2012 Chicago Pipe Show poster

A few weeks ago, when I realized that I was doing a lot of drawings with pipes in them, it occurred to me that the Chicagoland Pipe Collectors Club might be interested in having me do the posters for the 2012 show. I sent an email to Craig Cobine, who is responsible for organizing the event, and he answered immediately, very enthusiastic about my offer. Approaching the deadline for his first wave of distribution, at the Pipe Collectors Club of America show in Columbus, Ohio at the end of the month, I discarded most of my concept sketches and asked my good friend Tad Herr, an exceptional graphic designer with whom I've worked for nearly 15 years, if he would help me with it. This is the result of our collaboration, which has already spawned a few other related projects, including a pipe collector's calendar. Tad always makes my work look better. There is a link to his website that you can find by clicking on "links" on the navigation column to the right of this post, along with links to other sites of creative people and their supporters.



Mundane landscapes

No doubt anyone who has looked at very many of the sketches I've posted over the past month or so has noticed that the subjects are often unremarkable, and sometimes downright homely. Part of the challenge for me is not only to draw whether I feel like it or not, but to draw things that don't necessarily look like they're begging to be captured in a pretty picture. That was the case this morning, sitting in my car in the parking lot of a nondescript professional office and retail strip development half filled with boring late model cars. The ragged grey sky with a few rays of sunlight tearing through breaks in the clouds was what got me interested, but then I got absorbed in the process of seeing and drawing, and my mood influenced the way I interpreted what I was looking at.

parking lot at Olde Hickory Village Plaza, Oregon Pike, Lancaster, PA; 8 1/4 x 11 9/16, 9B graphite and watercolor pencils


Tobacco and caffeine

Two tried and true brain performance enhancers. Coffee has even been lauded in recent years for its antioxidant properties. But did you know that pipe smokers who do not inhale have a lower probability of contracting cancers of all types than the median population? Did you also know that the second hand smoke health risk has been proven to be an untenable assertion? And that tobacco, because it is such a labor intensive crop, is a significant crop for small, family owned farms? And that with proper crop rotation, that its soil depleting tendencies can be overcome without chemical fertilizers? The anti tobacco lobby is largely correct about the well known health hazards of cigarettes, but pipe smoking is altogether different because the chemical composition of the smoke, most notably its PH value, renders it relatively harmless. Am I on my soapbox here? Sorry. I should be saying something about drawing in a sketchbook. But I did my morning sketch, which inspired my little verbal spew, so they really ARE related.

Larry Roush and John Crosby pipes, 8 1/4 x 11 9/16, 7B graphite and watercolor pencils


Soft rains

The clouds gathered quietly this morning while I sat in the faint, cool breeze on the balcony, with watercolor pencils vulnerable to tiny droplets that began as the sky dissolved into a soft rain. With all the political turmoil in the world, with all the frustration and rage and violence that seems to grow with every dismal report from almost every news broadcast whether the morning paper, tv news, or internet channels, Sara Teasdale's achingly beautiful and gentle poem of lament and hope from 1920 comes to mind:

There will come soft rains and the smell of the ground,
And swallows circling with their shimmering sound;

And frogs in the pool singing at night,
And wild plum trees in tremulous white;

Robins will wear their feathery fire,
Whistling their whims on a low fence-wire;

And not one will know of the war, not one
Will care at last when it is done.

Not one would mind, neither bird nor tree,
If mankind perished utterly;

And Spring herself when she woke at dawn
Would scarcely know that we were gone.

just ahead of the rain, Tuesday morning over the Susquehanna, 8 1/4 x 11 9/16, watercolor and Prismacolor and 7B graphite pencils

detail of crumbling sandstone corner and distant trees


Quick exercises

It's become a point of pride with me that, most days, I manage to spend at least a little time in my sketchbook. Yesterday and today I had a packed schedule with getting my daughters to Tina's family's shared vacation home in Mantoloking three hours east on the Jersey shore, then getting myself back here to Marietta to do work at my livelihood. It was dusk in the aftermath of torrential downpours by the time I could settle myself in a damp wicker chair to dash off a quick impression of the screened veranda, and too dark to see shortly thereafter. This morning on my way home, I missed a turn and wound up in Princeton, and took a pipe smoking break at the local tobacconist, A Little Taste of Cuba. Figured it was as good a time as any to log my daily sketch, and the leather sofas made it easy enough to sit for half an hour fumbing pencils between fumbling wooden matchsticks while cigar guys shooting the breeze about golf, real estate, and the stock market tried not to stare at the weirdo with the sketchbook and pipe. And now it's 3:00pm and I'm just beginning my work day! But, almost as obligatory as brushing my teeth, getting that sketch done was a good start.

The pipe wall at A Little Taste of Cuba in Princeton, 8 1/4 x 11 9/16, 7B graphite and watercolor pencils

Wicker chairs on the veranda at Manotoloking, 8 1/4 x 11 9/16, 9B graphite and watercolor pencils