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Blog

Like everyone else, I don't update it enough. 

Sketchbook Update and Blog Thoughts

Hello again friends!

Welcome to spring.

I've been drawing a lot fewer robots lately, which is strange for me. Robots have been my go-to for years but they're starting to feel a little stale, a little repetitive. What I've been drawing lately that I've really been enjoying is just the stuff I see around me. 

All of these coffee cups and coffee pots - and how often I draw the same ones in slightly different configurations - remind me of a wonderful Italian painter who I've likely mentioned before, Giorgio Morandi.

Click through for more. There are around 1,350. Mostly still lives.

I love the lived-in repetition of his paintings. In terms of what's there, they're all sort of the same painting. But looking at a group of them I think they're ultimately not about the glasses & vases & bottles, but about time. Each painting is about the day it was painted. And the week, the time of day and the season. And all of them together are a story of Morandi's days and how his view of the world around him changed, or didn't change, over time. 

A lifetime of paintings like this feels wonderfully meditative. I've been meditating daily for a little over two years & it's become something I've come to value and that I think about quite a bit. By any measure, two years of daily meditation still makes me a novice but it's given me some perspective to think about how meditation and mindfulness fit into my life. Both are important, but they’re also quite different. Drawing, for me, is not meditation but it's absolutely meditative, mindful. What's the difference? Meditation (for me, and assume that 'for me' is in most every sentence of this paragraph) is a kind of unfocused focus. It's a resting attention on, often, the breath and it's not intellectual or analytical. Drawing, by contrast, is extremely analytical. It's a constant comparison of what I'm seeing in the world with what I'm seeing on the page. It's hundreds of judgements and alterations and marks made. It's very focused focus. So how is it meditative? It's a regular practice that puts me in a quiet, constrained mindset - one that I protect from the distractions of my phone, emails, appointments, etc. Drawing time is drawing time - like meditation time is meditation time - and forcing myself to practice focused drawing feels a lot like forcing myself to practice unfocused sitting. There's a stillness in each and in both cases I come out of the activity a little quieter and, I hope, a little more observant. Meditation brings me closer to myself, whereas drawing, as a meditative activity, brings me closer to the world. 

Here's a video of Milton Glaser talking about drawing. He's not saying the same thing as I am, but everything he's saying sounds about right. 

"It is only through drawing that I look at things carefully."


Let's talk about Berlin


First off, click the picture to find out more about the map. It's by illustrator Theresa Grieben and it's pretty great. 

Secondly, we're heading there in late May. It'll be our second trip there together and among the many things we're planning to do is to scout it out for a move. Yep. After both of us having steadily moved from the East Coast to the West Coast, we're heading way, way back east. The plan is to make it happen...well, I’ll continue to share thoughts when & how as our plans shake out.

On that note, if anyone out there has any connections, leads, people we should meet in Berlin, please holler! We're both applying for freelance artist visas and both hope to be able to work with & for German clients as well as keeping our US-based work. This is just the beginning of what will hopefully be a pretty fun ride. Stay tuned!


Sketchbooking
 

I just picked up this PDF that's a collection of Pixar story artist Matt Jones' sketchbooking around San Francisco. 

I know I've talked about loving sketchbooks before so I won't go on about how great this one is but if you like them too, pick it up. He also has a really enjoyable YouTube channel where he posts a lot of short videos of him drawing & painting on location. 

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The sketchbook that’s been on my “why didn’t I buy this?” list after seeing it in a Portland comic shop a couple years ago is Lisbonne Carnets by Philippe Dupuy & Charles Berberian

I’ve never gotten in to the comics they’re best known for, but I adore this kind of travel carnet. If anyone comes across it, or their Tanger or Istanbul Carnets, buy two copies of each. Keep one for yourself and I’ll pay for the others, plus shipping, and I’ll throw in a sketch if you send them my way!


I'm Afraid of Worms, Roxanne!

I just finished this book, which I feel like I've been reading forever. It was totally worth it - though I had to keep my Kindle on airplane mode for a couple weeks after my library loan expired. I picked it up based on a podcast recommendation by John Dickerson.

It was fascinating and depressing how relevant this book felt today. The Civil War wasn't really so long ago and, frankly, the things we were fighting against then are still incredibly present today. Also, as debased and intellectually vapid as our political discourse seems now, it was just as coarse back then. Fearmongering, slander and hyperbole are, apparently, just how the sausage gets made. I wish I'd liked the book less and that it felt more like ancient history, so it's probably really good that I spent so much time with it. 

Changing things up dramatically, I just started reading Horrorstor and recently listened to the audiobook of My Best Friend's Exorcism, both by Grady Hendrix.


I went into My Best Friend's Exorcism with pretty low expectations and was pleasantly surprised that it was much better than it needed to be. There's a lot more to the story than camp & nostalgia - though it was all the camp & nostalgia on the cover that pulled me in.

Horrorstor, similarly campy based on its cover & interior design, is following a similar trajectory. 


Whew!

It's been a while since the last update & I'm beat. I'm shooting for another in around two weeks. I've probably said that before. Feel free to nag me if I'm late. 

Also feel free to keep in touch. Newsletters & blogs are back. That's what all the trend pieces say. Let's be part of a trend together!

Thanks gang. 

barry mcwilliams