Cafe Sketches - 18th February 2006
Third trip to the Cafe Nero, I think the staff are getting to know me.
Again, a very enjoyable couple of hours lying in wait for unsuspecting shoppers. In fact, the vast majority of the time on these trips is spent waiting for a likely subject, trying to find people who are interesting to draw, and don't move about too much. Some people will stay reasonably still for five or ten minutes, others can't keep still for more than a second or two.
I tend to end up drawing older people for this reason, young people just have too much energy and jig about like they're on strings.
Today I concentrated purely on line drawings, no tone. The last drawing I did on my last visit was like this and, although it wasn't a very good drawing, it was stronger and more confident than previous ones. Today I tried to stay strong and confident, doing a minimum of roughing out and going straight for the outlines with a 3B graphite pencil.
I think I caught this guy pretty well, and its not too bad for a warm up. My old habit of getting the arm too small has resurfaced though. The problem is the outside line of his arm, it should be further out. I noticed it when I was lining up the inside of his arm with his ear, but decided to leave it as it was. It doesn't do to get too caught up in mistakes with these drawings, there's so little time to get things down and the time is better spent getting to the next shape, making sure you get the drawing finished before the sitter leaves.
She was moving around a fair bit, having an animated conversation, but kept coming back to the same position pretty much, so I thought she was worth a try. Unfortunately, I got the proportions of her profile all wrong from the start, so everything else was out of kilter too and the drawing was a struggle to complete.
I think I put about fifteen years on the poor woman, good job she didn't see the drawing...
I'm pretty happy with the form of his coat though, although there's no tone to give depth to the form, I think it's possible to get some impression of form just from getting the outlines right.
It looks to me now like some parts of his head and face are drawn from a different angle than other parts, which is certainly a strong possibility. His eye and mouth look consistent with each other, but his nose is out of whack with them. I don't think you should be able to see his nostril, and I probably should have corrected the nose when I did the eye and mouth.
Not to worry though. Perhaps I'll try to build in a 'last look' at the end of each drawing to see how things are relating. I think I tend to be concentrating so hard on getting the lines in as I'm seeing them that I lose the bigger picture sometimes. That's something to try and bear in mind for the next trip I guess.
I played a waiting game with him. First I laid out his coat and the chair, then moved onto his head. I started with positioning his neck against his coat collar, then I got the bridge of his nose, sighting down to where his arm crosses the front of his coat . He's chatting again, wait. Get the end of his nose. Wait. Up to his eyebrow and start his forehead. Wait. Get his ear. Wait. And so on.
This one took quite a while to finish because of that, maybe ten minutes in all, but he was a great subject. He had a distinctive profile and he hardly moved his body at all. I got his mouth a little high I think, which makes his chin look really big (sorry my friend,) but he did have a pretty prominent chin anyway so it doesn't spoil the likeness too much. I think I caught him pretty well, which is one of the reasons that this is possibly my favourite from today, this one or messy hair guy.
Concentrating just on outline and trying to produce stronger more confident marks has helped my drawing today. I'm beginning to lose the hesitancy which has characterised many of my drawings so far, and that feels good.
Although initially I resisted the 'fast drawing', short pose approach, being a methodical person, I remain convinced that the cafe sketches are doing more to bring on my drawing that anything else I'm doing at the moment. I think that sometimes it can be a good thing to put yourself in a position which you would normally resist. The results can be surprising.