During From Dusk til Drawn, I was a machine. I cranked out 22 portraits of Vice Presidents in 24 hours. That’s one an hour, excluding a 2am jaunt to get a rice bowl and a handful of bathroom breaks. No sleep. Just veeps. In fact, I was so in the zone that I probably could have done portraits of all 47 vice presidents if the event was a two-day affair. I would have been a stark raving lunatic by the end but I could have done it. Sadly, they wouldn’t let me stick around.
Yet when I got back to Los Angeles, I knew that I wanted to do the full set. Since I didn’t that the urgency of that event, however, I took more time on the drawings. My portraits during DtD were efficient and clean, painted with a thin wash of watercolor. In the less pressurized environment of my apartment, I started spending more time with each drawing. The pictures got more detailed and I took more chances. My style evolved. By the time I reached Harry S. Truman, it was clear that I would have to do go and redraw all 22 of my older veeps.
Around that same time, my wife had my son. Surprisingly, drawing portraits of cephalopod-bedecked politicians became a relatively low priority during those first sleep-deprived months. As my adorable pint-sized martinet became less demanding of my time and I finally completed the whole set. So it wasn’t until last month that I completed the full set. And even now, I’m going through and redrawing some portraits that didn’t quite work out. Chester A. Arthur, for instance, is getting his third redo.
But there’s one VP who has driven me nuts. His face is so distinctive yet so oddly bland that I’ve never quite hit the mark with him, in spite of trying about a half dozen times. I’ll tell you about that next week.