Any awkward moments sketching out in the open world?

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    Any awkward moments sketching out in the open world?

    Sorry if a similar thread was already posted. Anyways, I wanted to know if any of you guys ever had any awkward moments sketching people in public. Did anyone ever catch you and get mad? Or did they appear freaked out? I don't think it's happened to me yet.

    I've found a few people that have noticed, and I think one looked point blank at me, and I kind of just lightly smiled back and then diverted my eyes elsewhere and put my sketchbook down. When the person stopped looking at me, I picked up my materials and started drawing them again haha.

    "And you will shed tears of scarlet."
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  3. #2
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    Little girl: Mommy, what is that boy doing?

    Mom: He's just doing what an artist does.

    Then the entire family stops to stare at me suddenly while I slowly closed my sketchbook as if nothing happened. I'm such a wuss.

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    Wasp

    Once when I went out to do some practice drawing people, some old lady came up to me and asked for spare change. I told her I didn't have any and she looked kinda mad when she walked away. After that she started talking to and bothering anyone she saw me trying to draw.

    Son, if you really want something in this life you have to work for it. Now quiet they're about to announce the lottery numbers.

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  5. #4
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    Took a drawing trip to a zoo with the fiancee. Of course we went on a day with TONS of ankle-biters with a school group. I didn't mind so much them being curious and asking to see...it was the fact that they have NO sense of personal space. Not only was I fending off kids running headlong into our asses and crotches, but hardback sketchbooks HURT when ya smack into the corners!

    The adults were ultimately the annoying ones. They think 'cause you're drawing, that means it's okay to converse. Not so much when you are drawing a MOVING ANIMAL and need to concentrate. Please don't tell me about your failed art career, your kid's amazing ability or the following...

    "It's faster if you take a picture! HURHUR." Or conversely, when I do stop to take reference, "That's CHEATING! HURHUR." No, I'm not laughing. I've heard those two lines from old men ALL DAY.

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  7. #5
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    I think the awkwardness would come when I showed people that I was gesture drawing them. Last summer I showed a woman, and she didn't look at all impressed. She was like, "...Oh. " It's got better though, but still...

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  9. #6
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    I used to spend many hours sketching in public, cant really remember any bad, or overly awkward experiences, but I have had lots of good experiences with people. One place I would draw, was sitting on the steps of a church in central Melbourne, diagonally opposite the church is what is more or less the central train station of the city, and across the road is most likely the most famous pub in the city, "Young and Jacksons". for years, an old man would sit in a doorway of a disused door and slur abuse at all the pedestrians. It could be quite confronting if he singled you out, and im sure if any one has spent time in Melbourne Australia years ago, you would know who I am speaking about. On one occasion I sketched him as he stumbled across the road from the Pub towards the church where i was sitting. Several days later I was sitting at the church, and the same man came and sat close to me, he had a terrible cold, and was coughing badly. As he seemed to be sober, I began a conversation with him and showed him the drawing I had made of him several days earlier, he laughed and laughed. We spoke for quite some time, and I was surprised that, when sober, he was really quite a nice man.

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  11. #7
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    The only thing I have to say is never stop what you are doing. If someone notices you sketching smile, nod your head and keep going. If they approach you keep on keepin on. What is the worst that will happen? They'll tell you to stop, ohhhhhhhh nooooooooo. Like that hasn't happend before.

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    I've had a bum on the subway come up to me and demand I pay him first before completing my sketch. o_o

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  13. #9
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    I was sketching in a shopping mall (completing a public-draw assignment for my 2nd year life-drawing class) and a security guard approached me and explained that I wasn't allowed to draw the architecture because it was copyrighted and that she "knew a thing or two about the law."

    She asked me to go back and inform my teachers that the shopping mall architecture was copy-righted and the students were not 'legally' allowed to draw it.

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  15. #10
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    Whenever I'm drawing in class (academic classes are really just for life drawing opportunities) and the person finds out I'm drawing them they can't help but continuously watch what I'm doing to the point that I have to stop and try to move on to someone else... but at that point there is no point to draw anyone because of the attention

    Not really awkward, but you all have to remember those days

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  16. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by SinusAnimus View Post
    The only thing I have to say is never stop what you are doing. If someone notices you sketching smile, nod your head and keep going. If they approach you keep on keepin on. What is the worst that will happen? They'll tell you to stop, ohhhhhhhh nooooooooo. Like that hasn't happend before.
    I guess it might seem a little strange if you stop when they look at you. Since it's like you're trying to hide what you're doing, which may seem weird. I'm trying to get out of that habit.

