Girl on the Train Reading a Paperback Novel - 1998
Drawing on the train is advantageous to the artist. I lived at the end of the R7 line out of Philadelphia, and used the long commute in and out of the city to draw my fellow travelers. The issues that arise when drawing on the train are great at honing your speed and accuracy.
- You must be bold. Do away with shyness and draw your neighbor. I always chose the bulkhead seat that faced the crowd. I would stare at the commuters like a mental patient... tough luck, I'm working here!
- Develop speed. You don't know when the subject is getting off the train. Will it be the next stop? Do you have them until the end? You never know.
- Accuracy under adverse conditions. The train rocks and jostles, while fellow passengers push your elbow. You have to develop a quick and light style to knock in the important regions, using repeated strokes rather than weighty lines to describe contour changes.
- Develop an attitude of Work rather than Art. Train subjects are fleeting. You're presented with people that change position, talk, sleep, shift seats, etc. You have to change your compositions to allow for the flux that happens when drawing dynamic subjects. You can't be roped into a grand "compositional" frame of mind. You must be flexible and satisfied with your end results. THEN just turn the page... NEXT!
- Record the actions, date and conditions - similar to a photographer or court reporter. It will help you understand postures people use when doing a certain action. I realized the eyes exhibit a noticeable "cross convergence" when a person is reading a book or at the laptop screen. I only realized this subtlety when observing many people reading on the train.