Artwork in India (5) – Jaisalmar Workaway

jaisalmar, rajasthan, India, travel blog, travel solo, travel, workaway, jaisalmer fort, haveli, scooter, door, dog

I chose to do a Workaway at a hostel in Jaisalmar because I wanted to go on a desert safari and the hostel owner said he wanted some help to decorate the rooftop terrace (along with some basic IT tasks).

When I got here it was apparent that many people had already contributed to the roof terrace decoration…some in a lovely way, some in quite a haphazard way!

jaisalmar, fort, rajasthan, india, workaway, rooftop, wonbin safari hostel, pen and wash, watercolour, watercolor, painting, sketching, sketchbook, travel illustration, travel blog, illustration, landscape, painting, drawing

So, my exclusive rights to the wall space scuppered I set about capturing the beautiful view (above) of the fort while planning my strategy for mural painting in limited areas amongst a hotch-potch of other images.

camel, stencil, cutting, drawing, craft knife

I decided on a stencil with the .most obvious theme for a desert safari hostel – the camel.

camel, stencil, cutting, drawing, cardboard

I found a craft knife and the lid of a photocopy paper box in the market by the fort and set about preparing my template.

camel, stencil, painting, mural, illustration, repeat, acrylic paint

Having painted several camels, a bit of red shading and yellow highlighting  I added a border inspired by a Rajasthani folk art design.

wonbin safari hostel, roof terrace, jaisalmar, rajasthan, India, camel, decorative painting, mural, wall art, wall painting, folk art, acrylic paint, illustration, stencil, camels

wonbin safari hostel, roof terrace, jaisalmar, rajasthan, India, camel, decorative painting, mural, wall art, wall painting, folk art, acrylic paint, illustration, stencil, camels

wonbin safari hostel, roof terrace, fort, jaisalmar, rajasthan, India, camel, decorative painting, mural, wall art, wall painting, folk art, acrylic paint, illustration, stencil, camels

I did go on a camel safari, it was tremendous fun if a little hard on the thighs. Even though we didn’t venture very deep into the Thar desert the peace and vastness of the landscape were still impressive. We had chai on the dunes while watching the sunset, then ate dinner around a campfire before settling down to sleep under the stars. Gorgeous.

camel, camels, desert, dunes, safari, desert safari, Jaisalmar, wonbin safari hostel, rajasthan, India, travel, adventure, camping, sand, trek

While wandering around Jaisalmar old town I was struck by the number of Ganeshes painted on the houses.

jaisalmar, Ganesh, wall painting, elephant, elephants, god, hindu, marriage, rajasthan, india

Then someone told me that since Ganesh is the Hindu god that removes obstacles and blesses new starts the people get him painted on their houses every time there’s a wedding.  In fact the paintings serve as a kind of invitation since they contain the names, date and location of the union. Ah-ha!

I had a go at a Ganesh…

jaisalmar, Ganesh, watercolour, pen and wash, drawing, painting, illustration, elephant, elephants, god, hindu, rajasthan, india

Then I got invited to a wedding! I went up to the fort for a massage, my second in a week since hard beds, overnight travel and painting have taken their toll on my middleaged bones. There’s a team of sisters who offer Ayurvedic loveliness in their home but the house was very busy when I got there so I expected to be turned away. One of the sisters explained that they were preparing for her neice’s nuptials and I got my massage and an invitation to the wedding in two days.

hindu, wedding, bride, saris, jaisalmer, rajasthan, india

And it was a delightfully colourful evening – the whole marriage ceremony takes place over several days and nights and costs the bride’s family an absolute fortune. There were saris of every hue, mountains of delicious food being cooked and eaten and a cocophany of drums and firecrackers when the groom finally arrived at midnight.

There is definitely an advantage to sticking around in one place for a bit longer than is usual on the backpacker trail.

jaisalmar, rajasthan, fort, India, thar desert, travel blog, workaway, travel blog, travel solo, travel, workaway, jaisalmer fort, haveli, gadisar lake, workshop

 

 

Artwork in India (4) – Bikaner

bikaner, karni mata, rat temple, rat, rajasthan, india, travel blog, signwriting, wall painting, market, antiques, tins, cow, goat, jain temple, door, decorative painting

I only intended to stay in Bikaner for two days, just to visit the famous Karni Mata rat temple in nearby Deshnoke (weird I know, but I’m a rodent fan).

