I just returned from my experience as a 38th Voyager aboard the Charles W. Morgan, as she made her way to Boston. It was an amazing voyage and it will take me some time to process all my thoughts and feelings from the journey. As well as all the drawings!

So here is a little preview. We left early morning Tuesday, and spent a good part of the sail enveloped in complete fog. What a spiritual thing that was, to fill our white sails with the wind, and move forward into an unseen white future…trusting only our instincts and the knowledge of the captain. Kind of like the philosophical voyage the Morgan is leading us on, into a new relationship with our oceans, trusting that we can make the change we want to see in the world, unsure of the results, but guided by our knowledge and instincts. Beautiful.

The drawing above shows Captain Kip Files and the Chief Mate, Sam Sikkema, looking off the prow into the foggy distance.

Sea Trials of the Charles W. Morgan

the_morgan_sails!Been doing a lot of traveling and drawing lately, and not enough scanning and posting! I’ve been following the start of the journey of the Charles W. Morgan with the Dalvero Academy, and last week (or so) we were lucky enough to get a floating view of the sea trials. She looked beautiful under sail, and so different from the ship we had seen in dry-dock, looking more like Noah’s Ark than anything that could float! But float she did, and looked so regal with the sails out. I couldn’t get over the romantic vision of how the sails billowed in the wind, and the crew up in the rigging, trying to hold them down! But more on that in a later post…


The Morgan looked so tall and skinny sailing on the horizon – again, very unlike the large hulking mass we had grown accustomed to when she was in dry-dock. But then, when she turned, she became super wide – too wide to really see all at once! It’s like she is many ships in one:



And try drawing her while she is turning! She moves so quickly, you can’t hardly catch her – –



And then, as soon as she’s turned, she sails off into the big blue….beautiful.


The Charles W. Morgan sails again! (and I’ll be on it!)



Veronica Lawlor will be joining the captain and crew of the 19th-century whaleship, Charles W. Morgan, as a 38th Voyager during the ship’s historic voyage this summer. While aboard the Morgan, on the Provincetown to Boston leg, Veronica will create a reportage essay of the voyage, in words and pictures, to add to her reportage of the restoration of the ship.

During the voyage, nearly 80 people, dubbed 38th Voyagers, will participate in an unprecedented public-history event. During one leg of the voyage, each 38th Voyager will take part in their own unique project using the Morgan as a focal point for their discoveries. The 38th Voyagers come from across the world and a wide variety of backgrounds including artists, historians, scientists, journalists, teachers, musicians, scholars, and descendants of whaling crews. Once back on shore, each 38th Voyager will submit a personal work that embodies their experience. These works may be incorporated into a coming exhibit at Mystic Seaport.

In addition to her visual essay on the July 15th Provincetown to Boston leg of the 38th Voyage, Veronica is creating a body of drawings and prints regarding whale conservation, titled “The Map is Not the Territory.” This work will be exhibited in 2015 at Mystic Seaport with the Dalvero Academy, of which she is a co-founder.

The Morgan’s 38th Voyage, her first since 1921, will take her to historic ports across Southern New England including visits to New London, Conn.; Newport, R.I.; Vineyard Haven, New Bedford, and Boston, Mass., where she’ll dock next to the USS Constitution. She will also anchor off the coast of Provincetown, Mass. for day sails to the Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary, where the Morgan will team up with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to conduct science demonstrations and observe whales in their natural environment. The Morgan left Mystic Seaport on May 17 for New London, Conn. where she is completing her fitting out and will undergo sea trials. On June 14 the Morgan will continue her voyage as she sails to Newport, R.I. To follow the voyage in full, please visit

I’m so excited about all of this, it’s been a busy summer already! Please continue to visit my blog to follow the voyage of the Morgan through my drawings and writings. First post will be about the Sea Trials that happened on June 11th! As soon as I get them scanned!! ;)

Varoom! the Empathy issue


Varoom!, a British magazine of Illustration, Culture, and Society, has published the drawings I made of my sister Patty in it’s Issue 25. The theme is Empathy, and Derek Brazell, the reportage editor, asked me if he could show the drawings and ask me a few questions regarding the experience, for me and for Patty. The piece is so sensitive and I love what Derek wrote as well. I’m proud to have my sister represented this way and can’t wait to show her the magazine. Thank you Varoom! You can order a copy HERE.

