The Reminder – A Coffee Drawing

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They sat attentive, leaning forward, interested in what one another had to say.  The coffee shop buzzed with noise around them but they were not distracted. I sat in the corner and drew.

The woman facing me had a green sweatshirt on with the logo of ‘New Life Ranch’ on the front. I knew the place well. It was a summer camp in Oklahoma, near the Arkansas border, and my daughters had gone there a number of times. We even went there for family camp twice.

 

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It was the place I took two of the best photographs of my life.  Both were of the creek that ran through the camp, early on a fog enshrouded morning.  One was just the creek, but the other was of my youngest daughter reaching for a rope swing so she could swing and drop into the creek. We had heard the night before that there would be a sunrise swim in the creek. Chelsea wanted to go so we got up very early and I accompanied her to meet the others. I remember sitting with her on this little bench waiting for everyone else, talking about how exciting it was going to be to jump in the cold creek.  No one else showed up.  We decided they were all wimps and she was the most courageous of them all.  She still wanted to do it so I took photos as she took the plunge.

Unfortunately, so far I have not been able to find the shot of her.  I am still looking!


Drawing and photo © 2015 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


 

 

Brooklynne Studying

I had a Dr. appointment yesterday to look at my Achilles Tendon (it’s sore and I have a marathon coming up). After the appointment I went to Starbucks to hangout and draw.  I saw this woman’s blonde hair shimmering in the sunlight as I walked in and found a table close enough so I could draw her as she studied.

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(The drawing is available for purchase, original or print. If you are interested email me at marty@napkindad.com to inquire. )

I brought my sketchbook but decided to draw on a Starbucks napkin instead.  If you look at the line drawing only version below you can see how brown the paper is. I usually shy away from coloring these napkins because of that but this time I thought using shades of gray to create a monotone image would be cool. But as I colored I started using colors that were bright.  Next thing I know the drawing is colorful!

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After I finished the line drawing I showed it to the woman. She seemed to be happy about it. I told her why I started drawing her (her hair) and she said she has only cut it once in her life, way back when she was in middle school.  Even then it was still mid-chest so not really short.  Her name is Brooklynne and it turns out she has won a few beauty pageants.  I expect she will win a few more, as well as some academic scholarships. She was studying hard!

She wanted a picture of herself with the drawing and so I took one on her phone and another on mine.  

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You can see the live Periscope video of me doing the drawing here.


Drawing © 2015 Marty Coleman | napkindad.com


 

Becky at Work at a South Tulsa Starbucks

Becky at Work - South Tulsa Starbucks

Drawing Becky

I had to take my wife to work this morning and took the early morning opportunity to go to Starbucks on the way home and just hang out a while. I drew one of the Barista’s doing her job. She was pretty busy and seemed surprised and somewhat uncomprehending when I first showed it to her.  I gave her my card and told her I would be posting it later in the day, after I colored it.

Most people I draw actually never come to the blog to see the drawing and they never contact me to get a copy.  I always think that is odd, knowing that if someone drew me I would be all about seeing the final result later.  Some do contact me though and it’s always a pleasure to make a new friend in that way.

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Here it is in the Starbucks, uncolored. Becky had already moved on to another spot behind the counter but I wanted to get the pic anyway just to remember some colors.

This drawing, and all my drawings, are for sale, original or print. Please email me at marty@napkindad.com to inquire.


 

Drawing by Marty Coleman

 


 

Jade at Starbucks

 

Another day at Starbucks waiting for my car to be fixed.

 

Jade at Starbucks

Jade at Starbucks

 

My car door handle fell off last week. Very strange. One part actually broke, the other part just became dislodged and I couldn’t put it back in properly.  I brought it to the dealer so they could put on the new part I had already ordered and reinstall the handle properly.  While the did that I went to Starbucks to have a mocha and draw.

This woman was studying and I took advantage of her stillness to draw her while I had a cherry oat bar and drank my coffee. While I was in the middle of drawing it I posted the picture as part of my ‘Where Am I?’ series I do on social media.  

