These are two of my favorite subjects. Specifically, I am interested in finding a way to capture a likeness of Emily Dickinson. The legendary daguerrotype of her bleaches her face a little bit and makes it difficult to pull out all the features I want. These two sketches were the result of several watercolor experiments that I was not happy with, so I’ve kept them in B & W. I actually gave up on Whitman’s portrait at one point because of his jacket and started scrawling all over it. A few moments later I realized the scrubbing was creating texture and I started appreciating the sketch again. I am disappointed with the sloppy job I did with Emily’s hand because the picture is otherwise one that I like a lot.
Frederick Douglass is great to draw. All the intensity of his life and activism is there. He’s definitely a subject I will be exploring further.
Amelia Earhart was one of my father’s favorite historical mysteries. I miss talking to him about her and what might have happened to her and to her plane in 1939. I intend to draw Amelia much more. This was my first, loose attempt.
I’m a big fan of Clifford Brown, a jazz musician who died in a car accident in 1956. His recordings of “Laura,” “Smoke Gets in Your Eyes,” and “Delilah” are wonderful. I don’t think I’ve nailed his likeness down as well as I’d like to but drawing these was a fun exercise. I rarely attempt profiles.
In March of 2019 I started sketching free hand on 4 x 6 postcards. I often draw them in bed. Playing with postcards helps me to draw fast and loose and achieve some cartoony likenesses. It has also allowed me to play with ink and crosshatching, which is a dangerous business. Above you can see a crooked-faced Edgar Allan Poe, a tough Emily Dickinson, and R. Crumb, whose style I admire, and whose crosshatching I try to imitate.
I generally draw in series, such as American Literary History, Jazz performers, or The Mexican Revolution. Below you can see Venustiano Carranza and Emiliano Zapata. In the middle is an interpretation of a famous period photograph by the Casasola brothers of a woman with a rifle.
Santo and Blue Demon. Drawing and painting this helped to break me from the pattern of drawing plain faces in a straightforward way. I also liked the idea of using two page spreads.
Portrait of Boris Pasternak, Russian novelist. I’ve drawn other faces with a lot more skill but I like the color.
Thich Nhat Hanh.
I don’t typically buy U.S. or British lobby cards but I got this one to illustrate my next book. The color is fantastic. The warping in the image is because I took the picture with the lobby card in its plastic sleeve. In the introduction to my upcoming book (on Mexican Westerns), I write in some detail about The Magnificent Seven (1960) as a “Borderlands” Western.
Here are some images from a special issue of Diario de un corazón (December, 1963), about the assassination of JFK. The comic portrays JFK as a martyr president and celebrates Jackie as a role model. Art is uncredited.
With this post, I inaugurate the blog feature of my site, which I plan to use to post items from my collection of vintage comics, magazines, pulps, and movie posters.
Here’s a 1941 Spanish pulp by Hugo Conway (Frederik John Fargus, known in English as “Hugh” Conway, 1847-1885). Cover art by the Spanish illustrator and comic book artist Emilio Freixas (1899-1976).