Friday, April 29, 2011

The yellow villa

A villa in the outskirts of Florence. These places always look as if they should be something, like the summer cottage of Machiavelli or Aretino's favourite bordello, but of course they're just somebody's regular house.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

alone in a crowd

If hell is other people, turning your back must be a step in getting to heaven.

The red chair

Steve looks as if he's discovered something horrible on his palm. Perhaps there's a reason palm-readers never do their own readings. Aside from the obvious, that is.

A life drawing in marker, done with the Toronto drawing group the Collective.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Saturday, April 23, 2011

unfinished sketch

Half the fun with public sketching is finding out how much you can draw before the model moves. And sometimes an unexpected interruption can create an accidental composition that's just as interesting as a completed figure.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Eurydice, Eurydice

Midway through his novel Aurélia, Gérard de Nerval pauses to evoke Orpheus, and the crucial moment of the play when the hero turns and sees his wife snatched back into hell and cries out, uselessly, "Eurydice, Eurydice."

The scene must have had resonance for Nerval, who certainly understood that even the most superhuman effort may end in failure, and who had every reason to say "ma seule étoile est morte."

For whatever reason, that passage in Aurélia produced from me this drawing, in which the face of the one you love is reduced to a mask peering up from the underworld. Or from a wall in the British Museum, as it happens.

I posted a few steps towards the finished drawing back in late 2010.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Small craft in Venice

I saw this small watercraft while wandering around the island of Burano, in the Venetian Lagoon. Shipbuilding by hand is one of those once-great vernacular arts that is everywhere on the decline, but one still encounters an immense variety of small craft, each with a design specific to their context and locale. I find them enchanting.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Jenn at the Dakota

A quick sketch of Jenn, who in addition to being an excellent model is a wise and cogent spokeswoman for conservation biology. The drawing was done one evening at the Dakota Tavern; there was going to be someone else on this page - I think a musician - but as you can see, he moved before I did anything more than the hair on his head.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Two figures

Kimberly poses with a pet and a Manhattan (made by yours truly). It was drawn from life with markers in about ten minutes.

Monday, April 4, 2011


Gondalas at rest.

I was hypnotized by the pattern of the stakes and the black craft. Painted on a warm November day in watercolour and gouache on the wharf-side steps outside Santa Maria della Salute.

Friday, April 1, 2011

down by the Arno, in the zona rosa.

I had just arrived in Florence, and I was jet-lagged and disoriented. I was in the east end of town, well past the old city, and had nothing better to do than go down to the river and draw while the sun set.

But after a short while a Nigerian girl showed up and asked me if I wanted to f**k. I declined, and gave it no more thought. Yeah, I was that jet-lagged.

A few minutes later she was back, with a bedraggled looking Italian man in tow. He seemed ashamed and was very apologetic, but it wasn't because of what he was up to; it was because he was interrupting my drawing.

Really, he didn't need to apologize. I was the one in the wrong place.

It was done with india ink and a dip pen. The sun was shining through the trees and reflecting in the river.