In the days before the ongoing pandemic reached Cape Cod's shores, if you swung by the Hot Chocolate Sparrow on a sunny afternoon when the weather was warm, you'd likely find Roger Boucher working in one of his sketchbooks. A closer look, however, reveals impressively detailed drawings that could easily find their way into a local gallery.
Boucher, an Orleans native, has been drawing since he was a little boy, and other than the requisite school art classes, he hasn't had any formal training. But he has had a passion for creating that has only intensified in adulthood.
“I remember sitting as a little kid in front of the door with crayons and stuff,” Boucher said. “I've always done that, picked up a pen and drawn. It's evolved into new techniques.”
Through trial and error, Boucher stumbled upon a love of fine and bold line drawings, mingled heavily with pointillism. Often, he uses dots to create shapes and shading, adding lines to make aspects of his drawings stand out. A query about his choice of pointillism elicits a shy grin.
“I didn't intend for that type of thing. It just happened,” he said. “I used to do a lot of bold line work and fine line, and I wanted something more, something different. I think I saw on Instagram some artists doing dot work and it just kind of took off from there. I guess it's pointillism. I mix it up. I've tried to do complete dots but I get frustrated and annoyed with it.”
Using super-fine-tipped art pens purchased from Cape Cod Photo and Art, Boucher taps out his pieces, many of which take months to finish. A piece he started in June took until September to complete.
“I do kind of zone out with it. I'll put my earbuds in. I have a specific playlist that I'll throw on,” Boucher said. “Sometimes I think it's a rhythm thing. I'll listen to the music and the beat and kind of get to tapping along with my pen.”
Boucher's works mixes tiny dots and bold and fine lines, used to add shading and detail. Some are reminiscent of tattoos, an art form Boucher did try at one point, but wasn't able to continue with due to time constraints, though some of his own tattoos are his work.
“One of the things I really enjoyed [about tattooing] was the shading piece,” he said.
Even Boucher marvels at the intricate details of his works.
“I'll look back at them and think, 'Wow, how much patience did I have?'” he said.
Though Boucher does do preliminary sketches of what he's aiming to create, the works mostly evolve on their own, from lines and dots to sea turtles swimming along, a fantastical octopus, or a strikingly detailed koi.
“It depends on what I'm doing,” he said of whether or not he starts with a sketch. “I'll do loose clusters of dots to get an idea of what it's going to look like, and then I'll start to group the dots closer and start to see patterns.”
He derives inspiration from myriad sources, most especially nature and people who have had a positive impact on his life.
“It's kind of in the moment,” he said. “Whatever happens to inspire me. Sometimes I'll even wake up in the middle of the night and think, 'I want to try that.'”
When he's able, he prefers drawing at the Sparrow, either outside at the picnic tables, or, when possible, inside. The venue, he said, is a favorite for many reasons.
“First of all, it's the Sparrow and the people in there,” he said. “I'd sit in there for an hour, which often turned into two hours. I like the people. I grew up here. My dad used to own the Mobil station. My first date was when there was a movie theater in town. It's just an awesome vibe. I've found sitting outside here to be a really cool place to draw. I interact with nature a lot, watch people do their thing. Watching life go by, it's a fun place to be.”
Look closely at Boucher's art and you'll notice that the Sparrow finds a way in, often as a small coffee stain, just something that makes it unique. What Boucher would love to do is find a way to get his art into the hands of those that appreciate it.
“Currently I don't really have an avenue for people to purchase the art,” he said. “Some of it's confidence, for sure. Someone looks at it and thinks it's amazing, while I look at it and see a dot and think, 'no.'”
There is a piece of his on the wall at the Sparrow, but Boucher dreams of seeing his works on display at a local gallery, though he's not sure where to begin. Fans of his work can find photos on Instagram, but he'd love to do more.
“I would love to be at the point where I could spend portions of my day drawing,” he said. “That would mean I was able to find a way to sell it full time. Or at least have a gallery option that would let me show it. But some of it is pretty unconventional. I don't always know how to explain it to people.”
When he's not making art, he's busy working at Block and Tackle in Wellfleet. He used to work at the Charles Moore Ice Arena, but wanted a job that would allow for more of a focus on his art. The pandemic, he said, was something of a wake-up, inspiring him to pursue his passion.
“I'm really happy they gave a guy with no kitchen experience a chance down there,” Boucher said. “I'm having a blast. It's a great bunch of people. It allows me not to put stuff in my head that stays with me outside of work so I can focus on coming here and listening to music and doing what I love to do.”
Boucher is hopeful that the future will mean more art and more opportunities to take it further.
“It's constantly evolving and growing, just like any one of us are,” he said. “I don't think of myself as an artist so much as I would like to. It's always one of those dreams that seems to be a couple of feet beyond me. But maybe I'll get off my ass one day and figure out how to sell it.”