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Adebanji Alade is a talented artist born in Nigeria, living in the United Kingdom. His site "My art, my passion for sketching” is a treasure trove of carefully observes and skillfully sketched commuters on London's public transportation, with the occasional update of his studio work. I regularly check his site to see his work and get inspired. Recently, I learned he was participating in a sketchbook/journal exchange entitled The Flying Moleskins.

Adebanji provided a theme for his sketchbook of "Homelessness and Poverty." I wrote him expressing my interest in contributing something. For years I've been doing this morning exercise (for a lack of a better term) of drawing a portrait-a-day of news makers, on the corresponding news article. Most often my posted doodles are done on the New York Times or The Star Ledger, but I thought it would be interesting to sketch the New York homeless on the pages of the Wall Street Journal, (a business and financial news daily.) The dichotomy between the subject and the subtext would create a commentary more profound than I alone could express, becoming greater than the sum of it's parts.

Adebanji very graciously agreed to let me contribute. I bought the Wall Street Journal on the morning of February 4th, 2010 and headed out onto the streets of New York to sketch, but found it more difficult then I had anticipated. The weather was bitter cold that day and I found few homeless outside. I spent the afternoon sketching in New York's Penn Station on 34th Street. The resulting sketches were displayed on his site yesterday. Thank you Adebanji for your kind words, I was honored to be able to participate in your worthy project.

One Note: Adebanji presentation is far superior to mine enabling you to click on the image to view a larger version and easily read the underlying text. click here

5 Comments
  1. Veronica Lawlor
    February 16, 2010 -

    What a wonderful project! I love your contribution Larry. The body language in the second drawing is especially poignant to me and something I've seen unfortunately too often. - Ronnie

  2. February 16, 2010 -

    I love these, too, Larry. Wonderful! I have a few friends who participated in moleskine projects where the moleskines traveled all over the world for different participants to fill some pages before the went off to the next person. I imagine the finished products are treasures to behold.

  3. Pat D
    February 16, 2010 -

    Larry, The sketches of the poor and homeless people are very moving...emotional, disturbing, poignant, yet beautiful. The portraits are voices which you and Adebanji Alade have freed so we can hear and see and be moved by these silent human beings. Thank you. Pat

  4. February 16, 2010 -

    Thanks Ronnie, Sue and Pat. I don't mind saying that I felt a little uncomfortable sketching these people. Like most, I know they're there but I'm in a hurry to get to where I'm going, and I don't stop to consider their plight. My first encounter of the day was outside on a sidewalk. there's a man who always sits in the same spot. He's badly deformed and holds a sign saying he's deaf. I put a bill in his cup and try to communicate that I'd like to draw him. Of coarse, he can't understand me but seems pleased with my donation and gives me the thumbs up sign. But, when I begin to draw, he holds the sign over his face and signals for me to leave. The last thing I want to do is make anyone feel like they're in a freak show, so I respect his wishes and move on. In Penn Station there is more elbow room, and more people milling about, so it's easier to be a commando sketcher. But I find myself learning about them and the skill set required for living on such a harsh environment. First, I thought that they would be a stationary subject, but I think fear of being tossed out into the cold made them move far more than I imagined. One minute they looked like they were parked for the long hall, all of their worldly possessions in toe, but by the time I find an inconspicuous place to observe and started to draw, they would be on the move again. I thought to position myself with a view of the trash can and they would come to me. that worked for one quick drawing. I followed one guy and saw he headed into the mens room. I walked in to find it packed with homeless. some shirtless cleaning themselves. Two guys were fighting. I couldn't really draw in there anyway and truth be told, it felt a little unsafe, so I turned on my heals and continued to look for subjects. in a few hours time I started dozens but came away with five sketches.

  5. February 17, 2010 -

    Homelessness * Poverty / The Wall Street Journal That's definitely a statement.