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!

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

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Artwork in India (4) – Bikaner

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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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) 

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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 

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

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

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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.

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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.

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

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View from the Castle – Sketch

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

Corredera 55 – Business Cards

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I had a lovely surprise during my recent visit to Vejer (after an absence of several months) – the fabulous people at the delightful Corredera 55 restaurant had updated their business card to include the pen and watercolour sketch I made of the restaurant facade back in 2016 (below).

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I knew they were planning to change their business card, in fact I prepared the file for the printer some time ago, but seeing the dinky little versions of the original painting sitting there in the restaurant made me smile.

If you’re lucky enough to visit Corredera 55 this summer I can highly recommend the baked sardines with sumac, damascan lemon, black olives and cherry tomatoes; a luscious oily concoction which melts in the mouth and goes down particularly well after the green gazpacho; a pea, mint, avocado and cucumber variation of the traditional Spanish cold summer soup.

Yum.

Pre-Loved Fashion Drawings

fashion, high heels, handbag, leather, gloves, head over heels, bags of style, silky inside, mary's living and giving, save the children, charity, shop, designer, sketch, drawing, watercolour, watercolor, painting, illustration, charity, bermondsey, london, ethical, sustainable, reuse, recycle, donate, volunteerI recently moved back to London – a rather unexpected and initially unwanted development – but it’s actually turned out to be quite wonderful…

I was having a wander around my district the other day and saw a sign outside the Mary’s Living & Giving Shop in Bermondsey Street asking for volunteers. The Mary in the title is Mary Portas, ‘Queen of Shops’, and the 23 Living and Giving shops in London all sell donated new and pre-loved fashion in aid of Save The Children. So I signed up…what better way to contribute to a worthy cause, meet new people and hang out in a gorgeous place? Not to mention the beautiful pre-loved designer gear (no staff discounts!).

During my first shop shift I felt inspired to draw some of the delightful items on display so I signed them out in the ‘borrow book’ and took them home.

I started by making some sketches to test colours and layout, taking elements from the shop decoration (by Elno Art) to use as the border.

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I was pleased with the sketches but I wanted to develop them into more polished pieces which I could donate to the shop. I got the sketches enlarged by photocopy so that I could trace the layout onto lovely heavy watercolour paper without having to start the whole design process again from scratch.

pencil, pied a terre, shoes, fashion, high heels, leather, head over heels, mary's living and giving, save the children, charity, shop, designer, drawing, watercolour, watercolor, painting, illustration, charity, bermondsey, london, ethical, sustainable, reuse, recycle, donate, volunteer

Once the pencil line work was complete I went over it with water resistant pens of various nib sizes

pen, pied a terre, shoes, fashion, high heels, leather, head over heels, mary's living and giving, save the children, charity, shop, designer, drawing, watercolour, watercolor, painting, illustration, charity, bermondsey, london, ethical, sustainable, reuse, recycle, donate, volunteer

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sketchbook, pen, pied a terre, shoes, fashion, high heels, leather, head over heels, mary's living and giving, save the children, charity, shop, designer, drawing, watercolour, watercolor, painting, illustration, charity, bermondsey, london, ethical, sustainable, reuse, recycle, donate, volunteer

Then with the pen outline finished I rubbed out the pencil marks and started adding layers of watercolour paint

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pied a terre, shoes, fashion, high heels, leather, head over heels, mary's living and giving, save the children, charity, shop, designer, drawing, watercolour, watercolor, painting, illustration, charity, bermondsey, london, ethical, sustainable, reuse, recycle, donate, volunteer

pencil, pied a terre, shoes, fashion, high heels, leather, head over heels, mary's living and giving, save the children, charity, shop, designer, drawing, watercolour, watercolor, painting, illustration, charity, bermondsey, london, ethical, sustainable, reuse, recycle, donate, volunteer

Obviously the shoe drawing is my favourite…the actual shoes are my size but those heels are really high and my knees are middle aged!

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Finally I got the completed pictures scanned…

fashion, handbag, leather, bags of style, mary's living and giving, save the children, charity, shop, designer, sketch, drawing, watercolour, watercolor, painting, illustration, charity, bermondsey, london, ethical, sustainable, reuse, recycle, donate, volunteer

fashion, leather, gloves, silky inside, mary's living and giving, save the children, charity, shop, designer, sketch, drawing, watercolour, watercolor, painting, illustration, charity, bermondsey, london, ethical, sustainable, reuse, recycle, donate, volunteer

pied a terre, shoes, fashion, high heels, leather, head over heels, mary's living and giving, save the children, charity, shop, designer, drawing, watercolour, watercolor, painting, illustration, charity, bermondsey, london, ethical, sustainable, reuse, recycle, donate, volunteer

I will be so proud to have my drawings displayed in the shop and maybe even sell them – all proceeds to Save the Children.

