This morning before leaving Chicago we stopped for a working breakfast with a lifelong friend. First we ate and caught up on our news and then I sketched while they worked a bit. I was looking forward to this sketch because I love catching people in the act of thinking and I was pretty sure I would not be disappointed.
They were at a small table with a laptop, paper and pens. I caught both figures as they listened to the other speak, so the sketch is a bit odd in that there are two listeners and no speaker. Had I sketched either of them speaking, their hands would certainly have been waving in an effort to give shape to the ideas under discussion.
This sketch is not about speaking and not about the kind of listening we do when a friend relates a story and we show we are following along by expressing emotion with our faces and interjections. Rather this sketch shows the focused listening of learners intent on understanding all the details of what is being related before it is critically co-examined. They maintain frequent eye contact in order to look for indications of confusion, insight or questions in the other’s face. The body language of their arms and hands convey that listening is going on as well, one set of arms rests on the table with hands clasped and the other set rests on the table. Both poses signal that someone else has the floor and that each is actively considering the subject under discussion.
This is a pen and watercolor sketch on watercolor paper.