53. Phone

CSIMG_580850585255AWhile I was drawing this a woman and a man, dressed in sports clothing, sunglasses and baseball caps, stopped in front of me.
‘Wow, that’s really…’, the man said, before I cut him off, pointing to my headphones waving my hand, and mouthing ‘I’m on the phone’.
‘Oh, okay.’ said the man as he and the woman both smiled and continued on their way and I went back to my phone where I was simultaneously talking to my friend Barb over in the Valley, and arguing with my girlfriend about dental floss via text.

Today’s podcast: The Daily-The Legal Vulnerability of Roe V Wade

25. I Just Love Seeing Creative People

23While I was drawing this a car pulled into the driveway and an elderly woman got out, walking with a stick.
She looked back at me several times, but the angle of her mouth told me I should not wave hello.
So I went back to my drawing and podcast.
About half an hour later a short man with dark hair and moustache drove up and parked his car in the front of the house next door.
He got out of the car and, while walking up the driveway, looked over at me a few times.
I waved, but he didn’t wave back.
‘As miserable as the old woman!’ I thought to myself.
Then around 10 minutes later a large silver SUV stopped right in front of me and a woman leaned across from the driver’s side and shouted something.
Because I had my earbuds in and was listening to AC/DC with the volume way up, I had not heard what she said.
I took my earbuds out and called back to her asking her what she had said.
‘I just love seeing creative people do their thing!’ she said, a big smile on her face.
‘Thank you,’ I said smiling back at her, ‘I just love creating.’
At this we both laughed, and then the woman said, ‘I’ll let you carry on then.’ and I waved and she drove off.

Today’s playlist: AC/DC playlist, including Thunderstruck, Back in Black and You Shook Me All Night Long

24. I Suppose It’s Creative

BED686E9-970A-4446-9259-B4421AC92D04While I was drawing this a woman and a boy drove off from the house behind where I was sitting, and about 15 minutes later the woman returned alone, and came and stood by me and started talking to me.
I took my earbuds* out and said hello and she told me how much she liked my drawing.
‘Do you live there?’ she asked me looking toward the house, and I told her no.
‘Are you doing it for money?’ she said and I told her no again, and then as briefly as humanly possible, I told her about my hundred houses project and told her that she would be today’s story.
‘Oh, oops,’ she said, followed by ‘I should get out and do some drawing, but I…’
‘Oh,’ I said, ‘do you do some art?’
The woman, who was twirling her car keys and wearing what looked to be track pants, a flimsy tee shirt and bare feet, told me that she had done art a long time ago, but that now she worked on Photoshop, inside.
‘So I suppose it’s like…you know,… creative.’ she said.
‘These are soft pastels,’ I told her, ‘have you ever used them?’
The woman said no, but that she would like to.
‘You should try them,’ I told her, holding one up toward her, ‘you have to get really good ones, though, and really good fixative.’
‘I’ve never drawn on black,’ she said, nodding toward my paper, ‘that’s a good idea.’
Then she told me about a friend of hers who painted on trash, and who had then done an exhibition of made up album covers, and that Spike Jonze had come to his exhibition.
‘Michael Stipe came, too.’ she told me.
‘Oh,’ I said, a feeling of minor envy rising, ‘nice.’
‘Must be great to, you know, just… follow your dream.’ she said to me, ‘Do you draw all day?’
‘No,’ I told her, ‘I’m only up to number 22.’
Then I told her about my ‘day job’, and how and where I live, and that it allowed me time to draw, and she said oh that must be cool.
And then I asked her what she did in Photoshop.
‘I create layers, and colours, and you know, backgrounds so I suppose it’s… creative.’ she said, still twirling her keys, ‘but it’s not like what you do.’
‘But what’s it for?’ I asked her, and she told me it was for ads, mainly, and that once upon a time she used to come home covered in acrylics, and the bath would be covered in paint but now she uses a computer and a stylus.
‘So you went to art school?’ I said.
‘Yes.’ she said.
‘You should come drawing with me,’ I said to her, ‘I go out for a couple of hours at a time, and if you come with me you would be forced to do something.’
The woman smiled and asked me my name.
I told her my name and she held out her hand and I shook it and she told me her name, and then I told her my number while she put it in her phone, knowing full well she’d never call me, let alone come drawing with me.