    "And you will shed tears of scarlet."
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  17. #12
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    I don't have any really awkward public drawing experiences...I've had the people come up and ask to see, start conversations, etc. etc. (which I have to agree - conversations are very distracting).

    I have to say though - that catching that one really good moment while drawing is something that gives me a bit of pleasure (my favorite is still of this guy, probably in his early 40s and a little rough around the edges, sleeping on a couch with his baby sleeping on his chest - his hat sitting down on his legs - the guy looked so 'gruff' yet at the same time so peaceful - very interesting dichotomy of a rough old life and a new one just beginning). I've had other good moments that I've caught, but none have stuck with me like that one.

    Basically, if you're conscious about where and who you're drawing - the good seems to outweigh the bad imo.

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  18. #13
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    I was sketching in a shopping mall (completing a public-draw assignment for my 2nd year life-drawing class) and a security guard approached me and explained that I wasn't allowed to draw the architecture because it was copyrighted and that she "knew a thing or two about the law."

    She asked me to go back and inform my teachers that the shopping mall architecture was copy-righted and the students were not 'legally' allowed to draw it.
    that's awesome

    I think I related this in another life drawing thread? I was sitting in the corner at a Dub Step night in SF drawing the people dancing and a thugged out (though in a well dressed way) dude came up and started giving me compliments and asked that I draw him. He then posed very, what I'll describe as "thug life", style for me. This happened two more times (one of them approached me so stone faced I thought I was about to get my ass kicked) before I quietly picked up my book and jacket and moved to another part of the club. It was fun though, just started to feel a little weird.

    "Every little step considered one at a time is not terribly daunting" - Ethan Coen

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    My favorite place to draw out in public is the mall. I'll set up in the food court, grab some food or a drink, and just draw whatever. It's such a wide mix of people. Sometimes I'll draw the impression of people, either gesture drawings, or maybe just an interesting element that caught my eye. Sometimes I'll just draw whatever comes to mind and largely ignore everyone there. I don't think I've had many people notice that they were being sketched, since it's busy and they are usually more concerned with eating. Other people have noticed and asked to see the sketchbook, which for some reason often leads to asking if I tattoo -which could be my appearance, or possibly it's just the most accessible form of artist people are familiar with these days.

    So far
    compliments: many
    awkward moments:zero

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  20. #15
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    Haven't had any awkward moments drawing people, but when I'm drawing aircraft, I always get the "why not just take a picture?" comment and stuff like "no no no, that's not perfect, I don't think you're looking at it right" all the time.

    Check out my sketchbook
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    Most unusual happening for me was at a college football game. I was sketching a black girl sitting a row away from me (really pretty girl) and I finished a fairly decent image of her. Around half time I think a friend of hers walked past me and noticed my drawing. Here where it gets weird, she goes and tells the girl i was drawing and the girl gets furious. She comes up to me flailing her arms, waving her finger and ranting about the whole thing. She kept saying how I should pay her to use her face or something. I don't know, i was with my girlfriend (who was the one who wanted to see the game) and didn't want trouble.

    So i signed the sketch, ripped it out of my book and gave it to the girl. Her mood did a 180 at that point and she was pretty happy to be given it.

    Weird moment.

    My work: [link]
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  22. #17
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    not a 'weird' experience really, but a year or two ago on a camping trip i was sitting by the water drawing, and a guy sat down beside me and we started talking. he was visiting from the bronx or something (i'm in canada), he liked my drawing and i just ended up giving it to him once i was finished. later i met him again on the beach and he taught me how to kickbox.

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  23. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by Blue View Post
    Most unusual happening for me was at a college football game. I was sketching a black girl sitting a row away from me (really pretty girl) and I finished a fairly decent image of her. Around half time I think a friend of hers walked past me and noticed my drawing. Here where it gets weird, she goes and tells the girl i was drawing and the girl gets furious. She comes up to me flailing her arms, waving her finger and ranting about the whole thing. She kept saying how I should pay her to use her face or something. I don't know, i was with my girlfriend (who was the one who wanted to see the game) and didn't want trouble.

    So i signed the sketch, ripped it out of my book and gave it to the girl. Her mood did a 180 at that point and she was pretty happy to be given it.

    Weird moment.
    Wow some people...

    "And you will shed tears of scarlet."
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  24. #19
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    The only odd thing that happens to me on occasion is getting hit-on by women who want me to draw them. It's crazy...you sit in a corner by yourself, mind your own business with a sketch book and the whole world suddenly will notice you.

