Jury Duty Sketchbook

I had to do a day at jury duty last week and I was stuck in a "jury assembly room" with about 100 other people for eight hours. Luckily I had my sketchbook. I didn't do too many sketches that turned out well...mostly everyone else was plopped down in their chairs and didn't give me a lot to work with. Also, I forgot one of the most basic rules of sketching from life that Walt Stanchfield always talked about - "always tell a story".

John K wrote a post about this recently and it's really, really good advice. When you're telling a story through your drawing, you're thinking about the story you're telling and it keeps you from just drawing a bunch of arms, legs and a head attached to a torso...it makes you draw everything so that it contributes to an over all story, and it helps give everything a purpose, which strengthens the drawing.

For example, if you're drawing someone sitting in the chair, before starting to sketch them, ask yourself, "How are they sitting in the chair? Are they barely able to sit upright and oozing out of it, or are they sitting up totally straight with perfect posture?" or any of the other options in between. Then, as you draw, you should be thinking in your mind of how each part you draw contributes to the idea. Like "Okay, the person is almost falling over, and they are so sleepy that their head is practically falling over. But the arm is propping it up, and the arm is propped up on the chair arm to hold the arm in place, the hips are sliding down and almost slipping off the seat..." etc. Hopefully that makes sense. Walt Stanchfield's two volume "Drawn to Life" set has much better advice on how to do this. Anyway, the point is that making your drawing tell a story gives it direction and purpose, and a reason to exist.

Anyway, some jury room sketches, just to prove that I use my sketchbook. So when I nag you to do it, I'm not a hypocrite.

There were plenty of good models for the "bored" face.

A couple of people paced constantly.

And people using their handheld devices, of course...

Other people.....

This guy was reading but I didn't draw his body or the book. That was dumb of me because without his body, the book or the chair he's sitting in there's no story and it's just a lazy, incomplete sketch. I will try and work on that bad habit.

I drew this guy using the "Brushes" iPhone app. As I drew him he started to glare at me more and more intensely - somehow he figured out that I was drawing him. In the end, he got called to go to a courtroom and go through jury selection and I was left behind. I'm glad I didn't end up in a jury room, deliberating on a case with this guy. I never made it out of the jury assembly room.

There sure were a lot of clearly unhappy people there. It's not often where you get to go somewhere that nobody wants to be. Even the ladies that work there seemed completely miserable and would have rather been anywhere else. Personally, I'm glad I had my sketchbook and that there were so many great models to draw. And as I've said before, recording the people I saw in my sketchbook will help me remember them and get some aspects of them into my work. I certainly saw enough stuff in those eight hours to create a hundred stories from!