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

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.

28. Woman in the Red SUV

While I was drawing this a woman came out of the red door and walked down the yellow ochre-ish brick path.
Her hair was cut in a blond bob, she was wearing a dark blue tee shirt stretched over a stomach that looked pregnant, denim shorts and she was carrying a hand bag across her shoulder.
I could see she had car keys hanging from her hand, and without stopping, she looked over at me: a glance, really.
Just beyond the left edge of this drawing was parked a red SUV, which obscured the driveway in which must have been parked the woman’s car, because a few moments later I saw the back end of a car appear in front of the SUV, and then drive off down the road.
I went back to my drawing until about 15 minutes later when the woman drove back, this time in front of the house.
She did not, however, go into the house.
Instead she got into the red SUV, started it up and drove off, leaving me a full view of the large tree on the front lawn and the car she had originally driven off in parked in the driveway.
For a few moments I sat there thinking about the woman, wondering if this was her house, and if it was, why hadn’t she come over to ask what I was doing.
Was she scared, did she not care?
Or perhaps she was just the cleaner.
Or maybe she was too busy moving cars around and didn’t have the time.

Today’s podcast: You Must Remember This- Dead Blondes Part 13, Dorothy Stratten

15. She’s Just Observing You.


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.