29 January 2009

San Francisco via Sketchbook

It's been a criminally long time since I posted any artwork on here. There are two reasons for this:

1. All my energy, talent, and initiative have been channeled into work; on the rare occasion I draw outside of work I really struggle with it. I appear to be useless without a story and layout department now. Waa, waa.

2. At home, I moved my laptop from the desk into my bedroom, which has made scanning just inconvenient enough not to do it.

Anyway, the long dry spell is at an end! (For the time being, anyway.)


There was a slope in the Tea Garden in Golden Gate Park that was a delightful arrangement of shapes and textures. I'm afraid I turned it into a mash of pencil. With any luck I might learn how to sketch a location gesturally instead of agonizing over every detail...


One night my sister and I went to a neat little wine bar near Market and Rose. We caught an F-line trolley back and along the way it started to reek of a certain illegal herb. There were very few people in the trolley and neither my sister nor I could see anyone smoking. A few minutes after we smelled it, this fellow picked up the odour and looked around. He gave us a questioning eyebrow. I shrugged theatrically. Perhaps it was the driver.

I sketched for a bit inside the Eureka at the maritime museum, in the dying light of the afternoon, listening to a guy practise the mandolin. I think we were the only two on the boat. It was very relaxing, and quite an atmospheric moment.


The Champion of the Seas model at the museum's Visitors' Centre. She was a clipper with such a hubristic name that it should come as no surprise that she met her end in a storm on the Straits of Magellan. It was a fantastic model, to the point that I could almost see it battered by waves and wind. Don't remember what interrupted this one (lunch, probably) or what caused that smudge at the last minute...

These regard Muir Woods day but were drawn after the fact. The first is an entertaining couple we kept running into along the trail; the short guy did all the talking and was from New York, judging by his accent. His companion was attentive but quiet and was probably a Time Lord.

The guys to the right were examining an educational sign that detailed relatives of the Coast Redwood around the world. It wasn't what the dark-haired one said that was funny so much as the genuinely astonished way he said it.

We had coupons for a cruise 'round the bay, under the bridge and around Alcatraz. When the boat pulled away from the dock a voice came over the PA system, rolling off what I thought was the usual safety spiel until it suddenly went hokey. This is how it would have looked:
Inspired by Kate Beaton but drawn without actual reference to her stuff on account of being on the train ... and of course not nearly as funny.

Captain Nemo and the PA guy never stopped – it turned out the whole cruise was narrated, either by them or various other characters. It was the sort of thing you could never get away with in Canada, unless it was at an attraction where you could be fairly certain no Canadians would show up, because it would be heckled and/or eye-rolled nonstop. As the ship drew back to port the narration followed suit, so it was obvious that the whole thing was carefully timed out with the recording. I thought it would be funny* if something went terribly wrong and the artificially jolly actors on the tape just kept going ...
*using that word broadly

I now know why Ronnie del Carmen enjoys sketchcrawling so much – what a perfect city for drawing. I'd have liked to have done more, but that will have to wait until I go back alone and can take things at my own pace.

24 January 2009

California Rail


I've finally got pictures up from the spectacular rail route between LA and San Francisco. Once I weeded out the ones that didn't turn out there aren't that many left, but I hope they give at least a diluted reflection of the trip. I really can't recommend this train ride highly enough. Aside from the scenery the train is great in itself, especially if you're used to flying. You can walk around as much as you like, visit the cafe car, get some really good coffee (with free refills if you keep the cup!), take it back to your comfortable seat with positively decadent legroom, and never once have to worry about falling out of the sky. If San Francisco weren't so awesome in itself I'd be tempted to say the trip's the best part – I would seriously consider taking a weekend, going up on Saturday, spending the night, and coming down Sunday, if I didn't know what I was missing by not staying up there longer.