Tuesday 15 May 2007

The Villains in my Home Town- part 15.

This is the last of the courtroom sketching material that I kept a record of: the "Black Widow' I wrote about way back on 6th feb. You can see the full figure version at the link, as it's the only one of all my sketches that I thought of scanning before delivering it (all other images in this series were lifted from video tape).
There were afew others, such as the Malaysian diplomat with a suitcase full of bank bills, a couple more rapists and a big prison gang, five guys all at once. I did this courtroom sketching gig sporadically over a two year period*. I only got into it by accident and considered it a challenging adventure. If I find myself in strained circumstances one day, and they still aren't letting cameras into the courtroom, I believe I could make a modest living from it. Instead of just being on call, I'd put myself in a position to call the shots. I'd study the form, like a racing tipster, know what trials were coming up and which were likely to be of interest to the public. Then I'd check out all the courtrooms and know the best vantage points for getting a good view. I'd get in early, do the work and then syndicate it out to the various tv channels and newspapers. I'd also know what was going on in the courthouses of remote towns and make arrangements to get around.

There are a few sites on the net by people who do make a living from it:

Ralph Sirianni
"Once allowed into the courtroom, the artist can only hope for a decent vantage point. Oftentimes, the individuals to be drawn are facing away or blocked from view. The time factor was important in that as little as 10 to 15 minutes would be a short appearance, as opposed to an hour to 2 hours. At times the tension in the room was very high. This intensifies the speed required to complete a drawing (or 2 or 3) for networks waiting to shoot live."

Art Lien of Ellicott City, MD. GOING WHERE CAMERAS CANNOT.
"The U.S.Supreme Court is my regular beat for NBC News, but I also cover trials and hearings as far west as Denver and as far south as Guantanamo."
lately moved here
Art makes the kind of drawings that require being ensconced in the courthouse all day long. Very complete views of the room with exact perspectives, and everybody present. Except the jurors of course. we must never show them, so sometimes their blank silhouette placeholders look a bit jarring. I always found it more expedite to let the viewer feel that they were in the jury's place.

A good book on the subject, at Amazon, and you can peep inside.
Art of Justice: An Eyewitness View of Thirty Infamous Trials (Hardcover)
"As principal courtroom sketch artist for the New York Times and WABC in New York, Marylin Church covered many of America's most infamous trials, from the downfall of John Gotti to the trial of would-be presidential assassin John Hinckley; from the conviction of Martha Stewart..."
One grand drawing in here made me realise I'd never been in a courtroom with windows. Our courthouse here is a recent building with no views of the sky or street outside.



Blogger James Robert Smith said...

You should put some geckos into a few of these posts.

15 May 2007 at 16:06:00 GMT-5  

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