Train drawing


Here’s a drawing of a woman I drew eating KFC. As an experiment I put this video to music, (the song is by Melbourne musician Nelson Walkom).

I live in the Dandenong Ranges of Victoria, an hour away from my studio in the Melbourne CBD and so to pass the time on the train ride in and out every day I made a game out of drawing the people on my carriage.

The rules are pretty simple; if the person I’m drawing changes their position, gets off the train, if they notice me, or if someone stands in front of them, then that’s where the drawing ends and I’m not allowed to make another mark on the paper, at which point I show the person the drawing and if they like it I send them a copy.

I’ve done over 500 train drawings, here’s some examples, all done in acrylic on A4 sheets of 225gsm paper.

Dog looking at me like he know’s I’m drawing him.

After a while I got a little better drawing, and so sometimes as a record for myself to see how accurately I’d drawn the person, I’d make a little video of the process.

I like the video’s because they show the conditions the drawing was made in. The trains are constantly rocking back and fourth. Sometimes people are fighting and sometimes people fall asleep on you.

This guy was pretty out of it.

This next guy was blind which meant he was a bit easier to draw, because I could look directly at him, (although just because he wasn’t watching me there was still plenty of people on the crowded train who were.

So because of the little audience, and also I think because losing my sight is easily one of my biggest fears, I tried particularly hard to do a good job.

Here’s a couple of tipsy ladies I drew on a tram leaving the Melbourne Cup horse races. After drawing them I showed them the drawing. I’d had a beer or two myself and my drawing is pretty awful, I accidentally made them look like lizards, I was lucky they were so enthusiastic.

Ha, they took photos of the drawing, and I would’ve loved to see what they thought of it the next day.

Trains are like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re gonna’ get. Sometimes you see some pretty bad stuff on a train, here’s an awful incident with a racist man.

(Below is the drawing from the video above.)

(Below is the drawing from the video above.)

This next man gave me his card when he saw my drawing of him and his dog, and when I emailed him a copy of it he added me on Facebook.

Because of our Facebook friendship I’ve seen that the dog I drew in the video has sadly passed away.

Often when I’m drawing on the train I’d much rather be resting like everyone else, here’s a guy really rubbing it in.

Woman wearing the same hat as Bubble’O Bill.

One time I drew a man and when I showed him the drawing he gave me the book he was reading. (Click on this sentence to read the blog post with that story.)

Boy in wheelchair wearing love heart socks.

Man asleep, dribbling, next to man with basketball shaped head.

Man having a big think.

Two girls talking about Dr. Who.

I couldn’t tell if she was giving me the eye. It was probably directed at someone directly behind me.

Drawing of the tattoo on the back of the neck of the woman in front of me.

After I’d drawn the woman’s tattoo I figured I’d keep going and draw the rest of her around it.
As she was getting off the train I showed her the drawing and she said “Cool!”
Because she’d responded so positively I asked her what the meaning behind the tattoo is and she told me that she’s from South Africa and it’s a South African symbol.
I said, “So it’s kind of like me getting a Southern Cross tattoo?” And she laughed and said “Definitely not!”
After that I said I cya, but I should’ve asked her how often she thinks about the tattoo. I reckon if I had a tattoo on the back of my neck that most of the time I’d forget it was there. Or probably not, it’s probably all I’d ever think about. Or maybe not, it’s actually probably all I’d ever think about. I’d probably just be really self conscious all the time and I’d have to start wearing polo shirts and popping up the collar.

Man wearing face mask. Is he sick? Is there some virus in this train that I don’t know about? Am I about to get really sick?

Fortunately or unfortunately, I don’t actually draw people on the train anymore.

In 2014 I exhibited this series at the Australian Centre for Contemporary Art, the exhibition finished on May 18, which coincidentally was also my 26th birthday.

I decided that 25 was the absolute oldest you can be to draw people on the train without it being too weird, and so on May 17th, 2014, my last day of being 25, I rode the train from the first train that morning until the last train that night, traveling to the end of every train line in Melbourne, and for the entire day I drew people and gave the drawings away.

I documented this day thoroughly in a piece titled New Sen-station. A Drawn Out Day on the Train, which you can find by going back to the ‘art’ section of this website.