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Cafés and Sketching in Madison

This past weekend my wife Gail and I had a very enjoyable Friday night and Saturday visiting Madison, Wisconsin, home to the University of Wisconsin. Gail had meetings to attend for work on Saturday, (nice of her to bring me along eh?) which meant I was free that morning to find some interesting Madison cafés.

I walked several blocks form the Hotel, on the directions of the concierge, to Dunn Bros Coffee, and was pleased to see they had free WiFi and fair trade coffee. However, the shop didn't open until 10am! What kind of coffee shop opens that late?

Fortunately, I had noted several cafe locations on my Madison map just in case. I turned up Lake street and headed to State, where I immediately saw a Starbucks. I really wanted to experience a local cafe though, So I walked up State and found a Steep and Brew, which is (I think) a local chain.

But I kept going as I knew of one more place on State that seemed like a local place, called Espresso something or another. Well, I found it, but it too was closed, even though the sign said it should have been open.

I made the decision to head back to Starbucks, where I knew could get net access and reasonably decent coffee. Before firing up the laptop, I pulled out my trusty Moleskine Sketchbook for a relaxing sketch, which you see above (click for a larger view):

The sketch started as a pencil scribble and then expanded as I moved to the Uniball Signo 207 gel pen. I intentionally keep my strokes loose at first, to try and capture the mood of the view I had from my Starbucks table.

Since the sketch might be a little unclear due to looseness, here's a brief description of the scene: I was seated at a table facing the window onto State Street, across from a Walgreens and other shops. The dark figure on the lower right is an older gent enjoying a coffee, and just outside of the window are bicycles on bike racks. You may also notice trees outside, and a woman walking down the opposite side of the street.

I was unsure how things would go when I began, but am now quite pleased with this sketch. It's a little unusual for my Moleksine style, in that it began so loosely. Generally my Moleskine pen sketches are quite tight and measured — with this sketch I tried to remain loose.

I hope you enjoy viewing the sketch as much as I did making it!

Reader Comments (9)

I live in the Madison area - my favorite cafe is Cool Beans on the east side. Mainly because of the free wi-fi. I go there when I need to get out of the house or office and still get some work done.
June 13, 2005 | Unregistered Commentercyberhomie
Nice work Mike!
June 13, 2005 | Unregistered CommenterJordan Arentsen
Cyberhomie: too bad I wasn't close to the east side of town. I thought surely I'd come across a local place on State street, but it seems the chains dominated the area. Maybe next time I'll do a bit more research before I go. :-)

Jordan: thanks for the kind words about the sketch!
June 13, 2005 | Unregistered CommenterMike Rohde
Thanks for choosing a pen I already own (and inside joke...sorry everyone else).

Loose or tight, it's the shading that seems to make your drawings work either way. Great sketch again.

June 14, 2005 | Unregistered CommenterBryan Nystrom
Mike, It is really cool to see what you were doing while I was IMing you in distant Indy! Thanks for sharing

June 14, 2005 | Unregistered CommenterSteve
the shadows create a lot of mood - love it!
June 16, 2005 | Unregistered Commenterdreamjar
Nice, Mike. Your "loose" style is very similar to the style I employ. With the shadowing, the sketch tends to get a sort of "dark" look to it which I like. My only problem is that at the rate I am sketching, it will take me a year or more to fill my Moleskine!!

Be well!
June 21, 2005 | Unregistered CommenterKirk
Hey - you should have gone the length of State, Michalangelo's has some awesome atmosphere, and freetrade coffee...opens super early too (trust me, i know)
September 17, 2005 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous
Actually I was there, but Michaelangelos was closed that early in the morning... I'll be sure to check it out next time -- thanks for the tip!
September 18, 2005 | Unregistered CommenterMike Rohde

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