Sketching on the MBTA

May 01, 2014  •  Leave a Comment

Ever notice that girl who wears sunglasses on the subway and the bus, even on a cloudy day? When it’s raining and the sun hasn’t been out for a week? Even when it’s nine-thirty at night? Yeah, that’s me. Well, sure it could be some other uber-hip chick that just does that ‘cause...ya know, whatever. But sometimes it is me, and I’m holding a notebook and a pen.

I like to sketch on public transportation. It helps take my mind off the fact that the seats were apparently designed with the average width of a two-year-old in mind; that guy holding a bag of smelly fried food; and the person listening to music so loud through their headphones that I am now listening to it, too.

I draw people. Yes, I’m looking at people out of the corner of my eye, through my dark sunglasses, and attempting to record some thing about them that just makes them seem generally interesting. Normally these sketches only take a minute or two as the train stops at a new place, passengers step off, new people board, a view of one rider is blocked, and someone else comes into my line of sight.

I do not do this for commercial purposes. I do not do it to sell pages out of my sketchbook on street corners. I do not do it to insult, offend, or stalk anybody (that’s creepy). It’s just practice. Artist often draw other people as practice. Otherwise how would we know how to draw people?! Plus it’s a challenge. You’re in a small space, the train is moving, and the people are moving around you.

It makes the ride go by faster, which is always a good thing during cold and flu season, or for that moment when that crazy old guy nearby breaks into song. Love it or hate it, public transportation provides both inspiration and a good incentive to find some decent distraction.The sketches do not normally get incorporated into full-blown finished works, though they have inspired some MBTA tribute art.



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