Hal Mayforth
Sketchbook Shenanigans

Thoughts and observations from my daily sketchbook sessions for your entertainment.

Oily Sketches

The juggling act no one wants to see

As anyone who is familiar with the self help section of their local bookstore will tell you, life is all about stages. Not that I am familair with the self help section of my local bookstore, mind you.
Maybe its because we're in that stage between winter and spring, but for some reason I glomed onto the concept of stages in my sketchbook. Why, I do not know.
It's Tough Out There
A happy President's Day  to everyone. Some people work today, others don't. I can never figure out whether or not I'm supposed to take the day off. So while I'm waiting for the sketches of numerous projects to be Oked, I spent this morning's sketchebook session ruminationg on the state of affairs out there. Here's the way the dice fell.
The Groveling Boys
Here's a piggyback to David Flaherty's post of earlier this week.  Some thoughts bandied around during this morning's sketchbook session.
Calendar Rejects
For the past 26 years I have been looking over my past year's sketchbooks to pick 12 images with which to make a calendar. It's a thankless job. I would much rather be drawing than self editing and whipping a bunch of extremely rough sketches into a promo piece that must attain a certain degree of professionalism. I just finished the process and I feel good about it and anxious to get back into the business of making images. Here are a bunch of images that didn't make it onto this year's calendar which I thought had some degree of merit.
Recent Ruminations
Maybe there is some validity to the End Times belief that has come into focus with the emergence of Sarah Palin. There sure seems to be a convergence of events of late. Here are some sketchbook thoughts that try to make sense of the whole mess. I've been experimenting with digital color of late, trying to play with different textures. Been having fun with it.
Economic Indicators
We just received our tax rebate check yesterday,and I opened the envelope with mixed emotions. Because we are a family of five, it represents a nice chunk of change, and there's never a shortage of ways to spend, but on the other hand, it also represents failed ecomonic policies, and a bandaid for the fallout of corporate greed. These are indeed tough times and from what I'm reading
things are looking to get alot worse before they get better. As a way of venting, I've been devoting some sketchbook time to the issues of the economy and gas prices. Here are some drawings. Oh, and by the way, I am thinking of banking the check just out of spite.
Thank God That's Over!
As a person well acquainted with the concept of deadlines, I submitted all the makings for our tax returns to my accountant weeks ago. When I hadn't heard back from him, I finally called him last Friday to make sure everything was cool. He hadn't even started them. We've got plenty of time says he, they're not due until next Tuesday. It all came down to the wire yesterday. I had to take time out of work to get signatures for two of my boys who are scattered all over the state as well as shuffling funds for payments. And then there are those little yellow please sign and date stickers, which by the way have very poor adhesive qualities. As a way of decompressing after that ordeal, here are some ruminations. I WILL be looking for a new accountant.
Last year Danny Gregory contacted me about a book he was writing titled "An Illustrated Life: drawing inspiration from the private sketchbooks of artists, illustrators and designers". This is the book I've been waiting for. As a way of promoting the book, which is due out in October, he has been interviewing different sketchbook artists as podcasts. Well I'm the third of what promises to a very cool series. Click Here (Then click on the little pod target in the upper left hand corner. It takes some time to load)

As a way posting some pertinent graphic content, here are a bunch of frontispieces from various sketchbooks.
Guns and Monkeys
I was speaking with RAG the other day and he was busy developing a line of Monkey images for this year's Surtex show. When I sat down to draw in my sketchbook this morning, I had monkeys on my mind. Where the guns came from I don't know. Well, yes I do know. A reproduction of a 1906 Sears and Roebuck catalog. While I was drawing these, I got to thinking that Monkeys are pretty good metaphors for the child within us and our primal lust of weaponry.  Here they are in the order I did them.
My Sketchbook of Late
For the past several months I've been trying to meditate every morning before drawing in my sketchbook as a kind of prelude to my day's work. By clearing out my head, I am receptive to the flotsam and jetsam of thoughts that creep in around the edges. It also makes me slow down. I find that I have alot more patience with my drawing.

