Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Dominican Drawings, Part I.

Dominican Drawings, Part I.

The Illuminating Beer Run

On our way to a BYOB restaurant last Friday, Kim and I pulled into the beer store so I could get a six-pack. She opted to wait in the car, I guess because she was driving and didn't want to take off her gloves and helmet. As I got out of the car, I handed her my sketchbook and said, "See if you can find something for me to post next".

When I came back out, and climbed into the car, I asked her if she found anything for me to redo for an article. "I don't know," she said, "I like a lot of the sketches. Why do you have to redo them?"

Yeah, I thought, Why the hell do I have to do that?

When I first built this version of the site — almost two years ago now — I actually envisioned the Article section being a cross between the "Sketches" section of my old site (somewhere to post drawings with relative frequency), and The Bearskinrug Sketchbook (in that I could comment on what's been drawn). Of course, the Article section had much more capacity than that, and it went in whatever directions felt natural for me as I updated. Which is a good thing, because it really forced me to practice a more finished style. But, in the course of refining, I somehow forget that sketches are perfectly valid article fodder, and not everything needs to be thoroughly cooked before it goes online. So, on the heels of that revelation, I thought I'd share a few underdone steaks from my vacation...

Buddies and Odds

Buddies and Odds

I actually finished Sketchbook 15 while on vacation, so all these drawings are selections from those last few pages. "Mojo sculpts a buddy" gives us some good insight into how lonely Mojo gets in his Manhattan artist's loft. I drew the comic below that after reading an actual fact that the odds of turning 116 years old are between 1 and 2 billion — which I figured were worse odds than winning the lottery. Though after a little more research, it seems they are still better odds than winning the lottery, dependent on what kind of lotto it is. So you see, math can also sabotage a comic, as well as help it.

Burning and Drinking

Burning and Drinking

This was a page comprised of various other resort vacationers. I particularly like the fellow on the left, because it's a pretty accurate depiction, despite how quickly it was done. You of course can't tell from this sketch, but the sun had tinged his entire body a violent reddish-purple, and bleached his hair a near-platinum blonde. You don't see a combination like that very often, except in a children's coloring book. The drinking fellow on the right wasn't a real-life vacationer (as you might be able to tell from his default "cornellian" profile), but he does accurately capture the "Drinker's Pause" — the peculiar way people freeze and disengage from the world when they drink through a straw.

Mojo Trims the Anthems

Mojo Trims the Anthems

Here I was drawing out some titles, and while experimenting, I drew a little vine growing out of a letter. Later on, I added the "vine-trimming" Mojo. One of my favorite things to do in a sketchbook is to go back and add things to previous drawings. It's very satisfying, in that it's a chance to take the drawing in a completely opposite direction, because you're in a different headspace. Much like editing something you wrote months ago. The ironic thing is, once I finish a sketchbook and move on to another one, I "close it out"; meaning I'm not allowed to go back and change or embellish anything in previous sketchbooks. So there's only this small sliver of time to go back and do this activity I enjoy so much.

On a similar note — while I was growing up, I often would go back into really old sketchbooks and try and redraw things I did years ago. It's one of the most encouraging activities, because I could see how much better I had become at drawing (although, it also showed me how bad I had been at drawing something... but, glass half-full and all that...). The most exciting thing was to measure how much better I could draw humans — that was where I wanted to make my biggest artistic leaps. It was also interesting to see how long it took me to finally be comfortable putting figures in a background; it was as if I was mentally blocked from doing it until I reached a certain age. As I've gotten older, and had less and less trouble drawing things, this activity isn't as much fun. I suppose that's why I close-out sketchbooks now — it's quite possible for me to go back and redraw something, and have it look worse. I don't think my self-esteem is ready to handle "regression" yet.

Gee... this post is longer than I thought...

Dear me, It really is. I hadn't planned to get this wordy, and I have about 3 other drawings to go. So, rather than throw a huge hunk of things at everyone at once, I'll just save them for the next post. In the meantime, if you've got anything to share about your own sketching peculiarities, I'd love to hear it!

» Read Part II.

Comments on this Article

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oh wow, you saw the same guy I did down there.



I just recently got into this whole drawing/sketchbook thing. Even though I can't draw worth a lick, it's impossible to go anywhere without a pocket sketchbook now. I love bringing mine to a bar and doing collaborative drawings with fellow drunks. When you are drinking and drawing, neat stuff happens.

