The Friend on the Patio in Spring

The original drawing is available for purchase here

My wife and daughter needed to go to Utica Square, an outdoor shopping center in Tulsa, after Church. I took the opportunity on a gorgeous spring day to hang out at Starbucks Coffee place patio and draw.

As I walked out to the patio after getting my coffee I noticed someone I thought looked a lot like a friend of mine, Victoriya.  As I looked I just wasn’t sure. She looked like her in style, same beautiful long hair and stunning eyes, but her face was shaped a bit differently.  I hadn’t seen her in person in many years, since she modeled for our Photography Club so I wasn’t sure.

I sat 2 tables away and started to draw the scene. It took about an hour or so to complete the drawing. When I was done I posted a photo of both the drawing and the scene on my instagram site (@thenapkindad).  As I did that I noticed a posting by Victoriya showing a photo of another part of Utica Square with a comment about what a beautiful day it was. But the hashtag she had with it said #saturdayvibe and today was Sunday. That made me think it was just an odd coincidence and it really wasn’t her.  Often I will connect with those I draw to show them the drawing but in this case they left while I was still drawing and I didn’t have the opportunity to do so.

Later another friend, Bianca, commented on the drawing saying she had been there and loved the shoes the woman was wearing. She must have walked by right before I had sat down or maybe I was oblivious, who knows. I had also noticed her heels and had just enough room to draw a portion of one at the bottom of the drawing.

Later that night I messaged Victoriya to ask her if she had been at Utica Square that day and lo and behold, she had. It was her I had been drawing that whole time (she is the one facing to the left in the black dress).  She commented back on the post saying it was her, and thanked Bianca for the compliment about the heels.


Drawing © 2017 Marty Coleman | napkindad.com


 

The Poem About My Senses

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The Poem About My Senses

I have a poem in my head,
Not fancy or complete.
Actually pretty basic,
mundane but pretty sweet.

Don’t know what it’s all about,
That’s the point of it I think.
But I know It’s sort of funny,
And includes the color pink.

It includes the smell of coffee,
And maybe the passage of time.
I don’t really remember,
But it’s simple in it’s rhyme.

It has an image of windows,
With sun filtering the air.
That flows all around me,
And lands on my hair.

There is a taste of a croissant,
Somewhere in the verse.
And the texture of an almond,
as it falls into my purse.

That’s all I remember,
Of the poem within my head.
It makes me glad to to be alive,
Instead of being dead.


Drawing and poem © 2016 Marty Coleman | napkindad.com


This drawing was done at the Glenpool, Oklahoma Starbucks.

It is available for purchase, either the original for $100.00, or a print for $25.00


 

Four That Took a Decade – Sketchbook History Tour

I’ve been drawing in sketchbooks for many decades now. I sometimes go back and revisit older books just to see what I did or to show others. Recently I did this with a series of sketchbooks from 2000 on.  I discovered a number of drawings I wanted to work on more, mostly in coloring and shading. Here are 4 drawings from this endeavor.

If you know my recent work you know I often write short stories to accompany my drawings. In these drawings though the stories or observations were written directly on the page.  I specifically went for stream of consciousness oriented narratives with long run-on sentences that imitated the way I actually experienced and thought about the moment.


HOOPS

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‘Hoops’ 2003-2016

The classy student studying with the grey eyeshadow and glimmery lips while her boyfriend who looks young and too young for her reads a magazine with three bug bits on his ankle in a row looking like a constellation and she uses a blue and red pen & huge hoop earrings, the biggest i’ve ever seen with her left hand and very small delicate fingers with no polish in Norman, Oklahoma on a summer’s night that threatens to rain while the two girls behind her wear red Sooner shirts and read & talk about the young star who is too thin and I draw instead of read the manual on the class I am here for while I catch a bright pink purse pass by a tall guy sitting with yellow.


 VEINS

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‘Veins’ 2003-2016

The tall thin woman at Panera with great veins reading her bible and taking notes and eating a bagel and ignoring that I am drawing her while she drinks coffee and contemplates divorce on a hot summer morning in Tulsa.


