Surprising Reassessment of an Old Sketchbook Entry

The very sketchy sketch session

Everything in my field of vision at this urban sketching session back in December 2019 at Luxor Books on Wenceslas Square was surprisingly and, at first, wonderfully kinetic — from the spinning records, to the flurry of holiday shoppers, to the constantly shifting interior lighting affecting and affected by these things. After making a few stabs at trying to navigate a visual foundation with safely erasable graphite, I found that I had spent most of this sketching session noodling around, probing, and just lost and frustrated. If memory serves, I was quite symptomatic that day and that certainly didn’t help matters as it amplified all the visual and cognitive cacophony around and within.

Ultimately I wound up near the end of this sketching session with just a few minutes left to go and nothing to work with but a page of confused thumbnail sketches. The most stable visual available to me was Jan — thanks Jan — who was stolidly perched across from me sketching away so I visually seized on him as my anchor and now — in retrospect — I’m so glad I did 😳

Jan Sketching At Luxor – fountain pen and marker on Khadi paper

Some sketchy clarity on that day found

In retrospect I also now realize that this was all during that time that I was apparently seizing all over the place without being at all aware of it. As I had become mostly homebound by this point nobody knew about it — not even me. I finally seized in public a few weeks later and was hospitalized for a week or so for tests and observation. Turns out MS had been nibbling at my brain stem and turned me into an epileptic. At least I finally understood why sometimes I would find my tongue all chewed up with no explanation.
Silver lining, right?

I’ll take what I can get …

At least things don’t vibrate so much anymore and my tongue is fine 🙂

Plus, this particular sketch holds a lot of unexpected personal reportage for me.

* Q: “Hold up 🖖! Now it’s epilepsy, too?”
A: Umm … 🫤

Poking Out in the World

Taking a Balloon For a Walk

Trying to be clear when 
the day sometimes can’t manage

Days trying to be even while
It’s sometimes not.

and might say grackle like
These all could be

are a decent compromise
Let’s say,
A compromise.

I just recently got hold of some Roher & Klingner fast drying SketchInk™ . That, combined with a few Faber-Castell Polychromous™ colored pencils, has made revisiting some ink line sketches a lot of fun and full of surprises.

Taking a balloon out for a walk

Full Disclosure: For whatever it’s worth, I’m not supported by either of these companies and am certain that neither one knows that I exist.

Now …where was I?

I’ve got oodles of pocket A6 sketchbooks I keep in almost every pocket of my clothing and book bags … not to mention strewn around my nightstand. These are so liberating to just throw down quick sketches while waiting in line somewhere or sitting on a rickety tram or just scribbling out thumbnail ideas or just scribbling for the hell of it in bed or almost anywhere else.

This format lets me sketch without being distracted or intimidated by the possibility of anything like a finished work resulting in the end.

I guess that should be the idea with all of my sketchbooks regardless of size. They’re sketchbooks dedicated to sketching. I’ll just have to agree that I have trouble remembering that … and, that so many things in general would be better if I didn’t*.

So …

… the ink handles really well in both dip pen and brush. The colors are bold expressions of mostly unsaturated pigments — think assertive earth tones? 🤔.

They do seem to handle differently The fact that they dry much more quickly than any other drawing ink I’m used to makes them great for working on some of my sketchbooks that are not designed for wet applications. This fast drying process also leads to a variety of outcomes for subsequent layers. Like watercolor, it’s fun and thrilling trying to control — or at least interact with — it.

I’ve also heard that the SketchInk™ family of drawing inks mix quite well with each other which doesn’t surprise me. The muted nature of these colors makes me guess that they’re unlikely to overpower one another. I only have two of them (Frieda and Thea) so … **

* English teacher’s note to self: gotta love the flexibility of those auxiliary verbs

** I’ve got to take a break mid sentence here. I’ll finish that thought and this post sometime soon, I hope 🤞

Bus Stop Series

coming soon to a theater near me

a.k.a. carpe momento

I was able to get out for a little bit yesterday and even get a little urban sketching in! It’s been soooo long. It’s been years since I’ve been able to meet up with the Urban Sketchers Prague group. I really miss working with them. It has been have such a lovingly understanding and supportive community … and oh so cool.

It sure would be grand to find some way out of this box of pain I’m in and seem to have become. All of this being said, I think I’ve just figured out a way to get some urban sketching done in a way that deals with my finicky condition.

Courtyard next to Pod Dálnici

Every corner, no matter how pedestrian is just teeming with its own unique visual poetry and sketching opportunities. Often this is true for individual bus and tram stops. Some of those even have benches or ledges on hand so a disabled sketcher might jump (hobble) off the bus and do some sketching if at that moment the symptoms aren’t too bad.

POD DÁLNICI bus stop

… I’m going to finish this post later. Right now I’m heading out to get a haircut! Maybe there will be a bus stop sketching opportunity on my way home 🙂

… well, I got that long overdue haircut 😃 but wasn’t able to sketch anything on the way home after all 😞. I almost didn’t make it through the haircut and had to hurry home where I am curled up on the couch feeling sorry for my sorry ass —almost safe from the outside world way out there outside but not from my own frayed neurons I comprise.

Regardless … I do look forward to doing more random bus stop urban sketches. I guess this is going to have to be the modus operandi that I settle for if I am going to get any urban sketching at all done. Gotta jump at every opportunity to take advantage of those random slivered moments when I happen to be out and about on public transport and feel at all able to get off the bus to sketch and sketch.

Things aren’t getting any easier and there’s no point in waiting for a chronic progressive disease to stop chronically progressing. I guess whether I’m aware of it or not, I am continuously confronted by some kind of relationship with a set of limits that confine (define?) me. As those limits become less distant and vague, that relationship needs to get more accepting and less dismissive and antagonistic if I’m going to get anything sketched out there.