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 a sleepy fellow from the train home the other night. His was a commuter face from Central Casting: drawn, lined with anxiety, held in a perpetual furrowed frown. Veering between dozing off and staring intently out of the window.
Poor chap. Hopefully it was only superficial. He was probably just tired.
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.
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.
A quick one on the train home. I thought I’d try that Picasso thing of drawing with a single line (displayed nicely here). It’s no Picasso, but it was fun. And I liked the contrast of sticking in the fat orange bars of the handrails.
Almost home to Dorking, I had a quick go at this middle-aged chap across the aisle. Hair is always so fascinating to draw: his was that very straight, sawn-off sort of hair that sits in sharp little lines like wires.
He moved as I drew, which you can see in the odd twist it’s given to his face in the drawing. But there you go. I choose to draw unsuspecting people on trains, I can hardly complain if they don’t pose perfectly for me.
I drew this friendly-looking old fellow on the Tube yesterday. As so often happens, he got off just as I was getting into it, but I go enough to feel quite happy with it.
He had a soft, comfortable look about him: an archetypal Grandad in his blue flat cap and enormous glasses. Quiet, still and composed in the way many elderly people are. An aspect of ‘You lot run about and squawk and jabber, you haven’t got a clue yet. I’ve seen most things, and I’m not in any rush.’
(Can we still say ‘elderly’, by the way? Is it ‘older person’ or something now?)