The Napkin Drawing

A few days ago I had a client meeting at Starbucks.  I stayed after it was over to drink the rest of my coffee and draw.  Two women were having a conversation close to me, one facing me, the other away, and it seemed I could get in at least a quick sketch before they left.



I did a quick pen and ink napkin drawing.  What was interesting was both of them were sitting up straight. Neither leaned back in their chair, except briefly.  The one facing away was particularly still the entire time, sitting on the very edge of her chair.



A few days later I finished the napkin drawing, coloring it in a somewhat fanciful way, not really worrying about accuracy because of the other drawing I did of them that same morning.

The Sketchbook Drawing

I took a chance they would stay a while and brought out my sketchbook and did another, more detailed, drawing of them.  It probably took about 45-60 minutes to do the drawing.




Because they both sat so straight and still it was a great opportunity to get more in depth with the shading.




When I got home I immediately started working on the drawing.  I like the finished drawing; the colors, shading and mood feel right. The only part that bothers me is where the two arms meet in the bottom middle of the drawing. It flattens things out in an odd way, making them look like they are next to each other instead of one being in front of the other.  


When I finished they were still talking.  I usually draw people who are alone so it’s no big deal to come up to them when I am done drawing and show it to them. I may be interrupting something but it’s not going to be a conversation (unless they are on the phone/facetime, etc, in which case I don’t interrupt).  In this case I knew I would be interrupting a conversation but I felt it would be worth it.

I showed them the drawings, first the sketchbook drawing, then the napkin.  The women who was facing away, Elizabeth, didn’t seem to be appreciative of the interruption, which makes sense, since I WAS interrupting.  Megan, who was facing me and whose face you see in the drawings, seemed more enthusiastic but still muted in her response.  

And that illustrates why drawing two strangers and showing it to them is harder than drawing one.  There is the consideration of the other person to take into account when responding to the artist.  The dynamic of three is a lot more complicated than the dynamic of two.  It’s the same reason that while I understand the desire & need, it can often be awkward when someone escorts a model to a photo shoot.  The model is responding to the escort at times, instead of to me as the photographer. And it’s the reason that while people may dream of a menage a trois it barely ever happens in real life because it would be way too complicated (no, I haven’t).

I usually like to get a photo of the model with the drawing but given the situation I decided it would be too intrusive and didn’t ask.  I always regret not asking.  But I gave them my business card and told them the drawings would be done and up on ‘The Napkin’ by next week.  Hopefully they will come see it.


Drawings and writing by Marty Coleman

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