SPLOTCHY

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‘Splotchy’ 2003-2016

The woman looked like she had been crying; splotchy skin, red eyes & nose but she had not.


RUBY LIPGLOSS

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‘Ruby Lipgloss’ 2004-2016

The woman with the ruby lip gloss and zig zag parted hair looking at the person in the door and wondering if he noticed her perfume when he passed as she made a call to her boyfriend to ask if he picked up mascara for her.


Drawings and stories © 2016 Marty Coleman | napkindad.com


 

I Draw in Church – Four Violinists

I draw in church.  I used to draw the pianist quite a bit but then the orchestra got so big I am no longer able to see her.  Now I draw other members of the orchestra, most often the French Horn player and the Violinists.  They sit where I have a good view of them and many of them stay during the sermon so I can draw them longer.

Here are 4 drawings from my violinist collection.


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I have been drawing in church since I would say about 1981 or so, hard to say exactly. I go between drawing something or someone I see as accurately as I can, as in this drawing and making something completely up in my head having nothing to do with what is in front of me.


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I don’t worry to much about getting the background exact. Sometimes I get most of it, sometimes just part of it and make up the rest.  In this case only the steps leading to the alter are accurate, with the donation bags full of school supplies sitting in front.


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The style I have in each drawing usually depends on the pen I am using. If I use a brush pen the style is simpler, calmer.


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Sometimes I will get only a portion of a person on the paper before he or she leaves or moves. In that case I will completely makeup the rest of the drawing.


Drawings and commentary © 2016 Marty Coleman | napkindad.com


 

The Filmmaker – Portrait of Britni

I had to go to the art supply store and decided that as long as I was all the way there I might as well get some coffee and create some art.

I got my giant cappuccino and settled in to draw the woman at the window. She was deep into writing and I had a feeling she would be there a while. Who knows, I might get lucky and be able to draw the entire scene before she left. Of course all I really needed was for her to stay long enough to draw her. The rest of the scene I was pretty sure would remain where it was.

 

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I was able to finish the entire line drawing, including the background. When I went over to show her the drawing I told her I wasn’t sure what I would put in the thought bubbles but that I would probably write a short story and the words in the bubbles would be part of that story. She told me she was actually writing a film script if that helped at all. I told her it did.

 

Britni Harris

Britni Harris at Fair Fellow Coffee House, Tulsa, Oklahoma


 


Drawing and story © 2016 Marty Coleman | napkindad.com


 

The Six Thoughts – An illustrated Short Story

The Six Thoughts

Chapter One – Claire

When Claire the Clarinetist was finished playing she could have chosen to leave the altar as do many of the other orchestra members. But the orchestra was arranged today so that she was facing directly towards the congregation (usually she is facing sideways) and she thought it would be fun to just sit there and see what the pastor sees every week.

Chapter Two – NO

The first thing she noticed was the raven-haired woman in the front row trying to control her kids. Her husband was also there but he was having no interaction with any of them. She had seen this happen again and again with this family. The mother had to do the hard work of interacting with the kids constantly and the father did nothing.  She wondered if they would ever be friends. She thought, “No.”

Chapter Three – YES

As Claire looked at them longer she realized something else. The mother was getting the hugs and the smiles from the kids. The father was not. He may have been missing the hassle, but he was also missing the love.  Now when she wondered if they would ever be friends, she thought, “Yes.”

Chapter Four – I DON’T KNOW

She then cast her eyes on an elderly man.  He looked alert, with sparkling eyes. He had on a very nice sweater. She wondered about him, who he was, who he had been. She imagined him as a young man. She wondered if they would have been friends back when he was her age now.  She thought, “I don’t know.”

Chapter Five – I KNOW

Her attention was pulled back to the sermon. The Pastor was telling a joke.  It went on way too long and when the punch line finally came it was terrible.  The whole congregation laughed though. All except the elderly man. He rolled his eyes. That is when she realized she would have to go meet him because they would be good friends. She thought, “I know.”

