DLR Lives

dlr luigiday1Last week:  Boarding the DLR one morning I encountered a pigeon walking in circles in the jointed section that allows the train to bend in the middle. The doors had just opened , so he must have been there for at least a few stops. I went up to my scouted seat and drew a schematic of the turquoise grab bar spacing, the various flange configurations, seat contours, and lighting fixtures. I discovered, contrary to my flatmate’s assertion, that not all the coaches are identical. The grab bars on this train had a slightly different configuration than my last transfer did, this is important to keep in mind because I can’t always be sure to get the same train, and model positions must be adjusted accordingly.  The train stopped, and as I exited at All Saints to visit my DIY shop the pigeon flew out the next set of doors. I wondered if he’d have any problems finding his way home. Probably not, he just needs to board the southbound to Poplar then transfer. I hope he remembers to touch out.

I was painting on the train Friday when two chaps in business suits sat in the seat behind me. I vaguely overheard them, talking about finance or business, I believe. At a certain point, one leaned forward and asked, “Do you have to finish that before we get to Bank?”(the end of the line).
“no, I have until March 12”
I kept painting.
After awhile, a ticket checker came round. As I reached in my pocket, he smiled, waved his hand saying, “That’s OK”

The bloke behind me: “You’re improving the mood on board. No one ever smiles on the train”

I like to think my presence makes a difference, so I smiled at the thought.

On my way home from another excursion, I sat down in “my seat” (first seat, aisle), when the couple across from me laughed. “Whoever sits in that seat has to talk to us!”

“What’s your name?”


Another chorus of roaring laughter.

“The last guy was named Paul, too!  You’re not into I.T, are you?”

I smiled wryly, imagining anyone who would hire me for I.T. work.

“No, I’m not”

We chatted amicably.  Since I’ve been riding this train, painting or just as a passenger, I’ve found plenty of smiles. And the staff have all been kind, inquisitive and helpful. Maybe when you pass your time on the train focusing on business rather than taking an interest in who is around you, you don’t notice an opportunity for smiles, or so as not to scapegoat the businessmen and women, maybe when taking the train everyday, one just forgets to look for them, there are plenty of beaming, tentative, jaunty, garrulous teeth around. No, not all smiles are genuine, and some come with strings attached. But they are all worth seeing. I need to remember, at least one of the portraits must be smiling.

here’s what the DLR easel looks like:Immagine

Featuring custom velcro legs straps for support, brush holder, a paper towel dispenser, palette knife holder, and a trash bag to insure all painty paper towels go straight to the trash without getting on train or passengers, this easel is specifically designed to allow me to take up no more than a regular passenger’s personal space.


This seemingly normal L coupling is actually a rotating and pivoting joint with an internal mechanism to keep the pipes from disconnecting.  This motion is essential to facilitate the changing of the paper towel roll when the interlocking bar is opened.

Immaginethe Liquin cup and interlocking crossbar are not only functional, they are aesthetically fun!  When seen from above they recall the London Transport DLR logo.

The final painting will be 65 cm high and 240 wide, composed of six separate panels and hosting 15-20 friends who ride the DLR with me to model.  I like that the movement of the train offer daunting technical challenges, and minimizes the ability to articulate fine detail.  I want the movement of the train to show its presence in the painted mark.  Preparations are being made to produce a short documentary on the process.Immagine

The DLR, or Docklands Light Rail, is unique to London transportation in that it is fully automated, having no driver, passengers in the front seat are treated to a roller-coaster style view of the Thames Barrier, vastly improbable industrial oddities, residential blocks, the Olympic park, and the Emirates Airline gondola-style skylift.  I only ride the B07 or B09 “Olympic Batch” stock carriages, which offer sleeker interior design and more leg room than the older ’98 stock.  B07_09_DLR_stock_interior

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