Wednesday, September 23, 2009

And That's How it Goes

Here's how it goes when you are sketching live. The man playing with his blackberry who seems like he will be there forever gets up when a group arrives. Luckily he hangs around talking to them, since your drawing is as yet headless. So you have time to sketch his head.

Then you begin sketching the woman next to him and just as you are about to sketch her forearm and hand, another lady sits down where the man had been. She places a big manila file on her lap and blocks your view. So you sketch the manila file.

But since the man didn't have anything on his lap and you've drawn his lap already, by the way, the manila file is now floating in thin air. So you have to put a box under it.

The other woman is a doll and stays put.

That's how it goes when you are sketching live.

So every now and then, even when you are in Einstein Bagel's surrounded by interesting people to sketch, you just don't feel like exerting the effort. So you sketch the rack holding the cream and to-go boxes for coffee instead. And it is a pleasure to do (except when people get cream or sugar for their coffee. The nerve of them).

And I intend to color this one. But I kind of like the line drawing just as it is, so I thought I'd share it this way too.

Today I faced one more challenge. I was at an outdoor cafe when a very small neon green lizard hopped on my hand while I was painting. He seemed quite content to stay, but I eased him onto the ground anyway.

So it's true what they say: you never know what might happen when you get out of the house.


  1. I love all the details you give of "the process" of your sketches, and the results are just marvelous!! I had similar thoughts today at school. In one of my classes, the students were watching the movie version of Hamlet, and I thought I had "captive" subjects, but not so much. I just wasn't in the mood to try and draw their twitchy selves. I'll bet your green lizard would have been more adept at posing than my students!!!

  2. You know your posts remind me of drawing classes. Every time we took a break and the model took a break and then she'd get back and those assigned would try to get her back in the same position.

    Well the problem was we could never get her back to where she was before because 1. those who were assigned might have been working on her head position and hadn't moved down to her body or hands yet so they didn't know what position to assign those parts, 2. from their angle they didn't notice the slight lean in her position that you can see from your angle. I remember the professor would always get to me towards the end of class and then he'd measure everything and place everything and say you're a little off here and I'd say yeah we never could get her back into that original spot. So he would compensate for her body "settling" into the pose or tell me I should have spoken up and let those posing her know that it wasn't correct after the first break.

    So to sum it up, I quickly learned to try to capture the important details first as fast as I could and then work on the specifics when that was done. I liked to draw as a "whole" where as others concentrate on the face first and move on down. If someone stands up, if you've already captured the body position, you can work on the details of the face. So I guess I'm trying to say capture what you see as important to your composition first. So if there is movement or rearranging, it doesn't affect your composition because you already have that notated.

    Having said that it is frustrating when people keep moving and shifting. I was called on once or twice to be drawn and I have to admit it is the hardest thing to keep still for 15 minutes lol! Great job however!

  3. I am really bad at sketching live, and tend to give up pretty quickly. Perhaps one day I'll actually stay calm when the subject moves.
    Nice sketch Dan, love the colors as always

  4. Oh those unwitting posers who just won't cooperate! I must say, tho, you compensated beautifully for their rudeness and made a wonderful sketch after all. Your drawing of the rack is really detailed (I noticed all those little "V" shaped thingys on the front of each shelf - well done, and such patience! nancy

  5. You've captured all of our frustrations - why can't people just stay put for 5 minutes!! Love your drawings....

  6. Is there really a place that serves "Darn Good Coffee"? That is funny! I really love the hair on the middle lady up top, great capture! And I certainly understand the placing of boxes so things aren't floating (remember I did that with the wheelbarrow?). The arms of the lady far right, the shoulders of the lady middle, and the hands of the guy holding the cell phone...all my favorite parts of this sketch and I think you've captured them perfectly.

    The condiment rack is awesome. The perspective is correct, and I really like how you've only hinted at the stacks of drink carriers and yet, I could not mistake them for anything else! Can't wait to see it in color!

  7. Forgot to say: is great for references, just remember to go to the free photos so you don't have to worry about contacting for permissions!

  8. Dan, regardless of all the obstacles you faced drawing the trio, it turned out great! But I totally understand your frustration and like you I'll usually follow up a drawing of people with an inanimate object

  9. Oh Dan, I just love your funny "sketching live" description. It reminded me of the sketchcrawl in Paris: on my pad there are quite a few "monsters" : no head or no feet or arms stretched helplessly with no hands at the end.
    And anyway YOU managed a good job, it's great ! Ans so is the rack. Well done!

  10. I think you did great! If you hadn't said this one moved or that one came and sat down later or... I would never have guessed. Your rack looks terrific too. I would have screamed if a lizard had settled on my arm!

  11. I have never tried to draw "live". You are so brave. I love both the sofa people and the baker's rack. I need to more of that type of thing. I promise myself to try something by Monday.

    And BTW your posts are so informative and help us take it as it didn't give up, you went with the flow. Excellent!

  12. Delightful post. Since I usually draw plants outdoors, I sometimes get mad at the wind for blowing my subject around. The wind just laughs at me.

    I also like the line drawing as is. Good call.

  13. I loved reading this and seeing your marvelous drawings. I felt like I was there - I can relate so much to all of your challenges. I must say, you handled them brilliantly!