Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Dr Sketchy Anti Art School Pt. 4


And as people pile in and that pair of pleasant painting ladies try to claim empty seats on the far sides of the bench tables my friends and I ready our gear, break out our weapons of choice to best attempt to tackle the evening, perhaps feeling a bit like we’re readying lead lined broom handles to charge some windmills of whimsy. Depending on the theme my kit might have watercolor paints, or water color pencils, or only an array of graphite pencils, maybe some inks.  

Water colors are tricky, and the foot print expands. A plate to mix on if there are actual paints, a cup of water to wet and rinse with, brushes, paper towels to block, blot, and wipe away errant strokes. When you’re sharing a table with three or four other people, the amount of real estate you can reliably use shrinks considerably, and if painting, you really have to take care not to absently dab your brush into someone else’s beer, at least, when they might happen to be looking.

Soon enough Shary calls the class to order and gets things going with some quick announcements, an invigorating preamble, and introduces the evening's theme and model. While every model we’ve encountered has been noteworthy, a few really rocked my pages and left me wishing I could draw faster, more accurately, could fully capture those moments before they slipped away. Some models managed to embody the theme, to bring the night’s theme to life, and to be paired with just the right music, and the perfect video material on the wide flat screen mounted on the wall behind the bar, and just over the shoulder of most of the model’s poses up there on top of the bar.

Spooksy Delune's evening remains my favorite, a Halloween show tied to tribute to Return of the Living Dead. Her halftime show had a plant, even. Spooksy began a dance tribute to Trash’s cemetery dance from ROLD when a from a ditzy blond walked into The Wallflower from the street outside, looked around befuddled and asked if anyone could point her to the restrooms. A few people pointed and a few more people looked annoyed, as oblivious people have strolled halfway into the place before blocking people’s lines of sight while hoping to score a pint, meal, or potty break. Most folks, myself included, didn’t realize the woman was a plant, and jumped when Spooksy leapt on her with a snarl and dropped the woman to the ground, while splashed and sprays of stage blood burst, bubbled, and ballyhooed up through the air and all over the poor girl that for a fleeting moment I worried might have just peed herself from the shock of being attacked by a scantily clad zombie punk rock impersonator. Spooksy stood and wiped her mouth on the back of her arm, and her victim stood up next, bedraggled and bloody, and the two finished out the dance segment of the programming, which I recall as having a Thriller gag however I might’ve just imagined that bit.

Spooksy used one of my drawings from that session as her Facebook avatar for a spell, really an ego boost for this wrist. Though Bob had to go one up me and build a spot on 3D version of her. From memory and his drawings. Curse your mad skills, Bob! During her session the music could not have suited us better, a mix of the Return of the Living Dead soundtrack, one of my favorites, and a cornucopia of Cramps material. When my buddy Steve Vance and I caught Return of the Living Dead at the theater I would later work for in Fayette Mall, between showings the staff had the soundtrack playing on the PA. We dared not leave, what were these wondrous sounds?!? The usher came by, saw that we’d been the only ones in the theater for that matinee show, and said we could stay if we wanted to see it again. Happy dance, or just needing to pee, we rushed to replenish our drinks and snacks from concession, restock for another showing. I have a lot of favorite films, this is one of the only ones I could watch over and over again for an entire day and not get tired of it. The music and the goofy dialogue would be a big part of why, besides the excellent zombies, particularly Oil Man, the style of zombie later emulated in the live action version of anime Wicked City, and in the short film made by Rob & Dan of Scud the Disposable Assassin and Monster House called Robot Bastard, the one that bridged them from indie comics into the LA scene success stories.
Other noteworthy performances include the wonderful ode to Tura Satana with history lessons about key scenes in Faster Pussycat Kill Kill. The full film played in the background while the model, costumed as a dead ringer for Tura, posed and prowled the countertop. 
The Red Riding Hood / Werewolf themed evening worked well, both the iconic hooded cape and the wonderful wolf mask prop with working mouth. I scanned in the drawings from that evening as soon as I reached home, staying up late to drop in the red fills I'd envisioned while sketching her poses into my book. 

