Monday, December 14, 2009

Red Bull, Hershey’s And A Woman Yawning

Cartoon-wise this weekend was a fail. Sadly, it wasn’t even an epic fail, just a plain old run-of-the-mill fail. But I do have a little story to tell about it.


The weekend started out with promise. Friday I bought a small set of water-soluble wax crayons and I was going to use them to render the color for whatever cartoon I drew this weekend. I like using crayons. The first color images I put up in this blog used Crayola crayons for color.

I also like Prismacolor markers. The last few cartoons I’ve put up have been all Prismacolor. So Friday and early Saturday I was kind of conflicted, wanting to try out the crayons and wanting to stick with Prismacolor.

So I went out into the real world and just wandered around a bit trying to think of an idea for a cartoon and trying to see if I could think of a way to decide what to use to draw the cartoon.

Then came a moment around which my whole weekend pivoted.

I saw a remarkable-looking woman. She was just kind of standing around. She wasn’t hanging with anyone or doing anything special, she seemed to be just standing around killing time. I don’t believe she saw me looking at her because she glanced at her watch and then looked off into the distance and yawned.

She didn’t cover her mouth and she didn’t make any effort to keep her face presentable. She just in a lazy way yawned and then looked again at her watch.

I thought, “Wow. I want to draw that.”

J. D. Salinger wrote about a moment something like what I experienced in one of the short stories included in his “Nine Stories,” the story “The Laughing Man.” It includes this paragraph I’ve always remembered:

Offhand, I can remember seeing just three girls in my life who struck me as having unclassifiably great beauty at first sight. One was a thin girl in a black bathing suit who was having a lot of trouble putting up an orange umbrella at Jones Beach, circa 1936. The second was a girl aboard a Caribbean cruise ship in 1939, who threw her cigarette lighter at a porpoise. And the third was the Chief's girl, Mary Hudson.

Watching that woman yawn was like that for me. I was hooked.

It’s been a while since I’ve wanted to draw anyone and I instantly wanted to draw that woman yawning.

I’m a pretty talkative guy but I didn’t get a chance Saturday to talk to the woman. Sunday we didn’t bump into each other. So I was pissed off. I could try to draw her from memory or I could find a photograph that kind of looked like her or I could put off drawing her. My memory drawing skills are almost non-existent so I couldn’t do that. I don’t like working from photographs, I just didn’t want to do that. So I had to postpone my drawing idea.

But it was really the only thing I could think of. I had two or three caption ideas for the yawn and, once I decided to postpone the yawn drawing, I couldn’t get myself to think of anything else to draw or write about.

So I had nothing.

At some point Sunday I was sitting around trying to come up with an idea and I looked over and saw a Hershey’s bar next to a can of Red Bull and in the light the combinations of blue and silver and brown looked pretty cool. So I thought I’ll just draw that, a kind of commercial still life about sugar. I couldn’t think of anything funny to say but I liked to combination of blue and brown and I thought with pens I could approximate the two colors.

Before I draw a cartoon I use a little 4" by 6" sketch book to test out my idea. So I sketched a small version of the Red Bull and Hershey’s idea, then used two or three different brands of colored pens to do the red, blue and brown.

The trouble is, then, when I looked at the little sketch I didn’t really think a larger version would look much better.

It was exactly like what happened with my little sketch of Mathilda And Nicole. The little sketch wasn’t finished in any way but I didn’t think my limited skill set drawing-wise would make that much difference when I enlarged everything. I still liked the colors but I didn’t really feel any energy to create a larger, full-page version.

So I just scanned the little sketch.

And I had this little story to go with it.

This is like a down payment. Someday in the future I’m going to chat up that yawning woman and I’ll see if I can get her to pose. Either I’ll get her to pose for me or I’ll see if I can talk someone else into re-creating the scene.

Until then, right now, this sketch is all I got. It’s not much but it’s a step up from nothing.

At least the Salinger quote is cool.

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