Archive for January, 2011
This morning I was fairly sleepy when I woke up. I dozed for ten minutes or so, could’ve easily have slipped off back to sleep. Lying on my back, looking out of the window, through the virtually-useless white curtains, a white balloon came into view. Just a small party balloon, with a piece of string and a tag hanging from it. It was enough to get me to jump out of bed. I pulled open the curtains, opened the window, and watched as it floated low over the smaller buildings next to mine. It got lower and lower as it floated over the road. For a split second, I wondered if I could get dressed and get to the balloon before anyone else. Thankfully, the guy who sells gum and candy at the traffic lights started following it, about to grab the golden ticket. And as he reached up ready to grab it, the wind took it upwards again. Over the other lanes of traffic, higher and higher over a three-storey building into the empty space above a car park, and out of view. I had a piss, took a shower, and brushed my teeth. I went to Starbucks to get coffee. Sauntered home, and as I passed a mirror in the lounge, noticed that I had toothpaste juice caking in my beard either side of my mouth.
After a few days out of the city at the weekend home of the family of friends, after those few days of sunshine and doing nothing much, getting back to Distrito Federal, it’s noticeable how loud the city is. Every regular big city has noise, but what makes Mexico City different to London, Berlin, Toronto is how much of that noise is specifically designed to disturb you. One could be charitable and say it’s noise that is there to alert your attention to certain things, but on the whole, the noises are there to be loud enough to make sure people in apartment buildings can here those noises through closed windows. And if, like me, you don’t really want to traipse down four flights of stairs to buy bananas or get your knives sharpened, they’re just added noise to an already noisy city. Still, I could leave with the trash men ringing their bells, the knife-sharpener’s whistle, the tamales guy’s looped announcement coming from the speakers on his bicycle, the steam whistle of the guys selling sweet potatoes, the shouts of “agua!” or “gas!”… I could live with all of those if the cilindreros, the organ grinder who plays on the street outside my bedroom/workspace would be swallowed up by the earth for crimes to the ears of human beings.
So, yes, as you can tell, I came back from a weekend away fully relaxed. I went to this place called San Gil. It’s a strange (to me, at least) little private estate, spread out around a big artificial lake and 18 hole golf course. It’s near a town called San Juan del Río, in the state of Querétero, about an hour-and-a-half northwest of Mexico City; a pleasant ride on a motorway through yellow-ish countryside with dusty hills on the horizon. And, since leaving Bellingham in the middle of 2009, I’ve hardly spent five minutes outside of one city or another. I spent the majority of the journey staring out of the window at the lack of buildings. Every now and again, there’d be cattle or sheepses in the fields, farmhouses, or by the roadside, cafes, restaurants, Pemex gas stations, auto shops, and places that sold concrete crap for the garden.
Nearing San Juan del Río, we found out that the people who’s house we were heading to were behind us on the road from the city, so we stopped for food at a barbacoa restaurant. Barbacoa is lamb cooked slowly in a hole dug in the earth, and covered with leaves. And it’s fucking delicious. It’s so very, very tender. I had some soup with the lamb, and, duh, some tacos de barbacoa. Also of interest at the restaurant were the pictograms used to indicate the toilets. Because all men smoke pipes, and women use fans.
At the house, it was one of those weekends where, afterwards, you wrack your brain to try and remember the order of events, but it’s impossible. The relaxation all blends into one mush of doing lots of nice stuff. Playing basketball and chess with teenagers, drinking tequila, eating all kinds of awesome food, sitting in the sunshine, riding a bicycle around the resort, playing with the dogs, and watching the freshly bathed and brushed male dogs suddenly get all fruity and spend an afternoon humping each other.
Noticing how quiet life is, noting the lack of policemen, enjoying the guilt-free drinking of beer before lunch, drunkenly not caring about making a tit of yourself playing the Xbox Dance Central game, trying to take poker seriously but just enjoying bluffing with a ridiculously stupid hand, developing intricate handshakes with a 12 year old, standing around chatting in the ever-busy kitchen, watching some gorgeous sunsets. It was a lovely long weekend.
Sometimes, drawings simply happen for no real reason.
Been a while since I bothered to go through something step-by-step. Not sure if anyone cares, but for the three people out there who may care, here’s a step-by-step of drawing the Ron Artest thing.
A bit of background. These figure started off a bit more cartoony than they ended up being. Of course, they’re still a bit of cartoony, with the slightly over-sized heads, but before, they had no really facial detail, and no necks. The first dudes I drew, back in 2007, were some Liverpool FC players (Pepe Reina, Jamie Carragher, John Arne Riise, Steven Gerrard, and Dirk Kuyt), and soon after that I did a wee animation for Japanese magazine, ELLEgirl, featuring male and female luchadores.
At some point last year I revisted the drawings and started drawing Major League Baseball uniforms. I wanted to do drawings of players, and felt like fiddling with the template a touch. Because I have a perfectionist and completist streak, I did all the uniforms before I drew any players. Below are some of the MLB templates, and here are some of the players I’ve drawn so far. After doing the MLB uniform dudes, I did NFL dudes, and Premier League dudes. And so far, I’ve done one NHL dude.
And when the Artest thing came along, it came time to draw a template NBA dude. Now, this is the point where, because I’m a white liberal pansy, I started worrying about the fact that all of the other sportsmen templates I’ve drawn were the same skin tone. There was no real reason for that other than I wanted the uniform templates to look like templates, so they all kinda had to be the same colour (and being that white liberal pansy, you’ll notice that they’re all slightly darker than the original LFC players; because I did MLB players first, I decided to do them with a slightly darker Latin American skin tone. Not that all Latin Am- oh, jeez, I’ll stop over-explaining…). Here’s the few template unis I did specifically for the Artest thing.
Here’s where the facial characteristics of the portrait come into being. So, the baseball guys had caps, and the NFL guys had helmets, so the first time I really did a full head was the Premier League templates. I took that and changed the skin tone to be more like Ron’s.
Next step with these drawings is to do a real basic outline of what makes the guy the guy. So with Ron, it’s his head shape and (currently) a wee beard. I do some rough changes to the template to bring those in, and with each step try to refine the drawing.
Still not particularly looking like Ron…
But it takes a step closer with the addition of some shading to highlight the cheekbones…
And then even more so by taking away some of the head shape to make the cheekbones more prominent.
A few more tinkers and we’re done.
Here’s an animated GIF of each step of the process.
More finger painting here.