Search results for 'trains'

Trains, Planes and People Watching on the NJT

18 Oct

Ink drawing: people-watching on the NJT.

Trains are great places for drawing because you can settle down in relative comfort and people are generally static for a reasonable time often dozing or absorbed in books or conversation. These are two drawings I did on one of my USA visits, travelling regularly between New York City and Princeton on the New Jersey Transit [NJT]. The drawings are done with Faber Castell Pitt pens into an A6 Cotman sketchbook which is a nice easy size for carrying around and has good quality paper. I think the woman with the large earrings knew I was drawing her.


Ink drawing: Train Talk on the NJT.

The NJT was always very crowded, whatever time of day or night I travelled, possibly because it stopped at Newark airport, which is really cool and has a monorail to take you from the station to the terminals. I got really absorbed in drawing the chap standing up, the way his hand grasped the rail and also the baggage which made interesting shapes. The trains had these weird seats in pale caramel leathery material. They could be swivelled round to face the other way so groups of four people could sit together.


Tube Heads

10 Nov


Husb and I went to London on Saturday to take in some art and I always take the opportunity to do some sketching on the Tube. It’s not easy because the trains shake around a lot and they’re packed, especially at the weekend, but I managed a couple of decent heads.


The first is using Faber Castell Pitt drawing pen, size S and the second is using graphite, both into an A5 Tate Gallery sketchbook.

Quick Scribbles

3 May

03 beachWent for a good walk today, taking in a couple of parks and the beach and we stopped at the little cafe on the promenade where I did a scribble into my small spotty sketchbook. Then took a walk around the city centre where I scribbled a few people standing at a traffic crossing.

03 crossing

They’re not great works of art, but doing these quick sketches is a regular part of my practice. I think it’s important to draw every day even if it’s just for a few minutes. Drawing quickly in public helps to focus on the most important features and trains me to get the details down quickly.


30 Mar

I did these sketches on one of the endless train journeys yesterday in London. Husb and I went up to pick up some printmaking supplies from Intaglio Printmakers in Southwark and then onto the Dulwich Picture Gallery for the exhibition of David Hockney prints. But London’s transport system was conspiring against us. Every single journey we made was severely disrupted. A 12 minute journey turned into an hour long trek with 3 different trains. Still, it gave me a chance to draw people on the way.

Digital Head

16 Sep


I went on a train journey earlier today and had a bit of a scribble on my Galaxy Tablet. Trains are great for drawing because I can take sneaky looks at people. I was visiting the print collection at Pomegranate Fine Art in Cardiff, possibly the finest collection of contemporary original British prints in Wales.

I sketched with a Magic Marker app but I’m getting a bit bored with it as it’s very basic and not very subtle. I prefer my paper sketchbooks.

Making Marks

12 Jan

studio shot

I’ve been asked to provide a piece for an exhibition to celebrate Art’s Birthday, which is next Monday. I’ve been give a 20 inch cardboard cube and I can do what I want in it. I’ve had an idea for quite a while to develop a drawing installation so I thought this would be a good chance to try out some ideas because the cube is just a very small room. I’m basing some drawings on digital images manipulated from original photos taken in Berlin a couple of winters back, when it was knee deep in snow. The temperature was about -20C but Germany didn’t grind to a halt. The trains carried on. The schools stayed open and kindergarten children were out in the grounds making tiny igloos with their little hands. How come a couple of centimetres of snow closes Britain down?

The drawing is on mark resist acetate film (Mylar) in Faber Castell Pitt pens sizes S, F, M and B. I’ve been interested for some time in the notion that drawing and writing are both about making marks that create abstract representations of the world and this is one of the motivations behind this project. There’s so much drawing involved that I get into ‘the zone’ and the marks come naturally, each looks unique, like snowflakes. I’m learning a lot by doing it – one of the things that’s become obvious is that I’m not likely to be able to draw a room-size installation with such small pens – I’ll have to find an alternative.

