Friday, September 11, 2015

Waiting for food

Like him or not, Robert Crumb is considered by many an indisputable master of cartooning. His fame rests in large part on his underground comics from nearly 50 years ago, Zapp Comix and others as well as his characters Mr. Natural, Fritz the Cat, et al.  His famous cartoon "Keep on Truckin'" is an icon of the 1960s, having been copied endlessly by nearly everyone, although Crumb himself saw almost nothing from it. Regardless,his singular style of drawing and his even more singular subject matter made him one of the more interesting cartoonists of all time. Like many artists, one of his important characteristics is perseverance. Seen in the bio "Crumb" and obvious from the sheer volume of his work over the years is that Crumb is always, always drawing. About 20 years ago he even published a book of drawings he made while waiting for his restaurant orders to be served. "Waiting for Food" remains great fun and Crumb has published a number of sequels too.
Margarita Monday
To give credit where due, Crumb inspired me to try my hand at making a few small ink and watercolor pictures in restaurants. This one was done in a 3x5 watercolor sketchbook while waiting for my hamburger to arrive. We were visiting in Seattle last week and enjoyed lunch overlooking scenic Lake Union, which is always dotted with sailboats. I knew there was no way to do anything much with such a glorious and complicated landscape, so I decided to look indoors and concentrate my view. These shakers seemed to fit the bill, and I particularly like how the round tops of the shakes contrast with the straight lines everywhere else.

I laid the painting in using an earth red watercolor pencil on watercolor paper toned with ochre gouache. The paper is bound in a small, 3x5 sketchbook that's handy to use, easy to carry, and relatively inconspicuous. Using a waterbrush and a small set of colors I washed in the darks. Next came watercolor pencils for the menu lettering and to darken spots on the salt and pepper shakers. After strengthening the transparent washes and adding more points of color here and there plus a few highlights in gouache I used a waterproof pen to add a few strengthening lines and it was done. Took about 20 minutes, and as I looked up our burgers arrived with perfect timing and I could sit back and savor the great view of Lake Union on a sunny summer day.

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