While I was drawing this a yellow taxi (Prius) pulled up to the house next to where I was sitting drawing.
I watched it for a few moments but nothing occurred: no driver got out and no passenger got in, though I did hear the 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.
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
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 need for pesky 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 range 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 with walkers.
‘You takin’ a picture of my neighbor’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 say 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.