Who’s Scruffy Looking?

July 15, 2012

On the flight home from Buffalo I got trapped in the window seat, with Richard in the middle and a somewhat portly fellow in the aisle. Given this obstacle, as well as the wonderful hospitality of the Southwest Airlines flight crew and their “No standing in the aisle!” rule, I never attempted to leave my seat. Also there were several (I’m talking dozens) of crying babies on the plane, so it truly was the skyway to hell.

To distract myself from this excruciating insanity I did what I always do…got out my sketchbook and started drawing Richard. And since I had a lot of time and no place to go, I gave it way more attention than I normally would and really tried to focus on capturing what was actually there, versus what I thought was there.

The biggest challenge was that section that goes from his chin to his neck. My natural instinct would be to make that more of a horizontal angle, which is what I did at first. But as I studied and restudied it I realized that the chin/neck thing actually angled downward, and at a much greater degree than I would have thought. At least, that’s how it appeared in that moment from where I was sitting.

I really struggled with this because drawing it the way I truly saw it made him appear, well, kinda fat. I went back and forth a dozen times, sketching and erasing, sketching and erasing. By drawing it the way I thought it was, it came out looking more like Richard. By drawing what I saw, he came out looking fat. In the end I went with the downward angle version because the whole point of the exercise was to draw what I saw, and dammit that’s what I saw.

As you can see, this was done at the end of our vacation, when he hadn’t shaved for several days.

I sketched the whole thing out in pencil first and then went over it in ink, adding details and using pens of various thickness. Richard watched as I put the finishing touches on the hair–which is one of the things I have the most trouble with. As I continued to add more swoops, and curls, and hatch marks, he warned me to stop before I went too far.

“Otherwise the entire focus will be on the hair,” he said.

I think Richard may have learned a few things by osmosis.

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