51. Suspicious

51.JPGWhile I was drawing this I heard a noise (through my earbuds, over the sound of the podcast I was listening to) and turned to see a man with an unhappy look on his face standing on the grass of the house just behind me.
‘Sorry?’ I said, removing my earbuds, ‘What was that?’
‘What is it you’re doing there?’ he called out.
‘I’m drawing.’ I called back to him.’
What are you drawing?’ he asked, walking toward me.
‘I’m drawing that house across the street,’ I said, ‘that one there, the pink one.’
‘Oh, okay well…’ he said.
‘I know it can look suspicious, someone sitting in the street like this.’
‘Yes,’ he said, ‘it sure does look suspicious.
The man said nothing else, just turned and walked across the grass toward his house.
I watched him walk away.

Today’s podcast Bear Brook, Episode 1.

32. The Boxer

While I was drawing this a young man passed in front of me on the path leading a very large Boxer on a leash.
The young man, who looked to be between 28 and 32 and was wearing shorts and sunglasses and talking on his phone, seemed not to care that the animal had pulled him to a stop and was standing with its face about a foot away from mine.
‘Hello nice doggy,’ I said, leaning back slightly, keeping my voice chirpy and dog-friendly.
The dog didn’t wag its tail, didn’t even move: it just stood there, as if it was made of concrete, staring at me intensely with a smile on its drooling lips.
Even though the young man was deep in conversation, he must have been paying attention to the animal because he held the leash tight enough to prevent it licking, or bitting, my face .
I didn’t want to touch the dog in case it was riled to strike, so I continued with the friendly words until the young man yanked on the leash, and him and his salviating beast walked away.

Today’s podcast: Oprah’s Master Class- Alicia Keys

31. I don’t have time to do it now.

While I was drawing this a yellow taxi (Prius) pulled up to the house next to where I was sitting drawing, and I watched it for a few moments but nothing occurred: no driver got out and no passenger got in, though I did hear the intermittent raised voices of women from inside the house calling ‘We’re coming, we’re coming!’.

About 15 minutes later the driver walked over and stood off to my right, looking down at me and my drawing.
I heard him say something so I took my earbuds out and said ‘Excuse me?’.
But he said nothing, just nodded and smiled.
I turned back to my drawing, and then the man, who was tall and slim, bald and wearing a white shirt, red tie, well ironed gray slacks and aviator sunglasses spoke again.
‘Nice,’ he said, ‘very nice.’
‘Thank you,’ I said turning to him.
Next up he asked me what it was for and I told him about the hundred houses.
‘I’m at 31.’ I said, feeling a despair at how many I still had to go.
‘I paint,’ he said to me, ‘landscapes.’
‘Oooh really,’ I said, ‘what kind?’
‘Mainly I like mountains and trees around here,’ he told me, ‘but I don’t have much time anymore with this.’
He swept his arm around toward the taxi, as if he were a game show assistant pointing out the prizes to the contestants.
‘Do you go outside and paint?’ I asked, but he told me no because of time constraints, but he took photos and painted from those.
‘What do you use?’ I said.
‘Mainly oils,’ said the man, who didn’t move, was just stood there stock still, ‘ though sometimes I do sketches in acrylics or watercolors.’
I told him I did not do oils because they took so long to dry.
And then I explained to him how the pastels worked, that I could build layer upon layer, like paint, fixing them in between, eliminating the pesky need for over night drying.
I picked up a bright yellow pastel I had been using on the bushes and made a long wide on my drawing board.
‘Look how delicious that is,’ I said, picking up the can of fixative, ‘and now I can spray and go over the top with another color.’
The man was watching intently but not saying anything.
‘Get a good fixative,’ I said, ‘this is 36 dollars on Amazon for 6 cans. Not top of the rage but very good.’
Then I demonstrated how far back to hold the can, sprayed, waited a few moments for drying, and then made some marks on my drawing so he could see the wizardry that are soft pastels.
When I looked back up the man was smiling and nodding.
Just then we heard a noise and looked over to see 2 very old women coming one after the other down the path of the house with walkers.
‘You takin’ a picture of my neighbour’s house,’ said the 2nd woman.
‘I’m drawing it,’ I said, ‘not a photo.’
‘That’s what I said, takin’ a picture of the house.’ the woman repeated, and rather than argue with an elderly stranger, I said yes.
‘I just got a lesson.’ he said, and the women laughed,
Then he said goodbye and thank you and went to help the women.
‘I picked you up one time before, I think.’ I heard the man said to one of the women.
‘Oh?’ yeh she said without looking up at him or stopping to converse, ‘I don’t remember.’
Then the man helped the very slow old women get into the taxi and I watched him put their walkers into the back.
I turned back to the house and my drawing, but I was interrupted again by the man who bent down in front of me, holding out his phone.
“Here,’ he said, ‘these are the roses I take photos of to draw later.’
On the screen of his camera were photos of 4 pink roses and I said ‘nice’.
Then he swiped the screen and showed me a rather good painting of a mountain with some snow on its peak.
‘You painted this?’ I said, ‘It’s very good.’
‘Yes.’ Said the man, smiling.
‘Excellent.’ I said.
‘Yes,’ said the man, ‘thank you, but I think I’ll get some pastels because oils are so slow and I don’t have time to do it now.’

Today’s podcast: Sword and Scale Episode 118, all about a very nasty guy.

