercolor sketch portrait
Here’s something I painted last night. It was a quick pencil drawing that I dashed off toward the end of my sketchbook last week, and then forgot until I stumbled across it, because I never skip pages.

And below a photo I snapped of it in progress, before I’d decided to keep on painting and add a setting, an atmosphere. (His hair was better before I got so fussy with the markers.)

Women in silks and wigs with rosy cheeks


I revisited those pencil sketches from my last post today, and had a bit of fun with some new markers and the watercolor half pans.

The fine grey marker with which I drew over the pencil in the first sketch proved to be water-based, so muddles my paints a bit. But the broad ones are definitely alcohol based, so will be fine to work in tandem with color.

After weeks of cool and rainy weather, it is at last a very fine day in Brooklyn, and I went walking this afternoon in shorts.  As there are over two hours of daylight remaining, I met yet go back out and look for subjects to sketch,