Drawing at the zoo today reminded me of a thread I did at the DrawingBoard.org a couple years ago.
I sketch in public alot so I've gotten kind of use to having people stare over my shoulder. You get alot of diffrent kind of people and reactions. There are.....
- Mr/Miss look and run: People who only take a passing look at your drawing, shrug and then go on your way. These people are interesting because they kind of objectify you as an odd anomaly, diffrent than what they're use to.
- Mr/Miss superspy: This is the person who really, really tries to be sneaky about their watching you work. They don't make a peep, they don't even breathe to hard. They get right up to you and just stare for a while. It's almost like they don't think you can see them perfectly. My reaction is to either let them continue to assume that they're getting away with it, or if they show particular interest let them know that I can actually see them.
- Mr./Miss "wow I want to talk to that artist": These are the people who are the bravest of the bunch, they realize that you probably won't bite them, and will actually start up a conversation with you. Often times their parents with kids who are amazed that there are adults who don't grow out of drawing. I find that the conversations consistantly go in any one of several directions.
A.While you're holding your pencil and drawing filled sketchbook in hand they ask with total ernerst "Wow! Are you an aritst?" Obvious question? Yes, but you might be suprised at how much it's asked. I usually answer with either "yes" or "Yeah, I'm an art student." I guess to the person asking it doesn't seem as obvious.
B. There is the "can you draw me or my friend" request. I'm reluctant about that one because I'm not a spectacular charecterist/portrait artist and I'm just as likely to offend them as wow them. Another one I often get is "How long have you been drawing for?" Pretty straight forward one, and you just tell them. A variation of the first two categories of people though are the ones who whisper behind your back.
C. "My cousin/brother/child/parent/random relative is an artist": I find that alot of people will tell you about their artist relatives. Which can be pretty cool, as you can learn something that you didn't know before.
D. "You're a good artist." It's a pretty straight forward compliment, and I usually just respond with thank you. I think that anyone who's been on the spot drawing for even a brief amount of time will seem amazing to a non-artist.
-There is the parent who is morbidly afraid that their kid is going to break your concentration. I guess it goes along with the stereotype that we're all tempremental and will fly off the handle, or that we loose our concentration easily. Usually I just tell the person that it's okay if they want to look at the animal or my drawing.
Stephen Silver has an interesting practice of wearing dark glasses in public so that when people see that he's drawing them he can move his head and pretend he isn't. I think that's hillarious.
If any of you who read my blog have similar stories, or "types" of onlookers feel free to leave a comment.