IS IT RIGHT TO SKETCH PEOPLE IN PUBLIC?

A random encounter at my favourite sketching bench, left me questioning, Is it right to sketch people in public? During the week, I found myself walking through town towards my favourite sketching bench. As I approached, I noticed that someone was sleeping on the bench and instead of ruing the fact that I couldn’t sit in my favourite sketching spot, I saw it as an opportunity to capture an interesting pose.

I sat on the bench alongside, plugged in my earphones and put on some of my favourite drawing music. As I started sketching, I was in a happy place: the weather was nice, the sketch was taking shape nicely and I was lost in the moment. I then noticed out of the corner of my eye a women talking to me. I couldn’t hear what she was saying, my music was too loud, so I stopped what I was doing and listened as she asked if I was sketching the man asleep. I said I was.

“IS THAT A NICE THING TO DO?”, she said.
I said, “I JUST GOT INSPIRED TO START SKETCHING.”
She didn’t say anything for a few seconds.
Until she said, “BE CAREFUL ABOUT PRIVACY,” and walked off.”

She totally ruined the mood lol, I didn’t carry on sketching him as I started questioning if it was actually ok or not. I honestly hadn’t given it a second thought before; to me it was just a harmless act. To be honest, I wasn’t even looking at a man sleeping, all I saw was a collection of shapes. No different to sketching a seagull sleeping in the grass, or a bunch of flowers blowing in the wind. The thing is, maybe she had a point.

As I turned my attention to sketching the trees in front of me, the man continued to sleep. I wondered if he would have minded me sketching him. I’m still in two minds. I tried to put myself in his shoes, but he didn’t have any, lol I’m joking! He did, I tried to imagine if I would like someone sketching me sleeping? It’s hard to say seeing as I know it’s harmless, but he may not.

I’m going to stick to my normal sketching people in public way of doing things for the time being, that is, sketching people in motion as they walk around. I guess you do need to be careful, I certainly didn’t mean anything bad by sketching him, and actually really enjoyed trying to capture his pose. There is always a reason for everything, and I appreciate that lady saying what she did. It certainly made me stop, think and ask the question, Is it right to sketch people in public?

ART ENABLES US TO FIND OURSELVES AND LOSE OURSELVES AT THE SAME TIME

Thomas Merton