17 March, 2018. The day began quietly for us, at table in a local bakery. Something seemed missing to me and I couldn’t put my finger on it at first; only later did I realize it was the aroma of freshly baked bread that was absent.
We arrived at eight and there was a single car in the parking lot. Standing at the counter, debating our breakfast order neither of us were aware that the restaurant area had magically filled and there was a line of people patiently waiting behind us! Snagging a table, we sheepishly lumbered over and sat down to enjoy a meal of bread, bread, and more bread, along with a side of biscuits and sausage gravy. I pulled out my sketchbook and Sailer Fude de Mannen fountain pen and began to search for something to draw. Nearby was seated a family. Dad was nursing a cup of coffee, a plate of eggs, and absentmindedly tending to junior. I began by scrawling a single line: Dad’s forehead. That evolved into eyeglasses and a nose, and then a beard. It’s wonderful when a couple of lines seem to just take off, assume a life of their own, and become a drawing.
It is, after all, St. Patrick’s Day. This area has become a bicycling Mecca of sorts, and along with that designation comes the requisite cyclist hangouts of coffeeshops and microbrew pubs. The weather was cooperating nicely so I spent a few hours riding, with a scheduled meet up at one of the brew pubs at mid-ride. Far from the raucous crowds this holiday brings out in my hometown city, the pub crawl participants were decidedly sedate. In Downtown Rogers, outside another local brewery – the “crowds” of revelers could be counted on two hands. Using a Uni-Ball Deluxe with a splashy watercolor wash, I focused on the figure/ground relationship between the sky and the silhouette of the structures. This has proven to be a compositional strategy that I like, and the challenge of keeping things simple while only including a few defining details helps me to focus on “designing” the sketch rather than filling it up with meaningless minutiae.
Later on at dinner, the place we chose seemed dead to me – in fact, the customers outnumbered the help by at least two to one and the teen help was taking a break at a nearby table, I assumed, before the dinner crowd arrived. As happened in the morning, there seemed to be some unwritten agreement among the patrons about what constituted “dinner time,” and suddenly the place was teeming. Our order, even though it was first in, felt as though it had gotten lost in the chaos and took forever to arrive. Waiting patiently, we chatted and checked out the Motown artifacts hanging on the wall, and I loosely sketched out the boy. Finally finishing his soft drink, he glanced around at the crowd and appeared to be startled; he flashed an apologetic grin at his mom behind the counter, and began to serve customers.