St. Paddy’s Day Parade and (no) Regrets

vl_st-paddy's-parade-1So, today was St. Patrick’s Day. Also my birthday. After spending the morning teaching my Parsons School of Design Illustration in Motion class at Grand Central Station, I decided to go to midtown Manhattan and draw a little of the St. Patrick’s Day parade, and spend the rest of the afternoon at the Museum of Modern Art. A perfect way to spend the day. Well, let me tell you, it was COLD on Fifth Avenue today! And I have to admit, I have a love/hate relationship with the St. Patrick’s Day parade. On the one hand, I am 3/4 Irish descent, and very proud of the contributions the Irish have made to the United States. Did you know that the French troops sent to help the colonists win the Revolutionary War were mostly Irish mercenaries? They couldn’t wait to stick it to England and help one of her colonies gain independence, how very Irish of them, ha! And I love to see all those proud people marching with their Irish sweaters on, bagpipes blaring. Those are my people! vl_st.-paddy's-day-parade-2On the other hand, I really hate that the Ancient Order of the Hibernians continues to refuse to allow gay and lesbian Irish groups to march in the parade. The group claims to exclude the homosexual marchers on religious principles, but, as my four-year-old nephew says, “REALLY?” It is so against the teachings of Christianity – Jesus accepted everyone, according to the Bible – that I just can’t abide it. And don’t believe that it’s right. Everyone who is PROUD to be of Irish descent should be welcomed, Irish sweaters, Kelly Green atrocities of fashion, and all! So there’s my dilemma about this parade. I mean, even the Pope himself has said that he cannot judge people by nature of their sexuality, and rightfully so!

vl_st-paddy's-parade-3So, there lies my overall mixed feeling of the St. Patrick’s Day parade: I love it, I hate it, but it’s a part of who I am, so I absolutely can’t ignore it. So that’s why I found myself compelled, despite the frigid temperatures, and despite my political/moral objections, to at least draw a little bit of it. And I have to admit, I enjoyed drawing those extremely Irish faces. Made me think of family members, some long gone, whom I have loved, and who have shown me love in my life. So come on Irish-Americans, let’s get it together and welcome everyone to the fold already!!


(Setting up at Grand Central Station.) 

After I froze myself for a little while on Fifth Avenue, I decided to treat myself to an afternoon at the Museum of Modern Art. It’s my birthday, after all, and I can’t think of a better way to spend it than  gathering some inspiration for the coming year at one of my favorite museums in NY. OK now, here is the crazy part. I swear to you, this morning as I got on the subway to go to Grand Central Station to meet my class, I mentally asked the universe for a sign. “Universe,” I said, “It’s my — – year, and I need a sign for the next part of my life.” (Didn’t think I’d tell you how old I was, did you?) So I’m walking around the MoMA, thinking over my life, and of course, thinking not only of the blessings of my life (there are many) but also of those things I wish I had done, or those things I feel that I should have done. Not in any kind of dramatic way, you understand, just that it’s my birthday, and I’m kind of going over my life, good and not-so-good, as all lives go. So, as I’m thinking these thoughts in a peripheral kind of a way, I turn a corner in the museum and see this word, in letters about two feet high: REGRETS.  No kidding, regrets. I can’t even believe it! So, I walk in to the gallery, and it’s a show by Jasper Johns, whose work I love.

