Drawing in public

White fish from Coventry Inn 2

I love drawing in public spaces: planes, trains, restaurants. I also draw in business meetings, especially those in which I need to sit through a presentation or lecture and listen to someone stroke their own ego. In a former day-job life I had to sit still while an insufferable, self-centered boss-type made lame jokes or humiliated those in the room who seemed especially vulnerable. Drawing was my only defense against getting up and walking out and it still is. Without it, my mind wanders. But, in the right setting, it is also a great way to engage other people, especially when you are in the aforementioned restaurants or in waiting rooms. They see what you are doing and typically ask, “Are you an artist?” Beyond that, it serves a very useful purpose; it increases your productivity and sometimes gets you started down a new creative avenue. I heartily recommend it. I usually do it with a ball point pen or sometimes a colored pencil. Derwent drawing pencils are my current favorite. Once in a while, I’ll use a marker but I always worry about making a mess in a restaurant. That’s because in restaurants, I draw on paper tablecloths or the reverse (blank) side of placemats. Markers can bleed through to the table or to a cloth tablecloth underneath. In very fancy restaurants, I’ll ask the waiter for a piece of blank paper. When I can, I also carry a pocket-sized (Moleskine 5.5 x 8 Watercolor) sketch book. The attached is an example of a restaurant sketch. It was done on the back of a placemat at an outstanding breakfast joint called Inn on Coventry. The13 x 9 drawing, “Lake Fish with tattoos” is in ballpoint pen enhanced with a short stack of buttermilk pancakes and bacon.


About mmgilbert

I have been drawing and painting all my life. Now part of the “New Symbolist” movement which encompasses both Goth, fantasy and tattoo art as well as the century-old work of Odilon Redon, I focus on archetypal and mythic imagery to evoke emotional themes and to reference darker fantasies. I have an abiding interest in figurative drawing, working on paper and exploring new ways to handle traditional materials. I studied with Edward Millman, a WPA muralist; at Purchase College; and at the Art Students League in New York.
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