Monday, July 2, 2012

On the Train

Wouldn't you be nervous if you were riding on the train, minding your own business, and some guy in a Mobil shirt kept staring at you and scrawling something in his book?


I think I made this guy a little uneasy. But he was cool. He sat there with the light streaming in through the window. I drew in a rough outline and then used the watercolor set to establish the big shapes.


He put on his sunglasses. I used my water-soluble colored pencils to draw his tattoos.

I broke the ice when I showed him the sketch. He loved it. Then he showed the amazing tattoos on his arms, which honor his mom and dad. I showed him some of my farm sketches.

It turns out that he is a farmer. I asked him what kinds of animals he's got. "You name 'em, I've got 'em."  By the end of the train ride, he gave me his card, and invited me to come over and sketch his peacocks and emus.

25 comments:

Vicki Holdwick said...

Nice sketch; great story,

xoxo

eddiesezz said...

I draw on Metro North all the time. Many people love it!

Sophie said...

Oh I should be more bold. Just draw in public. Great story.

Benjamin Bach said...

What a pleasant ending of sketching-strangers on the run : )

Jonathan said...

Great job!

I love doing that on the city bus when people catch me staring at them as I'm drawing them. Pretty awkward to say the least.

Nakase said...

So cool! I hope you get to go visit his farm =D

Sir Brian The Manly said...

This made me laugh:

"He showed the amazing tattoos on his arms...I showed him some of my farm sketches."

jeff jordan said...

Be careful around the emus--they're badass!

crewchief227 said...

Great way to meet new people i have found

Maria Hock said...

I always love your blog but today's story is my absolute favorite blog entry!

jill polsby said...

You just never know, do you, what someone truly represents. Fun story! Now get over there and draw us some emus, llamas and other fun Dr. Seuss animals.

Lanzman said...

Heh. Great story. I once did a pencil sketch of a nun on an airplane. She never noticed how much I was looking at here while I worked, but she liked it when I showed her the sketch. "Sister Frances" as I recall.

Mary Byrom said...

Jim, I love it! I was sketching all the flight attendants on a cross country flight as they did their tasks. Word spread fast among the staff and everyone came by to see the pictures. One attendant decided that my sketch book needed a sketch of me sketching them. So I handed him the book and a pen and he sketched me. He was thrilled. It was a hoot!

K_tigress said...

You may solve the staring problem by using a mirror inconspicuously.

Lisa said...

You are so inspiring! My daughter has been following your work since she was 4 .. she is now 22. We love the Color and Light book... well we love them all ♥ actually!

Thank you for sharing your wonderful talents!

Angela said...

What a great story! You are so friendly.

Laura Breza said...

That is so awesome. Cool how artists can connect to people by simply doing what they love: drawing! :D

Kathy's Art Blog said...

Love the sketch. What do you take with you when sketching 'on the move' like that :)?

James Gurney said...

Thanks, everybody for your comments.

Kathy, Check out this feature about the kit: http://www.boingboing.net/2011/02/22/james-gurney-whats-i.html

Mary, what a great story.

K Tigress -- I'm not sure how inconspicuous I'd be with a mirror. Now that would really freak someone out.

Jeff -- he says his emus are super friendly...but if they don't like an animal, they'll stomp it to death.

Dirk Steele said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Dirk Steele said...

What a great post James, so nice that you both got a story out of it! He sounds like a really cool guy.

adebanji said...

Wickid!! I lways love when this happens!!! It's happensed to me many times and this one is just great!

Dan Haycocks said...

Great post.
Looking at all your many public portraits from the blog, I just assumed that you asked permission right from the get-go.
I take my sketchbook with me on all journeys, but often feel that staring at somebody, with such scrutiny and for such a long time would freak them out. So I often just settle for a 'just out of eyesight' angle, which isn't the best!
This is something I've thought about a lot. I mean how would I react to somebody drawing me? I certainly wouldn't mind and I would probably attempt to put them at ease by making a joke about my appearance from the start.
Have you had folks protest in the past? or do you ever explain from the moment you get your sketchbook out, what you are up to?
I think I'm going to be a little braver and just ask them in future.
Cheers
Dan

James Gurney said...

Dan,
I usually don't announce to people that I'm sketching them in public, but if they look up, I at least smile, or show them what I'm doing, and that (so far) has always ended happily.

Most people never notice. People dealing with technology, especially cell phones or laptops in cafes, are great subjects because they hold poses for a long time.

One tip: wear a pleasant expression rather than the grim Concentration Face in case they happen to look over.

Dan Haycocks said...

Ha! Yeah, good advice, a nice middle-ground.
Cheers and have a good Xmas.
Dan.