Subway Sketch

I have a nice little story I want to share with all of you. It happened yesterday, and I wanted to post it last night while it was still fresh in my mind. But I came home tired from work and fell asleep on the couch in front of the TV during idiot Bush’s State of the Union speech. Didn’t wake up until 1:00 in the morning.

Anyway, I was on the subway going home from work, around 6:20 pm. While sitting on the train I noticed a woman across from me sketching my face! Working in a small spiral pad, she was really going at it. It’s a familiar behavior I’m so used to, as I experience it every day: scribbling and sketching, then looking up, then sketching down on the paper, then looking up at the subject again. Eyeballs fixed and focused. Very distinct behavior that can’t be mistaken for anything else.

I was so flattered! But I became so aware of it, and my professional instincts started kicking in, that I began to hold my face in one position so as not to throw her off. Didn’t want to ruin her angle. Didn’t even look down to fiddle with my iPod for fear I would mess everything up. I was “posing” for her, for a mere three stops on an uptown C train!

Then it crossed my mind that this woman had no idea she was sketching from a professional art model, who had just come from work at the Studio School a mere 15 minutes prior. Part of me wanted to say something to her. Hell, I was ready to hand her my business card! But then I thought, don’t. It’s tacky, first of all. Plus, maybe that knowledge would have shattered her perception that she was sketching “ordinary” New Yorkers on the subway. If I told her that she was drawing a person who is drawn regularly for a living, maybe that would have tarnished the randomness, the “everydayness” of her spontaneous act? Oh, maybe I’m overanalyzing it. But still, it was such a nice, special moment. And I am both flattered and humbled that she selected me, out of that crowded 3rd car of the subway, to draw. Reminded me a lot of the late Marvin Franklin, for whom the subway riders and homeless of New York were his constant inspiration.

I felt bad when the train pulled into the Penn Station stop. Did she have enough time to capture my face to her satisfaction? Alas. the woman’s sketch was forced to come to an end, as I stood up, flung my bag over my shoulder, and exited the train. Goodbye artist . . . perhaps we’ll see each other again in this big, crowded city . . .

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