Monday, December 13, 2010

Exercising with Criminals

Exercising with criminals. As Greg Manchess mentioned in a previous post regarding the generation of ideas... Greg said “just start drawing”. It is that simple. To further that thought, I tell students that when you are exhausted and simply can’t draw anymore... draw some more. It is in that last bit of effort that you may find your solution. Nobody said this career path would be easy. Another method to kick start your inspiration is to have a drawing exercise that is entertaining, enlightening and just plain fun, Keeping a schedule for this exercise will also help you develop your skills, drawing discipline and visual competence. For me this happens on Fridays.... Ladies and gentlemen.... I give you the Smoking Gun web site. Every Friday they have their “Mug Shot Roundup” This weekly “Roundup” displays the mug shots of various citizens arrested for a multitude of offenses' What you’re seeing in these police photographs is a person at their worst.... or should I say their best, for us artists anyway. i usually pick one or two “perps” to draw. I must tell you that the variety of faces and expressions are timeless and will supply you with endless hours of creative fun and artistic fulfillment. The hairstyles alone are priceless. Oh the humanity. I usually give myself around fifteen to forty minutes per drawing. I get a cup of coffee and sit back with my sketchbook or clipboard and several sharp ebony pencils. I work directly from my computer monitor. These drawings are quick, don’t worry if they are not accurate “Just start drawing”! In some cases you can spend more time rendering them into finished drawings at a later time. Have fun and let’s hope that we don’t see anyone we know on the Smoking Gun, Mug Shot Roundup. Although I thought I recognized someone from Muddy Colors a few weeks ago! Here are a few quick examples: I usually indicate the criminal offense on the drawing as well. Links: Recent mug shots (The Smoking Gun does keep an archive of past offenders):


  1. I just finished my first oil painting class, and our final project was a self portrait. Goofing with the thumbnails I did a mugshot, which my teacher thought was brilliant so I went with it. Actually painting that institutional light was tough. Also setting up the mirror for the side profile was impossible!

  2. This is funny. I had recently showed that site to a friend as a good place for portrait reference. Great post on the importance of drawing as much as you can.

  3. I love you! great tip, I will do it!!

  4. I think you should have gotten my permission to draw me. Great stuff, my guys will love this.

  5. Be right back, robbing banks. Want a John Jude Palencar portrait.

  6. Great idea, I'll start working on a few drawings during my lunch time.

  7. Haha! I used to do this exact same thing, who woulda thought!

  8. Ah, these are great! I love drawing interesting people, so I'll definitely be using some of these for practice in the near future. :)

    One thing I noticed is that the reason for arrest doesn't seem to be listed on the pages I've seen. Maybe I'm just being dense?

  9. Hi Cacodaemonia - I think you have to view the Smoking Gun mug shots using their "classic" browsing link. It usually appears within the text on the "view document" page. You should see the offense listed to the right of the photo.

    Hi Bill - I think your students will have a great time drawing these perps. Since these pix are part of the" public record"... they may be in the public domain for creative uses. Who knows they could use the pix as a starting point for a final illustration assignment.

    Hi Kelly - I may have a contest in the future with an original drawing prize... please don't get yourself in trouble.

    Hi Colin Boyer - My oldest son showed me this site. is another good site for odd news and pix.

    Have fun folks... now get drawing!


  10. John,
    I thought that was just between you and I. I was having an off day :/


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