Sunday, August 25, 2013

The Colors of Shakespeare!

Okay, so I lied. I couldn't sketch Romeo and Juliet just once, so I went back Saturday for a longer rehearsal, using Prismacolor sticks and pencils to capture the Pittsburgh Shakespeare in the Parks' production. It was another, final, glorious summer afternoon in Frick Park, and it was a privilege to draw these talented performers. Sketching is such sweet sorrow! But students flock to Oakland, and it is time to bid summer's follies and frolics adieu!

(Actually, I suggested that the Capulets and Montagues be updated to rival Mexican drug cartels, who off the Prince in Act I, but this idea was rejected, so you could say I am parting ways with the production over creative differences!! Just kidding.)

Warm ups: 50 jumping jacks!

More circle warm-ups.

The personalities of Chuck and Jeff emerge.

Street brawl in fair Verona!

Pre-rehearsal notes.

Chuck as a Falstaffian Mercutio.

Jeff Chips as the Prince following the script; Danielle Powell wondering, "Wherefore art thou, Romeo?"; and Mike Magliocca as Paris.

Ron Siebert as the Friar, harvesting his narcotizing blossoms.

Andy as Romeo; Andy and Chuck after Mercutio gets sliced.

Andy Miller as Romeo, Danielle Powell as Juliet, in the bedroom scene.
Previously, the Friar tells the banished Romeo to pull himself together!

Juliet dies, then Romeo dies, then Juliet dies again!

Michael Mykita and an overworked sketch of Danielle during notes.

Andy stretching out during notes.

Danielle during notes.
See also: Romeo ... Banish-ed!

Thursday, August 22, 2013


Last evening I was invited to sketch the rehearsal of Pittsburgh Shakespeare in the Parks' forthcoming production of Romeo and Juliet by Danielle Powell, who plays Juliet. It would take longer than two hours to get to know the various personalities involved in this intricate production, and these miserable scribbles barely scratch the surface or do justice to what I witnessed, but it was fascinating to watch the creative process unfold.

I used light blue and graphite pencil on white paper, and darkened the scans, giving some of them a greenish tinge, but you get the idea. I had barely gotten warmed up when darkness descended upon Frick Park, enshrouding us in the tender embrace of a warm summer's eve (okay, I'm no Shakespeare). Unfortunately, the school year beckons, and I won't get a chance to do this again, but I look forward to catching a performance! Thanks to the cast and crew for letting me sit in. (And the cookies were wonderful!)

A park bench serves as a balcony.

Jeff Chips runs lines for a scene in the Capulet household.

Juliet learns that Romeo is banished from fair Verona.

The agony and the ecstasy of the young couple.

Juliet warming up.

Performers warming up before rehearsal, and a cart.

Juliet laid out in the crypt.

A maid drops to her knees in grief; Juliet; Mercutio.

Danielle Powell warming up prior to rehearsal.

Helen Meade directs Yvonne Hudson as the Nurse.

Danielle going over how to drink the poison.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Don, You Drew a Frank Santoro and a Rachel Masilmani

These are studies I made of Frank Santoro's "Frank, You Made a Tom Wesselmann," which was exhibited as part of the Pittsburgh Biennial in 2011. I brought my Carnegie Museum of Art sketchbook class through the exhibit and must have made a quick sketch of it on site; later I refined the figure with two layers of tracing paper. Frank's original was a large airbrush sketch that was somewhere between a contour and gesture line, somewhat indefinite, but suggestive of the entire figure. I loved the pose and wanted to fill it in and render it more literally (in my inimitable flat-footed way, as is my wont). I've done that with other sources, such as Duchamp's Nude Descending a Staircase and Picasso, etc., where I've taken sketchy or abstract figures that I've tried to interpret more literally. (More recently, I've done this with some of my old sketchbook doodles, to mixed success.)

(Note: This effort, including the tracings, has remained in my sketchbook, and therefore technically is a study and not a swipe, the latter being only when one attempts to pass off a published drawing as one's own work without acknowledgement or satiric intent.)

I saw Frank last night at the Little Book Fair in the Garfield section of Pittsburgh, and met him recently at Copacetic Comics, but never made the connection that he was the gallery artist whose work I had swiped! I've owned a copy of his Storeyville for years. Apparently I need names, faces, and work impressed on me all at once to make the connection, or the information goes flying off into space.

Below, I did pretty much the same thing with a selection of figures from Rachel Masilmani's haunting comic Las Cuerpas (you can download a pdf) after coming across it and meeting her in April 2013, again at the Carnegie Museum of Art, at Drawing Power, a 'zine-and-comics fair and symposium. I've extracted all the pretty figures, but as you'll see, the story concerns the gruesome gynocide of women in Juarez, Mexico, and the conspiracy of silence surrounding these murders, and the revenge of a ghostly, gargantuan Goyaesque figure who strides over the landscape.