Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Sketching the Tango, ... and more: March 1, 2014

The NYC Police Museum.
It was in the city and we were sketching but I couldn't really call it Urban Sketching. The museum was destroyed by Hurricane Sandy and what we visited was only a shell of what was. Mostly it was photographs and old costumes.

The NYC Police Museum

Wall Street
When we stepped out into the street it was the warmest part of the cold day.  We were half a block from the New York Stock Exchange and the Federal Reserve.  Did a quick sketch of the Reserve which marks the spot where Washington was inaugurated as the President.

Sketching the Tango at Triangulo

The challenge is to devise a strategy.  There is too much happening and there is constant motion.  The music is constant so the spirit of the tango is in you as you sketch. 

Sketching at Triangulo

My strategy was to wait until some gesture or motion caught my eye.  I jotted it down as quickly as possible without looking at the paper.  There is a constant counter clockwise motion, each couple turns as they dance as all the dancers move in a slow circle.  

As they moved away it was possible to look back and get a detail or two, and then they're gone.  Then the reference you're drawing from shifts from looking at the dancers to the memory of the dancers.  You struggle to hold on to the details of  the image.  It fades quickly.  

Then all your left with is the spirit,  the ghost of what you saw.  The sketch itself becomes the reference with the couple long gone from view and only the memory of their embrace, their posture, or their attitude to work from.

And there was lots of attitude with sensuous poses and moves.  It was fascinating to watch.

I was very appreciative of Maura Hays for allowing us to share in her world.  Although my sketches were all done with a fountain pen and sketching paper, I later scanned the images and put them into Sketch Club - an iPad application.  I grouped the figures using that program.


  1. You did such a nice job on these Mark, as I already told you sitting next to you for a bit while you were drawing. You also described the process really well – trying to capture poses when the dancers as a whole moved counterclockwise with each couple turning as well. In comparison, salsa dancers pretty much dance in one spot.

  2. Your sketches are wonderful. The explanation is almost poetic.