Café Crem

Art, Music and Words around The Coffee Table

a brief excursion back to the world of coffee. . .

Pen, watercolor in Moleskine w/c sketchbook
Yesterday I found myself in Emeryville (CA) with some time on my hands while I waited for my husband. So I looked around briefly, found the closest Starbucks, ordered breakfast and hunkered down for a good sketch. My initial rumbling fear of exposure was soon dispelled. Not a soul was looking around to check out others. They were all either wired to the hilt or consumed with work oriented discussions. The perfect setting for sketching people actually! especially the ones like these guys who find endless fascination and compelling satisfaction from internet browsing, music listening and cell phone visiting, and all at the same time. Why, I could have set up my easel right next to them and they wouldn’t have noticed!
Here I sit with my neanderthal pen and brush, drinking brewed coffee (not espresso Latte, caramel machiato with extra foam and nutmeg sprinkles), eating a low cal breakfast sandwich, blissfully out of step with the Wonderful Wired World of Starbucks, Emeryville.
While I sketched this guy and listened to scraps of his conversation (he had NO coffee or anything on his techno-laden table) I constructed a whole story about him, filling in the blanks. Do you ever do that while you’re sketching? or just sitting and waiting and trying not to be too obvious and stare at your victim? THose of you who are writers probably get your material for novels in coffee shops.

January 10, 2008 - Posted by | Cafe L'Arte, coffee, culture, drawing, humor, life, media, Music, painting, Susan Cornelis' Paintings, writing


  1. These are fabulous sketches, Susan! And you did them out in public, too. That’s a bonus!

    I still have trouble sitting anywhere in public to do drawing. Unless I’m with a group of artists or people sketching. I guess then the focus is dispersed and no one is paying attention to me. It’s actually one of the things I hope to work on this year: to become more comfortable working outside and in public places. Scary, for sure!

    Comment by Bonny | January 10, 2008

  2. You’d be amazed at how people don’t notice you sketching them if you do it on your lap, just beneath the table surface. If they look at you, you immediately look away with a vacant look on your face. The painting part is a little trickier because you’ve got the palette, the water , and the brush and some of it has got to be on the table. So place a barrier of water glasses and plates. . .

    Comment by Susan Cornelis | January 11, 2008

  3. These are fabulous! I soooo wish I had a painting or sketching talent. On the other hand, its lovely to see and enjoy what artists produce. Thank you!

    Comment by psychscribe | January 11, 2008

  4. Hi Susan! Yes, your sketches are simply fabulous! And somehow I am very happy to be back with you to the world of coffee, I was kind of missing the coffee smell in Cafe Crem! But at least I got some nice coffee in the real internet cafe, “Total Entertainment” where we were banned since we arrived in Turre…
    The GREAT news is that they have just connected us back, at least partly (the phone is still not working…), after Kevin menaced Apathetica, the girl there at the reception, to sequester her the whole weekend in the office!
    Yes, your sketches are wonderful, your illustration ability always fascinates me. Great advice to Bonny too. I used to sketch people a lot on cafe terraces here in Spain -I should start again!- and to wear sunglasses, so that they couldn´t see whom I was sketching. Because as soon as they noticed, their behaviour changed totally, most of the time they became very nervous and uncomfortable, and I felt sorry for them. At the end only the most self-assured between them came to me and asked to have a look. Most of the time an awful moment because I tend to make caricatures when I do such sketches!

    Comment by Miki | January 11, 2008

  5. Great sketching, Susan! Your experience is very similar to mine…in fact, Wednesday I was out sketching people with an old friend (who got the transportation) in a place I call, in French, le Trou a Bouffe (Fast Food Pit?) It’s a sort of small amphiteather, surrounded by a circular kind of table (excellent for drawing and watercolor sketching). But my result weren’t as good as yours… Last years and the year before I did that almost systematically and I have no problem doing it (!) in public. People come sometimes and watch (not those actually sketched, usually my targets are far away and there are a lot o them, all hungry…) even start a conversation. No hostile attitude to the day even if mine are also kind of cartoonish…

    Comment by iondanu | January 11, 2008

  6. Susan, i love these sketches you do, they really appeal to me. we were out in inland Spain some time ago, and i really enjoyed sketching out in the cafes alongside miki, and i think your entry here has motivated us to do it again! p.s. nice to have that coffee aroma wafting around again! I’m working on a little something myeslf to keep the flavour going!

    Comment by kevmoore | January 11, 2008

  7. p.s who said it was only women who can multitask, just look at these guys! 🙂

    Comment by kevmoore | January 11, 2008

  8. Wonderful sketches, Susan! I don’t sketch in public much. I get too uncomfortable. But I was very excited to get to my first sketch group with a live model today. It has been such a long time since my figure drawing classes. I have a long way to go. But it is fun just to be doing it (teehee) again.

    Comment by shelleymhouse | January 14, 2008

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