Sketchy Freedom

downtown_towers_26_05_2014Memorial Day – 26th May 2014. I arrive at downtown Los Angeles to enjoy a few moments of the pure joy of looking. Of seeing something in front of me well enough to make a rough representation of it on a piece of paper in front of me, for the pure hell of it. This is the essence of sketching. It is about seeing. I’m looking for the… something.

My hunt is over. I see the scene I want, just off the Water Court, a few minutes from the top of the (closed) Angel’s Flight rail. The sunlight is streaming through the portal framed by the two closest buildings. The further ones make sharp geometry against the 4:00pm sky. I’m also curious to try some new coloured pens, and I like that each building suggests a different colour. I’ve got about 15 minutes before I have to leave to pick someone up.

I sit. I start. Immediately I see the guard see me from across the way, and within a minute or two he is by my side, standing in front of me. He has the “You’re not allowed to do X” look on his face, but he’s trying to start out well. I’ve had this before, right in this public space, when a guard decided that I should not take photos of the buildings. Despite all the other tourists who do so. He begins:

You know, usually we… Are you an architecture student?

Excuse me?

Are you an architecture student?

Well, what are you asking me, really?

Are you an architecture student?


But you’re drawing a building…

He looks confused, and so continues again.

You’re not a student?


But you’re drawing the buildings.


He looks confused. Perhaps it would be easier if I am taking photos to tell me the ridiculous rule. But he does not say the words. I was ready for them. So I ask.

Is that ok with you?


Thank you very much.

I continue drawing.

I try to shut out the nonsense, and just draw. It is getting late*.


* In case you are wondering, I got the essence of the drawing down in the 15 minutes I had, especially the main geometry of the green building – the US Bank tower, which has some interesting shapes. I did scribble-windows, just as a fun suggestion of them. I finished a lot of the scribble-windows at home later.

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3 Responses to Sketchy Freedom

  1. Jennifer says:

    Clifford, you are really a buddha. I would have been extremely mad, and known that I shouldn’t have gotten rattled, which would have made me madder. Cheers.

  2. Clifford says:

    You’re very kind. In fact, I think I was very angry the first time it happened in this same place when I was doing location gathering for the Project. See here. Now I still get highly perturbed by it, but I try to radiate the perturbation away safely…