Pre-loved fashion – sustainable, ethical and beautiful; reuse, recycle, donate!

Update: On 21st March 2018 my lovely friend Wendy came by the shop to buy ‘Head over Heels’! Thank you!

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Illustration Exhibition at the Presentation of the Play ‘Té Verde’

te verde, green tea, play, marcel snyders, arte vejer, exhibition, vejer de la frontera, castle, illustration, book cover, watercolour, pen and watercolour, art, drawing, painting, posterOn a rainy January afternoon my friend Marcel Snyders presented his play ‘Té Verde‘ (Green Tea in English) to an enthusiastic audience in the castle headquarters of Arte Vejer.

I designed the front cover for Té Verde back in October 2017 (you can read about the process here) so Marcel invited me to exhibit some of my art work during the event.

That’s Marcel (below) being interviewed by Paco Ariza Varo from Radio Vejer before Marcel interviewed me….

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te verde, green tea, play, marcel snyders, arte vejer, exhibition, vejer de la frontera, castle, illustration, book cover, watercolour, pen and watercolour, art, drawing, painting, fabric design, surface design, digital printing

I decided to keep the exhibition small and simple so I showed a selection of my sketchbooks with my painting materials (to demonstrate the process of illustration) alongside the finished illustrations for:

postcards, the black dawg book, te verde, green tea, play, marcel snyders, arte vejer, exhibition, vejer de la frontera, castle, illustration, book cover, watercolour, pen and watercolour, art, drawing, painting, fabric design, surface design, digital printing

I also displayed some of my fabric designs (my current favourite form of illustration!) and the dresses I made from them, as well as a selection of postcards and a computer slideshow of other artworks.

sketchbook, te verde, green tea, play, marcel snyders, arte vejer, exhibition, vejer de la frontera, castle, illustration, book cover, watercolour, pen and watercolour, art, drawing, painting, fabric design, surface design, digital printing

abraham sevilla serrano, flamenco, musician, te verde, green tea, play, marcel snyders, arte vejer, exhibition, vejer de la frontera, castle,

 

 

The presentation was highly entertaining, Marcel served green tea (té verde) and cakes as people arrived, two actresses from Marcel’s theatre group read the first act of the play, the flamenco musician Abraham Sevilla Serrano improvised a song dedictated to Marcel and the play (right)…

te verde, green tea, play, marcel snyders, arte vejer, exhibition, vejer de la frontera, castle, illustration, book cover, watercolour, pen and watercolour, art, drawing, painting, fabric design, surface design, digital printing

 

 

 

…then Marcel broke out the cava and presented me with my copy of the book

 

 

 

The Spanish version of the play Té Verde is now available to buy on the publisher’s website.

It’s a highly entertaining read…Good luck Marcel!

Tapas Time

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There’ve been two public holidays in Spain this week; Wednesday the 6th and Friday 8th December to mark the Spanish constitution and the immaculate conception(!) respectively.

So to celebrate, Vejer went into ‘Pueblo Abierto’ (Open Village) mode, flinging back the doors of her monuments and putting on a Ruta de Tapas (tapas route). 

During the Ruta de Tapas 12 restaurants put up their best little dishes for sale at 3€ (including a drink) and hundreds of people try to taste them all within the 8 hour over 2 days time frame. There’s a tapas route map which you need to get stamped in every establishment you eat at – if you get the full set of stamps you can vote for your favourite dish and enter a competition to win a computer. Tasty and hectic, start early!

The Vejer Sketchers arranged a meeting on Saturday so I popped into town with the intention of sketching (and eating) food in tapas form.

First stop the market (below)…not strictly part of the official tapas route but hey ho, the only place open when I started sketching. I didn’t eat this one, the roe was pretty but not gastronomically appealing so I gave it back unsullied to the fish counter lady once the sketch was finished.

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Next stop, La Posta for some yummy spinach and ricotta pasta in a red onion sauce (below)

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Then on to the 4 Estaciones (4 Seasons) for some delicious beef with Japanese flavours in a crunchy filo pocket (below)

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Confession time: I ran out of steam and didn’t draw the last dish I ate…the establishment was struggling under the weight of the hoard by then so it took a long time to procure said tapas, which although delicious was not pretty!