I have never used an actual “sketchbook” for my “sketching”. In fact, I have never, actually, “sketched”. I even dislike the verb, “to sketch”, based on what I’ve seen when people “sketch”, all wispy and mushy and tentative…but that’s just me. I have a very annoying personality.
Instead of putting my works-in-progress into a fancy, expensive, hard-backed “sketchbook”, I use this:
Yes, it’s a no-frills three-ring binder from Staples. It costs around $5.00. I stock the binder with those full-page plastic “sheet protector” things, and I’m good to go. Go to Town, that is. The town being Pelham, Westchester County, New York, where I was living on that fateful Sept. 11 of 2001, and the “village on the Long Island Sound” that was the subject of my first book, When Wanderers Cease to Roam.
My original concept for When Wanderers Cease to Roam was for it to be square, so I trimmed regular bond paper into 8-ich by 8-inch squares, and started making little paintings on Canson 90-lb watercolor paper and arranging them on “pages”. Above is a view of our delightful old train station, c. 2004, when it had Ticket Seller windows!!! (now pretty much gutted, when they installed a spiffy new commuter cafe).
Below, that’s the Post Office:
The Pelham P.O. used to be a bank, until the Great Depression shut it down.
The owls on the facade are fake, of course — such owls are used to keep pigeons off the premisis (I don’t have spell check). The mighty Pelican, being the official bird of the Town of Pelham, is featured on the bank/post office lanterns, which was a detail that I l-o-v-e-d:
If you know my book (WWCTR), you will know by now that none of these pictures of Pelham made it into the published product. They ended up not fitting into the narrative, for being too specifically “Pelham”, or for being kind of boring.
This is the high school:
So, for now, all these pix are sitting in my Pelham Notebook.
This is one of the four elementary schools in Pelham — love the brickwork!:
This is another one of the elementary schools:
These are signs from Pelham businesses:
And the wonderful Pelham Cafe:
The Artistic Manner florist had a great shop cat:
And this was the Old Lake Antiques shop:
All these doors are actual doors from Pelham:
I was painting with my trusty Grumbacher watercolor paints at this time, and now I’m looking at those greens (above) and thinking, Wow — How did I do that?
And, yes, once a year there used to be a Christmas Tree sale on the village green, to raise money for some charity or another:
Ah, yes, I had an immense love for my old hometown, the town of Pelham on the Long Island Sound.
But of all these “sketches”, I DO have a favorite, a hands-down No. 1 fave, the one I will run into a burning building to rescue, and it is this one:
This is a watercolor illustration of a view of Pelham Lake, on the edge of town, in Winter, near sunset, viewed from the rail road tracks high above it. It is not an attractive pic, and was not a pic that I was particularly happy with, even when I made it.
But this pic is my all-time most beloved pic because this happens to be the first watercolor painting I ever did.
I painted it, and it was bad, but here’s the surprising thing: not a single member of the Watercolor Police rushed into my apartment and arrested me for making such an ugly picture. And I realized that hey — I don’t need anybody’s permission or approval to paint! I’m allowed to be lousy!
And I kept on painting.
Which brings me to the Great Squint Give Away (see: last week’s post).
I am giving away this Long Island Sound Summer Sunset Squint to one lucky Commentor.
All you have to do is leave a Comment below, in which you pick a number between 50 and 100. Comments will close after 5 days (which I have to do to control the spam), but next Friday I will open the sealed envelope and reveal Top Cat’s pre-destined winning number!
Meet me back here next Friday — and be sure to have a fantastic next-to-penultimate Summer weekend!