    Usually, I get a few beers out of it and some phone numbers. Easiest way to meet people. ; )

    "If one advances confidently in the direction of
    his dreams, and endeavors to live the life he
    has imagined, he will meet with a success
    unexpected in common hours."
    - H.D. Thoreau
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  25. #20
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    When I was stationed in Korea, I was on the train from Seoul (check out the Insadong District while you are there, great place for art supplies), and three Korean teenagers were taking cell phone pictures of my buddy and I and giggling. Since I didn't have a camera, I pulled out my handy sketch book that I'd bought that day in Seoul and started drawing the cameraman and his buddies... Needless to say, it wasn't awkward to me so much as it was for them. They took a picture of the page and seemed to enjoy the sketch.
    Link to sketch on another gallery: http://sudsysutherland.deviantart.co...-hunt-65544609

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  26. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by otis View Post
    The only odd thing that happens to me on occasion is getting hit-on by women who want me to draw them. It's crazy...you sit in a corner by yourself, mind your own business with a sketch book and the whole world suddenly will notice you.

    Usually, I get a few beers out of it and some phone numbers. Easiest way to meet people. ; )
    All the more reason to practice drawing!!!

    "And you will shed tears of scarlet."
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  27. #22
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    Dave - that same thing has happened to me a lot too. Seems like thugged out guys love having their portraits drawn

    San Francisco is such a great place to draw. People are super open, or have no sense of personal space, whichever way you want to look at it, so I often get approached and watched, or asked for a portrait. More often than not it's people who don't speak much English and will ask me to draw them all in pantomime, and then call their friends over to see the result. Sketching at a park in Chinatown, where there's always these little groups of old men or old ladies playing cards, little old Chinese dudes often form a little circle around you to watch (and comment to each other in Chinese) and then you can't even see what you were sketching anymore. It's pretty adorable.

    The best thing though, was one time on a train when I was drawing a guy and he noticed. He did the thing people sometimes do where, to avoid a confrontation or to be nice, he tried to pretend he didn't know and stay in the same position. I think he was trying not to let on that he'd noticed. Anyway I was just finishing the sketch of him and looked up again, and suddenly he whipped to face me and made a goofy face. I jumped a mile and almost dropped my pen, and then he laughed all the way to the next stop, where he got off. It was pretty awesome.

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  29. #23
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    nonie, that story happened to me, almost in the exact same way. Reading that made me bust out laughing at the memory.

    I have to go with Otis on this whole thing too, if you're shy or nervous about meeting girls , post up at a bar/starbucks/whatever and absorb yourself in your sketchbook, they will come. Not even just girls, people of all types. I met a homeless man who explained the basics of how a rocket is ignited and the kind of chemicals they mix to cause the reaction. That guy was awesome, I bought him lunch and we hung out.

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  30. #24
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    Oh I have plenty.... I will have to come back to this thread when I have time. You guys have posted some great stories that I want to comment on as well.

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  31. #25
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    oh wow i really wanna go get life drawing now

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  32. #26
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    I was on a bus once and decided to sketch this gal sitting a few seats away. She got this freaked out look and eventually moved to a different seat.
    I dunno if she even knew I was drawing, maybe she just thought I was some creepy guy checking her out?

    Either way, that was about the last time I've drawn in public.

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  34. #27
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pixeltron View Post
    Either way, that was about the last time I've drawn in public.
    Wuss If drawing's important to you, gestures from life in public places is more important than not creeping some random person out. If I notice someone's spotted me drawing them I'll move on to another person until they stop paying attention and then finish them. Drawing people who are a little further away is good too - they're less likely to spot you. And you could wear sunglasses - then they don't know where you're looking

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  35. #28
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pixeltron View Post
    I was on a bus once and decided to sketch this gal sitting a few seats away. She got this freaked out look and eventually moved to a different seat.
    I dunno if she even knew I was drawing, maybe she just thought I was some creepy guy checking her out?

    Either way, that was about the last time I've drawn in public.
    Oh geez. Yes you'll run into those kind of people. The kind that are paranoid. Just remember, it's them that are the weirdos, not you.

    "And you will shed tears of scarlet."
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  36. #29
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    haven't read all the posts but the best thing if someone notices and you don't want to let them know is to just continue looking in their direction but past them and continue drawing
    but you can also ask, many people might enjoy being drawn!

    as for awkward moments, not really had any so far other than it seeming to have some sort of mysterious magnetic effect on the ladies
    I actually enjoy working in front of people as much as watching someone draw or paint. It's so much more intimate and close than just looking at a finished piece. The sharing is more direct, for everyone involved.

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  37. #30
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    One time I was drawing a girl while waiting in some Governmental waitingroom. After I finished my business, it seems like she waited all the time for me and ran after me to see the drawing I made of her.

    When I showed her she became really sad and asked if she really had that kind of a deformed face.

    That made me sad.

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