Cafe Sketches - 1st April 2006
First drawings for the new month, it's now my third month drawing in the cafe, this was my eleventh trip.
Spring was in the air when I was walking down to the cafe, the first proper spring day this year. It had just rained but the sun had come out, a lovely, fresh morning. I got a copy of the big issue on the way down off the bloke outside the Ashley Centre, he always looks cheerful but he looked especially happy that morning. Maybe because it wasn't as bloody cold as it's been lately.
He was right over the other side of the cafe from me, quite a distance away, but thankfully I got a nice table at the front of the cafe this trip so I could see him fairly clearly.
Actually, even though this drawing is so bad, I quite like it, it makes me smile. It doesn't look like him, and it's one of the worst drawings I've done so far, but still I like it. I think it might be because I get far too wound up about whether or not I produce decent drawings sometimes. This one is crap, I know it, but I enjoyed doing it anyway. I think that's why I like it. Also I like to put drawings like this up, because it shows that everyone produces total rubbish sometimes. Well, I do that a lot, but not usually this bad. One of the things I don't like about portfolio sites is that people put up their best work, and only their best. I think it's a healthy thing to show that you're not afraid to fail sometimes, everybody does. If all I put up here were my best drawings, then even I would feel bad about my off days.
It was still quite early at this point and there weren't many people to draw, so I thought I may as do white hair guy again. It still doesn't look much like him, doesn't really remind me of him, but there's something I like about the angle of his face. Although I didn't fill in the tones I did put in the lines down his forehead and the side of face where the shadows started, it helps to give his head a bit more form. I think I may have got that from the Bargue drawings, although I haven't got that far through the plates yet. Some of the later plates use lines to show where the form turns away from the light, without actually filling in the tone blocks.
I was beginning to realise at this point that there was something different about the drawings today. Gradually, as these drawings progress with each trip, I notice that my line has been getting stronger, clearer, and more definite. This time the lines became more scrappy again, not as strong. But I'm not sure that's a bad thing, because this was one of my better days I think. Although the drawing is less - what's the word? confident? No, not right. Less definite anyway, more sketchy - despite that, the drawings seemed to be more human somehow, more honest, and more concerned with the person and catching something about them than producing a good drawing for it's own sake. I have no idea why that happened on this day, or whether it'll be the same the next time I go, but I'm pretty comfortable with it. And although the lines are sometimes weaker than they've been lately, they're also better placed a lot of the time in this bunch of drawings.
I'm happy to have finally got a drawing of a little kid, usually I draw older people simply because they tend to be more still, and also because people who look like they've lived are interesting to draw.
In an odd way, I seem to get close to people by drawing them, like they become my friends. I think that's why I give them names sometimes, I feel like I know them after I've drawn them. When I see people come in who I've drawn before on earlier trips, I feel like getting up and saying hello, and showing them the drawing I did of them before. I catch myself smiling at them sometimes. It kind of makes me feel at home in the cafe to see people around me who I've got in my sketch pad. They'd probably just think I was some oddball crazy guy if I went up and spoke to them though. "There's that care in the community bloke again with his sketch pad, let's go somewhere else." Better to keep quiet I think.
He took over white hair guy's seat after he left, so was quite a way away from me. The cafe was getting busy by this time, so people kept obstructing my view. It's very frustrating when that happens, but it can't be helped.
I got rumbled by a woman sitting on the table next to me when I was doing this drawing, it's the first time I've shown someone one of my drawings in the cafe. Sometimes I've noticed people craning over to get a peek while I'm drawing, or when I go to get another coffee and leave my pad on the table, but I'd already exchanged a couple of sentences with this woman when she came in and sat down, so the ice had been broken anyway. She was trying to work out who I was drawing, was obviously curious, so I thought it couldn't hurt to show her the drawing. Happily, she said she thought it was quite good. She might just have been being polite though.
Today was one of the better trips, perhaps the best one so far. The drawings have changed a bit, and are maybe a bit less strongly drawn, but do think I caught some of the people better than usual. I do seem to be identifying with my sitters a bit more, I think it helps me to draw them in a way. It's like the drawings are becoming quick little portraits instead of just drawings of anonymous people. I don't know if that comes across in the drawings or not, but that's how I feel about this batch. We'll see what happens next time. I know now it's no use trying to go for anything in particular in these drawings, they just come out the way they come out and seem to have a life of their own.