Saturday, March 12, 2011

King of the Jungle


Ever aware, I lean forward on my steering wheel and I search. Barely breathing, I drive slowly - drifting through the early morning like a lion through the mist. I am a hunter. And there they are.

People, dining at breakfast.

I almost don't stop - it's too much like what I always sketch when I am in restaurants. But the scene appeals to a hunger in me - the cafe' - the umbrellas, some open and some closed, with their interesting colors and shapes; the palm trees; and the early morning diners. So I park facing the restaurant. I pull out my Lamy Safari and I sketch. Then I grab my paints and paint almost everything on site. I am there for some time, motor sometimes running, sometimes not. I listen to the radio. I daydream..

Why is he there, parked in that car? Why is this man viewing the patrons in my restaurant? He looks like he is up to no good. Maybe I should walk over to him and tell him he is not welcome here, that he is alarming the customers. Then again, maybe I should call the police. The officer comes. I pull out my sketchbook, and show him my partially painted sketch. He narrows his eyes and looks at my license. He shakes his head. Step out of the car, he says. I hear him as he radios Homeland Security..

The restaurant gradually fills with customers. But nobody notices me. It is as though I am invisible. I finish painting and quietly slip away. I am satiated. I lick my whiskers and roar with delight.

And this is something else altogether. It's in what I've decided is my unlucky sketchbook - something almost always goes wrong here, if not the drawing, the painting. It is not a moleskine. It is a beautiful nicely-bound Strathmore sketchbook. I have decided I do not like the paper, and may not use it anymore.

I work hard on my coloring, trying to add gradations of value, especially in skin. Have you ever heard that a touch of green in the face will give a man a fine five-o'clock shadow? Poor woman. Unlucky. Another victim of my stealth. So quiet even I didn't even see it happen, until it was too late. But I am pleased with the sketch, so I include it for your pleasure.
Now pardon me while I lay down, stretch ever so slowly, and yawn a big toothy yawn.

But before I sleep I'll swiftly swipe with my claw and capture an image for Shadow Shot Sunday - because snatching images - that's what artists do.


  1. love the sketches, and I really like the closed umbrellas... But I have to ask, how do you come up with those daydreams, lol, you're just too funny!!
    (Read it out to my man and he laughed)

    Great sketches and shadow shot!!

  2. Great, fun post for shadow shot! And a fun way to end my day, Dan! Hope your weekend is going well! Enjoy!


  3. I love your posts; they always make me laugh. That poor woman and her five o'clock shadow! Even so, the drawing is great.

  4. I almost thought that scene with the police was for real! lol...I feel this same way...("furtive") when I sketch people. It really is a BRAVE thing sometimes too--kind of "spy" like. Sketch #2 looks particularly Floridian. Great is always a treat to see what you've observed (or "captured").

  5. great shadow shot, even better story! I've just read back a few posts, you've made a very entertaining blog.

  6. I love your art and your story and the shadow shot has great light. all very interesting.

  7. love the sketching and your story to go along with it. I just found you through the Artist Blog Hop and I'm so glad I did. I was giggling away.

    If you have time and interest, I'd be honored to have you check out a little project I'm trying to get off the ground! I'd be happy to extend the mailing date if necessary.

  8. wonderful dreamy post. You had me worried with homeland security. Love the 5 o'clock shadow sketch!

  9. Funny story and great sketch. The atmosphere in the restaurant is so well rendered ! Congratulatuins to the Hungry Sketcher King !!!

  10. Love this post...AND...your 'artistic' talents with words plus the photo captured for SSS.

    My Shadow Shot Link BOARDWALK along the wildlife refuge

  11. So you're the Lion King now?' I really like your sketches and the way you've used the watercolour...even the woman's 5 o'clock shadow!

  12. I see what may have appealed to you. She is stoic and unmoving like the chairs surrounding them, she even kind of falls into the scenery. He like the umbrellas stands out sitting in a nervous anticipating position wanting her attention like the umbrellas waiting to be opened up for the day. Wait. Someone has caught my attention. There. To the left, there is where her attention is focused. He is her open umbrella. OK, now I'm just guessing. Thank you for an enjoyable morning coffee moment. Have a good Sunday.

  13. Ahhhh ... the hunter artist! I love the way you weave a story and your drawings. Fantastic!!

  14. What a magnificent way to begin my Sunday- with a Dan's Canvas post! Reading your story only adds to the art which already has it's own movement. I love that about your posts Dan and experience through and through.
    It is the movement that I like about the top most sketch. The man on the left walking, the man sitting down who seems to have noticed the artist, the umbrella's- some open, some closed, the chairs waiting for patrons, the movement of the artist pen marks. Wonderful movement!
    The woman sitting, lucky to be in your unlucky sketchbook, likes her sandwich every bit as much as I always like mine. She has a story, I'm sure of it. I like the detail in her chair.
    And then, just when I think I'm full, you give us a shadow shot. I hadn't realized how much I'd missed these Dan! I love the diagonal of the sun print of the window and that I can see what time it is. The lamp ends the shot and I like the completeness of the composition.
    Yes- it was a magnificent way to start my Sunday. Simply wonderful.

