Drawing People on the Subway

I’m still at it. I don’t have the wonder and awe I had in my 20s, but I remember how exciting it was learning to draw people, every subway ride an opportunity for study. From my latest (not yet published) “Nancy Who Drew” book:

“If I was standing, holding onto the rail above, I could look down at a seated passenger and mentally calculate the distance between nose and ear, eyebrow and eyelid. Or, if I was on the platform waiting for the train, I took out my sketchbook and drew people standing still for a few minutes. I filled a whole sketchbook with quick drawings of coats, pant-legs and footwear, hands clasping shopping bags or briefcases. After I took an anatomy class I was aware that beneath the coats and skirts and jeans were femurs and fibula, patellas and tibias. Under deltoideus and trapezium were clavicles and scapulae. Skulls behind faces. Black holes instead of eyes. I saw death in life, life pared down to the bone, an ever-present mortality, a deeper design permeating ordinary life I had never thought about before.”

Now, all these years later I find myself looking at my fellow travelers again. If those early sketchbooks (which I can’t find) have an immediacy my current efforts (done at home) lack, the pleasure is the same. Seeing the ordinary as extraordinary, simply by looking.

About Nancy Wait

Nancy Wait is an artist and a memoir writer, "The Nancy Who Drew, the Memoir That Solved a Mystery," and a former actress (stage, film and TV) in the UK under the name Nancie Wait. She hosted blog talk radio shows "Art and Ascension" and "Inspirational Storytellers." Her current project is a second memoir, "The Nancy Who Drew the Way Home," due out in 2023.
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2 Responses to Drawing People on the Subway

  1. You draw intriguing pictures with both brush and pen, and help us to see through eyes anew. What wonderful gifts you share.

    Liked by 1 person

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