Monday, May 9, 2022

The Great Northern Elevator in Graphite

So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly to the Great Northern Elevator.

This particular grain elevator has been dodging bullets ever since a storm took off part of the covering over the elevators, I personally do not see how they can think of tearing this building down. After all on the Outer Harbor they have all this tourism arranged around our grain elevators, and this one is the oldest, the centerpiece, the jewel in the crown. However all I can do is hope for the best.

I have such a relationship with this old survivor. I have sat for hours on long hot summer days sketching it and studying it from various angles, from the Outer Harbor, from Ganson Street, and from points in between. One day last summer I was there on Ganson Street for hours, seeing trucks come and go, watching the progress of the sun across the gigantic structure. There is just something about this building that I love. I remember the first time I saw it, walking down Ganson Street from downtown when I was still with The Buffalo News. This huge thing appeared out of a mist -- it was a misty foggy day. And I said out loud, "What in the world?"

Long story short, today I went back today and I drew it in, ahem, graphite.

Why say pencil when you can say graphite?

I have been doing a little drawing recently in, ahem, graphite. Sometimes it's good to try something different. Drawing in ink all this time has been good for me because even when working in graphite, I never erase. I never think about erasing. I just dig in and draw.

You do kind of dig in when you are working in graphite. It has this texture. I realize I handle things differently. Starting the drawing feels different. With ink I usually start with one deliberate but delicate line. With the graphite I just hit it, hard and fast. It's a lot of fun.

Plus there is just something kind of viscerally satisfying in drawing an industrial scene in a medium that is more gritty and smudgy! Trucks and train cars kind of call out for that kind of thing.

You know what, I like this drawing. It is all smudgy on the right because I am right-handed, and I guess it is kind of rough. I sort of missed the detail I could have gotten in with the finer-tipped ink pen. However that's the game. The rules are different.

I noticed I worked faster. Guess what my favorite part of the drawing was? You're right! That truck in the middle!

It looks like a pig! That's what I thought when it pulled up. And I just laid it out in a few heavy strokes of that pencil. I was using some kind of soft pencil. My favorite brand, Artist's Loft. I had to sharpen it literally every two minutes. I think I used up half of it.

When I try this in charcoal, I think I will need bigger paper. I need to work big or else I will not be able to get in any detail, and you know me and detail.

This is going to be a good summer. 

I am thinking big!

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