While I was drawing this the garbage truck came screaming along the road. It was early in the morning, about 7.30am. I could hear people laughing in the house behind me. It’s easy to be happy that early in the morning, when the sun is already up and strong.
While I was drawing this a group of people made up of 2 elderly men, an elderly woman and a teenage girl went past.
It was only 9am but they were already wearing beach clothing; water shoes, bathing suits, hats, sunglasses.
‘Ya mind if I take a look at what you’re drawing there?’ said one of the elderly men, crossing the street toward me.
‘Of course not.’ I said.
‘Well my, look at that,’ he said, standing behind me and looking down at my picture, ‘that’s really coming along.’
Then the other man came over and looked at my drawing.
And then the girl came over.
Ant then the woman came over and they were all standing behind me saying things like ‘ooh, ahh, woah’.
Then the elderly man who’d crossed the street first said-‘What inspires you to draw a place like that?’
‘Well, the light has to be right and the house has to be a pretty colour,’ I told him, ‘and that’s about it.’
‘Well, it’s beautiful.’ he said and the others said some similar things.
Then, because the sun was out, and because the light was right, and because I was sitting in a street in Florida drawing a picture of a house, as the 2 elderly men and the woman and the girl all turned to walk away I called out, ‘You all have a nice day now’.
And I really meant it.
While I was drawing this 2 middle aged women with dark orange tans came up the street on bicycles, pulled up on either side of me, looked down and started talking at me.
‘Well hey there,’ said the woman to my right, ‘I see you’re doing some painting!’
‘Actually,’ I said, putting a pastel back in its box and looking up at her, ‘I’m drawing.’
‘Oh, how neat!’ she shouted out.
Then the other woman started talking.
‘On Oprah yesterday there was an artist who did this like massive portrait,’ she said, letting go of her handlebars and drawing a big air square with her hands, ‘and he’s like the fastest portraitist in the world. And he was like doing this portrait in 2 minutes only using his hands, no brushes, and right alongside of him they had the fastest violinist in the world and he was playing Vivaldi, one of the seasons, I don’t know which season, but it was, really, really fast.’
Then the other woman shouted out ‘how neat!’ again, and then without even waiting for my response to the Oprah portrait story, they both told to me to be sure to have a great day and rode off.
While I was drawing this, a blond woman with a whippet crossed the square in my direction.
As she passed behind me I could tell that her and the dog had stopped and they were looking down at my picture.
I took my headphones off and turned and looked up at her.
‘Hello.’ I said.
‘Wow wee,’ she said looking from the drawing to the house and back, ‘you got that light there just right.’
‘Thank you.’ I said.
‘Are you selling them?’ she said.
‘Are you buying?’ I said back.
While I was drawing this a man came up to me and said, in a German accent- ‘Is this the square where they made the movie?’
‘I don’t know.’ I said, ‘Which movie are you talking about?’
‘Forest Gump.’ he said.
And then, maybe out of embarrassment, he started laughing.
And then, because he was laughing, I started laughing too.
While I was drawing this it was early evening and a series of teenagers on red motor scooters were going up and down the street in front of me while a short, fattish woman with hair like a lego man shouted instructions at them – ‘A little gas, a little break, a little gas a little break a little gas, a little break.’
Then, as if I’d called out, hey who’s related to that motorcycle instructor, a middle aged man came over to me, pointed to the woman and said, ‘That’s my sister. She’s got a whole heap of them motor scooters so she’s teaching my kids to ride ’em.’
Then, because I didn’t know what else to say, I said – ‘I have a proper motorbike at home.’
Then the man, who was wearing shorts but no shirt, put his hands on his hips, turned his attention fully toward me and started to tell me the story of how he’d once had a motorbike.
But luckily, before he was too far in, he got distracted by his sister who had stopped screaming out motorcycle instructions and was now bellowing out information about their evening meal.
‘We’re going to take the scooters out onto A1A,’ she was crying out, ‘we’re gonna go order pizzas. We’re gonna head on down there now and get us some supper underway.’
While I was drawing this a man came up and started talking to me, and after some small talk we got on the subject of God.
He was a big fan of God and he talked to me for quite a while on the topic until he he told me he too was an artist and had drawn a comic book, which he then took out of his backpack and showed me.
I told him it looked very good and good luck with it.
Then he told me that he didn’t have a job, that he lived on the street and did odd jobs for people.
I felt like asking him why, if God was so amazing, he didn’t get him a job and his own house.
But I didn’t.
While I was drawing this a man came out from the house behind me and asked me if I’d draw a picture of his house for his father.
With him were three little kids sucking at ice creams and cans of coke.
‘Yes, I’ll draw your father’s house.’ I said.
Then it started to rain slightly so they all ran inside and I started packing up.
‘Come up and get my card.’ the man called out.
After I’d put my drawing stuff in the car I went to look for the guy.
I found his apartment at the top of some stairs.
‘C’mon on in,’ he said, ‘you wanna beer?’
After I said no to the beer he introduced me to his wife, who was called Sherri, or maybe Candy, and his three boys.
Then he went looking for his business card and I stood in the doorway staring at the TV while the rest of the family stared at it from the sofa.
They were watching a show about killer snakes.
‘Y’see that kids,’ Sherri/Candy said, ‘that snake bit that little boy and all the skin fell off his face.’
While I was drawing this a guy came out of the house behind me and said, ‘Hey my wife just rang me and said there’s some cute girl out front doing some painting.’
‘Oh, yes?’ I said looking up at him thinking his wife shouldn’t have been driving if she thought I was a ‘cute girl’.
Then a woman pulled up in the driveway of the house I was drawing and came over to see what I was doing.
She had a little girl with her.
‘Can I draw?’ said the little girl.
I said yes and gave her a piece of paper and a pastel.
Then, holding the pastel like she was going to use it to stab the cat or something, me and the guy and the mother watched as the child started making manic circles all over the paper.
Then the guy asked if he could take a picture of me and the drawing.
I said yes and he went inside, came back with a camera and took a picture.
Then he said, ‘If you want to use the bathroom come on in, the doors open, or if you want a beer when you finish up?’
‘Okay.’ I said, ‘thanks.’
Then, because she’d seen me spraying mine with hairspray, the child asked me to spray her drawing.
So I gave it a squirt to fix it.
Then the mother said to the child, ‘Come on Chloe, let’s go inside.’
Chloe didn’t want to go but I gave her a pastel to keep, and another piece of paper, and
then the guy told me he was going inside and to just come in when I finished.
‘I want you to see my house,’ he said, ‘Richard Boone drank himself to death in it.’
While I was drawing this a tourist trolley went up and down the street, filled with people wearing sun visors and over-sized tee shirts.
A few cars pulled in and out of the driveway, and for a while someone even parked on the front lawn, but I drew around the car.
Then a pair of women stopped and I took my headphones off and looked up at them.
‘My that’s pretty.’ one of them said, referring to my drawing.
‘She does water colours, don’t you, honey.’ said the other one, smiling and looking over at the woman who’d spoken first.
‘Nice,’ I said as they walked off.
Then, having taken a break as the church bells began to ring, I put my headphones back on and listened to Kris Kristofferson singing Sunday Morning Coming Down while I ate an entire packet of Cheetos: a small, cheese-flavoured, processed yellow snack food shaped like a turd.