Pirates fan sketching way through season

July, 27, 2012
7/27/12
11:48
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Andrew McCutchenCourtesy of Katie Sekelsky Pirates sketches like this of Andrew McCutchen appear regularly on "Sketchbook Buc'n."

The Pittsburgh Pirates are winning!

Perhaps they have Katie Sekelsky to thank?

A 26-year-old, Pennsylvania-based illustrator and graphic designer -- and yeah, a major Pirates fan -- Sekelsky decided this year to make one sketch per Pittsburgh game, based on the happenings in said contest, and create a Tumblr account based on it, called "Sketchbook Buc'n."

Now, almost 100 in -- she fell behind a bit earlier this year, but is nearly caught up -- Sekelsky isn't stopping. If anything, she's really hoping to draw a certain image based on the number 82.

We caught up with Sekelsky this week via email, to learn more about the project:






What inspired Sketchbook Buc'n?

"I had been using athlete photos as reference for practice sketches for a while. It's a great way to work on capturing movement with line art. Then, shortly before the 2012 season started, another Pirates fan on Twitter mentioned his plans to keep a personal notebook during the season. That instantly caused the idea to click. I was going to do the same thing, but with a sketchbook."


Was it always planned to be public?

"Nah, I'm afraid I'm too much of a show-off to keep it private, heh. But really, a few friends were interested in seeing the sketches, and I like posting my progress online. Plus, when I get behind, I have folks reminding me to get back at it, which actually helps keep me on track quite a bit."






Has it been tough to keep up with the everyday nature of the game?

"It hasn't been all that hard. June was a busy month for me, so I did get a fair bit behind then. But I've been making up for it, and will be caught back up soon. Then I'll be back to posting sketches for games the same day or next day.

"I'm known to commit myself to long-term projects without thinking about how time-consuming they'll be, but I've been enjoying this one too much to regret it. And it helps that this particular Pirates season is the one I chose to document!"


Yeah, about that ... did you see this type of year coming?

"After so many losing seasons, it's hard to say I expected this year's Pirates season, but the hope was certainly there. Although I have to say, it was hope that felt a little less like I was kidding myself than in previous years. We had a taste of success midseason last year, and everything seemed to be lining up to get back to that level. But I definitely had no idea the Bucs would be putting out the kinds of numbers and wins that they have been so far this year. It's amazing."






Do you have any favorite sketch? Sketches?

"I'm partial to the ones where I do smaller sketches with a montage of the night's homers like this one or this one. Though I also enjoy the sketches where I take more artistic license, like my running gag of drawing Erik Bedard as a cat (below).

"So I suppose I don't have a single favorite yet. But I can almost guarantee a drawing for win No. 82 would be something special."









Do you see an evolution in your sketches?

"For sure. My figure-drawing skills have been getting better, and I feel like my inking style has become more refined. 'Less is more' is a goal for me when working with a brush, and I'm finally starting to find that balance."


Any plans for these after the season? [Note: Sekelsky has released a book, called "The Time Traveler's Pocket Guide."]

"I've had a few people suggest that I sell books containing prints of the season's worth of sketches at the end of the year, but I'm not sure I'll make that happen. I don't know that I'd want people paying good money for a book that contains mostly quick sketches that I spent 15 to 20 minutes on. I have entertained the thought of putting the physical sketchbook up on eBay at the end of the season, but even at this point, I'm not sure I'll be able to part with it.

"Most likely, I'll end up using some of the sketches as the basis for art prints or posters that I'll put more time and effort into."

Patrick Dorsey is a Los Angeles-based writer and editor for ESPN.com. He has worked for the Web and newspapers. He also played in one Division-III golf tournament (he shot 105).

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