lucien_freud_photo-3-6So apparently Jasper Johns purchased this old photo of Lucien Freud, that Francis Bacon had used as a point of departure for a portrait. Bacon preferred to paint from photos rather than from life. And this old photo is cracked, ripped, and mutilated, plus it is covered in spatters of paint, from being in Bacon’s studio as he did his painting. So Jasper Johns decided to use it as a metaphor for life. He took that damn photo and used it as a point of departure for a whole series of new paintings and prints. Johns turned the photo upside down, he flipped it, he turned it, he painted it, he printed it, he did all kinds of things to it, but most importantly, he saw the new art (life) inherent in the past art (life.) And the work was GOOD. What a statement, and what a wonderful thing to inspire me on my birthday. Wow.

Here is a quote from the show:

Seen as a whole, the series reveals the importance of experimentation in John’s practice, laying bare the cycle of dead ends and fresh starts, the way problems and solutions develop from one work to another, and the incessant interplay of materials, meaning, and representation so characteristic of his work over the last sixty years.

Dead ends and fresh starts. Thank you Jasper. Thank you universe, you answered my question and gave me a sign. I’m ready for another year, and looking forward to see the fresh starts and [more] problems and solutions that develop! There is so much more life and so much more work to do, even after the age of – – -!

(Still not going to tell you my age. I mean, I’m inspired and all, but haven’t lost my senses.)

And happy St. Paddy’s Day everyone! My gripes with the Ancient Order of Hibernians aside, I’m very proud to be an Irish-American!


Understanding Illustration…and Teaching

vl-cover-Understanding-IllustrationLast night at one of our Dalvero Academy life drawing sessions, I got my first chance to see the book, Understanding Illustration, that I posted about here. The book is beautiful, thank you to authors Jo Davies and Derek Brazell, and I am thrilled to be a part of it. Well written and designed, and featuring many illustrators whose work I’ve long admired. Including, one of my students, Evan Turk! It’s so wonderful to be recognized for our projects, and sometimes it feels even more wonderful when our students are recognized. Evan’s work in the book is his ongoing project on gay rights, and it features his reportage of the Seattle Gay Pride parade that was recently in Varoom magazine. (See the full interview on our Dalvero blog HERE.)

And while I’m bragging about Evan, let me also congratulate him on the release of his first picture book, Grandfather Ghandi. My copy arrived today – what a wonderful debut work! I recommend it to everyone – it’s an emotional, intelligent, and, a very personal look at Ghandi’s non-violent philosophy.

It’s so gratifying as a teacher to see your students rise, and it’s even nicer when you can continue to work with them as they do. This is true not only with Evan but all of the students of the Dalvero Academy, as we have been asked to create another exhibit regarding the 38th Voyage of the whale ship Charles W. Morgan. The work done for the exhibit of the restoration was such meaningful and thoughtful illustration, and I’m looking forward to see how this next phase of the project, which includes a mission of whale conservation, will be interpreted by all of the Dalvero artists. I’ll be posting more on this new endeavor as we begin the work in earnest, in the meantime here is a link to our website from the previous exhibit about the Morgan:

Exciting days indeed!


 The Charles W. Morgan awaits the next step in the process

for her 38th Voyage.

New Orleans, Understanding Illustration

vl-ninth_one_2014Today is Fat Tuesday, and New Orleans is full of partiers enjoying their last Carnival moments before the start of Lent tomorrow. But a few years back, when I visited the lower Ninth Ward of New Orleans, I was surprised and saddened to see how much re-building was still left to be done. Families living among ghost houses, or fields, in what were once thriving neighborhoods. I was inspired by the emotional resonance of the abandoned homes, and did a series of portraits of them – as I felt they were speaking eloquently about what had transpired in the neighborhood. And the residents have spoken, too. Fats Domino said, “I’m gonna wait it out. I don’t think I’ll ever leave the Ninth Ward.” (Robert Siegel, “Fats Domino, ‘Alive and Kickin’’ after Katrina,” All Things Considered, March 13, 2006, National Public Radio)

