June, 2021 Archives

Early summer and I find myself back in cafes after a long illustration assignment and when COVID-19 restrictions arrive relaxing.
All three were drawn in a Clairefontaine Rhodia unlined notebook using various fountain pens and Pitt Artist Pens.

Late afternoon in Lincoln Park, Chicago. Sat down, started drawing and got the whole scene laid in but the sun was low and the shadows and light shafts changed dramatically every 5-10 minutes so after 45 minutes I snapped a pic and finished at home. Pitt Artist Pens Rand some fountain pen with brown ink on a Rhodia unlined notebook.

A bit of a longer post this week. Took a trek to Cleveland to deliver illustrations for a gig I just completed. Rode Amtrak there, and hopped a bus for the return trip.

Ahhhh, public transit. I’m a fan. I’m onboard. I won’t live in a city that doesn’t have a decent functioning mass transit system. I like and applaud municipal, regional and national systems. Buuuut, they are not without some challenges. But then so is sitting a car for hours every week with your hands glued to a steering wheel. Back to some of the challenges about public transit.
Just had a 7 hour overnight ride During which I got 20 minutes of sleep and a very mild case of stiff neck today.
On a packed train I was the lone passenger with an open seat next to me. Shucks! So I turned side-saddle and drew the passenger across the aisle. But when we pulled into South Bend I gained the company of a fellow traveler about 11pm. She came prepared to endure a trek to Buffalo. Told it would be hot on a packed train, she brought a lot of gear, including… a fan she had just bought for $8. That’s her under a blanket with her new fan. Almost felt as if Cousin It from the Adams family was riding shotgun with me.


The above 3 drawings were from the return trip.

Across from the Glidden House where I stayed in Cleveland is Frank Gehry’s exciting 1996 Peter B Lewis building of the Weatherhead School of Management of Case and Western University. Jezusss! Includeding all the vanity naming on buildings is a time suck. A building I’ve draw before a few years back. I’m not a fan of everything Gerry does but he has been bold and this one collided his ideas with such rewarding results. For me the contrasting materials and forms are super playful and unlike the giant and ostentatious Jay Pritzker Pavilion in Chicago’s Millenium Park, the Lewis building has far more successful and surprising dovetailing of the complex forms and materials. The Pritzker bandshell has an idyllic setting and can be viewed from so many angles including hundreds of elevated vantage points from the surrounding high rise buildings. And though it had the challenge to be bold and a centerpiece in a large park setting in the midst of the city which features great developments in architecture, American architecture in particular, I find it to be monstrous.

Fun to draw, but an ungainly, megalomaniacal Leviathan with some seriously clunky and uninspired transitions between the stage and surrounding metal structures. Part billowing clouds, part robotic pirate ship, the bulbous metal forms above the stage transition down around the stage as if they were inspired by a PG13 sci-fi movie about an anthrophillic alien sent here to save and protect humans from rogue robots from a warlord world somewhere in a faraway galaxy.
OK, so my imagination has much to do with my distaste for the Millennium Park monster by Gerry. But I find none of those visual and structural incitements in the Lewis building.


