Gallery Update: The Moleskin Awakens!

Gallery Update: The Moleskin Awakens!

Hi! Yes, I’m still alive. I don’t know why I need to keep reassuring everyone of that. Why is everyone expecting me to be dead? Maybe you just like the sense of elation you feel when you realize I’m still breathing and working towards my Artistic Destiny (TM)? Whatever it is, I’m still here.

Now that the kids are back in school and all on the same bus schedule (gone are the days of 3+ bus stops a day for me. I drop them off at the bus stop at 6:30am, they walk home after getting off the bus in the afternoon, or I pick them up in the center of town from the late bus at 4:30pm when they stay after for something), I’ve got the potential for much longer studio time each day. This is only day 2, but me likey. I plan to spend more time on IPMDT and Inside Toby’s Brain (a fun little comic book experiment I’ve been intermittently working on in the Medibang Paint app),  as well as work on finding a home for 10 Things, get some administrative stuff done so I can launch the tshirt Etsy shop (and I’ve had tons of ideas for that endeavor and merchandising in general), and maybe even start working on Revery again.

I’m also trying to catch up on posting things to the gallery and making some blog posts. Like this one. This thing you’re reading right now. It’s a blog post from me. Remember what those are?

Sorry, I might be slightly giddy/loopy from all this extra time on my hands.

Anywho, what was I posting about? Oh, yeah. I’ve filled up a bunch of pages in my trusty moleskin sketchbook. I’m going to have to break this down into two different posts, this one dealing with the sketches from two back to back weeks at camp, and another one about some drawings I did recently in The White Mountains (there aren’t as many of those yet, but there’s a pretty neat little back story to go along with them, a bit of Toby History, if you will). Let’s get started.

As I think I’ve stated before (if not here, then elsewhere), I’ve been taking my sketchbook with me each summer when I volunteer as a leader at scout camps. I started the tradition a few years ago at Camp Carpenter and found it was a great way to pass the time while waiting for the scouts to finish up their program areas. It’s also a great way to practice some drawing-from-life, which is something I don’t do enough of during the rest of the year. It also keeps me sane during the week. This series of sketches is very special to me now, as this was my youngest son’s last year as a Cub Scout, and consequently my last year at this particular camp. We’ve had a lot of wonderful times there, and I know at least I have created some fantastic memories along the way. It was (and still is) hard to think that I won’t be in those woods again next year, but aside from pictures and memories, I’ll have these sketches. One of the amazing things about drawing that I’ve noticed is that the images I create are like an anchor point in time for me. I can look at the drawings and remember where I was and what was going on, who was there, sometimes even conversations that happened (almost word for word). These drawings will always be special to me in a bittersweet kind of way: I’m glad I was able to be there for 5 or so years with my kids, I’m glad they will all be in the same place at the same time soon, but I am painfully aware of the all too fast passage of time now.

 

First sketch from my last week at Camp Carpenter with my youngest son. I found this neat view at Fort Friendship while waiting for the Cubs to go through their activity for the morning.

 

I picked up this piece of firewood just outside of Fort Friendship and set it on one of the picnic tables while I waited for the two Cubs who weren’t old enough to be in the Arrow of Light den Trailblazers program.

 

I set up this little still life with rocks on the same picnic table, but had to cut the sketch short when the activity at Fort Friendship wrapped up and I needed to shepherd the boys to the next program area.

I always found interesting things to draw at the Handi Craft area. It’s a beautiful little secluded spot with a nice juxtaposition of textures, like this rough-barked tree stump in the bed of pine needles with it’s smooth cut surface.

The weathered picnic tables have such great textures and character that it’s hard to resist incorporating them into my sketches. This one was in the Nature program area, but I got interrupted when I learned the group was going on a short nature walk and wasn’t returning, so I needed to go along to lead the Cubs when things were done.

