Tuesday, 15 October 2013

Off to India

I am about to go off to India, the land of curry.

My cat Bubbles wants to come with me.
Well, I don't think you would like curry that much, Bubbles.
I'm looking forward to vivid and bright colours in India.
That will make a lot of differene flying from wintery London!

Sunday, 25 August 2013

Just been back from Normandy

I've just come back from Brittany/Normandy holiday, so here are some journal entries I kept while on holiday.
My usual Travel Wardrobe Drawing.  Although it's summer month, you can't be sure if it's going to be warm all through in Normandy so I packed thin wool jumper as well, which is not drawn here.  I also took a thin down liner - I was glad I did.  I didn't have an opportunity to wear the silk dress - it wasn't warm enough.
First day was spent in Dinan, a beautiful medieval town in Brittany.  A lot of half-timber architecture still remain in the central town.  The people are very nice and friendly, too.  It's a lovely place to spend a little longer than just one night... Painting buildings is not my strong point so I didn't manage to paint it on the spot - maybe I'd try later from a photo.
Instead I drew this tourist train - just because I was blocking its path as I was trying to enter the hotel parking space, and people who were waiting to get on the train was staring at me.  I haven't driven for a year, and I was on a rented car, driving on the right side - all this made me quite nervous to drive into a narrow opening of the parking area...well that was a little adventure for sure.
We'd taken a river boat trip on the river Rance.  There was a guide on the boat but he was speaking in French so I couldn't really understand what he was telling us.  With my rudimentary French, I picked up words like "Animal", "Boat", "Pull" "Like this".  He was showing a round belt-like object and put it around his shoulders as he explained.  Not knowing the history of towboat, I was wondering what sort of animal can pull a boat "like this",  imagining a mysterious water creature pulling a boat in the river like the one I drew in the page.

...but then it became clear as the guide was showing a copy of an old photograph of a boat being pulled by an animal ON LAND and my friend was explaining the history of towboat.  So I also drew the correct version of a boat being pulled.
The holiday journal to be continued...

Friday, 26 July 2013

Life Drawing Workshop@Coliseum by English National Ballet

English National Ballet was offering a unique life drawing workshop, where we were allowed to sit in the auditorium and draw dancers while they are warming up and taking class on stage.  Being a fan of both drawing and ballet, it was an opportunity not to be missed.

Costume for Petrushka, ENB
Costume for Petrushka, ENB  
First we were led up to the balcony level refreshment area where some pretty costumes and point shoes were displayed.  The workshop manager had explained various techniques and strategies to draw constantly moving figures.  Dancers were not going to stop and pose for us, so it's up to us how to capture them while they are working. 

White and Gold Tutu
After the induction, we were led down to the auditorium and split into two groups.  One group was led to the circle seats to have front view of the dancers on stage, other half was lead to box seats to have side view of the stage, and about half way we swapped over the seats.

Life Drawing Workshop@ENB

Oh, my my, it was a privilege to watch dancers at the bar AND draw them!!   Witnessing dancers at a class is like peeking into the sketchbook studies of accomplished painters.  I could just sit and watch them forever.  Before the class starts, dancers were limbering up, chatting and stretching, so the pace of motion was somewhat slower and I could draw "human-like" figures - just!

Life Drawing Workshop@ENB

Life Drawing Workshop@ENB

... But when the class started, the pace picked up and these are all I could manage.  I tried not to look a my hands, but just concentrate on looking at the dancers.   I enjoyed looking at other peoples' works afterwards, there were so much to learn from them.  When the subject is moving all the time, goodness you come up with all sorts of really interesting marks.  Some people's works were more abstract and full of energy and fluidity.

Coatume for Petrushka, ENB

Here's a quick watercolour sketch of one of the costumes I painted afterwards (water-based medium were not permitted on the site).  If there's going to be another workshop like this, I am certain I'll join again!

Tuesday, 23 July 2013

Travel Wardrobe

First two pages for Paris trip, July 2012
When I travel, I start my travel journal with the wardrobe drawing. It is useful both minimising what I am going to pack in my bag, and also for future reference. Quite often I make a few notes on the clothing that was not worn much, or things I should have taken. I find it much easier to have a visual reference in this way rather than having a list of items in words.
Brighton trip, June 2013

Normandy, France trip, August 2011 (first two pages)

Normandy, France trip, August 2012
(I didn't take everything listed in these pages. As I wasn't sure about the weather in Normandy, I drew every possible items as a plan and made final choice from the drawing)

One of earlier wardrobe drawing. This one was for trekking trip to Nepal. I used to draw tiny and managed to fit everything in a page about 12cm x 9cm. This journal is so old that this page (and some others) has fallen out of the journal.