While my attempts to drop big scary werewolf in drag grandmas in as backdrops didn't really work out all that well, the stand alone poses worked out pretty well by my standards such as they are.
The model for the Wicked theme arrived with costumes both complicated and delectable to draw, detail laden and richly constructed. Her dress during the first half of the evening demonstrated that sometimes less is more, meaning, a well costumed woman with hints of provocative curvature has potentially far more power than a birthday suit bonanza. I wanted to ask the model if she made her costumes, if so, she has really wicked skills. See what I did there? Her soundtrack, a mix of Wizard of Oz and Wicked, left me wanted to see the playful opera now that it’s in town. After the halftime show, a wonderful lip synch that would’ve made Pricilla proud, the staff played Wizard of Oz on the tele and Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon on the stereo. Forgot how much I loved that album as a kid, though the lyrics make a bit more sense to me now.

The fire breather and super fit dancer at the first Dr. Sketchy’s I attended at The Wallflower. She liked one of my drawings well enough to give me a 1/6th scale rubber thigh bone eraser. Her athletic poses and repeated pastie wardrobe malfunctions kept the energy of the room sizzling, and her Beats Antique soundtrack suited the evening perfectly.

There are many other models, and I’m proud to have tried to capture some moments of their time and visages in my meager sketchbook pages. As well, I regret missing some of the shows I’ve missed, like the contortionist astronaut Bob loves to make me feel bad for missing, her flyer is up on the wall between the bathrooms, as is the flyer for the Halloween show I missed the year before Spooksy leapt onto the bar. At least I made it to a lot of those shows in spirits, via my attending pals, glean some keynote details vicariously from their anecdotal recollections.

My companions for Dr. Sketchy sessions vary some time to time; however the core has certainly come to be Bob, Tony, Eric, Paul, and myself. Recently Bob and I have taken turns buying one another’s tickets, for a lark or because of that one month I had to rain check at the last second, though fortunately Laurie could take my seat and keep Bob in line in grand company.

The key to forming a posse, albeit a small and casual one, for Dr. Sketchy is to surround yourself with folks that’ll inspire you to stay on task and give it your best effort, on top of the general sense of challenge presented by the wonderful array of talents and skills already present in the room. Regulars like the tattoo artist or the man with the wonderful 1930’s style waxed mustache, and a myriad other artists besides, all inspiring, daunting even. Having your friends there slogging away with you, whether we’re chatting or have ear buds in nodding to our individual preferences, or all bobbing along to the music of the day, regardless there is a sort of unspoken contract among us to offer only constructive criticisms, constant respect, and enthusiastic encouragement. People to share the event with, because once it’s over, it’s gone, and even with the unlikely event of the same models and themes, no two sessions would or could be the same. So together with your friends you rally and ramble your way through the three hours with the revelry of sports fans and camaraderie of church mice.
After the Dr. Sketchy sessions, Bob and I will walk back down the hill towards home, comparing observations and speculating on how to approach a pose differently next time, use a different tool, or how the music suited or inspired or occasionally created dramatic tension that distracted, the crowd, the contests, what the model did that neither of us had ever seen before, whether the model stayed locked down or shifted or looked around, if her poses were dynamic or classic, unsettling or inspiring. 
Most importantly, we walk down the hill grinning like idiots and jabbering excitedly, trampling the ends of one another’s sentences like kids trying to tell a story and letting their excitement get the best of them. Feeling satisfied, like some of the rust and dust has been shaken off, vowing to draw more, to keep after it, and the one promise we’re sure to keep, to show up again for another Dr. Sketchy’s Anti Art School down the line.

I look forward to the next class, and would encourage you to check one out yourself. Let your artist self have a night out , and outside the proverbial box as well.

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