 

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Of course, someone guessed right away that it was Starbucks based on the color of the napkin.  Someone else guessed Greece, which would have been nice. Another guessed ‘Night Trips’ which is a ‘Gentlemans Club’ in Tulsa, which would have been interesting.  

Later the woman got up to leave and took the opportunity to show her the drawing. She was very excited to have been drawn and took a picture of it. I then took a photo of her holding up the drawing.  I introduced myself, gave her my card. I found out her name is Jade. 

 

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Jade left and shortly thereafter she friended me on Instagram, posting the photo she took of the drawing.  I in turn posted this photo. It turns out she is an artist and the drawing inspired her to start drawing during her cafe moments like she used to. That’s exciting and I hope to see the drawings soon!

 

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Drawing and photos by Marty Coleman

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3 Drawings at Starbucks

 

Once again this week I needed to take a car in for servicing. This time it was my car.  And again I spent the time waiting at Starbucks. This time I drew 3 drawings, one on a napkin, one in my small sketchbook, and one in a larger sketchbook I was given as part of the launch program. I also drew a number of work sketches for a new character I am working on for Napkin Dad Publishing .

 

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I usually use a Sharpie Ultra Fine Point black pen for my napkin drawings.  If I am actually traveling away from Tulsa I will have a selection of my colored markers with me as well but in town I just bring the black pen and wait until I am home to do any coloring.

 

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This is Elaine.  I drew her as she worked, then showed her the drawing. She seemed pleased. She took a picture and posted it on FB and very soon thereafter a mutual friend commented on the drawing saying it looked like a ‘Marty Coleman’ drawing. I thought that was cool.

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After that I moved to my sketchbook and drew two people in conversation.  I use a different pen for my sketchbook.  Recently I have been using a Signo UniBall for these types of drawings.

I would have shown her the drawing but they were deep in conversation, perhaps even an interview.  I didn’t want to interrupt.  They then left quickly and there was no time to show them.

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This final drawing I did in a large sketchbook. I had been drawing some studies for a character I am looking to develop for Napkin Dad Publishing, sort of a lead icon type character.  I had done about 5 of those and was starting to repeat myself so I turned the page and started drawing these two people in conversation.

I didn’t show them the drawing because neither image really flatters them much and it gets pretty sensitive when I draw an inaccurate drawing of someone.  I know it doesn’t look like them (nose too big, teeth to severe) but no matter what an artist says to a subject, they will take away that they really do look like that.  So, sometimes it’s best to just not show it and move on.

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I then turned to working on my SXSW presentation coming up in 2 weeks (March 7th) in Austin. I have it on my cell phone so I am able to work on it to some degree.  It’s great for making sure the timing, images and transitions are all working (they weren’t). It’s also great to see how it will appear on mobile devices.

 Then the car place called and it was time to go.  All in all a productive & creative morning.

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Mrs. Bowen and the Missionary with Small Hands

 

Emergency Trip

I’ve been out of touch the past week due to a family emergency in California.  I took photos, mostly family oriented pics, but only was able to find time to do one drawing while I was there and that was in the airline terminal as I was leaving.  I drew it on a Starbucks napkin.

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Mrs. Bowen

She sat across from me in the waiting area. We were both almost 2 hours early.  We had seen each other in the check in line and said hello again as I sat down.  She was headed back to Salt Lake City after visiting her husband who was in the Bay Area on work. She was an oil painter and showed me her paintings on her iPhone.  I showed her my sketchbook and photos/drawings in my iPhone as well.  I asked if I could draw her and she was kind enough to allow it.  She had expressive eyes and lines. 

I finished the line drawing portion and as I was starting to use my colored markers a large contingent of Mormon missionaries going home to Utah after 2 years of mission work sat down near us.  She went over to talk to some of them.  I showed the drawing to her when she got back, took her picture with it and she took pictures as well and we all got on the plane.

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Mrs. Bowen

 

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Small Hands

I ended up sitting next to one of the missionaries. He had the smallest hands of any adult man I have ever met. We talked Jesus and religion. It was interesting. He gave me a Book of Mormon.  I didn’t draw him but I wanted to, just didn’t find the right opportunity.

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Drawing and photo by Marty Coleman

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