For a glimpse of my secret other life as a very occasional courtroom illustrator.
Oregon has been in the news for the last 4 weeks due to the armed occupation of a federal wildlife refuge building out on the east side of the Cascades. Yesterday, 7 of the protesters were brought into federal court in Portland after being arrested. I got a call mid-morning from one of the local news channels asking me to go down to the courthouse to draw.
The courtroom experience is always a little fraught for me.The initial procedural hearings happen in a heartbeat — it is a crazy challenge to capture the general appearance of each defendant in less than 10 minutes. Accustomed as I am to working alone in my backyard studio, with no attention and little time pressure, the adrenaline rush of getting to court, angling for a seat where I can see the defendants, setting up a miniature studio around my feet, and cranking out reasonable likenesses of each defendant without knowing how much time I will have to do so — all of this gets my heart beating fast. But once I am drawing, the surroundings slip away and I experience a kind of hyper focus that I rarely achieve in my other work.
But it’s such a relief to return to my hidey-hole!
Ammon Bundy (one of the spokespeople and leaders of the occupying group)
I was honored to be asked to create event artwork for the Oregon SCBWI Spring conference — registration is now open at https://oregon.scbwi.org/events/between-the-pages-2016-annual-spring-conference/
I did work on my daily sketches over the weekend, but I have decided that from here on out I will accumulate a week of daily drawings and then choose a few to post every Monday. I am finding that while daily posting is good for motivation, it is also a short hop from “a quick post on my blog” over into the crazy time-sucking vortex of social media. Hopefully I can strike a better balance by posting only once a week.
I’ve decided to give myself a daily sketch challenge. I’d like to create a morning routine that kicks me right into creative work mode (instead of loafing around in social media land), so the plan is to make a sketch first thing when I enter my studio, before I even turn on my computer or check my phone. I’m tempted to post on instagram, but I think I’ll limit myself on that too. I might choose my favorites from the previous week on Mondays and post a couple as part of my new and improved ‘internet presence’ routine. But I will post them here, at least a few times a week — fair enough since more frequent blog posting is one of my goals this year.
The challenge paramaters (for now):
• materials: dip pen and ink, plus one additional color if I want it
• theme: kids and pets
• bonus: a hand lettered word or phrase relating to the image
Oregon Children’s Theatre has a wonderful new-ish tradition of inviting artists to the dress rehearsal of their performances.
It’s always fun and a little exhilarating: drawing in the dark with only a clip-on booklight to illuminate my paper, scrambling to capture an interaction, gesture or expression that grabs me from the stage. It’s not clear why I choose to work in watercolor under these circumstances — apparently ‘logical’ and ‘strategic’ are not my top qualities. But there is no opportunity to second guess or fuss over details, so sometimes the results are refreshingly loose and lively.
Here’s a glimpse of a project I’ve been working on for the past few weeks. These are a bunch of drafts of the color wash layer. Once I was happy with the color layer, I laid a sheet of translucent paper over the top and quickly made a graphite line drawing that roughly correlated to the wash below. After about a million drafts of both layers, I scanned and combined the color wash with the line art in Photoshop.
Done now — I’ll post final art when I get the go-ahead!
This new year is getting off to a slow start for me. I have a million things I hope to accomplish this year, but I am giving myself the space to start with baby steps. Trying to keep the goals and ambitions in sight without letting them own me.
One of those ambitions is to open the door a crack and let some of my work out into the world. So, occasional instagram, occasional blog posts. I’m not ready to immerse completely in an internet life, but I want to dip a toe in, see how it feels, see if I like where it takes me.
This little Sassafras has been on my mind and drawing board forever. This year she is getting a book.
I'm Abigail Marble. I'm a writer and illustrator in Portland, Oregon.