I had a bit of a setback several weeks ago. I finished a sketchbook and got on the horn to order more when I was informed that my beloved Sennelier linen covered sketchbooks with the cream colored paper are no longer being made. Oh, woe is me. I scrambled around to find a replacement and finally settled on a Fabriano book. The pages are thicker and bright white, so it's been a bit of an adjustment. Note to self: Don't fall in love with art products. Anyway here are some recent pages in the order I did them..
New Products from Acme
Lately I've been fooling around with obscure 19th century engineering engravings to fashion modern technology to make our lives easier here in the 21st century. I am also searching for gullible venture capitalists.
Sayulita Sketchbooks
The family and I just got back from Sayulita, Mexico, where, when not attending to the needs of our 3 teenage boys, I did manage to set aside some time to draw. I had two sketchbooks going. One was for exploring motifs and ideas for possible paintings, the other was a book I keep for family history, and seeks to interpret the foibles and joys of family travel. For those of you not familiar with Sayulita, it's a small fishing town (that gets bigger in the winter because of the gringos) about 45 minutes north of Puerto Vallarta on Mexico's west coast. The food and surf  are great, and renting a house with an ocean view is affordable. Just remember the imodium and the sunscreen.

Check out more pages here.
A Cool Assignment
Hunt 102 and ink on Arches 90 lb. rough
Every once in a while you get an assignment that's a bit off the beaten path. This is one I did last week for an agency in Texas for an insurance ad. The art direction was simple. On the left, A to B with a squiggly line on the right with a straight line. I worked directly on watercolor paper so that if there was one he liked, I wouldn't have to redraw it. The sketches reminded me of those calligraphy exercises of the 19th century. It was also a great point of departure for sketchbook drawings.
This is how the finish turned out with a light watercolor wash.
Gameboards in Search of a Game
I did a painting several years ago that now hangs in my studio. I was looking at it the other day and realized it looked like a gameboard for some forgotten game. I used that painting as a point of departure for some sketchbook explorations. In the back of my mind was the knowledge that the children/game market is huge. My ticket to fame and fortune? I think not.
Zut Alors-The French Game of Consternation
DorkMaze-The Faux Dating Game
Boredom Kingdom-Everybody wins to some degree
Calendar Rejects
Rich advised me against this one, although I thought it was a dead on comment on contemporary American culture.
I've just finished doing the illos for my 2007 calendar. Every year I puruse the year in sketchbooks to find 12 images that I think make an interesting and perhaps entertaining calendar. It's a grueling lesson in self editing and I'm always second guessing whether or not I've picked the right images. Here are some sketches that didn't make the cut,  whether because of PC concerns or just because.
This is a foregone conclusion. The Martini would kick the Herb Tea's ass.
We own a standard poodle and a rescue pug of questionable intelligence. This is based on reality, but I didn't want to alienate cat loving ADs.
Word Drawings
Here's the last two days of sketchbook pages. I've been fooling around with word compositions,  a dash of Saul Steinberg here, a pinch of Randy Enos there. I don't exactly know where these are going, but I had alot of fun doing them. Most of the time spent on these was figuring out  what the words would say. Some of the sayings are decent others are quite bad. What the hell. It's a sketchbook.
Thought for the Day
This is a thought I had while drawing in my sketchbook this morning. I don't necessarily condone this type of activity, unless of course you read the paper on a daily basis.
Another Sketchbook Page
One of those days, I'm afraid. I spent a considerable amount of time today putting out an IRS induced brushfire. No big deal. Just apply hoover to wallet. So between listening to the IRS's lovely on-hold music while waiting for someone to help me (an eternity) and actually getting one illo done, I had time to do this page.

I've been fooling around with grids in kind of an Adolph Gottlieb- pictograph-gets-funky approach. If I could keep finished paintings this loose, I'd be one step closer to nirvana.
Sketchbook Page
June 7, 2006 A miserable grey day. Got eaten alive when I went to the mailbox to get the morning paper.
Here's yesterday's skechbook page. I try to draw every morning for myself before I start my commercial work. Sometimes I do a couple of pages, sometimes one page.  If I'm out straight I have to skip it and go straight to work. The important thing is  that I make a concerted effort, but you know how it is sometimes. What's really cool is that cycles start to become evident. Sometimes I go throught periods where it just ain't happening and other times I blast off  bunch of pages that are (in my humble opinion) inspired. It's those good pages that keep me going.

TVs were on my mind yesterday, as we had just bought a big honkin' new one specifically for the World Cup (GOAL!). The other drawings are ideas for paintings. I'm trying some new things that may or may not make the transition to paint on plywood.
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