Wednesday, 14 March 2018

Drawing In Public Experiment


Today was a day for running around the park to keep my fitness level up. It's a nice day, not too cold and the sun breaks cloud now and then. Some places are slippery with mud but I manage to get around most of the parks callisthenic exercise points.

Someone on Twitter recently asked if I get bothered by inquisitive people when I draw outside. I tend to creep around areas that are away from the main footpaths, looking for something interesting to draw. I use my run as a way to check out what's what and then return and draw it afterwards. I've been drawing in my sketchbook regularly since October 2017 and the amount of people I've said hello to has been tiny, I think maybe two people have approached me to see what I was up too. I really don't mind it, I spend far too much time by myself so any human interaction is welcome at this stage.

Today's experiment was to draw somewhere in the park that was a bit more public than my usual lurking around in the bushes, I headed down by the duck pond which is the Thornes Park equivalent of a super highway. In the 40 minutes I was sat drawing on a bench...

1. Three groups of people stopped and asked if they could have a look.

2. A bunch of school girls out for a run shouted 'nice drawing'.

3. Aware of people slowing down to 'rubber neck' but not engage further.

4. One 'What is it?' comment.

I have to admit that over the 18 years I have been a freelance illustrator I have done a number of public drawing commissions for organisations in West Yorkshire, some even as far afield as (sharp intake of breath) Milton Keynes. I started out being shy and even embarrassed about drawing in public but learnt to trust in the drawing. The majority of people are delighted to see artists out and about. Some are wary (I've found using a camera causes more suspicion) and one will be down right rude. It's human demographics. The trick is to smile and not let it put you off going out drawing again in the future. I find being physically open with my posture helps too, this is something I've done since my eyesight started to deteriorate and things are now in focus at arms length. People passing can easily see what I'm scribbling and that I'm not collecting hostile intelligence in a note book.