vl_ninth_two_2014Recently, filmmaker Spike Lee spoke at Pratt Institute, and he had some vehement things to say about gentrification, and the racial divide that often still exists in cities across America. The Ninth Ward is a traditionally African-American neighborhood, and an artistic center for jazz, that most American of music forms. It seems sad to me that the will to bring this neighborhood back is not stronger than it is. It’s a holding ground of our cultural heritage and yet it has been largely abandoned. I don’t pretend to know what the solution is, I know that geographically it is a terrible idea to rebuild, but then again, emotionally, how can you not rebuild a place that means so much to so many people? There are some projects going on now that help, but it’s a shame there aren’t more.

vl-cover-Understanding-Illustration  My reportage essay on the Ninth District of New Orleans is going to be featured in an upcoming book, Understanding Illustration, by Jo             Davies and Derek Brazell. The book focuses on the meaning and message of illustration, and features 36 other talented illustrators besides myself. I am gratified to be a part of this project, and I hope that the inclusion of my visual essay in the book may bring some attention to the Ninth Ward re-building that is going on.

You can see my original posts on this topic HERE, and HERE.

If you are in London tonight, March 4, you can attend the panel discussion about Understanding Illustration at the Gallery at Foyles, Charing Cross Road, that begins at 18.30.

Read more about the struggles of the Ninth Ward in this interesting essay by Juliette Landphair in the Journal of American History here.


Svetlana and the Delancey Five with Wycliffe Gordon

Last Monday night I went to the Backroom Bar, in the lower east side of Manhattan, to hear Svetlana and the Delancey Five perform with Wycliffe Gordon. Fellow artists Margaret Hurst, Julia Sverchuk, and my One Drawing A Day editor, Mary Ann Hall, were there drawing too. What a blast!
First of all, the Back Room is set up like an old speakeasy, with a password required for entry. It actually was a speakeasy during Prohibition, one of only two left in NYC. They serve alcohol in teacups, as they did in prohibition times, in case the cops raid the place. For those of you not from the US – prohibition was a misguided attempt by the US government to outlaw liquor of all kinds. It was repealed by the 21st amendment to the Constitution, so now all Americans over 21 can drink legally. (You’ll often see bars named the 21st Amendment in the US, now you know why…) Secondly, people were swing dancing and having a good time. Thirdly, the music was HOT…

Wycliffe Gordon was tremendous – singing and playing the trombone. He brought a definite New Orleans vibe to the evening, and performed a few Louis Armstrong classics, too. Fantastic energy and soul. And Svetlana and the Delancey Five were no small potatoes either – I had seen them play recently at the Vintage Train event, and they did NOT disappoint. Here is the sultry Svetlana belting one out – -

And here are some more drawings of musicians enjoying themselves playing, and folks kicking up their heels and having a good time:
All in all, another fun evening in the Big Apple. Or was it the Big Easy? It was hard to tell.

You can see Julia’s drawings of the event HERE.


