Celebrating the Freehand Renaissance--sketching as a vital way to see and value culture, and to envision a better world.

Monday, March 14, 2016

Ghost Bridge of the Florida Keys

The Bahia Honda Rail Bridge was one of the highlights of our road trip through the Florida Keys.  See the story on the international Urban Sketchers blog:

The abandoned bridge sketched from Bahia Honda State Park, about midway between Miami and Key West.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Believe it or Not, It's Carnival Time!!

Right on the heels of the holidays, New Orleans' carnival season officially opened January 6, kicking off an unusually short 5-week season culminating in Mardi Gras on February 9.  Then, of course, the spring festival season begins, with favorites like French Quarter Festival (shown here), Voodoo Festival and Jazzfest keeping things hopping into early summer.  This almost non-stop revelry brings back memories of growing up in and around the Big Easy, and the scores of festivals Patti and I attended there since.

The pencil sketch below was drawn on-location at the kickoff of the French Quarter Festival Second Line Parade last spring.  Taking a lesson from legendary artist-reporter Franklin McMahon, I arrived early, and sketched in the city context before the action started, leaving enough blank space in the middle of the scene to add the revelers when they arrived.  As the parade approached, I quickly sketched a few quick figures and the placement of the signs.  Then, as colorful characters strutted past (like the man with the sash far left), I simply drew them into the crowd.  The sketch came together when I added darks in the foreground to separate people in the crowd and add some needed contrast. I did several pencil sketches that day, and added color was later in the studio.

Enjoy your parades and festivals wherever you are!

The French Quarter Festival Second Line Parade moving up Bourbon Street.

Buildings drawn before parade arrived, then paraders sketched in quickly as they passed.

Colors were added later, and tried to capture the festive spirit of the morning.

Monday, January 11, 2016

We all need a kick in the pants sometimes:

"William Blake is an example of total dedication to his art. You're just a sinner if you don't do it. If you are organized by the Divine to do it and you don't, then you're just a scumbag."
 -Kris Kristofferson

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

CAPTURE THE ENERGY! Jim's online sketching class is live!

ALRIGHT! MY ONLINE SKETCHING COURSE IS NOW LIVE!! Over many years and 45 countries across the globe, I've developed a philosophy and approach to on-location sketching that goes beyond "rendering" to capture the energy and spirit of the place.  I'm very happy that the most important of these techniques are captured beautifully in this 2-hour Craftsy class. The link below will get you $10.00 off the purchase price of the class, as a way of saying "thank you" for your interest. You have access to the class forever, and can interact with me online with questions and comments.

I can't tell you how excited I am about these videos. The Craftsy team are top-shelf creative professionals, and they've done an inspired job of capturing and crystallizing my sketching approach into a crisp set of lessons that flow logically and beautifully. I hope you're excited. I'M excited! Let's do this!

Here's the link to register for the class: www.craftsy.com/ext/JamesRichards_10159_D
Ready for another shoot in the Craftsy studios!
Sketching on-location, Denver's 16th Street Mall.
Adding details and darks to the 16th Street sketch.
Rich colors and lively linework capture the exubrance of that crisp afternoon.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Exploring Central Havana on Foot

The Gran Teatro, Havana's stunning Old World opera house.

Breathtaking.  That's the word that keeps cropping up when I try to describe Havana, after traveling there twice in June.  Our first trip was leading the 5-day "Sketch Cuba" tour, which is described in several posts below.

For the second trip, my wife Patti and I traveled alone to retrieve my "Hemingway's Cuba" exhibition of sketches from Finca Vigia (Hemingway's home outside Havana, now a national museum) and bring it back to the U.S.  The second trip allowed for much more personal exploring and sketching, and ensuing interaction with friendly and curious locals.

Recognizing the crushing poverty and the mind-boggling extent of the "elegant decay" that envelops the city, what I'm left with after days of exploring Havana on foot is the exuberant spirit of the people and their joy of living, and how that spirit and pride is embodied in the architecture, city design, visual arts, addictive music, celebratory street life and memorable food. Will what is quintessentially Cuban survive the "normalization" of relations with the U.S.?  After visiting three times in the last 13 months and having worked in the world of urban redevelopment for decades, I believe that it will. It will require vision, intelligence, creativity and patience.  I found no shortage of those qualities in the Cuban people we met.

These sketches were made while exploring Central Havana on foot. Be forewarned, they can't begin to adequately describe the visual richness of the city, but I hope they hint at what we saw.  Enjoy.
The classic bell tower of this cathedral punctuates the visual experience of this narrow street.

The Capitolio, modeled after the U.S. Capitol but slightly taller, as seen from a cafe table in Plaza Vieja.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Fort Worth Business Covers Cuba Travels

Very pleased to have Fort Worth Business cover our Cuba travels this summer. Veteran Fort Worth journalist Paul Harral did a great job sorting out the sometimes confusing trips and venues, and told the story with style. Thank you Paul and FWB.  The pages are shown below as they appear in the hard copy edition.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

U.S. and Cuban artists collaborate on "Havana Impressions"

While in Havana, our group was honored to be invited to collaborate with renowned Cuban artist Jose Antonio and several other Cuban artists on a collaborative sketch project documenting our impressions of Havana.  I was invited to make the first marks, was soon joined by artists James Turner, Veronica Lawlor, Julia Sverchuk​, Margaret Hurst, Tony McDonald, and many others. Jose and his group of artists jumped in, and in the melee of mark making, something magical happened.  The resulting canvas, being shown now during the Havana Art Biennial, is a priceless symbol of art bridging cultures...and it's a damn handsome image as well.

I confer with Cuban artist Jose Antonio before beginning the project.

I was honored to be asked by Jose to begin the sketch.  I drew a quick image of the Capitolio to act as a centerpiece.

Veronica Lawlor jumps in.

Jose Antonio (green shirt), James Turner, Dale Sass, Pam Blough and Margaret Hurst (far left)

Cuban and American artists who collaborated on the canvas.

The finished work is being displayed as part of the Havana Arts Biennial through June 22, then will come to the U.S.

I'm honored to have participated, and to count this Cuban artists as friends.