Wednesday, June 18, 2008

More Exciting than Plein Aire!

In her recent book "Rule 53: Capturing Hippies, Spies, Politicians and Murderers in an American Courtroom" (Lake Claremont Press, April 2008) Andy Austin describes her experiences being a courtroom sketch artist.

She describes the trial of Bobby Seale…..
(who was) "brought into court strapped to a chair with an ace bandage around his head and a gag in his throat. However, he managed to tip the chair over whereupon all the defendants got up and started fighting with the marshals. Everybody is screaming and yelling, and I was supposed to be drawing this! In those days they were really casual about where they let people sit and we in the press sat right next to the defense table—we had little folding chairs and we could sit right there. The fighting was so intense that the chairs were knocked over and we had to get up and move out of the way, and it was really a mess."

As an artist I cannot imagine this workplace! As a former paralegal I have spent many hours in the courtroom and know the kinds of pressure and tension that exists there. And I couldn't begin to draw or paint in that environment. Years ago there was a funny skit on Saturday Night Live where the courtroom artist works away and when he finally reveals his sketch the Official Artist Rendering is .......a stick figure! That would be my result too.

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