This is one of my first few train sketches. I know because I was scared to draw people in real time. Instead I focused on things that were on the train. I had made a little bag with coloured pencils, an eraser, pencil sharpener and a few markers.
I used to doodle on the free newspaper that was handed out at North Sydney station after I finished the Sudoku on it. Then they stopped making the paper. That’s when I bought my first sketch book for this series. It was from a newsagent on the underground walkway.
Trains are a community of strangers making regular urban journeys. There is the to and thro as the train lurches back and forth. People hang on, people lean against walls. The lucky ones get a seat. This sketch is looking at the main entry to the carriage facing toward the front of the train. It was sketched from upstairs. You can tell as I am looking down on some peoples heads. It was in March 2015 in the afternoon peak. You can tell that it is neither hot nor cold. We are making our way south on an express train to suburbs like Wolli Creek, Hurstville, Jannali, and Sutherland. I will arrive at Sutherland station about 6.45pm for the final commute by bus to my final destination.
With my train sketches I use movement lines and words. The excerpt to the left below is a mans hand holding a newspaper and hanging onto one of the handles that are attached to the ceiling. As the train goes around the corner the handle moves. The two separate lines to the right of that handle show that movement.
With words I describe what I see. There are several on this train sketch including “short white denim”, “man talking to lady”, “senior”
The monotone robot voice “this train will stop at…North Sydney”. Clackety clack clackety clack is what I hear as the morning train makes it’s way over the Sydney Harbour Bridge. I am struck by the solid stance of a health care worker with her badge dangling off her uniform in the main carriage. A girl in school uniform is about to get off when the train arrives.
I sketch basic lines to show the directions that eyes are facing. Not caught up in the detail. This is a basic drawing technique used when artists begin deciding on facial features.
Familiar faces you never acknowledge, the smell of perfume and freshly laundered clothes. In a train I was hunkered down and switched off from what was going on around me. So were they. They were in their own space considering their own day.