I painted the little pen and wash study below from a photo I took at the temple.

rat, rat temple, temple, deshnoke, rajasthan, karni mata, rodent, hindu, pen, watercolour, watercolor, study, drawing, painting, travel blog, travel illustration, illustration, rodent, art

Then I met a guy who offered me free bed and board in exchange for some painting work at the hostel he’s renovating so I stayed an extra three days, and had a lot of fun.

bikaner, hostel, rajasthan, india, travel blog, wall painting, door, window, frames, decorative painting

I painted the frames around the doorways and windows behind my hostel buddies in the photo above, and below here’s me finishing off the stripes.

wall painting, acrylic paint, decoration, decorative painting, bikaner, rajasthan, india

That’s Auntie Gee in the background, she owns the place, directs the workers and delivers chai. 

Bikaner is beautiful in a dusty way and largely unspoilt by tourism. There are a number of guesthouses in huge hawelis in the old town which is where I stayed at the start of my visit. Then I moved downtown and took a lovely walk to the market most nights to eat street food near the stunning Bhandasar Jain Temple.

 

Artwork in India (3) – Pushkar

Pushkar has been wonderful; a strange and delightful mix of the spiritual and the decadent with a bit of filth and hassle thrown in for good measure.

pushkar, India, camel, temple, travel blog

Don’t touch the flowers that are offered down by the ghats (sacred lakeside bathing areas)- you’ll get dragged into a lakeside blessing ceremony  and charged well for the honour.

fruit, vegetables, greengrocer, market, stall, pushkar, rajasthan, india, pen and wash, drawing, sketch, sketching, painting, watercolour, watercolor, travel, illustration, street painting, travel blog

I sat in the doorway with some kind young musicians while I sketched this little market stall. They insisted that I showed the greengrocer the painting afterwards. He loved it.

saris, devotees, bathing, ghat, lake, pushkar lake, pushkar, rajasthan, india, pen and wash, drawing, sketch, sketching, painting, watercolour, watercolor, travel, illustration, street painting, travel blog

Unknowingly I arrived in Pushkar during the most sacred week of the Hindu calendar, which coincided with the famous camel fair.

The streets were full of pilgrims from all over India and beyond. I met an Argentinian Hindu who was staying at the same hotel and he explained a bit about the bathing rituals and took me to a couple of temples.

Photography is strictly prohibited at the lakeside so I thought I’d sketch the scene instead.

artist, selfie, India, Pushkar, sketching, sketcher, rajasthan, saris, devotees, bathing, ghat, lake, pushkar lake, pushkar, rajasthan, india, pen and wash, drawing, sketch, sketching, painting, watercolour, watercolor, travel, illustration, street painting, travel blog

The photography ban didn’t stop me being asked to pose for a couple of pictures!

camel, pushkar, camel fair, camel decoration, pen and wash, watercolour, drawing, sketchbook, watercolor

In Udaipur I met a lovely young camel expert from New Zealand who spoke so passionately about the camel fair that I decided to visit. When I arrived in Pushkar I met up with her again and spent a very interesting hour or so meeting the camels. They’re surprisingly sweet and dignified.

Inspired, I drew the camel above, the circle is a design based on the ornaments the camels are dressed with.

camel, mural, pushkar, camel fair, wall painting, painting, decoration, decorative painting, acrylic paint, illustration, travel, india

I then painted this version on the hotel wall before I left.

pushkar, moustache competition, moustache, beard, facial hair, rajasthani

The annual moustache competition was a hilarious highlight of the camel fair – Rajasthanis are certainly blessed in the hair department!  

