I drew everything that could not be photographed.
Rock concert and loss of hearing? No problem. I used Edvard Munch’s “scream” running away from the musicians in the background.
Gay marriage in the 80’s? No problem. I asked two staffers to hold hands while I drew as fast as I could.
There were no iPhones and no time to process photos so I sketched very quickly- everything from religion and science, to politics and editorial cartoons.
I was allowed to go outside the building on location to sketch films like the George Washington mini-series and a film about crabbing.
I flashed my press pass and talked my way onto the Colonial Parkway in Williamsburg after it shut down for President Reagan’s visit. Me and hundreds of turkeys.
I drew a revolutionary re-enactor in Yorktown while he told me about his messy divorce.
I talked my way to the top of the five tallest buildings in the area to sketch what I saw.
I learned to have someone evaluate my drawing for those stupid little mistakes, that in our haste, we sometimes forget we do; like making a common object resemble a genital organ.
I sketched in the jail, talked my way onto a Navy shuttle to the Canadian Tall ship, The Blue Nose, to sketch. I figured I could talk my way anywhere!
I did courtroom art for the daily paper.
This is a specialty that no one trains for. You just do it. I did interview the dean of courtroom artists and she told me she gained expertise in art school by drawing the bodies in the morgue. Just like the stories you read about the old masters in Europe.
The courtroom is probably the most difficult of drawing situations. Utter and complete quiet. (They hated anyone who used Magic Markers because of the squeak) I was fixed in the seat I chose or was able to squeeze into and drew from there – whether I could see anything or not. The one lesson I learned was that everyone who speaks to a crowd (lawyers, judges, etc.) always reverts to their familiar poses. If they are fond of folding their arms they will eventually go back to that position so I would make numerous “starts” and go back to them to complete them when the person went back to the position.
I was only asked to draw the courtroom cases if they were brutal, gory, or important.
In one dismemberment case, a witness was asked how tall the victim was and he responded by using his hands to gauge the size of the suitcase the body parts were stuffed into.
In another murder case the forensic dentist was testifying how the bite marks on the victim’s thighs were from the teeth of the accused.
John Walker was on trial for spying for the Russians, but I drew the Arthur Walker spy trial. Arthur was his brother who appeared on the first day bedecked in a full toupee. He shed it the second day and through the rest of the trial f0r a little loop in my drawing.
Never draw a judge with six fingers.
I learned many things about accuracy. This is especially true when the drawing is on the front page of the daily newspaper above the fold. I got lots of critiques from the public.
I studied photography with David Levinson.
He was a photographer who led the professional world in NYC. He pushed us into thinking and doing photography way past what we ever thought we would be able to do. Suffice to say he made people cry. But the work people did was incredible.
I attended Thomas Nelson Community College to gain some expertise on photographing for reproduction. No one does that anymore since the computer does it all for you. But I did take photography classes. I learned the old fashioned way with dark rooms and chemicals. I set up a lab at home and my poor kids were banished from the bathroom.
I chose JoAnn Falletta
I decided I was going to do a series of women of accomplishment in traditionally male jobs, I chose JoAnn Falletta, the conductor of the Virginia Symphony Orchestra, as my first subject. She was also the music director for the Long Beach California Symphony Orchestra and the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra. I cannot begin to describe her swath of accomplishments.
When I finally pursued my project long enough and hard enough, I was put through to her at last. She allowed me and my 35mm camera onstage during the rehearsal of the Bruckner 4th. I could not use a flash.
The resulting photos showed a sweep of her baton. The sound reverberating on the stage and through the floorboards where I sat in the violin section will always be a high point in my memories. This experience started me on the road to adding movement to my art and still continues to influence me today.