Like how this smart, neat, seriously together business woman...
...produced a smart, neat little sketch.
How much does the outward appearance of the subject affect the way you draw them, the marks you make, the way your hand moves ? That sounds head slappingly obvious, but do you know what I mean? Does your assumed 'mood' of a person spill over into yourself as you draw them ? Is sketching someone the closest to an empathic connection you can ever have with strangers ?
Went to the Proms last night. In front of me was a young boy with his Dad. They both wore plaid shirts. He jammed his thumbs in his ears when the music got too loud for him, and I thought he wouldn't last the night. But I was wrong, he was still clapping as enthusiastically at the end as everyone else, and even stood for the ovation.
One of the pieces was Holst's 'Mars', and it got me to thinking. I have never owned a recording of it, or heard it performed live before, yet I knew every bit of it. Can you imagine creating something that goes out and becomes so ubiquitous that it becomes part of everyone like that. You instinctively know it. How it goes, what it means. To give the world just one amazing thing.
This lady had staked her claim to a pair of end seats on the tube by using her shopping trolley to block anyone sitting next to her. And more power to her elbow for it. Life is challenging enough without having to squeeze next to sweaty businessmen at the end of the day.
Regal, that's what I call it, Regal. With a capital R.
( An aside - the title 234 instantly reminds me of a choreographer on a job years ago, with the most grating voice, who had been given (very unwisely) a megaphone and screamed at the start of every rehearsal "234 !". I can never hear "I only want to be with you" without hearing" 234 !" shouting in my head. )
Have posted this one on another site. So second time out for him.
He looks like he fell from a different time. Like someone shook an old photo and he got dislodged. Have you ever noticed how some people's faces get lost in time, how every now and then you'll see someone who should really have been Victorian, or medieval ?
And how, in every old group photo of, say, a 1920's wedding, or soldiers going off to war, or clerks posing on the office day out, there is always one person whose face is so modern they could just as easily be in the checkout at IKEA ? Always one.
Maybe they are time travelers ? Maybe it's the time warp / photographic equivalent to urban surfing ? Where you have to jump back in time and get your face in a group photo without being detected. What would it be called ? Past tagging ? Time tourist ?
This guy was oblivious to me, which was good, lost in his own thoughts on the way home on tuesday.
But next to me was a group of three Australians, one who obviously lived here, a girl who sort of was his significant other, but not totally, and another guy who was a brother to one of them, over for a visit. They were laughing about how dodgy the place where the brother was staying was, and he jokingly blamed the first guy for this.
"Oh my God, you should see it."
Then, as they had been half watching me as I finished, the brother said, "draw him", pointing to the first guy.
"No don't," the girl immediately interjected, " he'd only break your paper. "
This guy sat with his mate, and although neither said a word, I got the feeling they both new exactly what each other was thinking and saying. They made swift nods to each other, too quick to follow, more like military sign language than anything, that the next stop was where they would get off.
Sat near this girl, who was incredibly busy and organized. She made phone call after phone call, checking that stuff had been done, that invoices had been received, that people knew she wouldn't be back in the office til friday, and she wasn't picking up e-mails as she was on a train.
Important stuff, letting them know, chasing them up.
Facts. facts, facts.
Then she put her phone away, and sucked her thumb for the rest of the journey.
This guy was on the platform at Westbourne Park, and is, as my mate would say, "2 cool 4 skool". He must have had planning permission for his hair, it was so high. Brilliant. He spent the whole time rummaging for, and then repeatedly applying, lip balm.
His ensemble was let down just a tadge by carrying a bag not unlike the one my Nan uses for her shopping. In grey. But then again, maybe my Nan is a new wave style icon these days. I wouldn't put it past her.
Then, from the other end of the spectrum, sat next to this old guy in full suit and black fedora. He was reading and reciting Hebrew, and was very enclosed in his own thoughts.
The hat was a nightmare to draw. Sort of chickened out of it in this one. Was with some relief I managed enough to explain it, without having to address the whole shape of it.
When you look at old photos everyone wore hats, every day, everywhere. Why did we stop ? ( And no, baseball caps don't count, you know my views on them ).
On the train going into town on a saturday. Two mums and their kids, on a day out.
The little girl was the daughter of the other mum, but was sitting on her auntie's lap, ( favoritism, or just taking advantage of the opportunity ? ) reading from the day's itinerary downloaded from the internet and printed out on A4. The jolting of the train made her keep slipping off, and the aunt would haul her back up in position whilst she continued her conversation with the other mum almost uninterrupted.
