Yesterday at the Dutchess County Fair, I sketched a portrait of Mark M., "The Cartoon Guy." He was working under a white tent near the tattoo vendor and the lawnmower dealer.
He does quick cartoon portraits using a Sharpie marker. They’re good portraits, and they only cost $5.00 (head only) or $10.00 (head and shoulders).
He was an artist in the Navy, and has been doing cartoon portraits for 34 years. He said that since his divorce, he is temporarily homeless. He travels around in a minivan, going from fair to fair, occasionally doing corporate gigs.
He loves observing people while doing his job. “Sometimes moms will come and talk for their kids, even 13 year olds,” he said. “They won’t let them grow up.” The hardest customers to please are good-looking teenage girls. “They’re raised to be vain.”
But in all his years doing portraits, only three have been rejected. One happened a couple of weeks ago. The portrait came out great, and the girl liked it, but he misspelled her name, and he was too busy to redo it, so he refunded her money.
He told us he wanted to slow down and paint. “The VA said they could get me a job as a park ranger,” he said. “What I want to do is paint nature.”
Photo courtesy Fred Bellet, Tribunephotogs, link.