Are you a doodler? Did you love drawing at school? Maybe you were quite good at it once, but haven’t picked up a pencil in years. Or maybe you’re a serious artist looking for somewhere to work on your latest project in the company of like-minded people. Either way, there’s a place for you at Dr Doodley’s Drink & Draw, an informal arty night held at Hot Numbers, on Gwydir Street, every other Tuesday night.
The evenings are run by Emmanuel Martin, a local artist and musician who wanted to create a friendly hub for his fellow sketchers.
“It’s an international movement which started in the States and I thought it would be great to introduce it to Cambridge,” he says. “So about five years ago I got a few friends together, approached the then Mill Road Coordinator who helped me get a deal with Hot Numbers. It’s been a great symbiotic relationship ever since.” It’s certainly a lovely setting; the smell of freshly roasted coffee mixing with the sound of graphite on paper and the ebb and flow of conversation as artists dip in and out of their zone.
Emmanuel says: “About 20 people turned up to the first one, most of whom we didn’t know! I’m not sure how word got out, but it just showed that there was an appetite for something like this in the city.”
What do you think appeals to people? “The fact that it offers a relaxed, non- threatening environment to come along to and just draw. There’s a great social element, and it’s a chance to speak to like- minded people. We have some really good artists, who can encourage and give tips to those just starting out. In art classes it’s very quiet but I think it’s important to learn from each other. Though you don’t have to talk to anybody if you don’t want; it’s very relaxed.”
It was a ‘free drawing’ night when I went, but every other week Emmanuel introduces a theme and gives a short, informal talk.
“We’ve done all sorts, from how to draw shadows to face painting, book binding to big collaborative works. We organise days out, to the coast or to the Natural History Museum in London – and we always go to the pub afterwards.”
How does the drink element affect the drawing? Does your sketching improve after a pint?
“No,” he laughs. “You might think it does, but then you look back at it in the morning… Your hand-eye coordination only worsens, and that’s so important. Just the smallest line can make the difference between a good drawing and a bad drawing. Although you can get beer here, you’ll find most people drinking coffee.”
Emmanuel, who was born on Mill Road and lives nearby, is interested in fantasy and comic book art as well as more classical painting. What does he enjoy most about the sessions? “I’m always impressed when people improve. And when people who are quite shy come here and find a sense of community, then become more comfortable about drawing in front of people. At school I was always that kid who was drawing all the time and people would crowd around and watch, so I’m used to people looking at my work – but a lot of people aren’t. Artists are seen as lone people, but it turns out, just like musicians, they like hanging out with each other too.”
Dr Doodley’s Drink & Draw takes place every other Tuesday, 7pm, at Hot Numbers Café. Free entry. Check out their Facebook for more information.