Today’s podcast: Classic Desert Island Discs- Victoria Wood

16. The Old Man in the House

14
While I was drawing this, a couple (man and woman) walked along the footpath behind me and stopped and began to speak.
‘Ooh, let’s have a look.’ the man said.
I turned to my right to look up at them, at their baseball caps and big round sunglasses, their polo shirts, and their grinning white faces, as they stood their looking at me down in the gutter grinning back up at them.
‘Oh, look at that,’ the man said and pointed at my drawing, ‘my, that’s pretty!’
The woman said nothing, no noise, not a nod of the head.
Only grins.
‘Is that chalk?’ he asked.
I set him straight by telling him it was soft pastel, and made a stroke on the paper with one I was holding between my fingers.
‘Much softer than chalk,’ I told him, ‘look how smooth.’
‘Uh-huh, uh-huh,’ said the man, who now had his hands on his hips, his legs slightly spread, and was nodding and looking down at the paper, ‘Uh-huh!’
I hadn’t turned my podcast* off for this disruption, so after the man made a few throwaway lines of encouragement at me, and told the woman ‘let’s go, honey’, I went back to listening and drawing.
Then around 20 minutes later, as I was nearing the finish-line, a man walked along behind me and said- ‘Oh, I don’t want to startle you.’
I laughed and told him it was fine, he hadn’t startled me because, out of the corner of my eye, I had seen him coming.
The man, who was wearing a white baseball cap with a small logo on it, a white polo shirt, shorts and sock and trainers, stopped and laughed and told me he liked my drawing, and that he thought it was beautiful and that I’d gotten the light right.
‘Do you live around here?’ I asked him, and he told me no, and that he’d only be around for a bit longer.
‘I live in Houston.’ he told me when I asked him where he lived.
‘Do you know who lives in the house?’ I asked the man, who was standing to my right, slightly out onto the road, looking straight down at me with his hands folded behind his back.
He looked back toward the house, which had cracked paving, and patchy uneven lawn where the roots were bulging under the earth, and a porch empty of ornaments, unlike the other houses in the street.
‘I believe an older gentleman lives there, alone, but the neighbours all look out for him.’ he said.
‘Oh, that’s lovely.’ I said.
Then he asked me if I would sell my drawing to the man in the house.
‘No,’ I said, looking up at the man, ‘I go about the place drawing houses, you know, where the light is right. I’m going to move neighbourhoods soon, though, I need more trees.’
‘Oh, I see,’ he said, ‘but what do you do with the drawings?’
‘I’m drawing a hundred,’ I said, ‘and I’m up to 14, and when I get to 100 I’ll have an exhibition.’
‘Oh, I see, wonderful!’ the man said, smiling.
‘Yes, and I write little stories about the people who stop to talk to me while I’m drawing, so you’ll be this drawing’s story.’
‘Oh,’ the man said in a slightly raised surprised voice, ‘really?’
‘Here’s the address.’ I said, and I told him the address of my blog, ‘Can you remember it?’
‘Yes,’ he said, ‘I’ll remember that.’
‘Good,’ I said, ‘You can read about yourself!’
Then we both smiled and said some niceties to each other and told each other to have a good day, and he left, and I went back to my drawing, giving the grass a bit more green, the paving a bit less crack and adding a few red and white flowers that perhaps the old man in the house might have liked.

*Today’s podcasts: Trumpcast- All that Kushner Money
  Sword and Scale: God’s Plan

