17/09/14 & 20/09/14
Sitting and Waiting
I had been looking forward to this exercise and although the intention is to do this on an ad-hoc basis (always carrying a sketchbook etc – I’m lucky if I remember my (non) mobile phone!), I thought I’d take advantage of a beautifully sunny day and visit the market in Ringwood. All good intentions of getting there early dissipated and I arrived in the car park at around 10.15am. I positioned myself in the actual market place, although towards the end of the market itself, on the central steps and cast around for likely subjects. I was actually pleased I hadn’t arrived much earlier as it was fairly quiet and didn’t really begin bustling until 11ish. I had a good view of several stalls around me and, a nice composition of looking down the High Street – Ringwood is a historical town with some beautiful old, character buildings.
The first page of drawings began with the plant stall, there were a couple of customers and stall holders and although speaking animatedly, they were fairly static so good to start off with, particularly as I hadn’t tried to capture people in this kind of situation before.
The pie stall was in a trailer, so the proprietor was much higher than the customer. The customer caught my eye as he was dressed in baggy jeans, a hoody and a baseball cap with long, grey hair belying his age. He seemed quite a character – I began wondering how do you illustrate that in a quick sketch? Body language, stance?
The view down the street was lovely, with the stalls catching and diffusing the bright sunlight. Bunting was strung across the street as it was Carnival week in Ringwood – little triangles of red, white and blue fluttered gently as cars and lorries crawled beneath them.
To my right, I noticed a couple at another stall, they obviously knew the stallholder as they were chatting for ages but no sale! I also noticed the first dog of the morning who seemed fairly keen to cross over the road. Only then did I realise I was sat next to the pet stall!
I thought I’d practise drawing some individuals to see if I could apply their character as mentioned before. The lady on the right was rifling in her handbag for her phone and was grateful to have found it, it seemed. The next lady was scurrying around with, what appeared to be, a mission in mind, whereas most others were sauntering and browsing, enjoying the sun. Not sure if this comes over but I hope so. The next chap was very conspicuous, all in khaki, safari type gear, but he again was fairly speedy and the only way I could convey his attire even slightly convincingly, was by applying a tint of khaki colour when I got home. Oh and then the dogs kept coming – too many to mention and draw, but the Great Dane was very impressive although, didn’t come to the pet stall itself, and the little West Highland Terrier obligingly stood still next to me for a few minutes.
Getting back to the brief of starting with one character and adding in more to make a cohesive scene, I spotted the chap at his (what I assumed to be) duster stall. No-one was visiting him and he looked bored, but no sooner had I started sketching him then the first wave of customers arrived. Green jumper lady was inspecting the wares and I captured her leaning over the table, another passed by and cast a glance at the display in a seasoned shopper kind of way – she seemed to be able to tell in a split second if anything was of interest, sadly no. Then as other people passed by, they were incorporated into the drawing, coming and going, chatting and going about their business unaware they were being observed (maybe). A lady pushed a wheelchair slowly around, it’s occupant keener to get moving than she was, obvious by their leaning forward position. A muslim lady in her black headscarf drifted past, revealing as she came away from the stall, a bright yellow, beautifully patterned long skirt that would have been a gift to paint, but as soon she appeared, she was gone.
Over my right shoulder, near the church wall, was the tea van! A chap was leaning, hand on hip, shading his eyes from the bright sun with the other. Of course as soon as I started drawing he turned away and leant looking over the wall, but there is no escape – I got him! Again I built a little scene with a man sitting with his dog, plus a cyclist stopped for his lunch and a cuppa, leaned his bike against the wall and settled down – lovely I thought, then he decided he didn’t want to sit in the sun and disappeared behind a truck (or he’d clocked me watching), so I scribbled a figure in the chair he’d vacated. As noted, he seemed to morph into C-3PO from Star Wars!
At this point it was coming up to midday, and feeling a little numb in a certain place and gasping for a cup of tea, I packed up and moved off to another part of town to a cafe. It was situated in a pedestrianised area, so I could continue my people watching. I ordered some lunch and took my tea to an outside table to write up notes on my sketches. I noticed that, inadvertently, I’d selected a spot that overlooked a bench built round a tree, that was a great meeting point. I began scribbling again.
A couple of ladies, not connected, sat and waited on the bench, unaware they were being drawn. The body language was very different between them. Lady left, was obviously waiting for someone and was anxious that they wouldn’t appear – it seemed she was right to be, as she got up and left without her rendezvous taking place. Lady right, was much more relaxed and used her waiting time checking her phone – Facebook, Twitter, email – who knows, but she seemed to be enjoying her snatched “me” time. My salad arrived and I then realised how hungry I was, however, I glanced up a few minutes later and another lady had appeared with her bike and she stopped to chat to a gentleman waiting on the bench. Brightly coloured flowers and the shape she made whilst leaning on her bicycle attracted me and fork was replaced with pen.
Another little scene produced itself, when a tall, broad, bald chap in shorts arrived with a tiny little dog. He sat down with the dog on his lap and appeared to be reading his paper to the dog (I know, but it’s my story and that’s how I read it!), unfortunately, his wife arrived almost immediately and they were gone. An elderly couple then sat down closely together and seemed to have been together for many years, comfortable in each other’s silent company.
Above is the position I had to examine the comings and goings of people – perfect spot – with refreshments! I had a fantastic morning doing this exercise and thoroughly enjoyed chatting to people who, not surprisingly, were curious as to what I was doing. I collected some mini life stories to store in my memory that would make great narrative for drawing and painting subjects, plus I need to look out for Norman on BBC4 as they had interviewed him for a forthcoming program about what the over 65s do to keep themselves occupied! He was quite the character in his bright red chinos and yellow trilby type hat, it would have been a bit blatant to draw him though, unfortunately. Oh and he did a type of yoga that involved being in a room as hot as a sauna apparently!?
Well that was Ringwood on Market Day, I have made a diary appointment with myself to come back on Saturday as it’s the Carnival Procession for Fleeting Moments exercise.
Back again – have added the below sketch as it was more than a Fleeting Moment. I was making my way to the High Street to watch the Carnival when I heard some instruments being tuned up. It was a marquee housing some lads who had formed a band. As I was walking past they started up and as they could sing as well as play, I promptly turned round, found a little niche for myself and watched and listened. Out came the sketchbook.
I have to say, they didn’t move much, probably a mixture of nerves and being too cool! They were great though and considering they were between 15 and 17 years old at a guess, had the crowd in the palms of their collective hands!
As a note, when I was making all these sketches, I hadn’t realised the liner pen I was using was water-soluble. When I returned home, I had intended to tint the colour in with water-soluble pencils but thought I’d better test the ink first, luckily, so I could then add tone with the ink instead and used coloured pencils to lightly indicate some colour.