Search Results for: subway sketches

Subway Glances


Just a few grabs of parts of faces of people who I see on the subway journey to and from USC each day. Sometimes I get a good look, other times not… Sometimes they disappear before I get anywhere. I’ve been busy on other things (like prepping lectures and reading endless books and files for one duty or another) and so have not got as many done as I like to. This collection is about three weeks’ worth. Also, when travelling in rush hour I seldom get a […] Click to continue reading this post

Experiments with Colour

Well, that was interesting! I got a hankering to experiment with pastels the other day. I am not sure why. Then I remembered that I had a similar urge some years ago but had not got past the phase of actually investing in a few bits of equipment. So I dug them out and found a bit of time to experiment. pastel_experiment_18_jan_2015_small It is not a medium I’ve really done anything in before and I have a feeling it is a good additional way of exploring technique, and feeling out colour design for parts of the book later on. Who knows? Anyway, all I know is that without my […] Click to continue reading this post

Cabinet Caper!

Remember I mentioned that I was building something? Well, I finished the project:


The usual thing happened. I could not find the right kind of cabinet that fit the space and function, and so decided that I might as well build one designed to fit exactly what was called for. It holds all the living room media needs, and keeps them discretely hidden away (no electronics and cables everywhere) until called upon. The top chamber opens up to deploy a projector (the holes […] Click to continue reading this post

Monday’s Quarry

red_line_guy_24_11_2014_smallMonday’s quick grab on the subway on the way to work. I claim that one of the most useful aspects of the smartphone is its facility for holding people in predictable poses in order to be sketched.

He had a very elegant face and head, and was engrossed in his game, and I was done reviewing my lecture notes on scattering of light, so I went for it. I was able to get out my notepad and a pen and get a good fast […] Click to continue reading this post

And Back…

subway_sketches_27_08_2014It is a new semester, and a new academic year. So this means getting back into the routine of lots of various aspects of the standard professor gig. For me this also involves being back in LA and taking the subway, and so this means getting (when it is not too busy as it seems to get a lot now) to sketch people. The guy with the red sunglasses was on his way to USC as well, and while he was reading or playing a game on his phone (such things are a blessing to sketchers… they help people hold in a fixed position for good stretches of time) I was able to get a quick sketch done in a few stops on the Expo line before we all got off. The other guy with the oddly trimmed beard was just briefly seen on the Red line, and so I did not get to make much of him…

I’m teaching electromagnetism at graduate level again this semester, and so it ought to be fun, given that it is such a fun topic. I hope that the group of […] Click to continue reading this post

Making Marks

Been a while since I got to do some sketching. It is good practice to try to do something every day, but that fell by the wayside a little as far as proper sketches went. It has been busy the last week and a bit, and my subway time has been during very busy times when there’s not enough space to get out pen and paper and sketch a person without becoming a spectacle… and during the moments where I might have caught something, I’ve actually been calculating – working out questions for the final exam in the General Relativity class, and (more recently) doing some computations for a paper I’ll tell you about shortly.

Anyway, when time is short, I sometimes like doing quick sketches with a thicker pen. Stops me from digging into the details too much. In fact, I’m really liking that as a sketch mode these days… You make your lines boldly and you’re stuck with your choices, and so it gets you thinking about what’s globally important carefully before jumping in.


It is great and satisfyingly distracting fun. Anyway, between this and that over the last day or two I did a few quick faces based on some photos I found in a […] Click to continue reading this post

Changeover Time

start_scribbleIt’s that time again. I finish a notebook and start a new one. A new book is begun with writing my name and contact information in the front part, in case it gets lost, and an old one is ended with mixed feelings, and that ending is often a bit drawn out. Notebooks go around with me nearly everywhere, and have pieces of me in them in one shape or another, and so it is hard to stop carrying one and start a new one. I’ve got bits of computations, shopping lists, partial thoughts about projects, design sketches, doodles, snippets of silent conversations between me and another person at a concert or talk (writing it down is often less distracting to neighbours than a whisper), scribbled phone numbers, film, book or cd reminders, and of course lots of practice sketches and doodles on trains, planes, and in automobiles, done almost on a daily basis, sketches done in (and sometimes of) an event, or of a interesting place or structure. (You’ve seen some of them here on the blog.) Almost everything has a date written on the page, or on a page nearby, which is hugely valuable.

changeoverIt’s a combination of notebook, journal, playground for ideas, and more. It is a joy to just open it up and flip through it and see so much of the last few months of my life and thought spread out in ink and pencil (and sometimes watercolour). Sometimes I hit on a particularly successful or interesting (or both) drawing that I love to open up and look at from time to time. You can search the blog under “sketches” for things that were in previous books. For example, a few of my favourites from this book are: Sketch of C. Tyler during her talk, sketch during a committee meeting, airline sketch of a national treasure, other airline sketches, a nice grab of a face from the subway, another airline sketch.