John Nick

I for one (and Mojo too, certainly) find it sheer lunacy that an artist of outrageous talent needs further encouragement!


But no worries -- your adoring public is happy to provide.

Sketchbook-wise, I kept one for two years: senior year high school, freshman year college. What I found surprising was the way that one's drawing skills could be developed the same way one might work on killer biceps and delts at the gym.

Superheros of Illustration, anyone? League of Crosshatching? Hall of Foreshortening?


So glad you're posting the raw sketches again. They really do offer an insight into the 'process' and there's something very authentic and true about a sketch.
As for my own sketching peculiarities, I have perhaps the most pecular in that I don't sketch. I did years ago and found it very calming while doing it but far too depressing when I looked over the finished product.


So when are you going to start auctioning off the old ones? There's got to be one that you wouldn't mind putting up for sale...

Wait - better give me a chance to save up a couple mil...

So give me a few thousand years before you put one up... unless I win that lotto you were talking about...



Auctioning off a sketchbook, I mean...

It was all clear in MY head!


Bandy - Nope! My guy wasn't a smoker — I know because he had chosen to cultivate skin cancer, instead of lung cancer.

Jared - Haha - yeah - I like collaborative drawing as well! Although, I lose my desire to draw the more I drink. My urge to go to bed greatly increases, however.

John Nick - Yeah - you're totally right about the "Drawing Workout". And I take comfort in the fact that all these years I've neglected my body have paid off in being able to draw beautiful bodies like the sunburnt fellow to the left.

BigA - The funny thing about sketching is that I usually don't sketch to draw, but to capture an idea. I guess that makes me feel better about a sketch when it doesn't look it's hottest — at least the "idea" is there...

Randallard - Oh man... that would be hard to do... sell one of these sketchbooks. Like selling a kid that you drew stuff all over.



I keep a sketchbook going because it helps leach out all of my daily brain toxins that build up from writing code, and staring at a monitor.

Plus like you said, you get better at it. Your body begins to build muscle memory and comfort with different drawing utensils, and the connection between the ideas in your brain and your hand starts to strengthen. I like being able to accurately get my ideas on paper and it frustrates me to no end when I fail at that.

But mainly, its fun to be the artist prick on the subway trying to draw everyone that walks by, right?


That was YOU!? *kevin rushes at aaron*

Hugh G.

I love your sketches Kevin. Please post more! They not only show off your creative process, but they also give us a glimpse into your madness.


good to see the the kevin I know on the web again. now everyone can see your pure madness all over the world!

good job kevin.

Captain Purple

Once I finsih a page off I usually leave it alone. And yes, once a book is finsihed I don't allow myself to go back in and do any kind of editting or playing around. It becomes a kind of time capsule.

How long does it take to fill a sketch book?

A follow up questions, Mr. Cornell; what kind of sketch book do you use?


I signed up for an advanced life drawing class last fall. I hadn't drawn for years. Just imagine the fun I had realizing that my drawing skills were as out of shape as my body! I hit the gym last night for the first time in years so maybe it's time to break out the sketchbook again too.

When I did keep a sketchbook, once a drawing/sketch in my sketchbook is finished,it's pretty much off limits. I think of it along the lines that even if it's just a quick sketch, it's a finished piece of work. I do draw variations of it though if I'm trying to work out a problem/scene/composition/whatever...

Thanks for posting the sketches, I could look at this stuff all day.


I originally thought the vine Mojo is trimming was actually a bird with it's beak being snipped off. Which would have been gross, a little sad, and yet rather Mojoesque.


And the vine to the right of our prancing, beak-snipping friend looks like a fellow with beady eyes, a scornful brow, and broccoli coming out of his nose.


Hugh G. / Niff - I can't reveal my madness yet... not until they make leprechaun-baiting legal...

Captain Purple - Oooh - that's a good way to think of it... a "time capsule"....

Murph - Yeah - I dropped in on my old life drawing class a couple years ago, and I felt pretty rusty. I've really lost the knack of "drawing what I see" without letting "what I think I see" get in the way.

Rachel - Your "seeing things in other things" reminds me that my brother-in-law used to live in a house where the bathroom wallpaper was the ultimate place to "see things" in the patterns. When they moved, I should have torn a piece of the wallpaper down. It was really a remarkable find.


I have this theory that humans were not meant to stare at computers. So I try to break my monitor-tuned focal length and get out everyday and draw something. Poorly. And when I look back at my old sketchbooks, I realize I suck at it slightly less. But not less enough, so I keep drawing.

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