Here I sit and wait for the train. I commuted into NYC once a week for a few months so I figured I’d record those moments that get lost in time. Often we commemorate big events but not the little ones. I like keeping track of the little things. At least on occasion. I’m similar to everyone else and usually forget the small stuff so sometimes I like to write it down .

First of all the schedule I worked on was terrible. I worked on Wednesday’s from 2PM until 6:20 PM. That doesn’t make for a quick commute via public transportation. The peak trains have ended and the middle of the day trains run fewer and far between. I had a choice between two trains. The first one gets me into Penn Station at about a quarter to two. Being that it’s a twenty minute walk to where I need to go that’s not a very good choice. The problem is that the next earlier train is an hour and a half earlier than that one. But it’s the one I have to take. 

The worst thing about public transportation is the waiting. Any commute involves commute time plus waiting for a bus or train. With the train arriving at Nanuet station at 10:52 AM that means I have to be there ten minutes before that. It’s a twenty minute drive from my house to the station so I end up leaving the house at a quarter after ten. I also have to take into account the five minutes it takes to park and walk over to the train.

Luckily for me there was a nice glass enclosed waiting area at the train station. Since it was winter when I commuted I was able to sit in there and draw. I drew in my ink book or drew some of my 5×7 inch cartoon art cards. I had a 6×8 inch stiff cardboard envelope that I stuck some Bristol board in and the envelope doubles as a drawing board too. I even left my house five or ten minutes early, just in case of traffic, plus I know I’ll get a little extra drawing time in.

When the train comes I get on and kick back with my headphones on. I’ve collected old Howard Stern shows as mp3s over the years and I usually play some of that as I relax and ride. I put them on my old generation one iPod Touch and start listening in the car on the way to the station. Lately I’ve been listening to the Eric the Actor Omnibus. Somebody out there in internet land made individual mp3 files of every one of ETA’s appearances and posted them for us fans.

As I ride the train more waiting is up ahead. There is no direct train route from Nanuet to NYC so we have to get off at Secaucus Junction and get on a train to Penn Station from there. Being that I don’t want to get to school too early I have a choice between stations to wait at. Penn Station is a bad place to wait. It’s a terrible space not built for humans. Secaucus Junction is sunny, spacious, and vibrant. So that’s where I usually wait. I find a seat on a bench in the main waiting area and pull out my drawing stuff to work on. It’s been the faces lately. I stay there for about half an hour before getting on a train into the city.
There was a day this February where the temperature actually hit 80F. That sure was unusual during this especially cold winter and spring so I took advantage of it by not drawing and heading in to take street photos. I walked around for an hour and a half snapping photos. I have to say that was a tiring day. All that walking and then standing and teaching wore me out more than usual.

Besides that one day I usually got into the city at about a quarter to one. That means I arrive at the school about an hour early. That leaves me time to check into the office and chat a little before heading up to my classroom. I almost always get to the class earlier than my students so I set things up and then do some more drawing. I have about half an hour to work in my ink book. Then I teach.

After class things move quickly at first. We get out at 6:20 and I hustle over to Penn. it really doesn’t matter what time I get there as there are a whole bunch of trains that stop at Secaucus Junction. It’s the time of the train from Secaucus to Nanuet that matters. There is a 7PM but it’s a local. I’ve only caught this one once and it didn’t save me much time. There is a 7:30 express train and that’s the one I’m usually on. Despite it leaving half an hour later it only arrives at Nanuet five to ten minutes after the 7PM. 

So what do I do for that half an hour at the station? I read. I’m way too burnt out by then for drawing so I read. I read comic books on my iPad. I prefer my comic books on paper but as I’m commuting digital comics sure are handy. I often reread the paper comics I bought the week before in their digital version. I’m in the habit of always reading my comics twice before filing them away so this is a good opportunity for that second read. I’ll also check out some new and old stuff. Once the train comes I also read most of the way to Nanuet. No headphones on the way home.

As a change of pace today, the last day of my semester, I’m writing on my iPad rather than drawing or listening to music. It’s not easy I’m finding out. Typing with one finger on a moving train is hard on the concentration. The guy on the phone behind me didn’t help. Here comes Secaucus so I’ll catch you later.

I’m back from the comic shop this week and I got four new comics.

  • The Walking Dead – 180
  • Strangers in Paradise XXV – 4
  • Paper Girls – 21
  • Eternal Empire – 9
  • Check them all out here:

    So what did I do today? I inked a piece. I wasn’t expecting to but I had no art plans and wanted to get something done. Lately I’ve been doing a lot of art cards, 5×7 cartoon art cards, ink book drawings, and positive affirmation cards. Small stuff. I’ve been wanting to work on bigger stuff but I haven’t had the motivation lately. I still don’t quite have that motivation just yet but I went over to my box of unfinished work to try and find something to ink. It was surprisingly empty.