All of that now gets put on a shelf, since the pages have run out. It is bitter-sweet, as I also like the analogue, finite nature of the whole business. It has a lot of life written […] Click to continue reading this post


I find myself on the East Coast for the first of two trips over here in two weeks. Next week I return to be in New York for the TEDYouth event (which I am still making slides for when I find some time here and there between the tasks I’m doing for this trip). This week’s trip means I’m missing two of my electromagnetism graduate classes, which I feel bad about because it is such an enjoyable group to teach*.

I must say that it is nice to get to wear serious outerwear for the first time in a while. I know – this is a particularly unoriginal thing you hear from a lot of us softies from the SouthWestern part of the US, and I apologize for saying it, but it is true! It is sometimes sad to see a nice heavy coat sit unused in a closet for a year or more, and there’s also a nice grounded feeling […] Click to continue reading this post

Pen Faces

Well, it has been a while since I’ve posted any sketches, but that does not mean that I’ve not been doing any. I’ve had a visitor and have not been on my usual routine, and so I’ve got a bit out of practice for not doing so many, but I still snatch the opportunity to sketch when I can. Here are a few faces and fragments of faces I grabbed on the bus and subway in recent weeks. (Click for a larger view.) I just used a ballpoint pen, and a sideways glance or few…

I’m trying to decide whether […] Click to continue reading this post

Grabbing Faces

One of the other things I love about public transport is that you get to look at a range of people, and do quick (and preferably discrete) sketches of them. sometimes you only get a few minutes before things change, and you’ve got to deal with the bumping bus or train messing with your line choices. Fun!

Today I felt in the mood, and had two pages left in my current moleskine to fill, and so I decided to go for the subway instead of the bus, in search of prey. (Er, prey=faces/bodies/gestures/poses.) I’m careful to try not to make people aware I’m staring at them, and so pick a good distances, and preferably hide the book and pen, or try to pretend to be writing a shopping list, and looking off into space…

It does not always work, and certainly is sort of hit and miss and depends upon my mood. Most results are awful, since I either don’t have time, or get jogged, or am too chicken to take a good look to get a line right. But it’s good practice for holding things in my head… Anyway, guess what? I got on the train and – hey! There was a […] Click to continue reading this post


figure_study_17th_jan_11_smallLast Friday, I went to the luncheon of the Los Angeles Institute for the Humanities, and as usual there was a fascinating short talk to accompany lunch and coffee. (As I mentioned before, the membership of this group is a rather wonderful mixture of people mostly from USC, UCLA, and the city of Los Angeles in general, mostly prominent writers, artists, and other people from the humanities, film, theatre, and… they let one or two dabbler-type scientists like yours truly on the list, bless them.)

The talk was by Bram Dijkstra, and was entitled “The Nude in American Art”. As with most of the talks here (and in many similar venues), it seems to be associated with a book the speaker has out recently, and this one is a sumptuous-looking tome called “Naked: The Nude in America”. It was a nice talk, although he did not get very much into the modern America part because he spent time on the European connections and background and then ran out of time (they try to keep the luncheon talks short and to the point, leaving you wanting more, and leaving time for questions, which is indeed a good thing). However, one of the things that kept coming up was the whole business of an early prudishness or puritanicalism (still persisting in some places today) that meant that the naked physical form should somehow be hidden away. You get examples even today of art galleries’ major donors creating problems for an exhibit that contains nudes, etc., etc. He discussed various changing (and not changing) attitudes to this issue on both sides of the Atlantic through the years, which I found interesting. Aspects of this were not just tied to things like religion, but also the changing status of women in the various societies, to various degrees, since a lot of nudes feature the female form.

This is all very interesting to me in view of The Project for, I hope, obvious reasons. I found myself wondering (and indeed asked a question at the end about it) about […] Click to continue reading this post