By this point, watching me draw had become a way to pass the time between events for the boys. They loved giving me suggestions about what to draw next, and I liked seeing them give some thought to what was visually interesting around them, like this little stick someone handed me while we waited for the evening flag ceremony.

One of the interesting features on all the picnic tables are the recessed hex bolt and washer hardware holding them together. So much variation and interesting stuff to look at in each one due to their exposure to the elements every summer, one just needs to stop and pay attention to see it.

From mostly organic, to smooth and machined. I got a new drink container before camp (it keeps things cold for days) that has some really nice shape and volume juxtapositions. I sketched this while in the S.W.O.R.M area, specifically mini golf during the afternoon free block time before dinner.

Second (and final) stop at the Nature area, I saw this little sapling poking through. There was a nice, old, rough textured white pine behind it, but I didn’t get around to drawing it.

I always love looking for interesting interplays between various natural elements, often trees and rocks. This happened to be a bit of old root bulging out of the ground, covered in moss and pine needles. It had a cool split in the outer surface, revealing some smooth wood underneath. We had to move on from Nature before I put enough time into this one.

This one is interesting. I vividly remember drawing it, but I don’t quite recall where we were. Water Front? Sports? I think it was Sports, but I can’t be positive. Pine cones are fascinating to study.

The very final drawing from Camp Carpenter. I found this pine cone on the side of the Sports Field, and as is often the case when I really get sucked into a drawing, I didn’t give much thought to my posture when I started. After hunching over this for I don’t know how long, I was in a bit of pain when it was time to move on. While I was working, my youngest son was refusing to participate in the activity, and a very patient staff member was trying to encourage him to join in. Both of my youngest sons struggle with participating in group activities and doing new things in general. I watched them both grow up so much during their time at Camp Carpenter, but that particular challenge was not going to be overcome that day.

My last day at Camp Carpenter was a bit of an emotional one (especially the closing campfire the night before. I’m a big sap), but I barely had time to process it because I only had a day and a half at home before heading to the Hidden Valley Boy Scout Camp with my two older boys. You’d think one would have more free time to sit and draw at a Boy Scout camp, since Boy Scouts is boy lead and all about them developing their independence. Not so much, though. At least not if their are a host of scheduling problems that need to be sorted out and adult training sessions you wish to attend. I did far less sketching that week, but I still made sure I did some.

Maybe not the most exciting drawing, but my eye was drawn to the contrast between all the angels and the grain of the weathered picnic table and the soft pine needles of the forest floor in the Scoutcraft area. The troop was engaged in making fried dough in Dutch ovens at the time.

 

Because rocks. And tree. I found this lovely scene outside the STEM area one evening during the evening programs. The light was fading, so I was rushing, but I really wanted to try to capture some of the foliage in the dark background without having it over power the image. I was trying to create the vague shapes and keep things out of focus.

The troop scheduled a block for fishing at a picturesque little pond that was teeming with large frogs and huge tadpoles. This guy sat rock still for quite a long time, so I decided to draw him (I assumed that’s what he was waiting for). Unfortunately, something eventually spooked him and he turned 90 degrees to his left, ending my sketching session.

I wasn’t kidding when I said that fishing pond was picturesque. I could easily have spent a good chunk of the week hanging out there, drawing various scenes.

Weathered picnic tables have so much character. I couldn’t resist drawing this joint of an octagonal table outside the dining hall while waiting for lunch. Those hazy shapes behind the corner are the arm and pant leg of one of my assistant scoutmasters. I guess he’s famous now, or something.

Last camp sketch of the year, back by the fishing pond. The light streaming through the branches above was gorgeous, but I didn’t quite capture it. Hopefully I’ll have plenty more opportunities over the next several years as I continue to be involved in the scouting program with my kids.

There you have it, two weeks worth of camp sketches in the books for 2017. Lots more projects in the works, hopefully some more regular blog posts and gallery updates coming soon. Thanks for being patient and sticking around!

About the Author:

My brain makes me draw stuff that isn't there, and this is where I put it.

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