Even though I have never had an art lesson, I have always loved to draw. As a child, I copied cartoons from comic books, then moved on to chalk drawings in our driveway and on the sidewalk in front of our family home in Ardmore, PA. I’ve always worked in charcoal and occasionally in pen & ink. I guess it’s because I prefer the dynamism of various shades of gray to color. I took a years’ long hiatus from art once I started college in 1967 and did not return to my art until the 1990’s, when I was a judge. Proceeds from the sales of most of my charcoal drawings I have donated to local nonprofit organizations supporting children, women who have survived domestic violence, and youth of color involved in the arts. The rest of my drawings I have given to the special people in my life.
I love to draw faces, hands and hair of Black folks. Our history, our strength and our resilience I attempt to depict in my drawings. When the Alvin Ailey Dance Troupe performed in Berkeley, California in 2003, I was fortunate to be able to have Judith Jamison, their then-artistic director, sign the portrait that I drew of her. You can see her autograph on the drawing. There is one pen & ink drawing among the drawings entitled “Refugees.” I drew this one without taking my pen from the paper. The drawing is simply one long line that forms courageous individuals in their search for a home free from war and strife. Even though I drew it in the 1990’s, sadly it is still relevant today. My charcoal drawing “Lest We Forget” is a reminder that while this nation was founded on principles of justice and equality, there are many who continue to suffer the indignities of racism and poverty. Let us never forget them.
We judges sometimes preside over very boring cases which is why I began doodling. Using only a ballpoint pen and an occasional color marker, I drew pictures of objects on my bench such as a pen, a paperclip, and my microphone. I then moved on drawing my hands. The doodle of my left thumb composed entirely of small dots got me through an especially long and boring trial. I then expanded my doodling to capturing images of witnesses, jurors and attorneys. Enjoy!
Cartooning is my favorite form of art because of its power to poke fun at the powerful, to expose hypocrisy, and to provoke change. My subjects were judges and the courtrooms over which they presided. These color cartoons I produced during my final years on the bench and during my tenure as the Independent Police Auditor for the City of San Jose (2010-2015). I used colored pencils and watercolors. The cartoons were included in “legal” calendars and sold to benefit several nonprofit organizations. The cartoons depict fairly common legal and police terms, the answers to which appear below the cartoons. Test your legal/police acumen and see if you can guess the terms before selecting the image to look at the answers. They’re fun!