I'll rewrite this post later when I have time to be more thoughtful, but I want to get this morning's sketch up while the experience is fresh. Neill Roan is a guest at my house, and we've had a terrific time getting better acquainted and sharing experiences and views on art, design, marketing, philosophical and political issues, families, wives, and of course, pipes and tobacco. The pipe in the foreground of this sketch, done at the kitchen table this morning while the house was still cloaked in shadows, is a gift from Neill to me, and is the work of one of my favorite artisan, Trever Talbert. In good company are two other variations on the Rhodesian shape by two other favorite pipe carvers, Adam Davidson and Rad Davis. Maybe this will be a calendar girl.

rhodesian trio, 8 1/4 x 11 9/16, watercolor and 9B graphite pencils



After a day and night of bleary-eyed driving through curtains of rain and thick humidity, it is a clear, fresh blue sky morning that makes it a crime to be indoors if you don't have to be. As almost always, it occurred to me that I really should start work immediately and skip the drawing, but after a little over two months of training myself to do this every day (almost), I can more easily avoid coffee or even getting dressed than I can shut off the little voice in my head that says "you're a cowardly artist wannabe if you don't sit down with that sketchbook". So, coffee mug in hand, I walked out onto the patio, pulled two favorite pipes out of my briefcase, and set them in front of me where my laptop computer will take up my field of vision for most of the day, and used up another page in my Moleskine sketch journal. A better start than just grimly ignoring the beautiful morning light in favor of a computer screen, but at this point, a compulsion that I just can't escape. But not all compulsions are bad, right?

before work, 8 1/4 x 11 9/16, watercolor and 9B graphite pencils


Sticking with the discipline

I was really feeling too tired to do this tonight, after a long day of travel and trying to be a good dad, but my fledgling artist daughter Noble asked me to sit with her and draw. If I'm going to be credible when I tell her to draw all the time and not worry about the result, I have to walk the talk. So I did that, and in solidarity with how difficult she finds the practice, I used a Mars Lumograph 8B pencil that I hate the feel of - like fingernails on a chalkboard - to make the challenge a little tougher on my end.

pipes and paraphernelia on my messy worktable, 8 1/4 x 11 9/16, Mars Lumograph 8B graphite and Prismacolors

detail of Rad Davis squashed apple pipe


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