During the summer of ’96, the mid-days in the part of San Diego I used to live in, Rancho Peñasquitos, would get uncomfortably hot, so I would split my sometimes long workdays in half, opting to use this split time to go to the beach and relax in the sun.
My favorite beach, at that time, is called Wind and Sea [Satellite Picture], in La Jolla, CA. It has natural rock formations gracefully birthing from both sand and sea. The water is generally a blue-crystal clear, and a variety of salt-water fish swim around the rocks there, making for great snorkling. A famous surf-spot is there, with large peak-shaped waves breaking constantly in shallow water over a vast reef, surfers taking both left and right rides off the same wave.
In that summer of 1996, my now-ex-wife and I were not doing much together anymore, so I started taking my sketchbook with me when I went out. I’d ususally sketch people—my main interest. At the beach, one can presume, there will be lots of models posing for long periods. In reality, people at the beach move around a lot, even when sunning, I soon learned.
Most of my “models” didn’t know I was drawing them. Some would look at me every now and again and then go back to whatever they were reading, or thinking about. None objected. And occassionally a subject would get up, walk over to me and ask what I was drawing.
“You.” I would say, pointing to a rough “quick-sketch” of them.
Generally the likeness was way off because of the quick nature of the sketch (usually five minutes or so—and from a distance), so they usually just smiled politely and went back to their chair or towel.
One young, blonde woman intrigued me. She was sitting in a beach chair, wearing a straw sun hat. I had done an earlier quick sketch of her—shown at top of this blog entry—while she chatted with her friends.
She was visiting from “Verona, Italia” (Verona, Italy)—as I soon learned—so when she came to see what I was doing and inquire about it, she brought an interpreter. After a bit of conversation, I asked through her interpreter if she would kindly sit for a longer pose while I sketched her. She seemed honored to have been asked, and gladly did so.
She sat patiently for perhaps an hour or more, staring just over my head to the south. When I was done, she came and looked at it, and her friends gathered around to see it. They said it looked just like her. She smiled broadly and said, “Thank you very much.”
Her name was Elena Lonardi.
Back then, blogging wasn’t a verb—or even a word—but that is the essence of what I wanted to do. It was just way too complicated to hand-code layouts like the one you see above, which, using css now, made this happen in minutes vs the two hours first time around.
With this blog entry, I am also introducing a new category: Sketches since they were such a part of my life before, and are likely be for a long time.