Here are a few photos of some two-minute per person caricatures from an afterprom this weekend. Saturday night and early Sunday morning, I caricatured at an afterprom in Louisville, IL, for about four and a half hours. I have a rough idea of how many kids I drew. I was drawing timed two-minute caricatures; I set a cookie timer at the four-minute mark before drawing each couple, and then I raced the timer. I’m getting faster, and often I finish the drawings a minute or so before the time is up. Last night, I used up one 40-sheet pad of paper and started the second. That’s easily 50+ sheets of paper. With each sheet featuring two people, I estimate I drew around 90 kids and volunteers, and I spent three hours driving to do it. It was exhausting, particularly the driving, but it was a lot of fun.
Being a professional event caricaturist in the midwest involves a lot of driving. You need to go where the parties are, and here in the cornfields, the parties are few and far between. A typical weekend for me juxtaposes lonely nighttime drives through the country with isolated bubbles of music, laughter, and a blur of shuffling faces. For events like these afterproms that stretch into the early AM hours, as the night progresses, everything starts seeming slightly surreal and driving home in the early morning through the empty countryside feels like traveling through space. The half-moon, partially obscured by clouds, looms overhead. The fields in all directions are as dark as the night sky. The odd geometry of harvesters in the fields look like landlocked space stations, distant blinking lights look like meteors or UFOs, and city lights scattered along the horizon look like small landlocked galaxies.
I got home around five in the morning and collapsed into bed. I remember pulling up the covers and then waking up six hours later to a room bright with morning light. I lay there a bit, thinking about the night before. These events, and the long drives, wear me out physically and, I guess, psychologically too. I’ve been caricaturing at events for over twenty years, and I have to acknowledge that these late late nights have gotten harder. Laying in bed, my body felt heavy, and my drawing hand ached.
Still, I eventually got up, made strong coffee, ate a big breakfast, and slowly started my day. One of the first things I did was pull my canvas caricaturing bag out from under my desk, where I’d placed it the night before, to clean and restock it. I always do this the morning after events, right after breakfast.
I put my empty aluminum water bottle in the sink and the uneaten snacks (a clementine and granola bar) into the fridge and cupboard. I found a torn-off crumpled sketchbook cover in the bottom of the bag, and I threw it away. I put in a few new 40-page pads of drawing paper–all stamped with my logo. I sharpened all the dull pencils in my pencil case. I inserted my “artistic license” business cards into 80 new plastic ziplock bags and added them to my larger caricaturing bag. Then I returned the bag, now swollen and heavy with supplies, to its spot under my desk.
It seems both perfectly natural yet strange that the morning after drawing, I’m already preparing for and looking forward to the next week’s events. There will be four of them, two in town during the week, and next Saturday, a wedding reception followed by another late night afterprom. Next Saturday will involve two hours of driving through the country at night and six hours of caricaturing. I’m sure it’ll be equally exhausting. But I can’t wait. I may get tired, but I never get tired of this.