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The Unknowing Muse
She is only the second knitter I have drawn. The first was in Colorado, or wait, it was in an auto shop here in town but I made mountains in the background and they looked like Colorado so I always think I drew her there. Anyway, she definitely was not in Colorado. She was in Starbucks. Which of course, could have been in Colorado, but it wasn’t. It was here.
She didn’t know I was drawing her, she was busy knitting. Most people don’t know I am drawing them, though some do, like that Flight Attendant that one time that one night (who wrote on my website 4 years after the fact to comment on the drawing I did of her). But this time she didn’t. Or at least I didn’t think she did. Sometimes people do know I am drawing them but I don’t know they know because they only look at me when I am looking down drawing and I only draw them when they are looking down doing whatever it is they are doing, which is usually reading. Sometimes they are talking to someone or on the phone. Sometimes they are knitting.
If they have headphones on they are even more unlikely to know I am drawing them since they are double pre-occupied with whatever it is they are doing and their music or podcast or audiobook. Usually they are not talking to someone while they have their headphones in. But sometimes they are talking to someone through their headphones. She was doing neither. She was just listening and knitting.
But what was she listening to is the question. Well, it’s not really THE question, but it is a question. THE question is why did Hamilton agree to duel with Burr. I mean it is THE question if you just read that book about Hamilton, which I just did. But if you didn’t it isn’t. That is a good question though, what is your THE question? Anyway, the answer to the A question is in the drawing. See, that was simple.
When I was almost completely done with the drawing I saw that she was getting ready to go so I went over to her and showed her the drawing. As is often the case, she was surprised. I mean who expects to be drawn nowadays, right? We aren’t in Paris after all. Though I have been to Paris and drawn people and they were surprised to. So much for that idea.
After we introduced ourselves Debra told me she was blessed because her mother (or mother-in-law, I forget which) had taken her daughter (or son, I forget which) for the morning so she could go out and relax. I thought that was very nice. At the time I hadn’t yet filled in the thought bubble above her head so I told her I wanted to know what she was thinking so I could fill it in. She told me something that wasn’t what she was thinking but was perfect so I said, “That’s perfect.” and it was. I told her I would probably write a short story to go along with the drawing. This isn’t exactly the type of fictional short story I had in mind when I said ‘short story’ but it is the story I am writing so it will have to do. Or maybe it is a fictional short story. How would you know anyway, right?
Debra then left and I went about finishing up the drawing. A few minutes later Debra came back in and told me she was excited to have been my muse for the morning. I thought that was cool. Not many people think about themselves that way but almost everyone I draw is a muse to me and when someone gets that, I feel connected to that person. I gave her my card and told her I would be posting the drawing and the story on my website. She said she would go take a look. That is how most conversations go when I draw someone. And then more often than not it does not go that way. They don’t go take a look and they don’t comment. I think that is sad but oh well.
By the way, what you see in this drawing is not really Debra. It’s ink. That’s a conceptual joke, get it? But aside from that, the ink is not a representation of what was really there. Debra was there yes, but I could only see part of her. The part I couldn’t see I made up. If I hadn’t made it up I would have a drawn a bench and some coffee equipment and some chairs and a table and other stuff. But I wanted to draw her and not the table, chairs, equipment and bench so I made the rest of her up. That is why it looks funny, which a friend of mine pointed out.
The friend said it as sort of a swipe because she was under the assumption I was trying to draw Debra accurately, which was not my goal. Reasonably accurate so someone looking at the drawing would know it’s of a woman, not of a cell phone tower or of a cake, yes. But absolute accuracy so it looked just like Debra? no. My real goal was to put marks on a piece of paper so the marks were interesting to look at. In that I succeeded.
But succeeded according to whom? According to me. That is the great thing about art. You get to decide your own success.
Drawing and short story © 2017 Marty Coleman | napkindad.com
The Dead but Alive Woman
She woke up every morning only seeing what was behind her. She sometimes would try to turn her head but could not. It was as if she was made of stone. So, she looked back. She remembered the many signs telling her not to go in that direction and how long the journey down the road had been. She cried remembering when she so terribly wanted shade and found only tree stumps. She was disgusted when she remembered going through the trash looking for something to eat and finding only rotting food, which she ate. She saw the snake and was scared all over again. She remembered the pain of the bite and the dizziness and fever she felt almost immediately afterward. She wondered if her eyes were fooling her because she didn’t remember the coyote being pink, though she did remember it howling as she fell in the hole. She didn’t want to look at the river at all, but couldn’t help it. It was where she drowned after she stumbled out of the hole.
The Woman in the Cabin
The woman in the cabin lived alone. The cabin was small but still had enough room to bring in strays that needed help. She had such a stray now. It was a dead but alive woman she had found in the river. The woman was dead but alive, a phenomenon she had seen many times before. There was no heartbeat, no breathing. She was cold but not hard. The woman in the cabin poured warm water over her and then laid a blanket of orange flowers on her naked body. She sprinkled grass on top of the blanket, then very fine pebbles on top of that. She left her alone and went to carve the rock.
