Author Archives: Luis E. Aparicio

The Fear of Failure

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Here’s an image of a quick watercolor still life I did a few days ago. I’m really enjoying sketching directly with the paintbrush. I think it’s the best approach to painting free, loose and expressive.

Some time ago I had stopped sketching because I wasn’t doing perfect. Architecture school trains you to be a hybrid between technical and creative. I’d spend 90 minutes sketching something, it wasn’t perfect, I’d get frustrated and stop for months. This was the norm until a friend made me realize that it is just a piece of paper, we are not dealing with anything more than that. I haven’t stopped sketching since.

Over the years I’ve heard countless stories of people that don’t want to ruin their sketchbook. I also know of a very select few whose sketchbooks just need an ISBN. We can’t judge ourselves against these few. I wouldn’t have ever touched a basketball if I’d compared myself to Magic Johnson.

There was a workshop at a USK seminar that dealt with the fear of the blank page. I couldn’t attend to it, but I remember that participants were to get the pages dirty, footprints, smudges, paint beforehand, to avoid dealing with the neatness of the white page.

I have never got to that extreme, but I certainly sketch very dirty. In my everyday sketchbook I draw with HB, 3B and 5B pencils, so you can imagine how smudged pages can get. And I don’t carry erasers, so every line is there to stay.

I must admit that, even as a veteran of a thousand battles, I can’t get to use the first page. Don’t know why, it just feels weird.

Lately I’ve been only drawing on the left side pages. Being a leftie, I’ve always hated drawing across the spine. It is even worse with the wire bound sketchbooks I’m currently using. Or sometimes I start from the back pages. Anyway the other page gets so smudged that I don’t use it. So, it’s my sketchbook and it’s one of the few things in my life with which I can do whatever I want.


Winter Sketching

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Having lived all my life in Puerto Rico, snow is definitely a novelty for me. Today I experienced my first snowfall, so couldn’t resist the urge to sketch. I need to get waterproof pants though; sketching while standing is not for me. This is in Market Street, Downtown Wilmington, DE.


Iceland

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Lately I haven’t sketched outside much and I had been feeling getting tighter; I can’t afford to lose the spontaneity in my sketches. A few days ago I decided to do a quick Virtual Paintout, as they were during the month of November in Iceland. I grabbed a few random markers from my box and loosely did this, always with the broad tip. I need to get back on markers more often, as I enjoy them too much.


At Love Park, Philadelphia

Today’s doodle, 20 minute watercolor sketch at lunch.

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Garabato del día (Doodle of the Day)

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From today on I’ll try to post a daily quick sketch done at lunch break. This one is of Corner Bakery Cafe, Philadelphia.


Recent sketches and caricatures

Sharing some of my latest sketches and caricatures:

This is City Hall, Philadelphia, done at lunchtime with Sharpie.

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This is a caricature I did from memory of Dr. Jose Vargas Vidot while on the train ride back home from Philly.

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The Septa train from Philadelphia to Wilmington

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My version of Halle Berry, for the weekly challenge of Caricaturama 3000 group on Facebook.

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At the train from Philly to Wilmington

Since my daily train ride is about one hour (each way), I now have time to decompress, sketch and rest on my way home. This is the first one today:

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My first human figure drawing class

Since I arrived to Wilmington, DE I’ve been attending my first human figure drawing class at DCAD, Delaware College of Art and Design. I actually not enrolled in the class (my wife is) but the instructor has been kind enough to let me participate without the benefit of a full critique.

I’m enjoying sketching a new subject, new techniques and getting dirty with vine charcoal, compressed charcoal and Conte crayons. I’ve always wanted to understand how to draw the human figure and the class has been amazing.

Here are some of my sketches:

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My new places

My family and I have recently moved from Puerto Rico to Wilmington, Delaware.  We’re looking for better alternatives of treatment and rehabilitation for our son.  A change was probably very needed in so many ways though.

This means I have not only one, but two cities to sketch!  If everything goes well, I’m about to start working in Center Philadelphia next week, and Philly has so many interesting things to sketch.  Besides, in the first few days I met Joshua, a local caricaturist with whom I expect to practice the craft a lot.  I’m attending with my wife a figure drawing class on Wednesdays at DCAD, getting dirty with charcoal… And of course, also I’m still participating on the weekly caricature challenge on Facebook, Caricatura Puertorriquena en FB.

I haven’t sketched that much outside, as it’s been raining most of the days, but here are some of my latest:

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Well, I guess I am now a caricature artist…

I haven’t posted in a while but still lots and lots of sketching.  However, I haven’t gone out to sketch architecture or spaces as usual.  I was invited to do some live caricature and, being now a freelancer, said yes.  The thing is that for that gig I was asked to do five minute caricatures, just black and white, and I had never done any live work!  I had around two weeks to practice; I sketched hundreds of faces trying to achieve likeness while sketching really fast.

I’d considered myself a fast sketcher, but this is a whole different story.  My fifteen minute architectural sketches now seem like a century!  I had been practicing to do the caricatures between five and six minutes, which I thought it would be good enough.  When I got to the first gig, the hostess said I had to do between 25 and 30 caricatures in two hours.  I did my best, but only could do 20.

So five minute caricatures won’t cut it… it doesn’t add up.  And the hostess had to take a pic, then call the next one, I had to set up the sheet… lots of wasted minutes.  So my wife devised a way to save some of those minutes for the second time.  We had two clipboards, already set up.  As soon as I signed the caricature, I handed it to her, she erased the pencil guidelines, did all the ritual of taking the photo and everything, while I was already doing the next person.  This helped me a lot, as I finally made it to twenty five.

I think I got a little stressed trying to get the likeness, but in these past three weeks I learned so many things I know that next time it will be better.  I have been watching some artists online who do some great stuff in one minute, so that’s where I’ll be aiming.  And all my background is a huge help, as I have a lot of experience trying to tell a lot with just a few scribbles.  I just need to keep practicing.

As a new member of the Asociación de Caricaturistas de Puerto Rico I hope to keep developing my style, learning from the veterans and also sharing everything I know from my previous experience.  They are a fantastic group of artists and I’m really happy to be a part of it.

Here are some of the pictures:

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