Waiting Rooms: Lots of Sketching Time

November 15, 2019
A warm-up page and then the most wonderfully dressed man ever! A page spread from my 6.5 inch square Field Artist sketchbook (remember these are the books that don’t collate surfaces to match across spreads—here you see smooth surface on the left and textured on the right.)


I’ve been spending a lot of time in eye doctors’ offices over the past 11 months.

On mosts of those visits my eyes have been dilated right away and so I haven’t been able to sketch.

But the other day I went to a neuro-ophthalmologist and my eyes weren’t immediately dilated—so I got some sketching done.

In that waiting room I encountered the best dressed man I have ever seen. I fell immediately in love—from his checkered cap to his harlequin sweater, pinstriped gray slacks, gold socks and his black and brown saddle shoes.

Sketches of Dick sitting a few seats away from me as we couldn’t get two seats together. He’s had a long couple of days and nights because he’s taking me all around. He’s falling deeper and deeper into sleep on the left. Later I return to the waiting room and do a quick sketch with dilated eyes, but that’s problematic because of increased glare and odd angles. And I was then called in again to see the doctor, before I could finish.

In the first page spread you can see me warming up, trying to catch some head shapes as people pass by. Then I noticed that the man opposite me (only about 4 feet away) was reading his pamphlet, so I got in a quick sketch.

Next I sketched Dick who was sitting in a row of seats about 3 feet away, 90 degrees to me. I sketched the left-hand page of that spread.

But when I finished that I noticed that the sartorially delightful man had fallen asleep so I sketched him again and added watercolor. 

You can see that in the final page spread below. He’s on the left-hand page. I painted that with watercolor. Then I left that page on the right blank so I could turn the page, and no one would notice I’d been painting people.

What you see on the right hand page of that spread is two views of the back of a short-haired woman, full body (almost) and head and shoulders. She was checking in at the allergist’s and then sitting in the row of chairs in front of me. I really find hair and winter coats interesting!

Meanwhile, at the eye-doctor after I had painted the sketch of the elegantly dressed man, they called me into to the office, dilated my eyes and when I returned I tried to sketch Dick again (see the right hand page of spread two, but that was a bust.)

New sketch and painted version of the napping man opposite me (verso page). On the Recto page there are two views of a woman checking in at the allergist’s on another day.

Why did I bounce back and forth? Why leave the page blank on the final spread shown here, after I painted the man in the harlequin sweater? I didn’t want to start another painting opposite and close the book when they called me in to dilate my eyes. I really love that painted version of him napping and didn’t want to get wet paint on it. And some of my decision was based on wanting to stay unnoticed. People tend to notice color sketches more than ink ones.

Lately, since all the eye stuff has been going on, I also find that I often simply sketch on the page that “feels” the most comfortable for me. It’s not something I’ve ever done before. I don’t over think it. 

I’ll report about the visit after the new glasses arrive.

    • Paul
    • November 15, 2019

    Roz! I too, especially LOVE the color version of the well dressed grey bearded gentleman👍🏽👍🏽. Your wonderfully angular line work and loose application of color perfectly captures the dynamics of his posture. Soooooo….good, a real visual treat, thanks😁💟.

    1. Reply

      Paul, so glad you liked this. I just loved this guy.

    • Corinne McNamara
    • November 15, 2019

    Beautiful sketches! You really made good use of that waiting-room time!

    1. Reply

      Thanks so much Corinne.

    • Tina Koyama
    • November 16, 2019

    Best wishes on your latest eyecare… I hope the new glasses help. Seems like people spend a lot of time in that waiting room if they have time to fall asleep (I know Dick was waiting for you, though)!

    As for jumping around, your reasoning makes perfect sense (especially not wanting others to notice the color… when I ride public transit, I use a tiny sketchbook that will be more discreet). For most of my sketching years, I’ve wanted and tried to keep most of my sketches in chronological sequence in my sketchbooks, so I didn’t like jumping around in different books. But the past year or so, I’ve gotten much looser, and I just use the book with paper that best matches the material I want to use next. I don’t want to be a slave to my own need for order, especially if I know I would like working better on a different paper. I’ve also realized that in the long run, it won’t matter in which order the sketches appear (especially since I date each sketch anyway). The process is inside me, not the sketchbooks.

    1. Reply

      Thanks Tina, an update will be posted soon, I’m wrapping up a bunch of stuff.

      I think the eye doctor’s does run slowly. You have to see a tech for a prelim, come out again, wait to see the doctor, sometimes come out again and wait.

      I knew you would understand the jumping around! I think we have to stay flexible!!!!

      I think our sketchbooks are meant to facilitate our process and they show our process—and if that’s to jump around, well, it’s all part of the process.

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