Drawing the Vice Presidential Debate

I just couldn’t ignore the fly on Pence’s head

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I love political debates. Drawing them is invigorating in the challenge of capturing the physical countenance of each debater — what they’re wearing, how they look, stand, move, express emotions. It’s thrilling when I manage to capture a specific gesture or facial expression, particularly if it’s unique to the debate. I use quotes, so it forces me to really listen to what’s going on and grab verbal moments or sound bites that distill what the debater is saying. I love capturing any newsworthy moments! What’s challenging is all of the above, but also making the drawings look interesting — it’s often just talking heads. My live drawings are not overtly opinionated; I try to reflect what I see and hear — my opinion might be in what I choose to draw. Sometimes, I can’t help myself. Last night’s debate was visually not interesting, the candidates were sitting, so not a lot of movement going on. By the way, it’s hard to draw plexiglass barriers, something I never knew. Their clothes were simple to draw, black, red, brown, two skin tones. The variety of facial expressions from Senator Harris versus the stone face of VP Pence was notable; although at times both broadcasted opinion without saying anything (they both mouthed “not true” a few times).

When I noticed the fly on Pence’s head, I kind of shrieked: I knew this was the moment everyone would be talking about. I had to draw it. It stayed so long in one place on his white hair, I thought it might be stuck in hair spray. The moderator, Susan Page would begin asking a question, and I thought she was going to say, “Mr. Vice President, there’s a fly on your head.” I’ve live-drawn the debates for five years now, for The New Yorker, The New York Times, CBS News, and this was a first. It’s not always clear what it will be — in 2016 when Trump was looming behind Hillary in a town hall debate, I knew that was the moment. We’re still talking about that one.

Below are my drawings from last night’s Vice Presidential debate.

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Written by

Visual journalist/writer for New Yorker, New York Times, CBS News, CNN. TED, SXSW speaker. Looking to change world w humor. lizadonnelly.com

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