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About B. Woosley...

Joe Beeler Award Winner

I have been doing courtroom art since 1975, I was hired as a courtroom artist when I was still an art student in San Antonio, Texas and have been doing it ever since. The now defunct San Antonio Light newspaper canvased the local universities to find a student who could draw well enough to cover the Elmer Wayne Henley trial and I was fortunate in being chosen for said trial (you can do an internet search on that trial, it was very gruesome.) I have drawn many, many trials, my career has spanned over thirty years, I've sketched so many that I often forget what all I have sketched. Oprah, Oklahoma Bombing, Waco, Whitewater, Paula Jones, are some off the top of my head. As to how I 'live' a trial, the media contact me and hire me to do a trial and I gather my art supplies and go to where ever the trial may be. If I am away from home I rent a hotel room and stay there for the duration of the trial. I am contract labor, I freelance for whoever calls me first. In the case of the Hasan trial, I am the only artist allowed in the courtroom so, in essence, I work for all the media. This decision was mandated by the court and I was the artist chosen for the work. The security clearance is very strict, I had to have a background check prior to being accepted as the pool artist and all the media covering the trial had to agree to use my artwork over another artist. There are very few professional courtroom artists, the work is very difficult and demanding. I have to drawing moving subjects and get a good likeness of the individual plus any important evidence. Often the conditions in the courtroom are not conducive for drawing, there is no room, I sketch from my lap and carry my supplies in my pockets. There are stringent deadlines to be met and I have to draw very fast which is why I refer to the drawings as sketches, there is no real time to create a refined drawing and since I am drawing for reproduction, I have to adjust colors and perspective so that the drawing works for cameras. I can make as many as six or seven drawings a day, how many depends entirely upon what is happening in court, who the witnesses are and what they are doing in the procedure of the court. It can take me anywhere from five minutes to thirty minutes to do a drawing, if I have the time I do more complex drawings, everything is contingent on what is newsworthy that day in court. I don't prepare mentally for a trial, I prepare my supplies and clothing if I'm to be away for any length of time. I focus on drawing and doing what needs to be done. I think you're wondering how I can sit through some very disturbing testimony and, like emergency room doctors, police and journalists, I have to put aside my feelings and focus on the job before me. Later I will feel anger or sorrow and attempt to process the testimony and evidence and I 'decompress' through prayer.

The link below is a sampling of sketches highlighting the proceedings of the Major Hasan trial for which Ms. Woosley is serving as the courtroom artist.

AP Courtroom Sketches

Copyright © Brigitte Woosley, 2008-2011. All Rights Reserved.

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