Another Drawing On Another Train

2 Jan

Ink drawing on a tube train.


I love trains and I love drawing on them. People are usually very respectful and watch over your shoulder but don’t disturb you. It’s something to occupy yourself on the London tube because nobody ever talks to anyone else, unless they’re foreign – that is, from outside London. I don’t know why the London tube is like that; in my experience Londoners are not unfriendly. It isn’t too shaky either and that little bit of shakiness gives the line a nice little wobble.  Here’s a drawing in Faber Castell Pitt drawing pens into an A6 spiral bound Cotman sketchbook.

Faces On The Bakerloo

14 Nov

Ink drawing: kidfaceman.

Here are some more sketches done on tube trains, ideal for people-watching. This young man above was chatting to his friend and didn’t notice me – one of the few people talking on the London Tube! What struck me was his childlike face. His features were scrunched up into a much smaller area, unlike an average adult head. He was very animated and it’s a challenge to draw someone who’s smiling, laughing and talking so much. Reasonable likeness though.

The stylish man below was engrossed in his paper. He wore a large and expensive looking watch and a typical looking old-school tie. Drawing on the Tube is difficult because it’s so shaky and the line wobbles all over the place, but I like the effect.

Ink drawing: The Watchman.

They’re drawn in Faber Castell Pitt drawing pen size ‘S’ into an ‘Artbox’ recycled leather-bound A6 sketchbook.





Three Men’s Heads on a Tube Train

6 Nov

Ink drawing: Longfaceman.

I love to draw on trains because people are so often lost in theeir own world and stay relatively still and don’t notice you drawing them. It also attracts attention from other travellers and I believe that artists should be seen doing art in public. They used to so why isn’t it fashionable any more? I did these drawings last week when I visited London. The man above had one of those very long faces with nobbly bits either side of his mouth. I should know what they are because I study anatomy avidly, but I can’t remember. D’Oh!

Ink drawing: deep in thought.

Here’s husb,  lost in his own world, gazing up at the ceiling of the train. I love drawing faces from this angle. It isn’t very flattering to draw right up someone’s nose, but it’s a great view.

Ink drawing: The Owlman.

This older man was reading throughout the journey and had a wonderfully crumpled face that was really interesting to draw. He also had a cool tie made up of little framed drawings of an owl surrounded by text, set against a stripey shirt. It’s not easy drawing on the Tube because of the movement, but I like the wobblier line it gives me and I also like a challenge.

We saw the Gerhard Richter exhibition at Tate Modern and Grayson Perry at the British Museum. Both excellent but Perry’s was, for me, the more interesting. I love his quirkiness and outrageous sense of humour along with his absolute commitment to the ‘craft’ of art. The drawings are done in Faber Castell Pitt pens into an A6 ‘Artbox’ recycled leather-bound sketchbook.


Scribbling USA: the Haves and the Have-nots.

9 Sep

Ink drawing: asleep at 34th Penn.

I’ll scribble anywhere and platforms on the tube are great because you can often get crowd scenes and people tend to stay reasonably still. When I went to New York City I sketched on the subway – loads of homeless people sleep down there and you could find them tucked away at all hours and sometimes former homeless subway people collected on the trains for charity. I saw these two young men one day sleeping at 34th Penn station, their bodies adopting the same position.


Ink drawing: Large woman from the NJT.


Trains are good because there are captive subjects and if you’re lucky you can sit down too. I stayed in New Jersey and travelled in to NYC on the New Jersey Transit [NJT], which had these odd seats that you could turn round so they were either seating a twosome or a foursome. I tried speed sketching when we pulled into stations and caught this woman standing on the platform. I don’t often get the chance to draw someone of this size and it was interesting to see how her lower body hung down over her legs. It may seem voyeuristic but I guess that’s something we artists have to come to terms with. I found the difference between the haves and have-nots very pronounced on my USA visits and I think you can see that in these two drawings.

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