30. My Friends and I Really Love Art

While I was drawing this a woman came out of the house behind me and, on hearing her over the top of my podcast*, I took out my earbuds to listen to what she had to say.
‘Wow,’ she said, ‘wow, that’s really beautiful.’
I said thank you to her and she asked me if I was drawing it for the people who lived in the house.
‘No, I just go about the place drawing houses.’ I said, and I went on to tell her about my hundred houses project.
‘What number is this?’ She asked me and I told her it was number 30.
‘Do you do other kinds of art too,’ she asked, ‘like big things?’
I told the woman, who had her hair pulled tightly back and was wearing shorts, Nike trainers and a pink tee shirt with the words of an educational establishment across the front, that I did big things, and waited for her to tell me what kind of big things she meant.
But she didn’t.
Instead she said- ‘You know because me and my friends we like art.’
‘Oh, okay,’ I said, ‘would you like me to give you my website address so you can have a look at what I do?’
The woman said yes, and I gave her my name and number, which she put into her phone.
Just then, I heard a man’s voice calling from the woman’s house, and I turned around.
‘Shawana!’ I heard the man call out.
But I could not hear the rest of what he said, as Shawana had turned and was yelling something back to him.
After a few moments their discussion finished and Shawana turned back to me and told me she would be in touch, and I said fine and we said our goodbyes and I went back to my podcast, slightly challenged at having to draw around the car that had been parked in front of the house about 20 minutes before by a grinning woman who had exited it carrying a coffee in her left hand while waving at me with the right.

Today’s podcast- Karina Longworth, You Must Remember This: Hollywood Babylon, D.W Griffith and the Gish Sisters.

27. Joseph Campbell

24While I was drawing this a handsome dark-haired man wearing a dark tee shirt, dark jeans, sunglasses and leading 2 dogs; one small and beige, the other large and dark brown, passed by on the corner and stopped and started up a conversation.
’What are you doing?’ He asked me, ‘You sitting there drawing?’
’Yes,’ I replied, ‘I’ve only just started.’
’Cool,’ he said, ‘I wish I could do that. I can’t draw a thing.’
I laughed but said nothing because this lack-of-talent lament is what I hear from most people and I don’t care to challenge it.
’So,’ he went on, ‘are you drawing it for the people who live in the house?’
’No,’ I said, ‘it’s for my own project. I’m drawing a hundred houses.’
’Cool,’ he said again, ‘How many do you have?’
’Um,’ I said, ‘this will be 25.’
’Cool,’ he said, nodding his head up and down, ‘awesome.’
’Yeh,’ I said, ‘and while I’m drawing if anyone stops to talk to me I write a story about them, so if no one more interesting than you talks to me today, then you’re it.’
The man laughs.
’Well make sure to tell them I’m reading Joseph Campbell.’ he said, holding up a fat book and waving it all around, which startled his dogs.
’Okay.’ I said, ‘I will.’
’Are you familiar?’ the man asked me, and I said very vaguely, that I might have heard the name.
’Well,’ he said, ‘he’s like this awesome philosopher, totally rad thinker, totally changed the world for me. Like, he talks about how Greek mythology, like Daphne and Zeus and all those Gods, they’re totally about us, and like how we don’t want to grow up, and that’s like why the planet’s like totally fucked up.’
’Is he a conspiracy theorist?’ I asked him, thinking he’s some YouTube crackpot.
’No,’ said the handsome chap, ‘he’s more like a philosopher, and like, you know, a psychologist, you know.’
’Okay,’ I said, ‘well, I will check him out.’
’Yeh, right on!’ the man said
And then he said okay, that he was going to keep on walking and I said okay, and that he could stop by on his way back if he liked.
’I might just do that.’ he called out, waving and leading his dogs away, ‘If we walk back this way later on.’

Today’s music: Spotify All Out 70s Playlist.

26. Secret

24While I was drawing this a person in the house next door to the one I was drawing came out to the front of his house, and with some kind of mechanised trimming machine, trimmed the grass at the edge of his driveway.
I turned my podcast* up, to block out the noise, and then watched him for a bit while he trimmed the grass edge at the front of his house.
Then he moved to the garden of the house I was drawing and trimmed the grass at the edge of their driveway and the grass at the edge of their footpath.
After he had finished he stood, briefly, on the driveway of the house I was drawing and made a phone call, and I wondered if he was calling the owners of the house to report me.
Then, well after he’d stopped pushing his machine around the grass and I had stopped paying attention to him, I saw him reverse out of his driveway, in a dark blue SUV, and drive away.
Then a good while later he returned, and so knowing he would be curious and probably tell the neighbours about a mystery stranger sitting in front of their house, with an easel, I walked across the street to talk to him.
‘Hello?’ I called to him, as I walked up his drive with the finished drawing in my hand, ‘You clearly know the people who live in this house.’
‘Yes,’ said the man who was wearing beige rugby-style shirt, pleated blue trousers and a sunhat like Gilligan from Gilligan’s island wore, ‘I do, yes I do.’
‘Well,’ I said to him, ‘I’ve been drawing the house and I’m going to leave it on the porch there, rolled up, so perhaps you could keep an eye out and make sure she’s picked it up.’
‘Oh,’ he said, ‘I saw you there and wondered what you were doing.’
‘Yes,’ I said, ‘It’s a present for Maggie from her sister, Annie, who commissioned me to do it, but it’s a secret, so please don’t tell her before she comes out and gets it.’
The man said Oh I see, and smiled and shook his head.
‘Okay, thanks,’ I said as I walked across the driveway to Maggie’s house to leave the drawing, ‘And I hope you can keep a secret.’
The man laughed and said he could and I smiled and said thank you and gave him a little wave as I walked back down the driveway to put the rest of my drawing equipment in my car.

Todays podcast: The Daily – ‘Charm City,’ Part 5: What’s Behind the Black Box?