15. She’s Just Observing You.

13

While I was drawing this a woman came along pushing a small girl in a stroller, and I could see out of the corner of my eye that they had stopped just past where I was sitting.
I was fully engaged by my music* and I was getting chilly and losing the light because I had spent a good deal of time watching the police interact with a young black man in a SUV that they had pulled over, so I did not want to stop what I was doing to talk.
But a few moments later, distracted by the presence of the woman and child, I paused my podcast and turned to them.
‘Hello,’ I said to the woman, who was looking down at my drawing.
‘That’s very nice,’ she said to me, nodding.
I told her thank you, and then waved my hand toward the child.
‘Hello.’ I said and smiled.
But the child, who was holding a soft brown monkey to her chest, its arms around her neck, did not respond.
‘You don’t want to talk to me?’ I questioned the child, who without expression, was staring back at me.
‘No,’ said the woman, leaning her hand forward and touching the top of the child’s head, ‘she just wants to observe.’
‘Okay,’ I thought, ‘2 can play at that game.’
And so I said goodbye and turned around to my drawing board, putting all of my attention back on my music, the house that was in front of me and the police car that had been left parked in the street outside of the house after the young man in the SUV had finally been allowed to leave.

Todays music: Annie Lennox, Diva

12. World’s Biggest $hithole

While I was drawing this I watched, in front of an house 2 doors up, a young couple quickly kiss, after which the young man crossed the street toward me, and the young woman went into the house alone.
‘Do you mind if I wait here with you until my girlfriend comes out?’ He said, looking down at me, smiling.
‘No,’ I said smiling back up at him, because even though I thought it an unusual request, I really did not mind at all.
‘What are you doing?’ asked the young man, who was probably about 17, and who had what I would lazily describe as a ‘mop’ of thick dark hair and was wearing a thick flannel shirt, jeans and a pair of Caterpillar boots, ‘You drawing?’
Even though it was obvious what I was up to, I explained to my guest that I was drawing this house as part of a project I was doing.
He said ‘cool’ and as he said down on the grass next to me, he asked me what the project was.
I told him about the Hundred Houses and he said ‘cool’ again, and then he said nothing else, so I went back to my drawing and podcast.
Occasionally I would look at him out of the corner of my eye, and he would be sitting quietly, moving his head slowly, looking around or picking at bits of grass.
After a while I got curious and asked him what the girl who went into the house was doing.
‘She’s a violin teacher. She’s teaching a kid in there.’ He told me, ‘She’s my girlfriend.’
‘Oh nice!’ I said.
‘Are you a musician?’ I asked him.
He laughed a little bit and said no.
Then we went silent again until he noticed a button pinned to my red flannel shirt that was lying on the grass.
‘Cool,’ he said, of the button which featured Donald Trump’s face, an arrow pointing to his gaping mouth and the words ‘World’s Biggest $hithole’ encircling it all.
‘Would you like it?’ I asked him, ‘I make them and hand them out to like-minded people.’
‘Yeh, cool, thanks!’ He said.
Then we went quiet for a good long time, until finally we heard someone calling out ‘Thanks’ and looked up to see the young woman come out of the house and cross the road to us.
‘Hi,’ she said to the young man who was now on his feet.
Then she said hi to me and I said hi to her.
‘She’s drawing the house,’ the young man said, ‘and she gave me this button.’
‘Awesome,’ said the young woman looking at the button, ‘that’s awesome.’
‘Okay then, have a nice rest of your day,’ the young man said, ‘and thanks for letting me sit with you.’
‘My pleasure.’ I said.
And as the young man took the young woman’s hand and they walked away, I realised that we’d sat there together for a good 3/4 of an hour and he hadn’t once looked at a cell phone.

1. Tony

1While I was drawing this a woman driving a small teal SUV stopped in the middle of the road in front of me.
She had short ginger/blonde hair and a frown, and was waving her hand.
I paused the podcast* I was listening to and called out hi to her.
‘Have you seen a dog?’ she called out to me.
‘What kind? ‘I called back.
‘Small! White!’ she said, her tone high-pitched with dog-loss anxiety.
‘Nope, I haven’t seen a dog,’ I called back to her, ‘and I’m sure if there’d been a dog running around I’d have seen it.’
‘Yes,’ she called out, ‘so if you see him, his names on the collar, and the phone number.’
‘Okay,’ I called calmly, ‘I’ll look out for him.’
‘His name’s Tony!’ she called as she started to drive off.
After she’d gone I sat there for a few moments looking up and down the street, hoping to see Tony come trotting down a driveway, or out from behind a bush or under a parked car.

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*Today’s Podcast: Slow Burn- A podcast about Watergate