Julie Leonard is going Underground to find inspiration

Julie Leonard who makes sketches of fellow tube travellers on her iPhone -

Julie Leonard who makes sketches of fellow tube travellers on her iPhone - - Credit: Archant

An iPhone app is helping a woman to sketch fellow passengers while riding on the tube

If you spot a woman scrutinising you on the Tube – then busily fiddling with her iPhone – you might just end up on artist Julie Leonard’s wall of fame or tweeted around the globe.

Impressed by David Hockney’s iPad artworks at last year’s RA exhibition, Leonard downloaded the same app to her iPhone.

Armed with the highly portable sketching device, for the past nine months she’s been capturing fellow Tube travellers unawares and displaying them on a 20ft long wall at her Crouch End home.

“I was fascinated by the way Hockney used this app – the scale and detail you can produce with it appealed to me as well as the immediacy of being able to create something on the move,” she says.

“I always have sketchbooks on me at all times to draw ideas or people and I thought this would be a perfect way to have an electronic sketchbook on hand.”

Leonard tweets her sketches, with accompanying taglines such as: “On my way home, Victoria Line, 11.20.”

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She said: “It has caught my imagination as a fantastic way to capture people and places anonymously while I am going to work or coming home late.


“I love watching people go about their everyday lives, making up stories about them and where they might be going.”

Leonard might be drawn to her subjects by an item of clothing, a curious trait or quirky distinguishing feature.

Her wall includes a pair of immaculately turned out blonde, blue-eyed twins travelling home late on the Victoria Line; a girl in a baseball hat and shades, a sleepy couple huddled romantically with their heads together, and a city worker with ‘more money than sense’ emblazoned on his forehead.

“I use several different tube lines regularly and I am fascinated by the different social and cultural mix of people on different lines at different times of the day.

“It’s a very fruitful place for an artist – with people in their own world coming and going to different places.”

Leonard, who has a fine art degree, also works in oil and specialises in life drawing and seascapes of the south coast and St Ives.

Even then she creates on-the- spot sketches which she works from back in the studio.

“The way I work, I like to respond to what’s around me,” she said.

n See more of her work at her website artbyjulieleonard.co.uk.