Mission: One drawing per day for 27 days. Drawn on location. The goal was to capture the hearts and minds of the people of Myanmar with art. Document the work and record observations and leave the drawings there as gifts. Create an epic blog about the experience.
The Burma Project (full description)
I was SO excited. It was an artist’s dream come true with ten hours to draw and all those captive subjects onboard. I settled into my “high class” seat and surveyed the scene before me. Exotic locals sat about in colorful longyis, their beautiful brown skin contrasting with the white seat covers. Old people, young people, some European tourists, all equally interesting and mine to do with as I wished with pencil and paper. The train car itself was an intriguing subject! Looking like a locomotive from the 1950s, it had rickety ceiling fans, wide windows without glass, and was painted in antique shades of green and yellow. I noticed an older women a few seats ahead of me who kept looking out the window and returning to the same pose. Perfect. I got out my art supplies and began.
The train lurched forward. As it picked up speed we began bouncing up and down and rocking side to side as if on a carnival ride. At one point the luggage started falling off the racks! I had to laugh. How can anyone draw with all this going on? While we chugged and rumbled, I worked on those parts of the drawing that didn’t require accuracy such as clothing and luggage straps. When we’d come into one of the many small stations, I’d focus on the old woman’s face and put in straight lines to show perspective. Eventually I got it done.
I’m not totally sure but I think she caught on to me despite my best efforts to be discreet. At the last minute I included the child sleeping in the seat next to her whom I hadn’t noticed at first. Son, daughter, grandchild…I still don’t know the nature of their relationship, but I saw true affection there. I had every intention of giving her the drawing but in all the confusion of our arrival I missed the opportunity to present her with this gift.
One of my artistic goals is to create work that is lively, loose, and full of action. Ironically, in my effort to compensate for the crazy movement of the train, I ended up with one of my “tightest” sketches. A good art lesson indeed.