Artwork in India (1) – Udaipur

new delhi, railway, station, train, overnight, journey, sketch, sketching, sketchbook, illustration, travel, figures, platform

I got to the train station in New Delhi early with the intention to draw. It was a little overwhelming but a kind man insisted that I sit on his blanket with him and his son which made drawing more comfortable. My train to Udaipur left bang on time at 7pm and I had a good 12 hour journey in a bunked sleeping compartment.

udaipur, lakeside, lake pichola, rajasthan, India, pen and watercolour, painting, sketching, sketch, sketchbook, rooftop, moustache hostel, hanuman gat

This is the view across Lake Pichola from the roof of the Moustache Hostel in Udaipur. Rajasthanis have famously luxurious facial hair, hence the name of the hostel. 

wall painting, artist at work, stencil, cockerel, rooster, mural, acrylic paint, surface decoration, illustration, decoration, birds

The hostel had lots of wallpaintings left by many guests so I offered them some cockerels…

wall painting, artist at work, stencil, cockerel, rooster, mural, acrylic paint, surface decoration, illustration, decoration, birds

They then asked me to paint something in the space above the birds so I drew a design in my sketchbook inspired by a beautiful cow I’d seen on my first morning walk through the city.

holy, cow, sacred cow, holy cow, pen, watercolour, drawing, painting, watercolor, sketchbook, travel, India, rajasthan, udaipur, marigoldsAnd then transferred it to the wall (below) 

holy cow, cow, mural, wall painting, wall art, detail, nose, acrylic paint, emulsion paint, decoration, illustration, surface decoration, decorative painting, artwork, india, rajasthan, udaipur, moustache hostel, travel

Painting in the reception area was a great way to meet people, and the cow and cockerels got a very warm welcome.

hanuman, monkey, god, temple, udaipur, rajasthan, hindu, india, pen, watercolour, sketch, sketchbook, painting, travel, illustration, drawing

Here’s a pen and watercolour sketch I made at a little Hanuman temple in the street. The lady selling flowers next door kindly lent me a stool to sit on while I drew.

portrait, pencil, graphite, drawing, Indian, man, moustache, beard, rajasthani, moustache hostel, udaipur, India, travel, illustration

This is Yogesh, one of the Moustache Hostel team. He asked me to draw his portrait so I worked in pencil from a photo.

udaipur, rajasthan, india, pen, sketch, lady, sari, cafe, illustration, travel

And here’s a quick pen sketch I made of a lady wearing a sari while she sat in a lakeside café. I’m sure she twigged that I was drawing her, she didn’t seem to mind but she did leave before I had a chance to add colour.

All in all a very enjoyable and creative first week here in India. I’m leaving the Moustache Hostel today to go and spend a few days with an Indian family here in Udaipur. 

Amalia’s Arch Mural

My lovely friend Amalia (herself a talented watercolourist) asked me to design and paint a mural for the back room in her Vejer pharmacy which she is renovating.

arch, mural, drawing, plants, flowers, illustration, valerian, chamomile, passion flower, kava, herbalism, natural remedies, calm, tranquillising, tranqullizing, stress relief, botanical, pharmacy, sketchbook

The room has an impressive archway and will be used as a venue for workshops on health related matters such as diabetes, pre- and post-natal care and managing stress through yoga and meditation.

Amalia’s brief for the mural was that it should include plants and impart a sense of harmony and tranquility.

I selected various plants with tranquililising properties during a web search, printed photos and set about developing drawings in my sketchbook.

research, arch, mural, drawing, plants, flowers, illustration, valerian, chamomile, passion flower, kava, herbalism, natural remedies, calm, tranquillising, tranqullizing, stress relief, botanical, pharmacy, sketchbook

I came up with two options for the mural; one using the arch as a frame for a botanical drawing of an entire valerian plant 

arch, mural, drawing, plants, flowers, illustration, valerian, herbalism, natural remedies, calm, tranquillising, tranqullizing, stress relief, botanical, pharmacy, sketchbook

the other embelleshing the arch itself with a more stylised arrangement of kava, valerian, passionflower and chamomile.

arch, mural, drawing, plants, flowers, illustration, valerian, chamomile, passion flower, kava, herbalism, natural remedies, calm, tranquillising, tranqullizing, stress relief, botanical, pharmacy, sketchbook

Amalia selected the second option which I then developed into a more detailed drawing (below). 

arch, mural, drawing, plants, flowers, illustration, valerian, chamomile, passion flower, kava, herbalism, natural remedies, calm, tranquillising, tranqullizing, stress relief, botanical, pharmacy, sketchbook

I drew just the left half of the design in detail. I then photographed it and used Photoshop to duplicate and flip it to create a mirror image. I printed out the drawing and packed it in my suitcase in readiness for my trip to Vejer.