Not a particularly good sketch, shading way too fussy, proportion a bit off, and girl's face seriously too old... but like the two together, and the weight of the little girl.
Oh, and the curve on the aunt's t-shirt sleeve. Really like that.
Had gone to the National Maritime Museum to see some paintings they had on display, and this guy was sitting in one of the galleries, doing what looked to me like a large amount of office work, going through paperwork, reading and checking and making notes.
To do that is a museum is inspired. Any port in a storm, eh ?
Not a brilliant drawing, but the memory cache that comes with it is fantastic. It was a late August sunday a few years back. I was coming to the end of a job and had that tired dizziness that you can almost relax into and enjoy, knowing the tough stuff is all done. It was a gorgeous day, a full blowzy sun had stirred the dust and breath of London into a haze that even Seurat would have struggled to pin point. Found a spot above the bank that slips down into the rose garden in Holland park, and sketched folks as drugged by the high, open air as me.
You know when light is just there... that was this day. Mazy path with insects, slowing the people, burning out the rose bush leaves. None of that in the sketch really, but all still buzzing in my head, and my eyes and the roses.
I originally posted this one yesterday, then changed my mind, but in the mean time PG had commented on it, you got ahead of me there. So had to post it today, and NOT change my mind.
Which gave me the idea of doing a blog where you write about something provocative ( Corporate fat cats, say ), wait till people have added their own point of view about it, then change the original post to something else ( wind chimes ), making the comments surreal and tangential.
I find wind chimes to be very soothing and relaxing.
NUM NUM SAYS: They should be strung up till they squeal.
Thought I had nothing to say today. But thinking about sketching I realized that, for every one I pop up here, there are pages and pages that I don't consider good enough. I have literally hundreds of sketch books, from each one of which maybe a dozen will make it here. That's a lot of rejects. Was thinking about something Teresa wrote about trying several attempts before she got something she was pleased with. And that it is each attempt that teaches what to do. I know very quickly when something isn't going to work, and flip the page straight away. My books are full of pages with one line, or half a face. But it is only having done this thousands of times that I know when things are going well, or not. Trust me, if I put those pages up here you would just be bemused.
So what I think I want to say is never diss down your trials and misdraws, because they are the ones that show you what not to do, and that is just as important a contribution to a good drawing.
Or even a bad one.
( This sketch has one of these abandoned drawing in black, that then got overdrawn in blue later because I ran out of pages and wanted to sketch a. n. other guy. )
The old Kings cross Thameslink line station was great for sketching (not least because sometimes the trains were so frickin' long in coming that you often had time to conduct an entire love affair with someone before the 22.09 to Bedford condescended to drag itself by). The opposite platform was only just there, and had seats all the way along, ensuring a guaranteed array of folks. This girl was from a very late night journey. I loved her hair and coat, almost swamping her in animalistic furriness. She was tiny underneath it all.
Now we get to use the new St. Pancras station, ( which I consider a dazzlingly brilliant, sympathetic renovation of a great building - and to think they were going to knock it down!!! ) But there are less seats on the platform, and further apart.
But grabbed this one the other day, of a guy sitting on the floor as his mates had squeezed themselves into all the available space on the bench. Because the distance is further and the lighting less contrasting, I was aware of struggling to see the detail. And did assume some of the sketch.
And then, you know Julie, who works for the council, never wears green, says it washes her out too much ? Well she had to get on her hands and knees and clear her drain out with a coat hanger because Rita's husband forgot it was thursday and left the wash'n'vac at the hospice. And I told her she should have made more sandwiches, because it's obvious the Rector isn't really a quichey person. You only have to look at him.
She's having a naked fondu party next week. I said I'd go, sit at the back. But I hope she doesn't expect me to dunk anything. I've never been that keen on communal finger food. Not since my Mother died.
In this kind of weather offices everywhere empty themselves onto any available green space ( or brown space, or even grey space ) at lunch time. Suit jackets get shrugged off, ties loosened, chicken wraps unwrapped.
I always envy people who get to wear smart clothes to work, although I know everyone who does would tell me I would hate it. To be certain that what you had on wouldn't be covered in paint, or plaster, ( or worse ) by the end of the day would be nice, just for once. I have never worn a tie to work in my life.