Chapter Six – MAYBE

She looked up into the balcony and noticed a striking blonde woman. One of the spotlights aimed at the altar was directly behind the woman and it lit up her big blonde hairdo like a halo. She could tell, even from a distance, that she had on impeccable clothing.  She looked like she had a lot of money. She wondered if they would ever be friends. She thought, “Maybe.”

Chapter Seven – MAYBE NOT

As she continued to watch the woman in the balcony she noticed her looking back at her. Then she leaned over to the woman next to her and whispered in her ear.  When she did that, she gestured toward the altar and pointed her finger. They both smiled and suppressed a giggle.  The Clarinetist knew she had been pointing at her.  She thought, “Maybe not.”

 

Epilogue

Claire eventually met the woman in the front row. They became good friends. She would babysit their kids once in a while when the couple would go out on date nights. It turned out they were very old fashioned but very much in love.  He was kind and thoughtful to his kids, though not particularly warm. She adored her husband and greatly appreciated his ability to discipline the kids with love.

Clair did go and meet the elderly man.  They became good friends. He started attending the noon concerts she did once a month with her little quintet she had. He was a widower, having been married 57 years before his wife passed away. Claire played his favorite song at his funeral 5 years later.

Claire ran into the blonde woman in the church bathroom a few weeks later. The blonde woman said, “I just want you to know how much I admire your playing every Sunday. My friend and I sit in the balcony and just adore the entire orchestra. We both like to sit up there because the acoustics are best. We can hear your clarinet very distinctly.  We always make sure to point you out to each other when we think you have an exceptionally cool outfit on.” 

They became good friends.

The End


drawing and story © 2016 Marty Coleman | napkindad.com


 

 

The Crucifixion & Resurrection – What Were you Saved From?

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The Crucifixion

 

Mary on Easter Morning

The Resurrection


 

The Idea

Many believe these things happened. I assume most believe the crucifixion actually happened. And some certainly believe the resurrection is to be understood as having also actually happened.  Others believe it is to be taken symbolically, not literally.

But as heretical as it might be, that isn’t of great concern to me.  The reason is because, whether literal or symbolic, the resurrection is still a story about an idea. It’s the idea that you cannot kill good.  You cannot kill love. You cannot kill forgiveness, mercy, compassion. Those things will always be more powerful than hate, than selfishness, than greed, than judgment. They will always triumph because they are always needed more than hate.

Hate is an indulgence. I think when we see someone filled with hate we should say, “Wow, there’s someone with too much time on their hands.”  Because it’s true. They are indulging in a selfish, greedy exercise for their own entertainment, their own self-righteousness, Their own feeling of superiority.

But Love? Love isn’t an indulgence. It’s a life necessity.  Humanity can’t live without it.  It is what engenders hope. It is what builds relationships. It is what sustains us in the midst of tragedy.  Hate can’t do any of those things, only love can.

The Passion Lesson

So, whether you believe Jesus physically or symbolically rose from the dead, there still has to be a reason for it to have happened.  If you believe it is so you are saved? Saved from what? Eternal damnation is, of course, one answer, and that may be true. But what about another answer?  Maybe you were saved from hate and judgment.  Maybe you were saved from thinking hate and judgment were the best road forward, the best way to react to life. Much of the world around us certainly promotes them as something to feel and act on. 

Maybe you were saved when you learned from seeing Jesus being willing to practice what he preached so thoroughly that he allowed himself to be crucified. Not just to fulfill an ancient prophesy, and not just to make a cosmic level save for humanity, but to show humanity something about living on this earth.  

Your Neighbor, Here and Now

Jesus so often talked about the Kingdom of God being at hand.  I think he meant in the here and now on earth. And how do we access it? By following his teachings. And what were his teachings? Yes, there are teachings about the theology and government of the afterlife. But beyond saying you believe it there isn’t anything else you can do but believe it.  

