“Meanwhile in San Francisco”

Illustration by Wendy MacNaughton, courtesy of The Atlantic.

Illustration by Wendy MacNaughton, courtesy of The Atlantic.

In my last post I was lamenting about being stuck in the creative doldrums. I decided to turn to drawing which had cured me of many ailments before, and after only a few weeks of daily drawing exercises, I noticed a slight improvement: a connection had been made. A few more weeks later, I am happy to report that I was able to finish three new pieces that I submitted to an exhibition (more on this later).

So drawing has been on my mind and in my life lately – in a big way. When I found in the July-August issue of The Atlantic, a review of Wendy MacNaughton’s newly published book Meanwhile in San Francisco (Chronicle Books), I knew this wasn’t just a mere coincidence, there was serendipity involved, and I had to share it with you.

In her review, Sarah Yager describes Wendy MacNaughton’s process as she creates what she calls her “illustrated documentaries”. MacNaughton, an illustrator based in San Francisco, spent several years documenting the lives of people in her city. She explains how she was “capturing subjects on the move, drawing without looking down, using her pen not just to express but to observe.” Her self-portrait above shows her drawing “in the field” (Note the pocket full of used pens. Now that’s dedication!). Her sketches depict street scenes and people from various communities around the city. I admire not only her dedication, but her drawing style as well. Her lines are both relaxed and descriptive; I love that she manages to keep them fresh and expressive. She also records snippets of dialogue, and often with a touch of humour. This is what Wendy MacNaughton says about drawing: “Drawing, for me, is this vehicle to look. It forces me to slow down and pay attention to things that I might not otherwise notice.”

I could not have said it any better.

Here‘s the link to Wendy MacNaughton’s website.



2 thoughts on ““Meanwhile in San Francisco”

  1. artdoesmatter

    Dominique, I loved your post! Thank you for introducing this illustrator and her work to us. Just as you have been feverishly preparing to create new work – I am also, but in my case, trying to take the time to document my procedures more. In doing so – I’ve started drawing on paper I’ve scrawled out across my bench, and you can’t know how much I laughed at the “lines w/ arrows being drawn” to label or document items, as I’m doing the exact same! I wonder to myself – will I end up referring to these documentations of new jewelry pieces, or is it just to fulfill a need of trying to shorten future processes?! I’m curious if you document your work in drawings as you go along, or just initially to get going on your projects? I’m so excited to hear you’ve entered new pieces into a show; I wish you the best w/ your entries and also for your future upcoming semester of teaching. This summer seems to be such a quick blur of bench activity to me – where has it gone!!?

  2. metalandmettle Post author

    Thanks, Patricia, I am glad you enjoyed this!
    Yes, I usually document all my pieces. As I am not usually comfortable with improvising, I tend to draw a lot before I start making anything. I try to work out on paper the engineering of the piece to, hopefully, anticipate and troubleshoot as much as possible beforehand. I also often make models.
    During the fabrication phase, I draw as well (detailed diagrams showing the piece at various stages of fabrication, step by step), and of course I keep track of gauges, weights, measurements, labour, etc. As you know, this helps a lot later with pricing. So I guess it helps me learn and get a bit better every time.
    Patricia, your comment on the need for documenting (why do we do it?) totally resonates with me. I confess I love to document everything! Lately, I’ve been trying to clean up my studio, so it feels more like a curse or a disease! But it really matters to me. Sure, it’s a learning tool, it helps me work more efficiently, but it’s much more than that. I often work in series and I like to revisit projects or themes that I worked on in the past; on a creative level, these drawings are like paths or threads that keep me connected to these themes.
    It sounds like you are having a lot of fun working at your bench. That’s exciting!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s