  15. great sketches and story to boot! Love the interior shadow shot! Cheers and here's mine:

  16. The 5 o'clock shadow is a bit unfortunate, but I love the lines in that drawing.

    I didn't realize you did your drawings from your car - for some reason, that's really funny to me.

    I have a couple unlucky canvases. It only takes me about 4-5 paintings before I realize that no matter what I put on that substrate, it will be junk, and I'm best off getting rid of the whole thing and stretching and priming a new piece of fabric on the stretcher bars.

    Unlucky sketchbooks... I used to have a shelf of those. I recycled the little buggers.

  17. Hi, Dan! I'm still on the road and haven't done a single bit of sketching yet. Love both of these. Had a good laugh too, at the story. It's funny because my husband is usually with me and I think he gets a little nervous, like DHS might show up and arrest us. :D

  18. You are as good at telling stories as painting. What a fun combo.

  19. Cafes are always an eye catcher. Lovely.

  20. Hello Dan,
    Fantastic drawings. I would love to be able to draw people without having to wear a disguise - the false moustache tickles (it is also pointless seeing as I already have one).

    P.S. Please excuse the typing - I am wearing dark glasses.
    P.P.S. Great new pic of you.

  21. You are a wonderful sketcher and great story teller—true to yourself and you make me laugh.
    Love your new avatar.

  22. Stealthy like a ninja =) Nice capture of the people you sketched! Awesome shadow shot too ^^

  23. Love your writing and your drawings! We will have to find you an Armani instruction book.

  24. Wonderful drawing of the five-o'clock-shadow woman. I think I would be suspicious of someone sitting in a car watching a restaurant.

  25. Brilliant post, brilliant sketches, brilliant blog.

    I can't do art, I can only write, but I can certainly appreciate other people's skills. I appreciate yours.

    Happy Hunting!

  26. I am just starting to draw in public, Dan, and as a practical matter, I'm curious, do you sketch the whole scene (the hardscape part) before deciding which people to add, because surely some people will come and go while you are doing something as complex as the first one? Or do you put in the people, and then fill the scene around them?

  27. I am a sucker for a cafe scene too. God forbid I should go out and PAINT one, but I love to look at them. One day I may go out and do it. Not yet though.
    I love the personalities your people show. Just so many characters in your drawings. I like the lady too. She shows a LOT of character. I like her! And BOTH of the drawings are great and I am loving the details you include in the drawings s well! I think I'll set a deadline to get out there and do it. As soon as the moleskine I'm working on now is finished. I'll do it!

  28. Dan, another elegantly written post and some beautifully captured images. Makes me wish I had a car to sit in and capture people on paper in a ninja like fashion!

  29. That's a nice story... I had to read it twice, in the first read I thought everything, including police, was real!
    Lovely sketches. Those terrace's cafe are always attractive!
    And great pic!

  30. Definitely KING of all you survey! Brilliant in word and deed! I admire the way you carry marvelous metaphor the whole way. Brilliant, I say!!

  31. Wow, folks, what a response to this post! - Thank you so much, all of you! You don't know how good you make me feel. Here's my answer to a few of your comments.

    Mari - How do I turn the daydreams off?!

    Sue - Thank you so much for coming and enjoying my blog.

    Phoenix - You are so sweet to invite me to your project. I visited and it seems like a fine one. It's just a time issue. We will have to see..

    Cathy - Yes Cathy, I'm the Lion King.

    Mary - Thanks for your analysis! Sometimes I think I need analysis. lol.

    Kathy & Freebird & Betty & Jennifer (and all of you folks that laughed and enjoyed both the writing and the art) - I consider both the writing and the art to be part of my canvas, so thank you.

    Elastic Unicorn - You tell me I have fantastic drawings but then you say you are wearing dark glasses! What is that?! :) Must be all the time travel.

    Gwen - I don't get it. Is it because spies wear suits?

    Friko - Thanks for visiting. I like that word "brilliant". Say it again.

    Betty - "Brilliant"? Thank you!

    Cheryl - I don't think I started with the couple on this one. I evaluated to see whether I thought they were going to leave soon, and chose to focus on starting the scene. I did sketch them as soon as possible, though, because for me they are the center - and I am very people-centric. I would have been quite upset had they left. Most of the time I start with the people.

    Ellen - Do it!! (Warning: drawing in public is addictive).

    Pamo- What a wonderful comment as always. Glad you missed those Shadow Shots. I am going to do more. And thanks for noticing the chair.

    Jenna - It is funny to me too! Just wait until I start using acrylics or oil in there - with drape cloths, a frock, and an easel! lol.

    Thanks to all you shadow shot folks too!