What are you looking at?

Yesterday, I was loitering in the lobby of Valencia’s art building.  Armed with my sketchbook and pen, I was prepared to participate in– and record– one of my favorite pastimes—People Watching.  There’s nothing I enjoy more than having a roomful of unsuspecting subjects to sketch.  The problem arises when one of those subjects realizes he’s being watched.  We do the “Glance Dance”.  He gives the “What are you looking at?” stare, and I respond with the “I’m looking past you—not at you” glance.  His next move is usually the overly-suspicious “Yeah, I knew that” look, followed by my “Time to choose another subject” glimpse as I scan the room for my next victim.  It’s an awkward dance, but it must be performed.  I realize I could ask permission, but then I would end up with a stiff, self-conscious model who will inevitably want to see the finished drawing.  I want to capture the casual, natural model who is at least somewhat oblivious to the fact that he is my subject, and won’t ask to see my quick, gestural sketch.    So the next time you get that creepy “Someone’s watching me” vibe from a girl with a sketchbook, don’t bother with the ‘Glance Dance’—just sit back, relax, and try to act natural.  It’s all in the name of art.


“Gossip”–pen–from my sketchbook


“Exhausted”–pen–from my sketchbook




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2 thoughts on “What are you looking at?

  1. Debijoy Burghard says:

    I think that this is the life of an artist by recording life moments as a ghost. Finding the balance of observer and voyeur (the later is when you’ve been spotted). We need these studies to get our figure compositions as natural and non assuming as visually possible. People are more suspicious these days. Can you imagine Degas in your daughter’s ballet class?

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