Friday, 1 June 2018

More scenes from a train

When I'm booking my train ticket and I'm asked whether I have any seating preference (in a quiet carriage, forward facing, that sort of thing), it is only the next-to-a-window option that I go for. From the window of a train there is the time and space to project yourself into an endless theme of changing environments. And it is this view that I find much more interesting to draw than fellow passengers and the backs of seats.

It is exactly because the view is so constantly shifting that it is an interesting subject to draw. The narrative unfolds as you look. The sense of place is less focused and yet unmistakable: the landscape between London and Devon, and London and the East Midlands (the routes I draw most) are mainly rural, agricultural, with occasional long views to distant horizons. It's a character or an essence that is there to be drawn, rather than a likeness. Looking at it mathematically, if the train is travelling at 120mph, and I'm taking three or four minutes to draw each image (these are mostly in open A6 sketchbooks), then they can be an amalgam of about six to eight miles of landscape.

The whirring view gives the opportunity to be brief, immediate, stabbing and imaginative rather than be bogged down in the dullness of likeness. Here are a few I've done recently.

London Paddington to Exeter St Davids, May 2017
Rapeseed fields near Kettering, May 2017

(Above and top image) London Paddington to Exeter St Davids, May 2018 

Between Taunton and Exeter, June 2013

Between Taunton and Exeter, June 2013

London Paddington to Exeter St Davids, May 2018

London Paddington to Exeter St Davids, 2017

Outside Luton, February 2018 

Near Tiverton Parkway, the day Mum died, 17 August 2013

I've posted about drawing from trains before: From a train along the River Exe and Scene from a moving train.


MiataGrrl said...

Oh, I've never sketched through a train window... I don't know why. I'll make a point to try in Portugal! These are almost abstract patterns -- very cool!

- Tina

James Hobbs said...

It's dead certainty to make one's work loosen up, Tina.

Catherine Hale said...

I've tried this and it cuts down travel time. A one hour journey feels like 15 minutes!

James Hobbs said...

It's true, Catherine. Free sketchbooks with season tickets could help reduce the number of complaints the rail companies so richly deserve.