I was recently in touch with Nick Abadzis, author and artist of the award-winning Laika. I checked in on Nick’s blog and noticed he’d been life drawing on the New York subway. I found myself envious of artists ability to draw on life in passing, figuratively and literally. A few days later, on a rather humid bus journey, I was inspired to create my own sketch.
With thanks to the unknown woman in question, Shoreditch bound, sitting at the back of the bus.
I noticed her shoes first. High street leopard print under a veneer of scratched and scuffed plastic. The heels had worn down and looked ragged, decadent and yet diminished by countless footsteps to the office across pockmarked pavements.
Her hair was dark and thick. It showed signs of being lustrous and conditioned but was now on the verge of becoming lank in the oppressive heat. That morning had seen a hair dryer pressed into service and expensive products dispensed from metallic cylinders, all slowly undone as the humidity peaked and clung.
She stirred, crossing legs at the knee and pushing tresses back from her face with delicate fingers. Yesterday’s pale blue nail varnish was now at odds with today’s outfit. She’d undoubtedly struggle out her tights the moment she returned home. The rip above the knee would mean they’d be discarded permanently. A small portion of toned, brown thigh stared out through the almond shaped tear. She rearranged her skirt, creased and crumpled from being seated at a desk for seven hours, the monotony only broken by trips to the water cooler. Or to the toilets, to send surreptitious texts in truncated language, featuring numbers and acronyms.
Her eyes, heavy lidded, told of her evident tiredness. The eyeliner around them a thick crust, applied one too many times and dried out under stale office air conditioning. I wondered if there was anything that might rekindle some flame behind those deep, brown eyes or ignite the spark of her curiosity. She neither listened to music or turned the pages of a novel, instead reclining, a faded beauty perspiring gently on the bus, bored and blank-eyed. Her lipstick now existed only as a stain on her coffee cup back at the office, her mouth sketched into a pout of barely concealed dissatisfaction.
I was drawn again to her shoes. Once her pride and joy, fresh from the box and worn only for special occasions. Now, just regular attire for the lethargic commute across the city, occasionally stepped on by other bus passengers. The city, concrete grey and oil-stained, crawled by outside the grimy window as the diesel engine thrummed, chugging fumes onto the street.