Sketchbook: Laughing Japanese Man

While I have nowhere near my wife’s artistic talent, some semi-recent rifling through my sketchbooks have made me think about spending a little more time with a pencil and paper again. In tripping across a lot of half-done sketches, I came across this little piece, which still makes me smile.

Old laughing Japanese manLaughing Japanese Man, Pencil sketch, 1997

This quick drawing of a jolly old Japanese man is from a television documentary: he could not stop laughing while being interviewed, as he talked about the strange influences of the West between mouthfuls of octopus. It was rather hastily completed from memory just a few minutes after watching this interesting program about the cultural clashes in Japan, a result of the encroachment of the “modern” Western world upon such a very traditional society.

5 Replies to “Sketchbook: Laughing Japanese Man”

  1. That’s excellent work for a quick, from-memory drawing!
    Did you take art classes? How did you sketch this together?

    Thanks for sharing!
    -Dave

  2. Thanks for the compliment, Dave! Nope, never took an art class. Just something I loved to do on my own. (Just like I.T., for that matter.)

    As for sketching this, I just vividly recalled the squinting, twinkling eyes, the bulbous crinkle atop the nose, the flaring nostrils sucking in the thick moustache, the shining pate, and the gaping, laughing mouth scattered with uneven teeth. Then I drew it. πŸ˜‰

    dj

  3. dougj wrote: As for sketching this, I just vividly recalled the squinting, twinkling eyes, the bulbous crinkle atop the nose, the flaring nostrils sucking in the thick moustache, the shining pate, and the gaping, laughing mouth scattered with uneven teeth. Then I drew it.

    Goodness, that’s a lot to remember, and vividly, to boot. I’m really impressed! It’s a great drawing, but what’s more impressive to me is the way you relate to it now, and related to it then.

    A) you weren’t daunted by the task. You saw, remembered, and just drew it. Your word choice doesn’t indicate any sense of “I worried and fretted over whether I could remember it all, or if I was technically able to render it correctly.” Maybe I’m reading a lot into your prose, but I know how amazing things can go when worry is put aside and one moves forward with a task with utmost confidence. Very Zen. πŸ™‚

    B) This -still- makes you smile. You smiled when you did it, and you’re smiling now. So many artists (myself included) get stuck in a critical mode and can only smile later when the piece is old and our mind has moved on. Your joy with this piece passes joy on to us, the viewer. [In my mind, there’s a distinct difference between joy and pride. The latter can turn an audience off, rightly or wrongly, but it is hard to dislike something that brings a warm smile to the face of its creator.]

    C) The story behind the picture – here is a show about culture clash and Western encroachment, and what captures you most? A laughing man, carefree about all this clash and encroachment, OBVIOUSLY not the least bit encroached upon. I can SO see him eating and laughing…I can almost smell the moment (not in your living room with the TV, but where he sits, with his octopus.)

    Great stuff, dude…glad to see it’s not a planner page.

    David

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