I love to draw in cafes. It can be quite relaxing, a way to ‘get out of yourself’ and focus on other. A way to sit back as an impartial observer, give the imagination free range as the ‘drawing’ part of your brain concentrates on the marks, shapes and tones that make up the scene.
I say it’s relaxing and it is, mostly. Unless you happen to be drawing a big burly bloke who looks like he’d have no problem walking into a crowded MacDonalds with a sawn-off shotgun. And, you’re convinced he’s clocked you drawing him and is now wrestling with an internal demon telling him to go over and thump you one in the head. Either that or he’s wishing he had a bodyguard who will go over and do it for him, snatch the pencil from me and snap it in half dramatically shouting “Do you know who you are drawing? Do you girl? That ain’t just some burly bloke you know! Universal Pictures own all the image rights – and you’ve drawn him ugly. I see you near him again and it ain’t just your pencil that’s getting snapped!”
Well, maybe that’s just a little too imaginative… mostly people just come over and have a little peek, or ask to see what you’re drawing. I guess they’re usually thinking ‘poor girl, she obviously THINKS she can draw’ and saying things like, “er lovely, interesting…”
But the real reason I like drawing in cafes is because I can draw all sorts of people and draw them without really being noticed (I’ve not been accosted by angry subjects yet). It’s like a life class with varying degrees of difficulty and constantly moving subjects, changing expressions and poses (all clothed though – I suppose I could request attendance at a naturist cafe). It’s character practice for the cost of a coffee. And I like people; I enjoy their conversations (mostly), and guessing at relationships and back stories.
A couple have just collected the woman’s younger sister from the bus station, they have with them, one weekend bag with wheels. The younger sister is the ‘black sheep’ of the family and doesn’t like the man. They are meant to be trying on the bridesmaid’s dress tomorrow, but the bridesmaid doesn’t want her sister to marry this man she feels is an oaf. She loathes him, or does she fancy him? Was there a secret kiss at a university party way back in the distant past on a drunken night? A hidden jealousy….? Or maybe they’re just siblings just out shopping for their mother’s birthday present.
Oh, I suppose I should tell you something about the ‘Ristretto’ man (in picture with the grey raincoat – see if you can spot the first drawing of him). I drew him in the Costa coffee at WHSmith in Chelmsford. I noticed him because when he was at the counter he asked for a ‘ristretto’. He didn’t look like the sort of man that would know what one was, so I liked the idea of him being this older bloke that you’d expect to be a stereotypical member of the older generation, mostly out of touch with modern life and it’s tyrannies of consumer choice, yet he loves a coffee and he knows the lot,
“A skinny latte with a vanilla shot to go, and a nice slice of cake” (said in a Yorkshire accent, of course).
I liked the idea of the contrast in that sentence, the ‘what-you’d-expect’ and the ‘surprise’. I think it says something about being human. We have expectations, yet people can and do surprise us – don’t you think it’s important to always remain open to that surprise?