But his teachings on allowing nothing to get in the way of loving your neighbor?  That we can act on right now.  And he even made it easy for us all.  When asked, “but who is my neighbor?” He made it very clear, everyone is your neighbor. 

 


Drawings and commentary © 2016 Marty Coleman | napkindad.com


 

 

The Stranger at Starbucks – Anatomy of Success

Three times in the last week I have gone to a coffee shop and drawn.  The first and second time led to pretty good drawings I thought.  But the third time I struggled to get a good drawing.  

I thought I would show you the drawings and explain some of the reasons why it went the way it did.  Of course, there isn’t a reason for everything in art and creativity so I am not trying to explain it as if it’s a science experiment (where there is a reason for everything).  But I think it can be helpful to show failures as well as successes.


 

The Stranger at Starbucks

I had to take my car in to have something looked at so took some of the waiting time and went to get coffee and breakfast.  I was hoping to find someone interesting to draw and Periscope live as I did so.  I went to Starbucks and as I walked in I noticed a woman sitting in the corner with her back to the window. She was at a small 2 person table and was talking to someone facing her.  She had a nice brochure in front of her and seemed to be explaining something about a company or a sales opportunity. 

First Attempt

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The woman had a beautiful long face, eyes that were slightly turned up and a wide, expressive mouth. But in trying to capture those elements I exaggerated them.  I then reduced her neck and shoulders in size as I tried to complete the drawing. The result was  more of a caricature than a portrait. It’s not terrible, but it wasn’t what I wanted. I wanted to capture what I saw as a beautiful set of expressive lines and I don’t think I did that.


 

Second Attempt

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This time I thought I would do the drawing in my sketchbook.  I started the same way I started the first drawing, with a simple line.  I was focused first on seeing and drawing the line that went from her forehead all the way down to her chin.  Getting that to flow right was key to the rest of her face. I then went back up to her eye and worked on it’s shape and the line of her nose.  By that time I already knew my initial line was off.  My solution was to force myself out of that obsession with accuracy by changing my technique to a more gestural one. In other words I decided to draw fast and furious, going over a line multiple times as I went.  It allowed me to correct the lines I didn’t like and move more spontaneously in the rest of the drawing. 

However, even with a gesture drawing, if you start out with a fundamentally flawed construction, it can be hard to bring it back. And that is what I had done. By the time my initial work on her face was done I knew I had her eyes too high on her face and that their shape made them look vacant and amateurish.  But I continued on thinking perhaps working with shading would fix the problem. It didn’t.  I was able to do pretty well with her body this time around but it wasn’t going to matter if how I drew her face made her look like an alien, which it did.  I worked it a bit longer before I decided there was only one more thing to try, and that was to lower and reshape the eyes. Unfortunately, I had already so overworked her eyes trying to save them that lowering them made them look even worse.  I gave up at that point.


 

Third Attempt

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I decided to try one more time on a napkin. I was determined to be spare and simple with my line and learn from what I just done. This time I started with her forehead line, then her eye, wanting to redeem myself after having drawn them so bad the first two times. I felt good about the first one, the one farthest from me and continued with her nose and jawline. At that point I felt I had a better start than the first two. 

While her mouth is proportionally larger than average, in the first drawing I had made it too big. This time I waited until I saw her talk enough times to see how her lips looked and drew the four lines as fast as I could.  Then I focused on getting the other eye right. After that I felt I had the bones of the drawing right and could move on to her body and hair with a loose and simple confidence.

This one is the best of the three, I have no doubt. The academic issues of proportion and shape are dealt with effectively and the expression allows for interpretation and imagination.


 

Success From Failure

So, I think I finished with a success. A minor success so far, but a success nonetheless.  But I wouldn’t have achieved that success without the ability to walk away from a failure. Stopping something and saying it’s a failure is not failing in the ultimate sense. It’s simply admitting something is beyond repair, learning from it, and moving on to better things.


Drawing © 2015 Marty Coleman | napkindad.com


 

 

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