The Indian with the Limp
At the edge of the plateau there lived an Indian with the limp who the woman in the cabin was friends with. She would tell him about her work carving the rock and he would sometimes help her move the broken stones to the waterfall so they could be washed away. He didn’t understand what she was carving but he enjoyed the sound of her hammering in the distance during the day. He sometimes brought her rabbit for dinner. She sometimes brought him corn for breakfast.
The indian with the limp asked her once what she was trying to do with the rock. All the woman in the cabin would say is she was working on creating a new face on the other side of it, facing the hills and mountains, similar but not exactly like the face facing the dry land. He didn’t see anything resembling a face yet but it didn’t matter, he encouraged her anyway because he liked her. She knew he didn’t see it but she didn’t mind, because she liked him.
The Indian with the limp had collected the orange flowers and the pebbles and brought them to the woman in the cabin the day before, when she had a stray coyote with a twisted tail come in. But the tail had straightened itself out with just a little burnt crepe myrtle paste put on it so the flowers and pebbles weren’t needed. The Indian was happy about this because he knew they would be helpful to the dead but alive woman from the river.
The Indian with the limp loved to gather things for the woman in the cabin. It was a chance for him to explore and have a purpose. He didn’t know what jobs were but if he did he would have called it his job and he liked his job very much. He also liked that he was helping animals and people heal. His favorite thing was to collect the little pebbles from the river. He often thought about how he helped her throw the big rocks into the river after she chiseled them off the carving, then he would bring back little pebbles that were just those big rocks having been broken down. The Indian with the limp thought that was amusing and would smile as carried them back up to the plateau.
The dead but alive woman took a long time to recover. She stayed at the woman in the cabin’s cabin for many months. She would sit in a chair and look back over the plateau to the dry land below and feel no better than the day before. The woman in the cabin saw what was happening and one morning moved the chair to the other side of the plateau. The dead but alive woman then was forced to look over the hills and mountains and to watch the woman in the cabin do her carving. She learned about the carving and would watch the woman in the cabin chisel every day as she sat in her chair. She met the Indian with the limp and thanked him for help the woman in the cabin get the supplies to make her better. When she felt strong enough she asked if she could be of any help and the woman in the cabin told her it would be helpful if she would sing for her while she carved. She she said she only knew 2 songs. The woman in the cabin told her not to worry, she would teach her many songs, which she did.
The dead but alive woman loved the new songs she learned and would sing them beautifully. The Indian with the limp started coming by each morning and would play along with a drum he had. The coyote with the no longer twisted tail would even come close once in a while and howl in harmony. The woman in the cabin was able to work faster and longer with the beautiful music being sung and soon the new carving was almost finished.
One morning, well before the sun rose, the woman in the cabin awoke the dead but alive woman and told her to get ready, she was going on a journey. The dead but alive woman asked what sort of journey. The woman in the cabin said she wasn’t able to tell her what sort of journey or how long it would last. All she said about the journey was that the Indian with the limp would help her as she got on her way.
The woman in the cabin had packed a nice backpack full of food, clothing, and supplies for the dead but alive woman. The dead but alive woman wanted to take one last look around, to remember where she had been healed. The woman in the cabin let her do that, but would not let her go to the edge of the plateau and look back at the dry land below.
The Indian with the limp was waiting at the other edge of the plateau with a lantern to help them down to the hills below in the dark. The dead but alive woman hugged the woman in the cabin and said she would see her later. The woman in the cabin said nothing, just smiled and gave her a kiss goodbye. The indian with the limp and the dead but alive woman hiked down the side of the plateau until they reached a trail going up the hills towards the mountains. They traveled over three sets of hills until mid-day. Then they took a break, sitting down for lunch. The Indian with the limp told her this was where he was going to leave her.
The Alive Woman
The dead but alive woman was about to ask why when she saw the carving in the distance. Up on the plateau, high and strong in the mid-day sun, was a beautiful face facing her. It was her face but it wasn’t. It was the face of an alive woman, not of a dead but alive woman. She forgot what she was going to ask the Indian with the limp and just stared. Then she looked in the direction the face in the rock was looking. It was looking towards the mountains.
The alive woman said goodbye to the Indian with a limp and asked him to make sure the woman in the cabin knew how grateful she was for her love. The indian with the limp said he would. Then he said his goodbye and went back towards the plateau. The alive woman hiked the backpack up onto her back and set off. As she walked she could hear the howl of the coyote with the no longer twisted tail. She started to sing along.
Drawing and story © 2017 Marty Coleman | napkindad.com
I draw in church. In recent years the violinists in the orchestra have been the ones facing me. As a result I have drawn them a number of times. Here is a selection.
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 Woman Who Sucked on a Straw © 2017 Marty Coleman | napkindad.com
Drawing © 2017 Marty Coleman | napkindad.com
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.
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.
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.
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.
The woman looked like she had been crying; splotchy skin, red eyes & nose but she had not.
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. 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.
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.
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.
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.
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