Back up to date. I did this one today, on the Tube. The colour scheme was obvious. This chap really was all in shades of grey. Pale skin, salt-and-pepper stubble and hair, grey clothes. It was like someone printed him out cheaply. Poor chap.
This chap was pretty irresistible. Sound asleep, for a start, so there was no irritating fidgeting to work around. And then that hood: all mottled fake fur, inviting me to try out a few of the pattern options in Brushes.
Then people piled onto the train and got between us, which was very annoying of them.
This is one of the sketches where I started to feel I’d cracked it: both the drawing itself and the use of Brushes.
It just seemed to come together, from the first rough, broad grey outline of this old fellow’s head. Unlike many of my drawings (I confess), this one really looked like the subject. I’d like to think a member of his family might recognise him from this – and that’s definitely not always true.
He kept very still, which helps, of course. Contrary to how he might appear, he wasn’t asleep – or worse. (Daniel Gray described this sketch to me on Path as ‘a dead Lloyd Grossman’.) In fact, he was reading a book, which was clearly absorbing as he barely moved a muscle.
There was a professiorial air about him, and his face seemed to have been formed by someone scrunching a loose bolt of fabric: all soft folds and pleats. And then that purple scarf: a casual, rather flamboyant touch, tossed over the shoulder of his sober black coat.
I couldn‘t help imagining that if you caught his eye there might be a similar touch of the eccentric, or dramatic, in his otherwise placid gaze: hints of bright colours within.
I’ve got back into the sketching in the past couple of days, starting with this splendid fellow, opposite whom I found myself sitting yesterday.
There are some people who so fully embody a stereotype that it’s hard to believe they’re not dressed for a film role. (Maybe he was.)
This chap, ruddy-faced in that way that suggests country air, horses and buckets of sherry, also had startling hair. It looked to have been petrified by Brilliantine into a golden helmet locked in place on his scalp.
The white-collared blue shirt; the gold tie with little blue emblems; the herringbone coat with black velvet collar detail: he’d been groomed and dressed by Central Casting as ‘Rural Toff’.
All of which begs the question, what on earth was he doing slumming it on the Tube in the middle of the afternoon?
Here’s my second stranger on a train from this morning. I had one stop left. (Warren Street to Euston, completists.)
As so often happens, I ended up liking this very speedy one much more than many of the more deliberate ones.
I’m in Manchester for a couple of days, and drew a couple of strangers on the Tube this morning as I crossed London.
Here’s an older fellow who was sitting just along from where I was standing.
There’s a law somewhere that says if you’re an older, well-to-do sort of chap, you must have hair the mad untamedness of which increases with your well-to-doness. I reckon.
A one-stop shot, this one. We only had the time between Sloane Square and Victoria Tube stations, and that’s not very long. But he was a good lad, and sat nice and still.
I even managed to give a roughly accurate impression of his hand, instead of creating something that looks like a mutilated squid sewn onto his arm. Progress.
Two ladies from the Tube today. The first, an ancient Indian-looking lady, inscribed all over with fine lines and wrinkles. She was chatting intensely to her equally aged friend, and so didn’t take any notice of me sitting opposite. I’d have loved to get her wispy hair too – a wiry, windblown toss of white and shades of grey. But as ever, the transience of public transport got the better of me, and off she went.
The same happened with the other lady, whose looks originated even further to the east. But this was my fault too. I spent so long putting in the background, and then creating a silhouette in which to fill in the detail, I had almost no time for her face.
As a result, she looks vaguely as if she might be wearing some sort of religious robe. In fact, the billowy shapes either side of her head are the waves of her hair, emerging like a tide from the woollen hat gripping the top of her head.
I’ve also got her features a little skewiff, which is a shame, as he heavy eyeliner and bright lipstick created a nicely dramatic effect against her pale skin, itself set against a dark silhouette.
But the solid silhouette kind of suits her: she looked a robust, self-contained woman, well insulated from the world by wool (she had on a big, tassely scarf, too) and her own internal rigour. (I have no idea if she has internal rigour. She just looked like she would have.) So I thought I’d put her up here anyway.
Beards are always good. Not sure why, I just like the meditative accretion of little strokes (made easier by the zoom function in Brushes), bit by bit, one after the other. It’s very calming.
This fellow kept himself very neat. Everything sharply delineated, from crown to chin. A firm, lean face that spoke of good diet and regular workouts. The sort of face that looks like the jaw is permanently clenched. Probably an architect. Or a serial killer. Or both.
His hood really was this big. It was enormous. His head, crowned with a grey baseball cap, sat deep inside it like some creature hiding at the back of a cave, or a mollusc in its shell. I really couldn’t see his eyes.
His friend was sitting opposite him – and next to me, which gave the process of drawing him a little extra frisson. Mind you, they were chatting in an easy, friendly way that made him appear far less intimidating in life than he does in this drawing.
I wish I’d beefed up the red and blue of the jacket he wore under the black and white hoodie. They were bright, primary colours that popped out from all that monochrome in a far more vivid way that they do here. Never mind. I had fun with his moustache.