Figures in a Queue

I NOTICED when I was drawing my assignments for Drawing Words, Writing Pictures that when it came to making up a cartoon situation I invariably;

    • imagined male characters
    • gave them very generalised costumes

I realised that I needed to feed my imagination a bit by drawing particular people in the real world so, when we had to call at the doctors, I sat a the back of the waiting room and made some visual notes. I thought that notes on colours might help too as I think that I’ve got a tendency to revert to a habitual, limited palette. There wasn’t time to get out my watercolours and I was using a fountain pen containing water soluble ink so I couldn’t have anyway, so I made brief notes.

It’s great to have a procession of people of different sizes, shapes and sexes, although I would have appreciated a bit more time to build up character. Because of the angle that I was drawing from, the next person joining the queue regularly blocked my view of the person I’d just started drawing.

I realised that the best way to proceed was to assume that I’d have only a few seconds for each character and to draw in the basic shape very quickly, then work up the the drawing if I got did happen to have an unrestricted view for a minute or two.

I feel that fountain pen is the quickest medium for this situation. Fibre tips pens don’t flow quite as freely. Pencil, the way I use it when I’m in a hurry, is too messy.

When the supply of queuers temporarily dried up, I reverted to my old standby; drawing my left hand.

Join the Conversation


  1. I hope you managed to get out of that waiting room eventually — it looked pretty crowded! I was wondering–Are people very interested in what you are drawing when you sketch in cafes and waiting rooms, or does your drawing pretty much go unnoticed?

    1. It wasn’t quite as bad as it looked -there were only two or three in the queue at most at any one time! I think I managed to sketch reasonably undetected on the back row of seats but I sometimes get talking to people, I don’t mind too much but sometimes I end up talking rather than drawing but we found it was a great way to get talking to the locals when we were in Corfu in April. Drawing is an international language. You immediately have a point of contact with people.
      But you’ve got to be careful; 30 odd years ago I saw this attractive young woman in the Shepherds Arms pub in Horbury and asked if I could draw her and we ended up getting married.

        1. I still have that drawing but a lot of sketches of friends from that period were draw on cardboard beer mats. Even then, I tried never to remove a page from a sketchbook, so if people wanted me to draw them they had to peel the printed surface off the beer mat.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.