Being faced with the actual wall was quite daunting at first, I had to be up and down a ladder to gain proper perspective as I worked which took its toll on my neck and ankles! 

passion flower, drawing, pencil, mural, illustration, surface pattern, wall, art

I drew the left side of the mural onto the wall in pencil. When I was happy with the layout I traced it in sections, flipping each one over so that I could copy the mirror image to the right side of the arch.

I painted the white parts first; then came the colour…I made a chart as a mixing guide.

colour, chart, emulsion, acrylic, paint, mix

Using the grey-green wall colour as a base I added tiny amounts of acrylic paint to get all the subtle shades required to colour the mural.

arch, mural, drawing, plants, passion, flowers, illustration, decoration

arch, mural, drawing, plants, passion, flowers, illustration, decoration

The mural is certainly subtle and elegant and has been received very generously.

arch, mural, drawing, plants, flowers, illustration, valerian, chamomile, passion flowers, kava leaves, decoration, decorative, painting

The pale colours do make it difficult to photograph the entire mural well however, so here are some details:

kava, leaves, valerian, flowers, chamomile, arch, mural, detail, painting, emulsion, acrylic, surface, decoration, illustration, wall art

flowers, chamomile, wall art, mural, painting, illustration, decoration, surface, arch, art

passion flower, painting, wall art, mural, botanical, leaves, flower, surface, decoration, emulsion, acrylic, paint, illustration, art

passion flower, wall art, mural, painting, illustration, botanical, leaves, flower, emulsion, acrylic, paint, surface, decoration, art

Wedding Card Portraits

Two of my lovliest friends tied the knot in London earlier this summer, so I made them a wedding card featuring a joint portrait.wedding, card, portrait, gay wedding, celebration, heart, rainbow, digital, illsutration

First I trawled through their Facebook albums for a suitable photo from which I drew a simple outline of each of them in pencil (below).

I made two separate drawings so that I could experiment with the joint portrait composition.wedding, card, portrait, couple, gay, marriage, greetings card, congratulations, rainbow, joint portrait, couple, happy couple, wedding day, celebration, nuptuals, digital, illustration, pencil, drawing, outline, photoshop, layers, highlights, sunglasses wedding, card, portrait, couple, gay, marriage, greetings card, congratulations, rainbow, joint portrait, couple, happy couple, wedding day, celebration, nuptuals, digital, illustration, pencil, drawing, outline, photoshop, layers, highlights, sunglasses

Having photographed my pencil outlines and uploaded them into Photoshop there was a space where an ear should’ve been so I went back to the drawing board and invented one.

wedding, card, portrait, couple, gay, marriage, greetings card, congratulations, rainbow, joint portrait, couple, happy couple, wedding day, celebration, nuptuals, digital, illustration, pencil, drawing, outline, photoshop, layers, highlights, sunglasses

wedding, card, portrait, couple, gay, marriage, greetings card, congratulations, rainbow, joint portrait, couple, happy couple, wedding day, celebration, nuptuals, digital, illustration, pencil, drawing, outline, photoshop, layers, highlights, sunglasses

Having settled on the composition I ‘cut out’ and tidied up the line work in Photoshop (above).

wedding, card, portrait, couple, gay, marriage, greetings card, congratulations, rainbow, joint portrait, couple, happy couple, wedding day, celebration, nuptuals, digital, illustration, pencil, drawing, outline, photoshop, layers, highlights, sunglasses

Working in layers I collaged the coloured elements, starting with the rainbow sunglasses (above). I found the generic rainbow and heart images from a google image search.

wedding, card, portrait, couple, gay, marriage, greetings card, congratulations, rainbow, joint portrait, couple, happy couple, wedding day, celebration, nuptuals, digital, illustration, pencil, drawing, outline, photoshop, layers, highlights, sunglasses

I block coloured the skin, hair and background with the paint brush / bucket tool. 

