Artwork in India (2) – Udaipur Workaway

 

udaipur, rajasthan, india, guide, guided, walk, old town, market, workaway

This is Rama, I just spent a few days staying with her and her family in Udaipur, a beautiful lakeside city in Rajasthan, India.

I contacted Rama through Workaway, an organisation that puts travelers in touch with a worldwide network of hosts who offer food and accommodation in exchange for a few hours work per day.

Although I’d known about Workaway for many years (having lived in the same Spanish town as its British inventor and many of the support team) this was my first Workaway post.

I was keen to volunteer with Rama because I wanted the opportunity to go off the standard tourist trail, stay with an Indian family and meet some of the overlooked and excluded members of their community.

This is how Rama describes her project:

“I run a project with the goal to spread happiness in local communities in my wonderful city, Udaipur. Everyone wants to be happy but unfortunately not everybody is. That’s why I’m trying to find different ways to help and spread happiness across the towns and villages in India.

Everytime I talk to the poor children, the homeless and elderly and those of ill health, I feel that they have so little in the way of possessions or wealth or status or perhaps even physical strength, and yet they have so much love to give. I started to spend more time with different local communities, I began to share with them, and they too, began to share with me. 

I work with a great variety of individuals and larger communities – with orphaned and homeless children, with rag-pickers, with tribal girls, women who suffer domestic abuse, children with physical and emotional difficulties, and with the elderly.

I feel that elderly people have so much life experience and so much to give, but sadly once they become old, nobody wants to interact with them or give them attention. They are pushed aside and forgotten. But I believe these people deserve our love and compassion, and I would like to bring happiness to them, through creativity and positive engagement. 

In the early morning the rag pickers collect garbage from the streets. They work long hours and in poor conditions but they are not respected or acknowledged for their work. They live together, in communities, and I visit their homes, or community halls, and play games with the children.
We talk and listen to each other, laugh together, we share our life experiences and we help one another. 

hopscotch, ragpickers, children, udaipur, happiness project, community, workaway, volunteer

I believe this is a two way process. We have much to bring to these communities, just as they too have much to offer us in the way of learning and compassion. I think its important to create an atmosphere of positive energy, of laughter, of sharing and of happiness. Because creativity, support and love are so good for healing any sadness, pain or frustration we can experience in life. Some scientific research shows that the level of creativity in children is much lower than what it was before. There is a lot of reasons for that, but there are also solutions. 

Through this project, I want to provide some kind of simple service in the way that I want to share every kind of knowledge or skills I have. I also invite you to come and work alongside me, sharing (whatever) skills you have – whether you are an artist, a musician, a crafts person, a teacher, a film maker or even a web designer. Any creative skills, circus skills, food skills, teaching skills, story telling skills, farming skills, listening skills, or simply a good open heart! 
I am grateful and open to all types of ideas and contributions!

I really look forward to hearing from you and finding news ways in which, together, we can create and share a little bit of happiness around the world!”

Here’s the link to Rama’s Udaipur Happiness Project on Facebook.

I went twice with Rama to visit the children – they’re delightful; lively, funny, friendly, cheeky and clever. They were really into hopscotch and the hokey-cokey (which they learnt from another English volunteer).

hopscotch, ragpickers, children, udaipur, happiness project, community, workaway, volunteer

The love and respect that the children and their families have for Rama was palpable – it was a privilege to be included in that warmth.

ragpickers, children, udaipur, happiness project, community, workaway, volunteer

We also went to visit a group of women who had suffered domestic abuse; they live in secure accommodation with their children, one little boy was born on a train.

Once again we were made very welcome although a couple of them were too shy to share their names. We did some stretching exercises on the lawn after another enthusiastic hokey-cokey session.

Rama and her family gave me such a warm welcome despite their profound grief at the recent loss of their beloved father, known as Papa, by all accounts a peaceful, dignified, happy and generous man.

Papa was enormously impressed by his middle daughter’s hard work and community spirit. Despite his initial misgivings when Rama, as a teenager, insisted on being treated the same as her two younger brothers – she identified with them equally if not more than with her two older sisters – he came to regard her as his teacher with respect to women’s rights.

My domestic duties involved washing up (no hot water let alone a dishwasher) and chopping vegetables (lots of onions and green chillies) which Rama or her older sister (and occaisionally their mother and younger brother) expertly turned into delicious spiced up dishes while creating huge piles of chapattis on the side. 

