Lia Hiltz, a west-end mom and foreign service officer,
commutes to work every day on the bus, sometimes as much as an hour-and-a-half
To mitigate the frustration of the commute, Hiltz — a
wannabe artist — has decided to sketch her fellow passengers.
As the relatively new mom of a 19-month-old, Hiltz said she
started drawing on the bus in 2007, but began in earnest six months ago when
she returned to work from maternity leave.
Now she has a bus blog, where she posts her work and details
of her travels, something she says motivates her.
“With a full work day and a toddler at home, the time on the
bus was really the only time I had to work on my art,” said Hiltz, who commutes
from her home in College Ward to downtown every day.
But she simply has to draw.
Hiltz attended an arts high school in Toronto
similar to Canterbury
and has a Masters in creative literature. She said she has had art in her life
in one form or another since she was young.
Hiltz said the drawing has really helped turn the negative
experience of being on the bus for long periods into something she sees as a
“Sometimes when I have had a tough day I can’t wait to get
on the bus and start drawing,” Hiltz said.
So, armed with a five by eight inch moleskine notebook,
Hiltz looks for interesting passengers to sketch, while trying to remain as
inconspicuous as possible.
“I don’t really want to get caught and make people feel
uncomfortable so the people I draw may not be my first choice in terms of
interest because I am limited but whoever I choose ultimately becomes
interesting to me as I draw,” she said.
Her subject matter varies wildly from feet to handbags and
she finds beauty sometimes in the smallest things.
Hiltz has even adapted her drawing still to accommodate the
bumps and shuffles during her ride. One drawing took her four separate trips
the other day as she was moved from one articulated bus to another.
“In that case I make a composite of the people I see,” she
said. “And I make my lines wobbly on purpose to accommodate the movement.”
Hiltz would one day like to have a showing of her work and
possibly get a bunch of artists together to create an homage to OC commuters.
“I just think it would be really neat to have something on
the bus ads, like the Transpoetry, but dedicated to the riders,” she said. “I
think the employees might really like to see representations of the people they
help everyday. We’re talking about a metal tube with
dozens of people squished into it. And it repeats a thousand times a day. It’s
the riders who make it work. It’s riders who keep the bus calm, quiet and