I do find a wealth of architectonic language and interplay and immensely more satisfying resolutions in his mashup of structure and form.
I’ve included a grisaille study of the Pritzker Pavilion from several years ago. Now the Lewis building was designed at least 3-4 years prior to the Pritzker Pavilion and 4-5 years following the design of Gehry’s stunning Bilbao Guggenheim Museum which rocked the world when came to be. So perhaps Gehry felt a need to make another big statement and there’s no reason a building, or art for that mater, cannot be both beauty and beast. The signature metal shingling often employed in Gehry’s oeuvre was inspired by among other things fish scales, and is visually dazzling. Perhaps, at times even blinding as can be seen by some of the photos I took of the Lewis building just this week. Gehry uses handsome materials and loves surface and contrast. Witness the choice of brick on the Lewis building. Relatively simple if not plain at first glance, the modest brick is well suited to the austere surface he creates on the masonry walls with unadorned windows meant to enhance the smooth flow of the walls as they arc, curve and bend to dance if not mimic the metal forms. Nice. Metal, born of heat, is known for retaining a sense of its liquid state. Brick, also a material that evolves from dry to wet to dry metamorphosis, often conveys a rigidness but in Gehry’s design is supple and smoothly muscular. Up close, the brick surface displays subtle indentations as if erosion and spalling have begun the demise of the buildings skin. Not so. Those features do however give further surface interest when viewed during the moments the passing sun cast a raking light on the building. That combined with the reflective metal skin mean the skin of the building is constantly changing as light conditions and weather alter the surface of Gehry’s work. It breathes. On one side he utilizes the razzle dazzle of the orchestration of swirling metal, brick and glass features, however, on the opposite side, with close proximity to the dark and heavily shadowed Ben C Green Law Library, a thick Brutalist building, Gehry provides counterpoint with a light brick building that has both delicacy, calm yet flair with equal assurance as it flirts with its knotted brow neighbor.
One review I read about the Lewis building talks of how it’s radical presence has segued to an everyday familiarity with passers by now used to it in a University Circle neighborhood that features a wonderful collection of distinct architecture from many styles. In part, the reviewer argues because it is embedded within Case Western’s urban campus and surrounded in close proximity by many buildings and well developed trees. But if you walk around the building you notice that you can experience this still dramatic structure from close, where it’s interplay and details thoroughly delight in its sculptural wit and sensuality. You can also appreciate it from afar as the landscaping on the Case and Western campus and the nearby museum campus afford great views from more than a couple hundred yards.
I’m a fan.

Fountain pens and Pitt Artist Pens on Clairefontaine Rhodia unlined notebook.



Claus Oldenburg’s metal & wood glove and ball, a first baseman’s mitt if we’re to be exact, in the grand atrium at the magnificent Cleveland Museum of Art. A huge and rewarding collection with prime examples of the work of the artist in the collection. Superb building and facilities.

Faber-Castell Pitt Artist Pens on a Rhodia unlined notebook.


Got in a few hours in the magnificent Cleveland Museum of Art. Fantastic buildings, superb collection.
Drawing #1 one of the Biglin brothers from Thomas Eakins’ The Biglin Brothers Turning The Stake.

#2 two views of a bas relief marble head and a quickie of a Adolph Mengs portrait of Infante Don Luis de Borbón one of King Philip V of Spain’s nere do well trust funded brats. The side label/comment mentioned how characters like him were the subjects of interest when rational skepticism in the Age of Enlightenment began to confront absolutist hereditary power. Kind of brings to mind the spoiled brats like D Trump and his offspring.

#3 gored and dying dogs from a hunting scene by Lucas Cranach the Elder. A little bronze of a dog scratching itself. And a wooden carving of St. Andrew

#4 rt to lft the backside of some dude in a print, the still clenched hand of a dead Christ in a wooden Pietá. Many times the hands of the dead Christ are depicted relaxed, but the graphic realism of this one grabbed me. And a difficult to see sketch of a polished bronze figure with a Fu Manchu that resembled Kenny Rogers after he got plastic surgery “face lift”

Drwg #5 the last drawing before leaving the CMA a sketch of a Civil War Union soldier carving a pipe. Dressed in red cap, blue jacket and billowing red breeches the units known as Zouaves were comfortable and looked great but were compelling targets of Confederate sharp shooting snipers. This small painting by Homer is a gem! Well known for his Maine seascapes and his watercolors, he was a monster draftsman who was a war correspondent and combat artist. He’s knocked me dizzy with a number of his drawings and watercolors. I adore this figure and his hands carving the pipe were so accurately dexterous with brilliant brushwork.

Drawn with a Warm Grey IV Pitt Artist Pen Chisel nib and Brush nib because they appear to be pencil drawings, especially on paper that allows you to smudge ‘em, BECAUSE… museums don’t want you to draw with ink.

p.s. the dog scratching itself was drawn with ink from a fountain pen.

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