Archive 1: Colour Sketches in China

Nowadays it is rare for me to work in colour when I am out and about, but there was a time when I used to take a big tray of coloured pencils and an A3, spiralbound sketchbook out with me. It meant I could do gloriously rich drawings, compared to the simple pencil sketches I do currently, but it did involve being loaded down, so ruled out drawing on a whim, or surreptitiously.

These are drawings done on site during a trip to China in 1987. The top is of course a gate in The Forbidden City in Beijing. The one above was a butchers shop in the city of Chengdu.

It was a very interesting place to draw, not just because it was so colourful and so visually different, but also because the Chinese people were absolutely fascinated and crowded round to watch. This proved to be one of the most challenging aspects though: within seconds, whatever I was trying to sketch was always obliterated by onlookers!

For this reason, I was pleased that I took my little A6 book too. This was a street cleaner in Wuhan. Again though, I was lucky to get the secret viewpoint of a hotel window, which had a handy view down onto a main street.

This last was in the city of Xi'an. I was looking down on a lunch restaurant, from a vantage point on top of the Drum Tower. I got several minutes of peaceful concentration before somebody looked up and spotted me.

I would very much like to go back to China 30 years on, as I know many things will have changed beyond recognition. It would be interesting to see if more contact with the West has diluted bystander interest at all!

On my website, there are more drawings from China, or take a peek inside some of my other sketchbooks, such as those from my travels, to countries like Namibia, Vietnam, Australia and various places all over Europe.

Plus, if you want to hear more about how I draw, take a look at one of my short videos.


Gerald de Dios said...

Wow! Those are amazing traveling sketches. I love the vivid color in that first one with the gates. It's reminds me of the beautifully saturated colors in "Curse of the Golden Flower". And the angles of the other sketches are wonderful.

Ira R said...

love these

Anonymous said...

Your whole China series is wonderful! I am particularly drawn to those that you have colored. Makes me want to take out my colored pencils, and I just might. Thanks for posting these.


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