I checked my watch; it was past 6:30pm and my bus wasn't advancing quickly enough through the tunnel. I made an imaginary timeline of what would happen the rest of the day. Get to the Society of Illustrators by 7:30, sit down, start sketching, get up, and leave by 8:30. I had another engagement I committed to. One hour? That didn't seem like enough time.
I ran down the subway earlier than I imagined. 6:58, making great time. From Port Authority, I'd have to take the F uptown, a subway I had never taken uptown before. Something new, something welcomed. A few stops away and I was already out of the subway, being 23 minutes ahead of schedule. Unfortunately, I had to climb up what seemed to be endless flights of stairs just to get out.
The rush of wind revealed the outside to me. I gave myself ten extra minutes; this was an area I hadn't been to before and I was 75% likely to get lost and go the wrong way. Luckily, I turned a corner and there it was - The Society of Illustrators. I walked inside and was asked if I was here for the birthday party or Sketch Night. I was intrigued by the birthday party but said Sketch Night. A birthday party would have to wait.
After charging me, the man who asked me my puprose directed me to a room on the first floor. A raised platform in the center was empty, tables and chairs were littered and turned towards it, a crowd of illustrators, artists, painters, and many more were using all kinds of mediums on all kinds of surfaces to create their art. I was alone, slightly confused, and very, very awkward. I sat in front of a side of the raised platform. In the back of the room, wide stairs led to a spacious partition of the space where more artists sat. One in particular stood, holding a brush and painting on paper, held high by an easel
Others had brushes, paints, crayons, watercolors etc. I, on the other hand, merely brought a pencil, a sketchpad, and an eraser. I didn't expect there to be so much space available. I also saw tables in front of many of the sitting people. There was no table in front of my seat, where would I get such a useful device. I stood up and looked around; being the only one warmed my face as embarrassment slowly but gradually crept up.
Finally I found a table and worked it's strange folding mechanism to my advantage. I now had a chair, a sketchpad, and drawing materials, I was ready! Three models, two beautiful women and one tall gentlemen came up and stood atop the platform. A man called out "this will be a ten-minute pose." I felt comfortable.
The models rotated, making sure their front was exposed to all sections of the audience. The length of poses varied from 10 to 20 minutes ones, with changes in wardrobe in between. I loved every second of it. Having this 10/20 minute timeline rushed me in a good way. I couldn't stop for distractions, I couldn't think too long. I just drew.
Unfortunately, I had a real timeline and had to duck out before the sketch night actually ended.
Here are the sketches I made that first visit. Apologies in advance for the photo quality, these came from my camera phone rather than a scan.
This one was my favorite, for somewhat obvious reasons. It's practically finished in terms of on the paper. I wanted to differentiate between aspects of her clothing and herself and used the thick marker sparingly. I loved the sunglasses because 1) it made the eyes much easier to draw and 2) there was so much attitude behind it. I'd love to scan this and see what I could make beyond the paper.
As of right now, I've come back from my second time at Sketch Night. It was in a different smaller room, with two models. I had a hard time finding the right spot to draw from, I like being close, but eventually I'm sure I'll change my vantage point. Once I sat down, knowing there was no end until the event finished, there was no awkwardness, no uncomfortability. I put on my large headphones and drew until the models moved, the 10/20 minute period having finished. Here are the sketches.
Unfortunately, I'm less pleased with these than the earlier ones, though they have their merit. To be half-honest, my mind's been elsewhere and stressed out, an actual rare occurrence. I'm usually very good at staying focused and not allowing myself to become affected by external factors, but, things haven't been going so well.
I want Sketch Night to be an every week thing, I'm not sure how dedicated I can be but being there at least two night a month sounds very doable. I can't wait to run through my sketchbook in the future and see how I've progressed from day one to day x. It's exciting. Til then, I can do nothing else but draw.
Thanks for reading.