November 29, 2016
Here’s something special, not because it’s much of a drawing but because it’s a first for me: a sketch from life on the subway in New York. The surreptitious sketch is something I liked to do when living around D.C. years ago, especially when I had to go somewhere by Metro. But though I still always have a little blank-page book in my back pocket, it’s taken two years in NYC to finally break it out and let go on the train here.
This was on the E in Queens, coming back from Newark Airport around 2 in the morning after Thanksgiving travel. The train kept stopping between stops, as happens at night and on weekends. I could have read, but I’d been reading on the plane and the bus to Manhattan. The fellow was one of the million small-statured working men of indeterminate ethnicity who in this city are largely societal background texture for a college-educated white guy like me (though our personal economies are perhaps not so very different, at least by the numbers).
I elongate his nose and lose a good deal of the finer features that tell his age and weariness here, unhappily; so much going on in that face, even in sleep. His head kept dropping to his chest, though. In any case, you have to not stare too much — for which my drawing eye is hardly up to the demand, these days. That’s how it goes with these things.