Crossing into a new year armed with a pen

Ink sketch of people at the bar

New Year’s Eve: the borderlands of the year; symbol of hope, renewal, revelry. To some, the biggest party of the year. To others, just a day like all the others. I reckon my take on it falls somewhere in between. It’s nice to mark it, to be in the company of others, but not the sort of event I buy new clothes for, (Although, to be honest, I rarely buy new clothes for anything in particular.)

Left: sketch of a woman on tv interviewing revelers at Times Square. Right: two men dancing at the bar

So it was I found myself at my local around 10pm. I braved the dismal rain for two whole blocks to meet up with TL after her shift at the restaurant. She went home before the changing of the guard, but I stayed.

I’d spent the day working on updating my art website, and along the way I realized I’ve not done any drawings in two years with my trusted old ball-point with the ink that smears so wonderfully—so I armed myself thusly before heading out, hoping to fill the last few pages of my sketchbook at the close of the year.

Ink sketch of people at the far end of the bar

The simplicity of working with a single pen is good for bar drawings. You must work fast, as people may walk away or re-orient at any moment, The setting is dim, so details are hard to pin down anyway. These are aspects of bar drawing that I really enjoy. No time for thinking— just keep grabbing what information you can.

The type of decision-making apparent in these sketches differs from my more thoughtfully-approached drawings. I learn so much from doing them, despite that they never look finished or beautiful.

And now, it’s time to begin a new Moleskine, the first of 2019. Happy New Year, and thanks for reading!

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It’s Our Pleasure to Serve you

pencil caricature of classic NYC greek coffee cup

Here is a sketch from last night that I initially posted on instagram with the title “It’s Our Pleasure to Serve You, off the clock”. New Yorkers may recognize this personification of the blue and white Greek-styled coffee cup;  the default paper cup used in thousands of corner delis for years.
sketches of Margot Tenenbaum
And here are some quickie sketches of Margot Tenenbaum. They’re not really working yet, but I did these without reference from memory, so that’s not surprising. More work to be done to capture the right look.

sketch of a woman holding a photo boxFinally, here is a sketch of a woman holding an old box of long-forgotten photographs. This is a possible thread for this year’s INKTOBER.

You may recall from my series last year that there was the Stevedore and the mysterious woman walking in the rain. Well, those two, in their autumnal-wintry world, may be returning… Stay tuned here or follow me @edaggarart on IG to see 31 days of drawings, beginning tomorrow!

The language of flowers in statecraft

ink sketches of roses

The state flower of New York is the rose, which also happens to be our national flower. It signifies love and beauty, as well as war and politics.

I’m researching and sketching them for a project in which they may play a large role— a wallpaper design to be precise. The tricky thing about roses, from a design point of view, is their tendency to look rather like blobs of petals rather than having a distinct silhouette.

Continue reading “The language of flowers in statecraft”

Sunday morning, looking through old sketchbooks

pen and ink "Hello" script

It’s a fine Sunday, breezy and overcast; not bad qualities for a lazy morning at a window-side desk.

A long time ago I used to use crow quill dip pens for drawing and lettering. Though it can be a chore keeping those nibs clean enough to flow nicely, their character cannot be matched by the modern ink-filled pens that strive to emulate the look. It is, in part, the tension between the sharp metal and the paper that makes it unmistakable.

diminutive sketch of a woman with red raincoat and red umbrella

This little monochrome sketch has aways touched me. It somehow reminds me of Tove Jansson’s Fillyjonk character. I’ve been posting forgotten things from old sketchbooks on IG; follow me @edaggarart to see more.

Candles emitting a cadmium glow

watercolor sketch of some candlesThese candles, clad in two layers of glass, reflect and shimmer beautifully in the dim interior and caught my eye. I didn’t spend as much time truly observing them as I may have; rather did a sort of lazy caricature or symbolized portrait of them.watercolor sketch of some candles, in normal colorMy scanner has a really tough time with these new cadmium paints in my kit, so I worked in Photoshop to try to return the colors to how they look on the page, but still not really accurate.
watercolor sketch of some candles, in filtered monochrome colorDecided fuck it and went fully another way with a Nik filter, which produced the monochrome image. I learned from that. While it may be less true to the many colors in the glass, it feels truer. And looks more interesting.

This is a drawing about a saxophone

sketch of an alto sax player

This is a sketch from a couple weekends ago. My friends Sarah & Tara were performing at Freddy’s Bar & Backroom, and the band that followed them was
Elijah Shiffer And The Robber Crabs. The sax player had a sort of steam punk-looking alto sax— it had a machine-like patina not generally associated with such an instrument. .

I began to draw it, but with so much detail amid all the movement, it was difficult to pin down. Anyway, I quite like this sketch, even unfinished.

Materials don’t make the artist, but they can hinder the art

watercolor drawings of banana peopleSome recent spreads from my sketchbook. It is not a Moleskine— I chose a knock-off for this trip, which was a little wider, and had white paper instead of the cream color of moleskines. Unfortunately, though the paper is nice and heavy, this paper lacks the clay coating or whatever it is that makes a moleskine so great for watercolor.

watercolors of NYC iconsOn these pages, the watercolor just sinks in immediately, losing its vibrance and its ability to move around, meander a bit before settling.

The only color here that is vibrant is the cadmium yellow, which is a different brand of half-pan than I’ve been working with, which is more like a gouache, really. (The red on the second spread is mixed with some of that yellow)

It lacks true transparency unless used with a lot of water. A problem, as I tend to paint over inked drawings, whose lines can get obscured beneath it.

A couple of mild disappointments— and lessons!

Returned from a trip abroad

cartoonish drawing of zac jon and i

Apologies for the long gap in activity here. I did so well with a minimum of 1-2 posts per week for over two years, and recently dropped the ball! I was on a trip to my usuals over the past couple of weeks; Amsterdam, Berlin, and Paris— photos forthcoming as I go through my selects, and follow the threads of some stories.

I traveled with Z, and by younger brother, J. We had a wondrous adventure and spent lots of time with old friends, and some new ones. Above is a little cartoon I drew of us one evening in Paris. This is purely from imagination, not a true portrait,  but I think it captures us on our trip rather well.

More posts to come very soon, as I find time here and there to process and unpack the many photographs (and thoughts, feelings) from my travels.

Most of her hair was piled up inside a wooly hat

ink sketch of the woman behind the bar

Just a little drawing I did yesterday at Halyard’s, where I stopped for a little while during my wander.

On Friday we leave for our trip to Europe! It’s been just over two years since my last visit, and I’m super excited. I still have some freelance work to do; drawings for the documentary— and of course my regular full time job as well. But no doubt this week will fly, as has this whole month.

On messing about with the interplay of color, briefly

abstract geometric watercolor composition

Here are a couple watercolor studies I did last night involving compositions of overlapping shapes. I haven’t touched my half-pans in months, and it was nice to get out the brushes again.

These are related -somewhat- to elements of a small design system I’m in the midst of at work for an upcoming event. In particular the top one, where the colors are doing their natural combinations when overlapped.

abstract geometric watercolor composition , another

This second composition was rather a departure or experiment that, while some interesting things happened, rather collapsed the visualization of the colors’ transparency. By removing the natural order of color interplay, the whole thing flattened out altogether to the eye. There’s no reason or logic to it.

Continue reading “On messing about with the interplay of color, briefly”