Sketching on the Washington, DC Metro usually has to be done fast, and when such is the case, something is bound to go wrong. In this case, it was the rendering on this lady’s neck, where, in the chase to record her very Washingtonian hair, facial expression, clothing and accessory ensemble, and color palette, I had inadvertently given this poor, yet obviously healthy woman, the neck of somebody perhaps a little heavier than she.
Here’s a cavalcade of faces and half-faces sketched on the Washington, DC Metro. While I generally care to only sketch people and focus on unique features, sometimes somebody on the train utters something that is just so characteristically Washingtonian that I need to write it down to remind myself of where I live and work.
“Never give up” is a common mantra in so many situations, and the same holds true when sketching people on a busy commuter train. With a dynamic and unpredictable queue of impromptu life drawing models, you never know which one is going to make for a truly viable study. The result is pages of rushed drawings, half-drawings, and bad drawings, but in not giving up, chances are you may just get in one good study, as was the case here, where the individual on the lower right corner of the page finally made for one good study this particular train ride.
When I sketch people on the Metro, I never know if I’ll have enough time (or luck) to capture the whole individual, or at least, just their heads. Sometimes, I end up somewhere in the middle, as was the case here. It also was the case where I simply didn’t have the right color marker for this gentleman’s rather nice light green shirt, so the best I could do was merely indicate the color and ascribe it to memory.
Commuter trains make for extremely dynamic environments for sketching. With a rough, moving – yet frequently stopping – train and a continual cast of impromptu and unknowing (hopefully!) life drawing models, control over the sketch is always in a state of compromise. Such was the case here; this person was rather normal in build and gentle in appearance, yet in rushing to get him captured in sketch, the degree of lost control resulted with him looking muscular and menacing. I didn’t draw him perfectly, but I did draw him, and I’ve always felt that sometimes, when art goes “wrong”, all it’s really doing is taking on a life of its own.
Well, I’m back after my annual summer Tour de France hiatus. No, I wasn’t actually in France, but I was glued to my television and iPhone daily for three weeks watching and following the Tour. And what a Tour it was; the 100th edition of this great race was nothing short of spectacular and historic. The route was stunningly beautiful, the stages brutal and epic, and the competition fierce and exciting. In the end, Christopher Froome, the lanky Englishman from Team Sky finally earned his Grand Tour win in a performance that was both commanding and class.
Of course, giving my life to the Tour for three weeks also meant giving up three weeks of blogging and drawing. I’ve got three weeks worth of awesomeness in my reader to catch up on, plus some new works to post. In the meantime, to ease myself back into blogging, here’s a page from a sketchbook back in 2000. The top drawing was inspired by the hyper-competitive work ethic in New York City at the time, and the bottom drawing was inspired by one of my umpteen hundred thousand trips on the NYC Subway.
When sketching on a busy commuter train, sometimes you just have to grab at bits and pieces of a person. This was one such case, but I played it smart and used the opportunity to grab a few important poses, such as a hand cupping a forehead and another hand curled up in front of a mouth, both poses conveying a deeper sense of thought and focus.
When sketching on the Metro, the grand prize seems to be having the time and luck to capture and color a whole person. The key is to be on a relatively sparsely-packed train where folks are transfixed by their books, newspapers, smartphone, and tablets. Here’s a spread where I got lucky on two consecutive trips on the train.