The Flight Home
I spent 9 days on the east coast, going to my HS reunion, visiting my sister, an artist friend and my daughter Rebekah and my first Grandbaby, Vivian. But alas, I eventually had to head back to Tulsa. I was excited to see Linda again, it had been a long trip, but I was very sad to say goodbye to Rebekah and Vin. I spent the hours on my flight home drawing.
I got into a conversation with the woman across the aisle as we both sat down but I was on the window seat and when my row partner sat on the aisle, the conversation pretty much stopped. Later the woman on the aisle was trying to sleep and wasn’t having a very easy time of it so I traded places with her so she could lean her head against the interior of the plane. By that time the woman across the aisle, Catherine, was reading so I picked up my sketchbook and started to draw her. I captured her face first, then her hands as quickly as I could since I know they were the most likely part of her to change at any moment, which they did. She brought out her laptop and at that point I started drawing the background.
The entire cabin was dark and the light from her screen lit her face in a beautiful way. I wish I had taken a photo so I could remember the lighting pattern now. We started talking again after a while and I found out she was coming to Tulsa for just one day for work. She was an executive with a large software developer and had a series of meetings starting early the next morning. She was tired after a while and laid her head back to sleep.
This is the drawing before I painted and colored it.
The Flight Attendant
After my aisle mate started napping I noticed the flight attendant sitting in the jump seat straight ahead. She was in the dark, with one single overhead light above her, and some light from the galley on her left. She was looking right at me so I mouthed the words, ‘I am drawing you.’ and she responded with a smile and a thumbs up.
She sat still for almost the entire time I was drawing. There wasn’t anything going on in the cabin, almost everyone was asleep or at least had their eyes closed. She could have easily changed her arm position, crossed her legs differently or adjusted her clothing or hair, but she did none of that. She just sat still and looked straight ahead. Once in a while she would look at me and I would mouth the words for wherever I was at, ‘I am drawing your legs now.’ or “I finished your dress.” I knew she couldn’t hear me since I was actually making no audible sound, but it was obvious she knew what it was I was saying. She sat that way for probably 20-25 minutes, long enough for me to get a thorough line drawing done.
She had to explain her stillness to her fellow flight attendant at one point, and the other flight attendant came over to see how the drawing was progressing. She thought it looked pretty good and gave Jessica the thumbs up. That made her smile. It was very cool and otherworldly to do the drawing almost in complete darkness, almost like a special bond formed between us as a result. I showed her the line drawing after and she was very happy with it. She introduced herself as Jess and we exchanged contact info so I could get the finished drawing to her. Here is the line drawing before I painted and colored it.
And with that we landed, the lights came up and I was able to be greeted by my lovely wife at the airport. It was a wonderful journey meeting old friends, new family, and strangers who became friends.
I love traveling into the past and finding the present.
Drawing and commentary by Marty Coleman