“You have put three cups of tea under the belt so far; what’s the matter?” Lulu, my parrot asked.
“Nothing! Actually, nothing!!” I picked up a biscuit and offered a guava to Lulu. He turned down the offer.
“Nah! Something is happening, you are not telling me the truth”
“Nothing. The problem is that I have nothing to do. And I am bored.”
“You mean ‘social withdrawal’?”
“Oh, Lulu! Don’t give it some big name!”
“Why don’t you look up Google and type ‘What do you do when there is nothing to do? Google will get you answers.”
“Well, it gives suggestions like write a gratitude letter, forgive somebody and finally meditation! Funny; they don’t work for me.”
“Why? Why they don’t work for you?”
“Maybe it is just not my agenda.”
“Oh, you sound as if you are cross examining me.” I looked at the barman. He was serving beer to a young man who with his girl was seated at the corner table. “There is no thrill in life. This gratitude, meditation thing doesn’t create thrill.”
“So, you are looking for thrill?”
I did not answer. I glanced at the corner table. The young man gulped beer while his girl was sipping a Coke. They were speaking in low tone, and were obviously lost in their world. Two young men entered the restaurant. They took a table away from the couple.
“You were reading ‘Art Before Breakfast’ by Danny Gregory, right?”
“Yup. I get your point. I will try sketching.” I took out my sketch book and pencils.
“You have been sketching for the last……”
“….ten years.” I started drawing a loose sketch. The couple was huddled together, and the waiter a plate of potato chips for them. They ignored him. “I have learnt over time is that our grip on the pencil should not be like the kind we use for writing. We should hold it loosely, three inches away from the tip, and draw lines lightly capturing the broad contours or shape of the object.”
“I have learnt that I should then look at the relativities.”
“Say distance from head to shoulders, and shoulders to waist and waist to feet. Compare the relative proportion to these aspects, for instance.”
“That’s interesting. I can see that a picture will start emerging before you make the lines firm.”
“Exactly.” The two young men could not take their eyes off the young couple. The Barman was keeping a watchful eye on his patrons and they young men were aware of it. They paid their bill and moved out. “After drawing the object in the focus, I start drawing the background. Yes, loosely again.”
I had drawn the outline of the couple in huddle. I was now drawing the round table at which they were sitting, and the wall behind them which had two old lamps and a framed picture.
“Background is giving so much prominence to the figures in the picture. Sets the context, one might say. Check the tilt of the girl’s head; capture the body language,” Lulu whispered to me.
“Thanks, Lulu. There is an important lesson I learnt over time. I have sketched many pictures and was unable to spot a fault. There are two ways to spot the fault in your picture.”
“Ask your wife! That must be the first one!!”
“You guessed it right, Lulu. Ha ha!” I started giving final touches and drawing firm lines, correcting the tilt of her head. “The other is to visit the picture on the day after. You must look at your creation with fresh eyes.”
“But you said you carefully look at proportions? Why then?”
“In spite of it, mistakes creep in. You don’t spot them; they may be few, but they make pictures imperfect. There is no substitute for fresh eyes.”
The couple became aware that I was drawing their picture. The man looked at me; when our eyes met, I smiled and invited him to our table. With a swoosh, I drew finishing lines on the sketch. I presented it to him.
“Wow! You have captured the mood so well.” The girl said. Her friend nodded.
“I am so happy that you liked it.” They offered to buy me a drink but I politely declined. I paid my bill and walked out of the restaurant.
“Rules of sketching are for capturing images of people. Where else those can be applied?”
“For understanding people” I replied instantly.
“Oh, brilliant!” Lulu tugged my collar.
“Stop it, Lulu.” I shouted at him but we crossed the street whistling a song.
Vivek S Patwardhan
“What you leave behind is not what is engraved in stone monuments, but what is woven into the lives of others.”
Feature Pic Credit: Ahmad Ossayli on Unsplash