Sunday, June 5, 2016

Spotlight Sunday - Chris Buczinsky

Spotlight Sunday is a series of interviews designed to introduce and highlight Chicago Urban Sketchers individually.  Now that our chapter has over 500 members it has become more of a challenge to meet every sketcher in person and have a conversation.  These posts concentrate on individuals and speak in their own words and sketches.


Chris Buczinsky - sketcher, artist, teacher
Interview by Alex Zonis

Alex Zonis: Thank you for agreeing to do a Spotlight interview, Chris.  Let's start with how you pronounce your last name. Several sketchers asked me… :)

Chris Buczinsky: You pronounce it in three syllables: BUZZ as in the sound a bee makes. INN as in an inn in Indonesia. And SKI as in the winter sport. BUZZ-INN-SKI.

How did you first hear about the Urban Sketchers community and what made you decide to join Urban Sketchers Chicago?

I first heard about urban sketching through the book The Art of Urban Sketching, which showed me just how good you could get at this game! But a blonde, Russian painter in my Tuesday night portrait drawing class (Alex Zonis) alerted me to the presence of a Chicago chapter. It was all very Romantic, like being let in on the French Resistance in WWII. 


When did you start sketching?

I began drawing while writing my dissertation for my Ph.D. in English literature at Northwestern. Graduate school overdeveloped my left-brain, threatening to permanently tilt me in that direction. Ever since then, I have needed drawing to balance me out. I started by drawing from solely my imagination. I illustrated a children’s book which I self-published, but when I realized I wouldn’t improve if I drew only from my imagination, I began drawing from life.  I started a regular sketching practice later, when my son was on the swim team in high school—about 7 years ago. I was more interested in the people watching than in the swimmers swimming—even when my own son was racing! I was a lousy swim Dad.

Why do you sketch?

I sketch to practice my drawing skills, of course. I do it for relaxation, partly. It also keeps me in the moment, slows me down, teaches me to attend to the world and to others.  It’s a nice record too—of day-to-day life and vacations—cities I’ve visited, plane flights I’ve endured, hikes I’ve taken. Ultimately, I’m trying to capture my feeling for the day-to-day beauty of things.

What are your favorite subjects to sketch?

I like people. All kinds. I love how we all can’t help broadcasting who we are without even speaking a word. I especially like children—but they are always moving so fast! I love old people because of all the lines in their faces—and they’re slower! And I love drawing women, all their wonderful hairstyles and patterned dresses.

I love festivals and fairs, the sensory overload of them. I’m a big fan of the Brookfield Zoo, and I reserve some sketchbooks just for my visits. My favorites are the giraffes, rhinos, and seabirds--especially the penguins. In the summer I garden. I grow vegetables, draw them, and then eat them; I get everything I can out of my veggies!

What are your favorite sketching tools?

I love my Derwent Sketching Pencil (HB). It has a large-diameter lead that I can sharpen for details but blunt for quick, mass drawing. It also has a nice heft—big enough for my big hands. I use it to rough-in quickly, and then go in with a Tombow 2B if I’m adding value or 2H if I’m just doing some line work or I want to add color.

I use Moleskin Watercolor Sketchbooks of all sizes. They open up nicely, they have a handy back pocket, and their covers repel water.  When I have time to watercolor, I use Holbein’s Pro Compo Travel Kit.  It holds twelve 5 ml tubes of watercolors, two brushes (2 and 8) with a brush holder, a pan, and a foldout palette. It’s totally cool, like an artist’s survival kit.

What is your “day” job? What do you do when you are not sketching?

I teach English—writing and literature—at Calumet College of St. Joseph, a small Catholic college south of Chicago, in Whiting, Indiana. I spend my days lesson planning, teaching, grading, advising, and attending meetings. It’s a great job for an artist. I have to read a lot, so I get to learn. Teaching young adults also helps keep me young. And I sketch at the meetings. I sketch my students when they take exams, and I hire students to sit for me, early in the morning, before the day starts. And of course I can devote my summers to art.


Do you have a website, blog or social media accounts where people can see more of your work?

I have a website, a blog of sorts, which I mainly post to during the summer months, when I am not teaching. It’s www.kryztographics.com. It’s the one place in my life where my drawing and writing come together in a meaningful way.

And something else.

I began my adult interest in art by illustrating for children and by making naïve paintings in acrylic sgraffito. This month I’ll be traveling to Guatemala on a mission trip with my school. I’ll be doing lots of art with the children in the village of La Labor. It will be my first time visiting Central America, and I’m really looking forward to it.

AZ: This interview was conducted before Chris went on his Mission trip. He is now back from it, and you can ask him about details when you see him on a sketch crawl. He has some cool stories!

Thank you for sharing your thoughts and sketches with us, Chris! We will see you on our next sketching event, and I will see you at the next portrait class, thankfully not in 1940's French underground, but in Fine Arts building on Michigan Ave!




5 comments:

  1. Great interview. Yesterday, I spent three hours next to Chris in a figure drawing class. I went away thinking how intentional and committed he is to his art. He told me he strives to spend 30 hours a week sketching or drawing to keep improving his skills. Malcolm Glad well says it takes 10000 hoursto achieve world class in a field. Chris is clearly ticking them off.

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  2. Great interview. Yesterday, I spent three hours next to Chris in a figure drawing class. I went away thinking how intentional and committed he is to his art. He told me he strives to spend 30 hours a week sketching or drawing to keep improving his skills. Malcolm Glad well says it takes 10000 hoursto achieve world class in a field. Chris is clearly ticking them off.

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  3. It's really inspiring to see Chris's sketches appearing on FB and now this interview which gives so much more insight. As a fellow artist (though not with that determination of his), I admire both his work and his creative energies toward his goal. It's refreshing to "see" how he sees and examines the world and the people in it--really as only a true artist can. His skectches often are accompanied by great people stories which I totally love! This was a terrific interview--thanks Chris!

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  4. Great interview Chris! You express the passion for art and how it connects to your writing. I love that you express the therapeutic needs of drawing to relax. We are fortunate that it can culminate to a career as well as therapy. Congrats and keep drawing.

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  5. Hi Chris, loved seeing your art here! Thanks Alex for the interesting interview, hope to see you both on a sketch crawl...

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