I have attempted to sketch many different cops of various levels of “real cop” to worry about. By this, I mean that there is obviously less of a chance that campus security will bug you about sketching them. If a “real” cop is the subject, I think sticking to affluent areas is the best plan–they’re more likely to leave you alone. The first day of sketching cops yielded some funny results:
Cop #1, a fine campus policeman, pictured above, HATED being watched. It was like he had ants in his pants–I don’t think he had any idea what to do about it, so his response after a few seconds was to try to keep his back to me. I actually moved to see him better and he turned again so that he was now facing a wall. Not wanting to push my luck, I left this dutiful watcher where I found him.
Cops #2, above, and #3, below, were standing together. Also campus police. I stood in the middle of a courtyard with my sketch pad, and began to draw. This time I stood about ten feet away. I think at first they were going to play that they had no idea who I might be drawing. I don’t know what they were thinking, since there wasn’t much in the ten feet between me and them that I could have otherwise been drawing. I took a step or two forward and one of them looked at me. I nodded, and he nodded back. Contact had been made. The other one (#3) was doing the turn away trick I had experienced with cop #1, but I had already made a quick sketch of him. #3 also seemed deeply uncomfortable. #2 was playing it cool. Eventually, he asks me, “You drawing us?” I replied that I was. “Can I see it when you’re done?” He asked. I told him he could. When I showed it to him he told me he liked it. I think I captured something of him pretty well, so I guess I agree with him. Cop #3, below, did not ask to see his drawing.
I decided to try one more day, but it was raining, which made it difficult. Some campus policemen I found were walking inside to escape the wet. I walked a while and came upon an actual cop in the street, in a rain coat and boots, looking pretty bored and wet. I found some kinda shelter and began to draw him–however, my picture got wet. I was inspired, though, by the look he gave me when he saw me drawing him. I felt I could really see a wide range of emotions in his face–confusion, questioning, dismissal, even a bit of self-pity. My original drawing got wet and didn’t do him very good justice, since I drew it on my knee, so I went home and redrew it quickly in charcoal and pastel.