I love how older ladies carry themselves in Berlin. So composed, so collected, so unafraid.
I saw this guy during the summer, on the bus that goes to the airport, then found the drawing and finished it just this week.
I’d like to talk more about my work, I’d like to offer more helpful insight into my process, I’d like to be more useful- but this year, this month, this week, it’s just more than I know what to do with right now. I managed to make art this month, and that took all the energy I had.
I love drawing musicians.
As a completely non-musical person, they are like sorcerers to me. They possess dynamic energy and their movements are both repetitive and startling. I drew this guy on the U both because I love banjos and because of his young-Frank-Zappa good looks!
These two guys performed at the delightful holiday party for the wonderful company my husband works for. It was at a totally wonderful, secret venue hidden behind a hof full of bins. I’ll get their names after the break, right now everyone is off for the holidays.
There is a bit of a thing among Berlin drawing folk, urban sketchers and life drawing people and so on, of “Unterweg” drawings.They’re the drawings you make on the U-Bahn, S-Bahn, bus or tram, as you’re underway.
I find that I’m using these opportunities to draw regular people going about their day as a place to practise techniques. I can drop on a half-finished drawing and decide to add dark values, or detail, or a second person, in the most relaxed and experimental way.
You get as far as you get with an unterweg, then the person you’re drawing gets off the train, or you do, or they notice you drawing and you have to stop. Often children gather to watch, and adults murmur, “Schon!”
It’s a wonderful way to pass the time, and try new things.
Seeing them, every detail, with eyes of compassion. A throughline to the better angels of my nature.
It makes me feel connected, and useful. Recording moments with care.
It’s very hard for me to leave the house right now. I really needed to get to my recovery support group, so I told myself I would get Jones Ice Cream on the way.
I was standing outside Jones Ice Cream, waiting for them to open and working on finishing up this drawing. The folks who run the beautiful seasonal and local foods store next to Jones’ gave me a gleaming local apple, “For the art!”.
The bottles by the bin in the drawing are left by people for people who need money to turn in for the pfand, or refund. Everyone does it here; there’s no shame in it.
There is a new flavor at Jones, Apple Crumble. I had it with their Salted Caramel. Which is not as creamy as Bi-Rite’s, more chewy, but stays live on the palate longer.
“It’s as close to perfect as anything could be, right now”, I told them when I finished mine.
On Sunday one of my former students from ESDIP and now friends came to the West to meet up for a coffee.
She was in town for the weekend. María is an incredibly talented young artist who is now studying art full-time back home in Madrid. You can see her work by following her on twitter and tumblr, as well as her YouTube channel. We had a wonderful visit, talking about art and drawing. I got to see the things she’s working on, her Inktober drawings and her latest projects. She has recently won prizes in several illustration contests in Spain (which I predicted each time!).
She made this lovely drawing of me, which I will add to my framed collection of portraits of me by other artists.
Here’s a nice picture of us earlier this year! In case you can’t tell, I am living my best life ever here in Berlin. Thanks to my Patreon Patrons, I can draw and teach and live, and it’s a life of meaning and purpose.
On my way home from teaching at ESDIP Berlin I saw these badass skater girls.
I sat across from them on the U1 and politely asked if I could draw them, as I’ve learned to in Germany. But they were American, and it was totally fine with them! Turned out they were from the Bay Area, specifically all San Francisco born and raised.
“From inside the 7×7”, they told me, just as I always make it clear that I was born on Manhattan island.
I had just a few stops to draw them, so I finished a lot of the detail later. However, it is totally accurate that the stickers on their boards were all dogged out from grinding copings. I don’t think these vital, modern young women were riding fat old-school Kryptonics wheels; that’s just what skateboard wheels look like, to me. I loved that they had big wide decks.
My best friend in high school was a skater girl, in 1981, and she rode what she called a “rolling stage”.
I showed this to Daria while we were having some lovely cake in my kiez and she said she liked the right-hand girls much better, with their casual sketchy hands. She said the hands of the left-most girl were overworked. Too much information.
“You’re so strong in technical skills, in understanding the structure of the hand, you get caught up showing too much.”
She was right, of course. The most interesting and powerful thing about the whole scene to me was the way the girl on the left cupped her hands over the nose of her board, like it was the pommel of a saddle.
And by drawing every detail of her fingers, instead of leaving some space open, I’d made her hands pedantic and overdrawn.
I had lost the shock of her dark nails against her pale skin by adding too much black line detail.
If I were drawing this for reproduction, I would have changed it, as I did when Daria suggested I give the Three Ages of Woman more space around them. Instead, I restored some of the drama and focus I’d intended by making the left-hand girl’s shirt black. Interestingly, Daria didn’t make the same criticism about space with this drawing- I think she understood that the fact the girls fill the frame is meant to create a sense of intimacy and immediacy.