I was told more than once how lucky I am to have been born a woman in the UK. 

workaway, father, papa, pencil, drawing, portrait, gift, remember

I drew this pencil portrait of Rama’s Papa from a photo and it’s now framed in Papa’s room; Rama says seeing his smile every day gives her consolation and inspiration.

One of Papa’s mottos was “always be big-hearted”. Rama, a brave, strong pioneer of equal rights in a country where most people abide by rigid patriarchal and class rules is certainly a living embodiment of that.

sugar cane juice, rama, guided walk, udaipur, market, rajasthan, india

Rama used to visit the old city market with her Papa, preferring to support the local economy by buying fresh goods directly from the producers rather than shopping in supermarkets.

repair man, rama, guided walk, udaipur, market, rajasthan, India

Rama developed the route into a guided walk which I took with her one hot afternoon.

This is the link to Rama’s guided Udaipur city walk on Facebook

vegetables, guided walk, udaipur, market, rajasthan, India

We went there and back in a packed shared auto, an adventure in itself – I counted 12 passengers in the little rickshaw van at one point.

spices, rama, guided walk, udaipur, market, rajasthan, India

The market is a beautiful labyrinth of tiny colourful shops divided into categories: sweets, snacks, kitchenware, fruit and veg, grains and spices. So much to see, smell and taste.

haveli, rama, guided walk, udaipur, market, rajasthan, india

We also stepped back in time through the doors of a delightfully disheveled 300 year old haveli.

haveli, rama, guided walk, udaipur, market, rajasthan, india

All in all a wonderful, eye-opening and unforgettable experience and a reminder never to take white privilege and western women’s relative emancipation for granted.

Thank you Rama, you are so big-hearted, keep up your good works.

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.

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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. 

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.

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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).

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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.
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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).

Freddie – Portrait of a Baby

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My friends recently celebrated the first birthday of their delightful grandson Fred and very kindly invited me to the party. I decided to make a portrait to commemorate the event.

Freddie is already a star on Instagram so I chose my favourite photo of him from his mum’s gallery – it has something of the sage about it – and made a series of simple pencil drawings until I was happy that the outline did the handsome little chap justice.

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I then uploaded a photograph of the drawing into Photoshop, cleaned up the linework and started playing about with classic pop art parodies.
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The first version was an Andy Warhol style set of four coloured squares, but I found it too busy….

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so I simplified it and made the colours more muted

 

 

Then I thought I’d have a go at a version of the Obama Hope poster by Shepard Fairey

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I got both versions (above and top) printed, popped them into frames and gift wrapped them; they seemed to be received rather well.

Happy birthday Freddie – you lovely boy! xx

Bar Día – A Love Story

bar dia, palma de mallorca, pen and watercolour, watercolour, water color, acuarela, sketch, illustration, wedding gift, love story, meeting place

I was asked by José to make this pen and watercolour drawing as a wedding present for Blaise and Letitia, to celebrate their first ever meeting.

José wrote this poem to go with the drawing

Se dice que fue como un relámpago,
en cosa de un segundo,
segundo y medio a lo sumo,
un estallido de rosas cayendo de su pecho
al albur de unos ojos,
un traqueteo de piernas,
el suspiro de un miedo
y un miedo vencido con solo una palabra.
 
Se dice que alguien se enamoró aquel día
como tantas otras veces otras gentes
pero yo que he visto conozco esta historia
puedo dejarla escrita en estos versos
puedo decir seguro 
que mereció la pena.
 
Which translates as
 
It is said that it was like a lightning bolt, 
a matter of a second, 
a second and a half at most, 
an explosion of roses falling from his chest 
to the fate of eyes, 
a quiver of legs, 
the sigh of fear
and fear overcome with only one word. 
 

It is said that someone fell in love that day 
like so many other people at other times 
but I’ve seen, I know this story 
I can leave it written in these verses 
I can say for sure 
that it was worth it.

 

It’s a beautifully romantic project for a very lovely couple, I wish them all the best for their wedding today (11th August 2017) in Taiwan and their long and happy future together. 
 
bar dia, palma de mallorca, pen and watercolour, watercolour, water color, acuarela, sketch, illustration, wedding gift, love story, meeting placebar dia, palma de mallorca, pen and watercolour, watercolour, water color, acuarela, sketch, illustration, wedding gift, love story, meeting place
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Obviously it was impractical for me to travel to Mallorca to draw the bar so I worked from a photo that José found on the internet, rendering the outline first in pencil then in pen (above left and right) before applying the watercolour (top).