Helpful Hints: Courtroom Art

I wanted to share the benefits of my experience in doing those wonderful, tastefully colorized sketches we know as courtroom art, the pictures you see on TV when they can't bring cameras into the courtroom. Here are a few helpful hints I can give you for some of the more challenging situations.

My experience, I must tell you, consists of once having sat on a jury in a civil suit trial and doing the sketches you see here. This is where I learned the first tip I will give you, which is this: if you are on the jury, you will have to smuggle out your notes.

Next tip: in order to capture the true uniqueness of each individual you are drawing, try to pick out the one feature that is unusual and exaggerate it. For example, in the sketch below, you will notice that the judge has beady little possum eyes set close to his oversize nose. Successfully capturing this feature lends a solemn dignity to the scene which is absolutely critical to this style of art. Most people have features that can be treated this way; when you get down to it, people are pretty weird looking.

Something that may give you trouble: if the defendant or plaintiff or witness is a celebrity, as in the trials of O.J. Simpson and Robert Blake. There you will be dealing with a face that everyone is familiar with; you will definitely want to capture his/her face in a way that everyone will instantly recognize. Of course, if the defendant actually is O.J. Simpson, be sure to paint the goddamn blood on his hands.

Another possible problem: if the subject is a very attractive man or woman. Such people are usually very symmetrical and have no bizarre features that stand out; your drawings may come out very plain-looking and uninteresting and not very recognizable. Hint: try to draw something you want to fuck.

But the most important lesson to be learned is this: picking out what is unique and stupid-looking about people is most definitely a learned skill. It takes practice. And you can practice this skill anywhere, anytime, in your everyday life; like anything, it becomes habit.

Maybe even more than that; really, it's a way of life.