Lunar New Year Celebration

Saturday was the Chinese New Year parade in Flushing, Queens, home of one of the largest Chinese populations in the western hemisphere. “This is going to be good!” I thought, and hopped on the 7 train to do a few drawings. When I got out at the Main Street station expecting crowds, I thought I had missed it – even when I rounded the corner to where the barricades were set up, it was pretty sparse, not the mad tourist scene of the parade in Manhattan’s Chinatown. Which was kind of nice, actually, it felt like a very home town celebration. (Also, it was about 10 degrees fahrenheit, so maybe all the smart people stayed home, ha ha!)There were the requisite policemen of any New York City parade, a marching band, a few civic groups, and of course, the lions and dragons that are the highlight of any Chinese New Year festivities. But it seemed the most important part of this parade were the flyers that were handed out to all the bystanders. Ads in Chinese for everything you could imagine, join this religion, hire these lawyers, eat at these restaurants, consult these life coaches…on it went. A bonanza of junk mail wound it’s way up Main Street along with the revelers. Even ads for a hospital in the area. The infamous Ronald McDonald got in on the act too, you can see him at the left of the drawing below…
I think the funniest part of the parade was the group of high school students from Francis Lewis high school. Marching along in the midst of the overly-exuberant middle aged parade marchers, they moved silently in their puffy jackets, each with their heads bowed down low, enduring the excruciating pain of being forced by their parents to march in the parade. It was so funny to see them – you can catch a glimpse of a few of them in the midst of my drawing above. It was like they were on a death march.
I’m really not exaggerating that much!
I love to watch the acrobatics of the people in the lion suits. They really get into dancing in those things! Reminded me of the performance in Grand Central of the Nick Cave horses last spring. Similar moves.
vl-flushing-parade-4The Chinese section of the parade ended with these women in flowy robes followed by other men and women walking within little boats that said “Happy New Year’ on them, and then a massive banner. I thought the parade was over, but then I heard some music and saw that the Korean section of the parade was beginning. I looked up and saw two giant Korean bobble-head figures dancing toward me, Wow. And behind them marched a small group of Korean veterans. I’m not sure if they fought in the Korean war and if so, did they fight with the Korean army or the American army? I guess in a way it’s irrelevant, they fought for their country and so now they were honored and marching in the parade.
It’s interesting that the New Year’s parade in Flushing also includes Koreans and Korean-Americans. They celebrate the lunar New Year too, of course, and there are many Korean people living in Queens as well. It was so interesting to me to see the total change of graphics between the Chinese and the Korean sections of the parade. The Chinese part was all red and gold and decorative curves everywhere; the Korean section was all blues with large, angular shapes and over-sized details. Somewhat like the differences in their calligraphy.
The cutest part of the Korean section of the parade were the little boys doing their Taekwondo kicks up the block. Look out!! My favorite though, was one man who was the master of ceremonies of some kind, wearing a large teal robe, a tall black hat, a surgical mask, and a pair of 2014 glasses from January 1. Quite the get up, and he really seemed to enjoy wearing it all and twirling down Main Street.
You may also notice the planes flying overhead in my drawings – we were very close to JFK airport. All in all it was a very enjoyable morning, although I froze to death and dropped my pad into a snow bank more than one time. By the way, it’s the year of the horse. Kung Hei Fat Choi!


Superbowl Times Square

As those of you in the US know, yesterday was the Super Bowl, the biggest football game of the year. This year the game was held in Giants stadium in New Jersey, and to celebrate, NYC turned Times Square into a kind of NFL Superbowl playground. I know…what? It’s true. I decided to go check it out for myself. Coming out of the subway, I was greeted by the mounted police, above. The tourists were out in droves, taking pictures, and the New Yorkers were trying their best to avoid the scene. I heard a few of them grumbling as they got caught up in all the activity, or trapped behind a slow moving group of football fans.  Most New Yorkers tried to circumvent the area, and I heard more than on let out an expletive when they walked around the corner and realized they had forgotten about the NFL take-over of the plaza.
The highlight of the festivities seemed to be a huge toboggan ride that was set up on Broadway and 41st St. Can you believe? It was such a strange sight, like a waterfall of screaming tourists right in the middle of the ‘great white way’ (as Broadway has been called.) There are a lot of old-time New Yorkers (like myself) who like to talk  about the ‘Disneyfication’ of Times Square – well now I guess it’s complete! And with a football theme! Although I don’t really know what a huge icy toboggan ride has to do with football. There was a big goal post at the end of the ride, maybe the theory was that the riders symbolized the football? I don’t know,  judging by the amount of screaming and laughing going on, it was quite a hit.
I think the only thing more surreal than sliding screaming tourists on Broadway would be the score of yesterday’s game. Wow, who knew? That there would be more excitement at this theme park of football than at the game itself. ;)


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