    I usually draw up a few things and have five or six drawings near the ink stage in a box but I think I had inked all of them over the last couple of months. Except I inked them so slowly that I don’t notice the box got empty. That and I still have a bunch of drawings in there to be colored so it wasn’t empty-empty. There was only one drawing left in the box too be inked and it was a doozy.

    Sometimes I like to draw, or especially ink, with a marker/technical pen/ink pen and a French curve (or straight edge). It’s a mechanical process compared to inking with a brush. I line up the French curve with the line I want to ink and draw the ink pen across the curve. If I want a thicker line I drop the curve down a fraction of an inch and draw a second line. If I’m in the mood to work that way it can be very meditative. My mind gets to rest and my eyes and hands do the work. If I’m not in the mood that type of drawing gets really tedious.

    I must have really been in the mood to use the curves when I was drawing this one (named “The 39 Dollar Charge”) because it had a lot of complicated lines and shapes in it that were all drawn with a French curve and a pencil. I just checked the date on the original drawing and it’s dated September 4, 2014. I inked it on May 9, 2018. That’s almost four years this one has sat around unworked on. That’s a long time. I must have really never been in the mood for such a complex French curve drawing. I still wasn’t today.

    Normally when I ink a drawing I’m searching for the perfect line. If I’m using a brush I use a steady hand and drag the brush across the page going from thin to thick. I want it to be smooth and pretty. When I’m using the French curve and ink pen there is no thick to thin but a perfect even weight line. I didn’t want to use either of these techniques on this picture. Too much searching for the perfect line can get boring and tedious.

    What made me pick up the drawing today and finally work on it? I decided to try and use my rough-line side-of-the-brush technique. That’s a technique in which I don’t try to make a thick to thin or even line but draw the side of the brush across the page to create an uneven line. Sometimes I don’t concentrate enough and make the line too even so I have to go back and rough it up. The opposite of how I normally work.

    The funny part is that I somehow think this method of working is easier. It’s not. It’s different but it’s not exactly easier. It may not take the same type of concentration as my normal method but it does take mindfulness. I looked at the drawing and thought I could finish it over three or four hours in the morning. I was wrong. It took me all day. There are a lot of lines in this piece.

    I started with the figure on the left on top. It took me a remarkably long time to finish that one figure. There are a lot of lines in it and I was still figuring out what I was doing with it. Line weight isn’t always easy to figure out with this technique. The texture of the line also takes some doing and is directly related to the line weight.

    The figure was made up of shapes that were all drawn with a French curve so they were all flat. It was a very geometric two dimensional space. There wasn’t a lot of distinction between the background and the foreground. I had to figure out how I wanted to create that distinction and how I wanted to make the characters look.

    The key to pulling this drawing together was the little ticks of texture around the edges of the figure’s forms. It’s nothing I haven’t done before, usually with neater little tick marks, but it added just enough form to the figure to make it real for me. Most of the shapes were extremely flat in a way that didn’t work. That could have been another reason this drawing sat around unfinished for so long.

    That’s what got the drawing going but what pulled it together in the end are the textures in the background. The diagonal lines of the fence at the bottom were indicated in the pencil drawing but I added the lines in the mountains at the bottom, the lines in the mountains at the top, and the wavy lines in the sky at the top. The clouds in the middle of the page were also there but I tripped the amount of lines to beef up the cloud texture.

    Besides those line and texture decisions most of my time was spent on this drawing just doing it. Dipping the brush in ink and making lines. There are a lot of lines. I somehow completely underestimated how many lines there were. I would ink one area, say a shoulder, and it seemed to barely make a dent in the overall drawing. Even after inking the two figures the background seemed overwhelming. It really took determination to finish this one.

    Since I just finished this drawing a short while ago I’m still having trouble judging it. I think it came out fine but I still don’t know what it means to me. I look at it and mostly what I can see is the work I put into it. That’s how things usually go with finished pieces and me. I’ll give it some time and see what it looks like in a couple of weeks.

    I’m back from the comic shop this week and I got seven new comics.

  • The Undateable Cerebus – 1
  • Hillbilly – 10
  • Kill or be Killed – 19
  • Lazarus – 28
  • Saga – 52
  • Savage Dragon – 234
  • Stray Bullets: Sunshine and Roses – 35
  • Check them all out here:

    Since I wrote last week about the subject of motivation this week I decided to motivate myself to make a painting. I haven’t painted in quite a while due to lack of motivation so that was an obstacle I would have to overcome. I did that by setting myself a goal of being able to paint it over the weekend. I’d start it on Saturday and finish it (for the most part) on Sunday. I could motive myself for a weekend I thought.

