Sketchbook Memories of Sketchy Saner Days

I came across this while fumbling through some older sketchbooks. It was sketched during a small outing with a few urban sketcher friends of mine at Cafe Lucerna in Prague. There was a lot of wild arabesque art nouveau architecture to sketch both in the cafe and outside the window onto the Lucerna Passage. For some reason, I ignored all that and just did a quick sketch of my friends, sketching. I gotta say I’m grateful I now have this image of who and how we were back in the new age of innocence.

On the one hand that feels like yesterday. On the other hand, thinking about all that’s changed since February 2018 makes my whole being even wobblier than it might already be. How cloistered and naively safe we were. There was no Covid. The Make America Grate Again nightmare we are surrounded by still seemed like it could believably have been a fluke. Mango Mussolini was widely thought to be manageable. His idol, Vladimir Putin, had not further invaded Ukraine. Artificial intelligence was something comfortably somewhere in the future. It was before Kyle Rittenhouse. Before January 6th. Before mass shootings became a weekly if not daily occurrence back in the States. Elected officials hadn’t been talking about civil war since right before the Civil War. It was before there was a war in Israel. This was even two years before I had the faintest notion that I was epileptic, and … before the outcome of whatever it is that’s going to happen in 2024 happens. Who knows?

Urban Sketchers Sketching at Cafe Lucerna, Prague
-Watercolor & Ink

So much for being younger and out of touch. Back then I never would have spent the better part of my waking hours doomscrolling through issues that I have no control over anyway — accomplishing nothing more than reinforcing the fact that things are even more horrific than I have the capacity to imagine.

Our Cat Learns to Read the News, 2017 – Watercolor 21*30 cm

Hmm 🤔

What to do? I’d like to believe that this chasm of good and bad shit has got to be teaching someone some kind of lessons. Regardless, one’s got to be able to auger some kind of wisdom facing forward. Gotta work on making things good so these days might be good ones to look back on.

“A society must assume that it is stable, but the artist must know, and he must let us know, that there is nothing stable under heaven.”

James Baldwin

Definitely I’ve got to keep on contributing to my sketchbook journals. The more I sketch truly, the clearer and richer the aesthetic reality of “now” will be rendered for my future eyes to happen on like my eyes happened on this one. Hopefully I’ll figure out the rest in the meantime. Please feel free to let me know if any of my work resonates with you too. Getting feedback from people really helps.

Happy New Year from a Cat on a Table

2022 looks like it might be off to a good start. Aside from being sick and quarantined, I actually got to enjoy several hours of feeling pretty good last night. It’s been months since the pain had subsided enough for me to uncurl from fetal position in bed and stand long enough to do a small watercolor sketch. And there she was ❤️

Elektra is an alarmingly intelligent cat who gets bored easily —kind of like a feline border collie. Usually we can sate her fantastical mind by opening up the balcony or hallway for her to spring out into and upon all of the world’s chase-able mysteries out there. Instead of sheep, she prefers to herd butterflies and hornets and flocks of birds up in the sky.

For now, she’s had to settle for chasing inanimate things throughout the apartment and pissing Pytlique off. With our flat under temporary lock down, both of our cats, too have had to deal with not being allowed outside for a while. The first thing I saw when I walked into the kitchen to see what Elektra was yawling about was her lying on the kitchen table with a palpable glower of defiance and disappointment on her face. Of course she wasn’t going to hold that pose for long and I was lucky enough to snap a quick photo before she marched back to the closed doors to the outside world and resumed yawling there.

I got the point but went ahead and painted this instead. It was hard work because the moving paintbrush immediately became her de facto indoor prey of choice. I’m going back to bed to scribble some more in my dry sketchbook.

Happy New Year, little Elektra. Tomorrow you get to see the outside again 🤩

Elektra on a Table
watercolor 22×18 cm

Exploring The World Down The Street

Update 1 XI 2023: This painting found a new home with a dear old friend of mine from way back in the nineties in Prague. Thank you for supporting me and my art 😚

Thanks to COVID-19 (which I thankfully don’t have, yet) and a few other serious health problems (which I am currently wrestling with), I’m unable to go outside to sketch these days. That doesn’t make the visual feast of Prague any less alluring to embrace through sketching. This is from a photo that my wife snapped the other day down the street.

Dominikánský dvůr, Praha

Dominican Court, Prague (Braník)

Since being rebuilt in 1689, after having been destroyed in the Thirty Years’ War, this structure has been used as a chapel, a brewery (several times), a walled farm, a police station, and as a cinema complex. It became abandoned shortly after the most recent brewery there failed in 1907 and is now boarded up and dilapidated with only three of its four walls still standing. Now it serves as a dangerous and spooky abandoned structure for preteens (and older) to illegally investigate Indiana Jones style and as a canvas for budding graffiti artists.

Recently there has been talk of renovating the structure yet again and repurposing it as a Waldorf school. 🙂

Demolition (which had first been proposed in the 1950’s) is also on the table. 🙁

Dominikánský dvůr
Dominikánský dvůr