Wednesday, 18th February 2004
Wild West Yorkshire nature diary
The Queuers in the Café
As the queuers at the garden centre café are facing the counter there's no temptation to get sidetracked into trying to capture a likeness, nor is there so much of chance that they'll spot me sketching them. Phew. The straw-hatted waitress - she looks like a character from a Renoir painting - spots me as she comes past and smiles but I don't get chance to draw her as she breezes about with trays.
The queuers also keep moving of course, in a more limited context, but that's a good thing; it concentrates my mind and forces me to look for the essentials. It's not just a question of camera-like what-you-see-is-what-you-get observation; there's a certain amount of reconstruction involved as a particular figure drifts along in the queue or transfers weight from one leg to the other.
Years ago, when I attended a life drawing class we were sometimes given a series of five-minute poses as a warm up exercise, but I think the queue in the café is even better because the poses are more natural; they're not poses struck with any idea that the person might be drawn.
Another advantage: you could never assemble such a range of characters for a life class. Everyone in the queue seems to me fascinating to draw because of their particular shape, size, age, stance, clothing; they're all individual characters. As I've brought a handful of watercolour pencils with me I add a quick suggestion of colour to a couple of the drawings. I think this brings them to life.
I'll try and draw figures more regularly.
In the pets department this chinchilla sits huddled up at the top of its cage while its partner is visible only as a rear end and tail protruding from a hollow log at the bottom.
In an article in his Everyday Matters weblog today my pen pal Danny Gregory gives 25 suggestions for would-be artists who complain "But I don't have time to draw", including:
I often complain that I 'don't have time to draw' even though that's what I do for a living. So, here I am, waiting for my podiatry appointment and the most promising subject that I can see in the small waiting room is a wall socket. It's surprisingly interesting to draw. Getting the screw and socket holes in just the right relative positions is similar to drawing the features of a face.
The subject matter - the branches of a cherry seen through the consulting room window - is more my kind of thing as I wait for some insoles to be made (isn't the National Health Service wonderful? - I didn't expect those today).
I should have had my legs checked out long ago. Forty years ago would have been fine. I'm impressed by the podiatrist's ability to observe the small adaptations my body has made to itself to cope with one tibia being a centimetre or more shorter than the other:
Fortunately, even now, there's a simple remedy - a trainer type insole to raise my left heel.
Everyday Matters with Danny Gregory
Richard Bell, email@example.com