To add a little shaddow and depth I duplicated the line work layer twice, off-setting each new layer very slightly in different directions and setting the blending mode to overlay.

wedding, card, portrait, couple, gay, marriage, greetings card, congratulations, rainbow, joint portrait, couple, happy couple, wedding day, celebration, nuptuals, digital, illustration, pencil, drawing, outline, photoshop, layers, highlights, sunglasses

On separate layers I used the brush tool at 0% hardness to add the skin highlights (white, 100% opacity, blending mode soft light), hair sheen (flesh tone, 100% opacity, blending mode normal) and darker skin tone (pink, 18% opacity, blending mode normal).

I used the star pattern in the brush tool (white, size 600 approx, blending mode screen) to add the glint on the sunglasses in two layers.

wedding, card, portrait, couple, gay, marriage, greetings card, congratulations, rainbow, joint portrait, couple, happy couple, wedding day, celebration, nuptuals, digital, illustration, pencil, drawing, outline, photoshop, layers, highlights, sunglasses

The final touches were the extra heart layer to pep up the background (white, 100% opacity, soft light blending mode); the text (white, 100% opacity, blending mode normal) with an offset layer behind it (white, 70% opacity, blending mode overlay) and the white glints on the text (same as for the glasses).

wedding, card, portrait, couple, gay, marriage, greetings card, congratulations, rainbow, joint portrait, couple, happy couple, wedding day, celebration, nuptuals, digital, illustration, pencil, drawing, outline, photoshop, layers, highlights, sunglasses

I was chuffed to bits when the grooms told me that they loved the image so much that they wanted to use it as their post-wedding thank you card.
wedding, card, portrait, couple, gay, marriage, greetings card, congratulations, rainbow, joint portrait, couple, happy couple, wedding day, celebration, nuptuals, digital, illustration, pencil, drawing, outline, photoshop, layers, highlights, sunglasses

I sent them a couple of alternative colourways and their printer did the honours!

And here they are, the gorgeous couple (above) and surrounded by their friends and family on the glorious day (below).

View from the Castle – Sketch

vejer, castle, castillo, ramparts, view, sketch, vejer sketchers, pen, watercolour, watercolor, painting, drawing, sketchbook, illustration, cadiz, andalusia, spain, church, bell

I made this little pen and watercolour sketch of the view through the castle ramparts at a recent meeting of the Vejer Sketchers.

Signwriting – Mary’s Living and Giving Shop

I recently did a bit of signwriting to update the sandwich board for the Mary’s Living and Giving Shop in Bermondsey Street.

bermondsey street, marys living and giving shop, save the children, ethical fashion, vintage, secondhand, volunteer, sandwich board, freehand, sign-writing, text, illustration, blackboard, chalk, pens, drawing, design, london, donate, reuse, recycleI liked the Save the Children symbols (the little red figures) that the previous Volunteer had drawn so I rubbed out around them and incorporated them into the new design.

Lucky those chalk pens are weather resistant!

bermondsey street, marys living and giving shop, save the children, ethical fashion, vintage, secondhand, volunteer, sandwich board, freehand, sign-writing, text, illustration, blackboard, chalk, pens, drawing, design, london, donate, reuse, recycle

It’s a lovely place to volunteeer and it really is full of treasures! (No staff discounts!!)

Dragonfly Dress Mark 2

To accommodate my physical expansion since last year I recently made myself another summer dress from my grey dragonfly fabric.

dragonfly, fabric, surface design, illustration, textile design, woven monkey, dress making, dress, sewing, homemade, home sewing, made to measure

My finishing skills are improving! This time I followed my mum´s advice about French seams so the interior of the dress is much neater. dragonfly, fabric, surface design, illustration, textile design, woven monkey, dress making, dress, sewing, homemade, home sewing, made to measure

The arm holes are edged with grey bias binding with contrasting white and yellow top stitching while the neckline is finished with yellow bias binding with contrasting white and grey top stitches.

dragonfly, fabric, surface design, illustration, textile design, woven monkey, dress making, dress, sewing, homemade, home sewing, made to measure

It’s a comfy one and stylish too!