Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Who Reflections Show

So you like sketching on public transportation?

As some of you know, Ted Gordon hosted a great class at the 2015 Summer Seminar on Urban Sketching Undercover. He had great tips on how to sneak a sketch in public.

Ballpoint pen sketch from Red Line train

But what happens when you end up with a window seat on the bus or train and a neighbor who is blocking your view of everyone else?

If it also happens to be night or just dark, look out your window because you are in luck!

Wait – what?

Because CTA buses and trains have lights on the inside, the windows reflect what is around you. It isn't a perfect mirror, but it's a great way to get in a bus sketch. If your neighbor is blocking the view, this distortion can be especially helpful as it will often stretch the view to include more of the bus than you could comfortably see without it!

In the photos above you can see a  sample reflection from the bus window one evening. Notice that in these two photos there are at least three subjects for sketching without having to sketch the back of a bunch of heads! 

 This technique is also helpful when someone is starting to suspect that you might be sketching them, just look out the window for a bit and sketch them from there!
Sketch from bus Jan. 2015

 In this sketch the fellow started suspect that I was sketching him. By the time I finished he was a lot more than suspecting and had actually taken photos of me sketching him!

He was a great sport about it and we discussed the importance of the arts over a cup of coffee the next day (Meeting great people is an amazing benefit of Urban Sketching). But for some people that sounds terrifying. Even if it doesn't sound terrifying, there are times when you'd just prefer not to be noticed, right?

Well as you might be able to tell, this gentleman was sitting in the same spot as the fellow in the driver's hat from the photos above. If I had realized it at the time, I could have sketched him from his reflection instead and avoided the encounter. Neat, huh?

So what about if it's bright out? Well, as far as I can tell you're just out of luck if it's a sunny day. Do you know otherwise? If you have any tricks for gaining a sketch-able view by day, I'd love to hear them!

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