Monday, November 15, 2010

Diplomatic Drawings

I don't do drawings in 20 minutes - gesture sketches yes - but 20 minutes for a recognizable portrait drawing is one arrow that I haven't had in my quiver.

However, several weeks ago I was invited to participate in a goodwill "western-style" picnic held for ambassadors to the US and their staff in the beautiful Shenandoahs of Northern Virginia.  I was asked to do 20 minute drawings of the diplomats as mementos of the event.  Around forty embassies were represented.

I have demonstrated drawing and painting techniques in front of large crowds before - it's actually kind of fun - but at first I was so nervous trying to capture these diplomats' visages that it was painful.  Being that this was a goodwill picnic, the last thing I wanted to do was offend an ambassador with an errant pastel interpretation (be an asset, not a liability) . . . but one thing I should have remembered is that ambassadors are exceedingly diplomatic.

The diplomats were very gracious, seemed excited to have the drawings, and were very interesting to talk with.  Having lived in Chile for two years, the opportunity to brush up on my Castellano with the Chilean ambassador's wife was a definite highlight.  Overall, the event went off well and for my part, I'm just glad I didn't trip and go cascading off the cliff edge that trying to do a 20 minute portrait drawing is.

Her Excellency the Ambassador from Croatia and her husband.

His Excellency the Ambassador from Laos and his wife. 


  1. That hat of yours looks like it's seen some action. Interesting what people think a "western-style" outfit looks like. Would love to see some of your 20-min sketches. I'm sure you did US proud. :o)

  2. It has seen some action. Sitting slightly askew perhaps it hearkens somewhat to a painter's beret. The "Western-style" consisted of a hat and a red bandana - other than that it was pretty free form. I didn't get any good photos of the drawings, as everything was a bit rushed, but I'll be posting a picture of a drawing tomorrow. Thanks -JL

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