A week ago I was in a pizza place in Baltimore, and I saw two young women at the table near me looking at pictures on their iPhone.
Perfect, I thought. They’re preoccupied. They won’t notice me sketching them.
I deployed the Moleskine watercolor book and did a very quick pencil lay-in with a #2 pencil. Then I pulled out two Niji brush pens, one with black ink and one with water, letting everything blur together wet-into-wet.
Halfway through, one of them looked up, a little alarmed that I was gazing so intently.
This question has come up before: What do you do now? Pretend you weren’t looking? Fold up your book? Stare at something else? That would only make them feel weirder.
Instead, I plucked up the nerve and I marched right over to their table and said, “I hope you don’t mind. I’m trying to learn to sketch, and I was drawing your picture.” I showed them the half-finished drawing, and even though it looked pretty unpromising, they were immediately interested and glad to cooperate. I told them they didn’t have to hold still or pose or anything--just go back to whatever they were doing.
When I finished, I showed them the results and they got a big kick out of it, and they wanted to put it on their Facebook page. Once I told them what I was doing, the awkwardness disappeared. They were happy to be drawn.
Previously: Portable Portraits