Exit Row

Airline travel involves so much waiting these days, it seems. But I figured out long ago that even airports make great sketch opportunities—people, equipment, food, architecture… there’s always something to sketch. A recent trip to Michigan found me sketching the jetway on the way home. After a long drive to the airport, rental car return, and security, I was ready to re-group before heading to my gate. I sat down in a comfy chair near a restaurant and looked out the large floor-to-ceiling window. I saw the metal-grays of the jetway, the interesting shapes, wheels, cords hanging down, and knew that it probably wouldn’t move for awhile. So… a great sketch subject! I carefully placed lines on my paper to get the dimensions first. I did the rounded area on the right side as well. With complicated objects, I get the “bones” of the object in first, then work on adding details. And boy, there were a lot of them! Doors and ladders, buttons and cords, rivets and metal flaps…. I used Faber-Castill Pitt pen. Once I got the sketch down, I went to my gate and had to sit some more. So out came the watercolors and finer pen tip to lay in the details. It was pretty fun! The guy next to me was blaring some video game or something, people at a table were messing around on laptops, and I was painting my sketch!


That was the return trip. Going to my destination days before, I was bored on the plane. I had been put in an exit row, and since I rarely sit in one, I was intrigued by first, all the legroom (yay!) and second, all the little signs on the exit door and my tray table. A flight attendant came over and ask us all if we would carry out the duties of being in the exit row if called upon, and we said yes, and got back to our phones or magazines. I looked at the pamphlet in the seat pocket and found that my emergency duties would include pulling a flap on the top of the door, pulling down a red handle while holding the big black handle, pulling the 42 lb. door inward toward me and then chucking it out the doorway to the ground (or water or fire) below. Then, I also noticed a panel by my head (which popped open during the flight) that had a long red and white cord folded up, and according to the pamphlet, it became some type of rope “railing” for people to hang on to when exiting the plane.

After getting all that straight (whew!), I sat back in my hard seat and decided en route to sketch my son’s tray table next to me (on the left), his leg and shoe, and my leg and shoe. I’ve drawn airplane people before, but wanted to stretch myself and draw a long row in a fish-bowl perspective, ie., curved. It turned out well, for my first one. I started with my son and worked the woman to the left in first, then the row in front of us. It looks like we have way more legroom than we did! But that’s OK. The lines are a little spidery, but I like it, and it indicates the motion in the plane while I was sketching. It was a fun white and black sketch, but later I added colors in when at home. I want to try another again sometime where I can get more perspective of the row leading to the front of the plane!

exit row

Leave a Reply