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 … 🫤

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.

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.