Airport Drawing

Airport Drawing Michele Clamp Watercolor

Airport drawing is a real upside to travel and I often have time to sketch in airports. It passes the time and the planes are lovely shapes to draw. The extra gubbins around them is also interesting. Even though this was an overcast day the contrast of the gray tarmac really shows off the shape of the plane.

People and Planes are great subjects for airport drawings

Airport portrait sketch
Airport portrait sketch

Last week was a work trip which involved much loitering around airports.   As I had my trusty sketchbook and pencil with me I could easily get my quota of 30 minutes drawing in.    The first sketch is of a lady who was sitting in front of me on the opposite side of the aisle.   People tend to move about a lot but she stayed put long enough for me to get the essentials in and its a pretty good likeness. Even though you’re usually a long way from the airport runway and so no chance of runway drawings there is always a lot to see and sketch.

Airport drawing of plane
Airport drawing of airplane
Plane sketch head on
Plane sketch head on

Planes have great shapes to draw

There are many good things about drawing in airports – some more challenging than others.     First of all there are the planes.    These are fun to draw as they have nice curvy shapes but with lots of interesting twiddly bits.  Also I don’t come across them very often on a day to day basis so sketching them is something of a novelty.   These two were done at the beginning of the trip before I’d taken off from the Logan airport terminal.  I was still getting to grips with how everything is put together so these are a little shaky.  I got better at the shapes as the trip progressed but even so I like the hand drawn nature of them.

Backpack man sketch
Backpack man sketch
Man and ponytail sketches
Man and ponytail sketches
Person reading sketch
Person reading sketch
Woman with glasses sketch
Woman with glasses sketch
Back view sketches
Back view sketches
Woman with suitcase sketch
Woman with suitcase sketch
Woman with luggage sketch
Woman with luggage sketch

People are preoccupied and don’t notice you drawing them

People are the next good thing about airports.   There are lots of them and they are pretty distracted so you can easily sit and sketch without them cottoning on.  These were also done at the start of the trip while waiting for the gate to open at Logan.

The downside about people is THEY KEEP MOVING AROUND!!!  Even when sitting down they’re fidgeting and changing position constantly.  However, this is good for training you to memorize quickly the main shapes/postures.  After you have the basics down you then have to improvise the details when they’ve disappeared from view.   Sadly it doesn’t make for very good drawings but does sharpen up your observational skills in short order.  These were mostly done within a 2 and 30 second window to get down the essentials.

Note how most of the moving ones are done from the back.  People get a bit disconcerted if they’re walking towards you and see you staring intently at their body parts.

Airport drawing of plane with walkway
Airport drawing of plane with walkway
Plane sketch with tarmac steps
Airplane sketch with tarmac steps

Views from the windows always have good subject matter

More airplanes.  I was getting more into the swing of things by now.   Here’s one from Edinburgh and one from Dublin.   I also discovered the blindingly obvious thing about planes in airports.  THEY KEEP FLYING AWAY!!  Even though I was only spending 5-10 minutes on each sketch every time I found a plane in a position that was interesting to sketch the doors would shut,  the elephants trunk would retreat and it would taxi away.

Airport buildings sketch
Airport buildings illustration
Sketches of planes flying
Sketches of planes flying

On this trip I was flying international and was on the return journey at Edinburgh.   The first is a view of the other side of the terminal and a few sketches of ‘planes from different angles’.   Planes are nice to draw.  I could get used to this.

Plane engine drawing
Plane engine drawing
Airport drawing
Airport drawing
Abandones sketch - plane flew away!
Abandoned sketch – plane flew away!

More planes – all flew away!

Waiting to board sketches
Waiting to board sketches

These were right at the end of the trip waiting to board to go back to Logan.    These were the most successful figure sketches.  I managed to get more of the ‘gesture’ in these with the fewest number of lines.  Quite happy.

Waiting at the gate sketch
Waiting at the gate sketch

More pre-boarding waiting.     Everyone has these HUGE backpacks as well as the wheely trucks – what do they put in them?

Cabin crew sketch
Cabin crew sketch
Cabin crew sketch - serving the drinks
Cabin crew sketch – serving the drinks
Airport drawing of plane engine and wing
Airport drawing of plane engine and wing

Finally on board and on the home stretch.    A couple of the cabin crew and a view from the window.

You need a minimum of tools for airport drawing

My drawing tools
My drawing tools

My drawing implement of choice right now is something a little more exotic than usual.   I usually like to keep things simple but I’m currently favoring a water-soluble graphite pencil made by Derwent.   I like this even if I’m not using water because it looks and handles like graphite but doesn’t rub off on your hands.  And, if you’re me, rub off on your face,  your neck, and any other exposed skin that I happen to touch.   I do also carry a nifty niji waterbrush.  You fill the handle up with water which seeps down into the brush so you can paint with it.

The paper is nothing special but the pad was made by the Bee Paper Company and who doesn’t like bees?   It’s also fairly small and not too thick so I can carry it in my bag at all times without it getting in the way.

The best pencil sharpener I’ve found

The big grey thing is a pencil sharpener.  I’m a sucker for a new style of pencil sharpener and have collected a lot of sub performing sharpeners over the years.  This one is one of my faves.    It has 3 different shaped holes and 2 sealed compartments for shavings.    Shavings is another reason why I like the water soluble pencils – graphite shavings get EVERYWHERE every if you use a sealed sharpener.   Unless you seal everything up in a ziploc (and sometimes not even then) the shavings escape and everything gets grey – your bag,  your hands,  your phone, your earbuds – everything.

Finally, and this isn’t essential but I like it,  I insert my pencil in a pencil extender so I can use them down to the nubs.   They’re cheap but somehow make me feel like a professional 🙂

Airport drawing - waiting at Atlanta
Airport drawing – waiting at Atlanta

Not much time to sketch in the airport on this last trip as the connections were pretty tight.  Luckily this one stayed put for enough time to get the essentials in.   I started with my Lamy Safari pen but the ink just wouldn’t flow so I had to fall back on a fibre point.  I had wanted to put more people in and there were plenty when I started the plane part.  When I’d finished however they’d all mostly wandered off.

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