This is an old post from one of my other blogs that I thought might be more appropriate here. It may overlap a little with some previous posts but there are nice pictures.
Some times I go out to a local cafe to sketch because it can be nice to have people around for a change and its good to escape the baleful gaze of my PC. As well as that when I draw in public I can achieve a focus, lose myself in what I am doing much more easily than I can in the studio.
My artistic career got it first start after I had been made redundant from a couple of design jobs and I filled my time sketching in my old student haunt Geoff’s bar in Waterford City. I always liked drawing buildings and urban landscapes and in Geoff’s I found the angles and curves of the old wood, walls and steps very appealing and used to sit in there for hours and draw pictures of various bits of the bar.
The owner, Geoff, became the first buyer of my work, hanging them in the bar. On the strength of one of these pictures I was selected for a group show in Garter Lane Arts Centre and so began my erratic career in the arts. Since then I have carried a sketch pad everywhere though I increasingly use a camera as a memory aid.
My style has become a lot looser, something I have worked on and it has probably contributed to my growing interest in drawing people. The immediacy and fluidity required when doing people sketches is challenging and enjoyable.
I have sketched in cafes, bars, beaches and streets across Africa and the States, through France, Greece, Amsterdam and Edinburgh. Anywhere I have lived, worked in or visited.
There are advantages and disadvantages to drawing in public. When I was younger I found it hard to cope with being approached. I was shy and awkward with people and my sketch pad was a shield to allow me to be with people. When I draw, I lose myself and when someone comes up to me it can be like being woken from a dream. In the past I often reacted badly because I didn’t really understand people’ s curiosity in what I was doing and I didn’t trust their interest.
As I have aged I have become much more tolerant though I am still thrown for a loop if I realise someone is leaning over me scrutinizing my pad especially if I have been writing not drawing. Still, I am always happy to see friends and most people who are curious are able to manage the approach in a mindful way.
It can be nice thing too that people become friendlier when they realise you are an artist and it also makes them more forgiving of tetchy or downright weird behaviour~”She’s not moody, she’s an artist!”~ so a sketch pad is not only a shield but a door into the lives of people you wouldn’t normally meet.
My sketch pad is a soothing prop, like a cigarette only healthier. A sketch pad gives me an identity, makes it easier for people to relate to me, a woman who does not fit into any of the broader social groups such as ‘mother’ or ‘wife’.
In retrospect a lot of the things that have happened to me can be traced back to that time in long ago Geoff’s when I took out my pad to pass some time.
I got jobs from it, I got involved in theatre and film because of it, met lots of interesting people and received much kindness because of it.
This morning at T-Bay cafe down at the beach all of this ran through my mind and as I scribbled to the sound of Maria busy in the background, Martins voice rumbling along somewhere behind me, the low murmur of people chatting, the door opening and closing, the clink of cups and the hiss of the coffee machine and as the rain spat at the window I was grateful for it.