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I’m always struck by the amount of pleasure I get from doing a painting, regardless of the subject. When I get some down-time during travels, I always face the dilemma: Read? Nap? Zone Out? Watch another episode of The Office? or… Paint! I don’t naturally gravitate toward the last option (it takes discipline and intentionality to paint, whereas you can just slide into a nap or a book), but I’m trying to choose it more frequently than the others. And when I do, I never regret it.

So, I was waiting for a train at the 30th Street train station in Philadelphia during a recent business trip and was struck by the grandeur of the high ceilings, windows, chandeliers, and pillars.


I decided to try to capture the depth and height of the station. As I sketched and painted, I called to mind an old WWII-era picture of grand central station with sun streaming in (courtesy of CNN.com).


While the sun at 30th Street wasn’t gracing the dust motes quite as it is in this photo, I decided to exercise my artistic license and go for that effect.


To get the sunbeam effect I wet a stiff brush and ran it across the paper, rubbing out the paint in lines. I blotted each line/beam with a tissue. I also left the areas white where the sunbeams land on the benches and people. To further the effect, I painted over the rest of the painting with a brownish mix of burnt umber and other colors that I can’t recall. Overall I like how it turned out.

Then there’s the question of the faceless person. I usually draw in a hint of eyes and nose on my faces, but this time (and in a few other recent paintings) I left my people completely faceless (except for a small face in the background). It seems a little less “cartoon-ish” than putting in faces, but at the same time, it’s a little creepy. What do you think? Do you like rough features on the face or no features? You can look at my last post (Hotel Lobbies and Painting Checklist) to see faces with simple features.

I’d love to hear your thoughts and comments!