Much amusement can be derived from flipping through the pages of high society magazines and checking out the photos of wealthy people posing at various balls and charity fundraising events. Many appear stiff and taut with freakish cosmetic surgery, overly flashy with blinding white teeth, shiny couture and sparkling jewels - I just love it. Palm Springs Life is probably the best publication on the newsstand to view these glamourous spectacles and while flipping through it a few months ago, I came upon a photo of Tom Bosley and his lovely wife holding a white fluffy little dog. They seemed so happy and yet both their hands were twisted and knotty with arthritis. There was something so beautiful and scary about the image, that I started a rough sketch right there in the bookstore and later came home to finish it up. While working on it, I heard that Tom Bosley had passed (RIP) and I suddenly got the creeps. Later, a friend sent me a society photo from a hoity-toity event in Houston. There was something creepy about the people posing in it, as though they had recently emerged from an long sleep in the cold dark basement of their drafty cavernous castle and flew to the party inside a swarm of shrieking vampire bats as thunderstorms raged through the night. I'm sure they're nice people, but it's fun to let the imagination run wild. That being said, I formally declare these two pages of my sketchbook to be haunted. Medium: graphite, ink, marker and ectoplasm.
Place settings and utensils are often the subjects of my doodled distractions. If I walk into a restaurant and spot paper place mats, they'll end up covered in drawings of imaginary forks, knives and spoons to be included in an elaborate otherworldly dinner party I plan on hosting one of these days. Medium: Ink on paper.
Only one week left to finish my Sketchbook Project in time for the looming deadline. Previously, I had themed the book around the subject of Socialites and Bums, but as time wore on, several other themes began to emerge. Starting with an introduction by Karl Lagerfeld, the book pretty much unfolds into...well, Resplendent Chaos. I'll be busy posting select images all week. Above, Marian and Vivian Brown, the famed San Francisco Twins. I've had the luck to cross paths with these living icons several times in the past few years and finally decided to sketch them. They're quite gregarious and friendly, especially if you catch them after they've had their merlot. I passed them in a restaurant once and said hello. They asked me to join them at the table (!) so I happily obliged. When I sat down, the first thing they asked me was if I wanted to take a photo. Those little ladies just love attention and aren't comfortable unless cameras are flashing around them at all times. I reached for my camera, but Marian stopped me and asked me to wait until she touched up her lipstick. She whipped a compact out of her purse and sloppily smudged vivid scarlet across her lips without really looking in the mirror. She moved closer to Vivian and squealed, "Okay, take the picture now!". Both ladies grinned ear to ear, their teeth discolored from decades of red wine and smudged lipstick. "Take another one!!!" After they were done posing, they both took sips of wine from their lipstick smeared goblets and sent me on my way. I honestly want to be just like them when I grow old. Medium: graphite and ink on paper.
The Mission District coffee joint was abuzz with fashionable hipsters striving to see and be seen by all the other fashionable hipsters crowding the ultra hip hotspot. Frenetic energy and loud conversation filled the place and everyone was hopped up on coffee and sugar. Suddenly, my friend gasped and told me to turn around and look at the gorgeous guy who just walked in. He moved fluidly and calmly through the rambunctious crowd and as he walked by, I noticed an elaborate coral tattoo inked across his smooth golden chest. He took a seat at a back table after ordering tea from the awestruck barista and pulled not a laptop, not a cell phone or even an iPad from his bag, but an actual book and calmly began reading. His powerful, yet tranquil energy took hold over the entire room and everyone seemed to settle down and relax in his presence. He was, without a doubt, the elusive Coral Buddha. Medium: graphite and acrylic in sketchbook.
Rain-sodden tempestuous clouds jetted over the city shrouding buildings, trees, and sidewalks in a fine mist muting all vibrancy into soft shades of grey. Wet concrete puddles reflected images of hulking dark buildings looming above as black raincoat wearing pedestrians deftly maneuvered around them. The drab gloom coated everyone in a murky gauze except for one woman: The Fire Lion. Standing over 6 feet tall, and dressed in fiery hues of red and orange, she stood out like a flaming beacon as she waited to cross the street. Her wild mane of copper hair illuminated her growling face with an inferno of flaming heat and she even cast a warm glow upon the pavement below her. I was curious to see what she'd do if I smiled at her. I learned that Fire Lions do not respond well to gesture of cheer, in fact, it only causes their faces to twist further into drooping folds of grumpiness. I found her reaction very amusing and my smile burst forth into a giggle. Fire Lions are fun to tease, but it's advisable to keep your distance. Medium: acrylic, ink, gold metallic paper in sketchbook.
I'm grateful to have the kind of friends who don't mind me using them as models no matter how bizarrely I choose to portray them. Chrissa (above), a talented artist and tiny trickster from the Tribe of 5 is one of the funniest, kindest, and eccentric people I know. An angel fairy from the Realm of the Pods, she's a blast to hang out with and is one of my main Muses. Bob (below), is a stylish creative chameleon who enjoys adopting different personas and completely reinventing his look every few years. A masterful costume and character creator, his latest incarnation is a chap called Rupert Paige. To become Rupert, Bob grew an impressive Wilford Brimley-esque walrus 'stache, donned a German fedora, began puffing on a Calabash pipe, and styled his hair into carefully combed swirls. Both sketches appear in my Sketchbook Project book. Medium: graphite, acrylic, pen, glitter, and digital enhancement for better web viewing.
He stood watching over the crew of men as they unloaded a delivery truck double parked in front the cafe I was sitting in. Gazing out the window, my eyes locked onto him after I noticed golden rays of late afternoon sunlight bathing over him, rippling and glinting off his smooth skin and chiseled features. He appeared to be carved from solid gold, his mohawk made from the feathers of Kukulkan himself. The Golden Idols of Manhood series will be included as a chapter in The 2011 Sketchbook Project. Medium: graphite, acrylic on moleskine.
As I've mentioned, I'm participating in The Sketchbook Project. When I received my blank sketchbook in the mail, I was horrified over the tissue thin paper and flimsy construction. It has the kind of paper that bleeds through to the other side when the slightest brush of an ink pen is used on it. Being a paper snob, I was mortified. Instead of tossing the cheap little thing into the recycling bin and walking off in a huff, I decided to see how far I could push the paper until it begged for mercy. Surprisingly, the scrappy little sketchbook has held up well under my relentless abuse. I've drenched the thing in watercolor, acrylics, and gesso and it just sits there and takes it. I shouldn't have judged it so harshly. I'll post the pages soon. Above right: Frank Chu, one of my favorite San Francisco eccentrics. Left: A couple of hipsters taking a smoke break on Market Street.