I had time to kill before my Amtrak ride from New York to Washington. Rather than wait in the hot, dungeon-like Penn Station, I prefer to hang out at The Pennsy, the hip food court next door on Pennsylvania Plaza. There’s a nice bar, the food is great, and the bathrooms are actually usable (unlike Penn Station’s, and Amtrak’s, for that matter).
My routine is either to make a beeline for the bar and drink red wine before my train ride, or to gorge on a meatball sub and tater tots at Pat LaFrieda’s stand. During my last trip, I did the latter, eating my food at the table in the very front of the room, facing the chaos of 7th Avenue and West 31st Street.
Scarfing down my food in record time, I decided to put my new Stillman & Birn sketchbook to use. I started sketching the scene on the corner, a frenetic scene of flashing billboards, speeding taxis, harried travelers and neon lights. I finished the pencil sketch before heading to my train (stopping, of course, to pick up rugelach and a challah at Zaro’s Bakery). I inked the piece on the train with my trusty ultra-fine Sharpie and painted with my travel watercolor kit.I didn’t mind the shakiness of the train — it adds to my allergy of straight lines!
I’m happy with the result, but more so happy with the paper. It was my first time watercoloring on the Stillman & Birn paper, and it was a dream! Rare to find paper that thin that doesn’t buckle. (This is the Beta series, hardback book).
But really, what made me happiest? It had to be those tater tots.