Another early day drawing. I used to carry colour pencils instead of watercolours. Karisma colours was my favourite brand but sadly they don't exist any more.

Thursday, 11 July 2013

My Take on Bayeux Tapestry

I have a thing about the Bayeux Tapestry. It depicts the narrative of William the Conqueror leading up to the Battle of Hastings. I've seen it for the first time more than ten years ago, before then I didn't even know this tapestry existed - I wan't a keen historian in my younger days at school in Japan, just a thought about needing to memorise the year of events were too much effort for me. so I didn't pay much attention to the history classes. But when I saw it in the museum, I was immediately captivated. Here is a page from my travel journal of the vist to Bayeux.

The style of drawing is very simple yet they capture the essence of subjects. Paring down the subject to simplest lines and colours requires real skill, in my opinion, and that's something I strive to achieve. I visited the museum in Bayeux again two summers back, and then attempted to recreate my favourite scenes in my travel journal. I have learnt so much from copying the scenes, and it was a lot of fun, too!

So here are what I have done then, my second attempt. King Edward tells Harold to go and meet William, Duke of Normandy and tell him that England will be his when Edward passes away. Harold sails away and meets William.

While staying in Normandy, Harold aids William fighting with Conan, Duke of Brittany. Then Harold is made to swear his fidelity to William. After a while, King William dies. The fingers from heaven blesses the King who has just passed away (I just luuuve this finger depiction. It's SO Monty Pythonesque!)
Harold seizes the opportunity and declares he is the King of England. Halley's Comet appears in the sky and people talks about bad omen. Meanwhile in Normandy, William becomes furious and declares war against Harold. Everybody gets busy making boats to cross the channel.
The Bayeux Tapestry

Ships sail across the Channel and land on Pevensey. Soldiers on horses rush to Hastings to seize food (They must have been really hungry!)
The Bayeux Tapestry
Chefs cook and soldiers eat. The one in the middle at the table is Odon, William's brother and Bishop of Bayeux.
The Bayeux Tapestry - Battle of Hastings
The Battle!
The Bayeux Tapestry
An arrow is shot through Harold's eye and he dies from the wound. The last few meters of the tapestry is lost so the story ends here.

Friday, 5 July 2013

Food for your Eyes

I was at a graduation ceremony & party of a Japanese college of homeopathy where I worked for the last 7 years as a lecture interpreter.

The food served for the party was ... just breath-taking, don't you agree?
I can't imagine how much preparation has gone in to produce such beautiful food.
They looked almost like work of art, I just wanted to admire them, it was such a shame that they had to be eaten! 
...Well, that had to be done and I had eaten them.  I was a happy bunny. The catering service was from Atsuko's Kitchen.  She runs cookery classes, too, and that made me wonder maybe I should try it once to see if that would make me produce such beautifully presented foods!

Tuesday, 2 July 2013

My New Paint Box!

I am addicted to paintboxes.  I love the boxes and I love the colours that line the box.  They look so yummy chummy (don't lick your paint! I have to tell myself).  If I stumble on a nice enamelled box I have to buy it!    And so... recently a very special new paintbox has been added to my collection.   I always wanted to start a blog on drawing/watercolour painting/travel journal etc etc, and at long last this new paintbox spurred me on...so here I am.
It is modelled on Roberson Paintbox, and it is made by The Little Brass Box Company.  For a small additional fee you can choose any colour you want your box to be, and I chose this forest green - well actual colour name is Chrome Green but it's more like forest or fir green.  It came out slightly lighter than expected but I'm still very happy with this colour (it's very difficult to judge the true colour from looking at the screen colour options).  If I could afford it, I'd get as many paintboxes as possible in all the different colours I fancy, for sure!
I used to want Craig Young's paintbox like crazy but he has a loooong looong waiting list so I virtually gave up.  I kept searching on the internet for similar designs and found this new company.
The box takes large pans and I've been thinking about the colour choice to fill the box, way before the paintbox was ready for me.
So here they are.  I've transported several colours from the old box I regularly used (now that one is filled up with half-pans - image might follow on a different entry), and I bought some colours new.
The orangey looking one is Indian Yellow.  I used to have Cadmium Yellow in its place but decided to have a go at this rich warm transparent yellow and see how it goes.  And in this box I ditched Burnt Sienna (the colour I love and find very useful) and replaced it with Light Red - I find Light red is more vibrant - see if I can do without Burnt Sienna - hoping that Sepia - also a new colour for me and much darker - would do the work.