    The first thing I did was pick a size for the painting. I have some stretched 18×24 inch canvases lying around so that was a pretty easy choice. I have a few bigger canvases but those sizes were too ambitious for a weekend. 18×24 is a solid size. It’s big enough to be considered on the small size of large. My only other choice was 8×10 inches and that is way too small. I didn’t want to make a small painting. That’s a different type of motivation.

    The second choice I made was not to make a detailed drawing or color sketch. Usually how I work is to find a small thumbnail drawing from my ink book that I like, blow it up, and redraw it into a finished drawing. Then I take that finished drawing, digitize it, and make a color sketch on the computer. This can take anywhere from a few hours to a day. I also have a bunch of finished drawings around that I could have chosen but that would mean I would have to transfer that drawing onto the canvas. That could take anywhere from half an hour to a couple of hours and kill my motivation.

    What I decided to do was to get started on the painting by drawing right on the canvas. Preliminary drawing be damned. Well, maybe not quite damned. Instead of flying blind I picked out one of my recent Positive Affirmation art cards and used the drawing on that as a guide. It was the drawing of a face. I decided on a face because that seemed like the least complicated drawing I could start with. I draw a lot of faces so I had a good idea I could stay motivated with one one of them.

    I kept the drawing fairly simple. A face, some A-frame hair, and a neck. I didn’t even go with a picture background. I kept the background simple. Most of it is hair with a peek of orange showing through. That and purple bars on top and bottom. As I was drawing the face I didn’t like the composition. There was a little bit too much hair on top of the painting. That’s when I decided to go with the color bars. I’ve used shapes of color in my paintings since I was college so it’s nothing new to me. I know how to handle a color shape as an element of a painting so it was an easy decision.

    The one thing about the drawing that I didn’t get right was the eyes. They came out fine in the end but that’s because I knew they weren’t right and I’d have to fix them. I also know I could fix them in the painting stage. I struggled to get them just how I wanted in the drawing stage, saw frustration was setting, in and abandoned trying to get them right then and there. That’s because I knew that all the subtlety of the drawing would be blown out and obliterated in the next stage.

    After I finished the pencil drawing I grabbed my paint brush and some dark purple paint. I then proceeded to redraw the face in purple paint. But it was redrawn in a blunt way. This painting was really an underpainting. That means there was still a lot of painting to be done and it would be done on top of this paint.

    Once the purple line was down I blocked in the color. Once again it was done in a blunt way. I hadn’t’ made a color sketch so I took my time with this part and thought about every color before I put it on the canvas. Then I simply covered up the white with color. This is also underpainting so it’s not about getting the painting to look good. As a matter of fact this is when the painting looks its worst. It’s a sloppy mess but that’s okay. This is when the real painting starts.

    For this real painting part the thing I do is to reapply my purple line and color. I move between the two of them woking on the shapes of color and the interaction of line to shape. Here is where I also start to fix the eyes. Since the paint is opaque I can change the shape of the eyes easily. So I do. This part is just the start of the finished painting. Instead of being the underpainting it’s the base. It’s what the rest of the painting is built on. I have to get the drawing correct at this stage or the base will be flawed.

    At this point I gave the painting a name just so I could write it down in my calendar. I name most of my stuff randomly by whatever pops into my head and that’s how this one got the name “Sable Cult.” I have no idea what the name means or how it relates to this painting but that’s what I came up with.

    The rest of the painting is painting. Putting on all those blocks and brush strokes of color. Lots of pattern. It’s almost like an abstract painting in that the color and brush strokes don’t have to be literal. Most of them are not describing anything. They just are. The line starts to disappear as I eat into it with brush strokes of paint and the marks start to take over. It’s a slow process that took most of Sunday.

    It’s a weird thing to decide when I’m finished with a painting like this. I can only describe it as I look at the painting, contemplate where I want to put a series of marks, and after I put the marks on they suggest another series of marks. This goes on for hours as more layers of paint and brush strokes are added on. And then it stops. A mark doesn’t suggest another mark and I think I’m done.

    I’m usually not done at this point but I know it’s when to stop and leave the painting for a day. I finished Sunday night, left it overnight, and looked at it Monday morning. A few more marks suggested themselves but then that was it. I put in about fifteen minutes and that was that. I knew I was done.

    One more thing with this painting. I made a few videos on Instagram as I was painting this one showing my progress. So if you want to see them hop on over there.
    My Instagram Page