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!  

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.

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.

sketch, sketchbook, 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

sketch, sketchbook, 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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

sketchbook, pied a terre, shoes, fashion, high heels, handbag, leather, gloves, head over heels, 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

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

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

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

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

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!

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, volunteer

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!

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

Tapas Time

 sketchbook, pasta, ricotta, spinach, red onion sauce, la posta, italian restaurant, tapas, ruta de tapas, tapas por vejer, vejer, vejer de la frontera, vejer sketchers, pen and wash, pen and watercolour, watercolor, sketch, illustration, food, pueblos mas bonitos de espana, drawing, painting, gamba, langostino, mercado de abastos, market, street food, fish, roe, mercado de san francisco, 4 estaciones restaurant

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.

tapas, ruta de tapas, tapas por vejer, vejer, vejer de la frontera, vejer sketchers, pen and wash, pen and watercolour, watercolor, sketch, illustration, food, pueblos mas bonitos de espana, drawing, painting, sketchbook, gamba, langostino, mercado de abastos, market, street food, fish, roe, mercado de san francisco

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

tapas, ruta de tapas, tapas por vejer, vejer, vejer de la frontera, vejer sketchers, pen and wash, pen and watercolour, watercolor, sketch, illustration, food, pueblos mas bonitos de espana, drawing, painting, sketchbook, pasta, ricotta, spinach, red onion sauce, la posta, italian restaurant

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

tapas, ruta de tapas, tapas por vejer, vejer, vejer de la frontera, vejer sketchers, pen and wash, pen and watercolour, watercolor, sketch, illustration, food, 4 estaciones, restaurant, pueblos mas bonitos de espana, drawing, painting, sketchbook, beef tartar

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!

 

Cover Design – ‘Green Tea’

My lovely and very talented friend, the actor, playwright, voice over artist and photographer Marcel Snyders recently asked me to design the cover for his play ‘Té Verde’ (‘Green Tea’ in English) which will soon be published in Spain.

green tea, té verde, book cover, portada, play, comedy, tragicomedy, marcel snyders, playwrite, hospice, mother, daughter, illustration, cover design, art, drawing, watercolour, watercolor, acuarela, painting, pintura, ilustración, tea bag, cup, saucer

Té Verde is a funny and chilling tale dealing with strained family relationships as a mother waits impatiently to die while being attended by her two daughters and two volunteer carers in a hospice.

Having read the play I laughed out loud and immediately agreed to take the project on.

green tea, té verde, book cover, portada, play, comedy, tragicomedy, marcel snyders, playwrite, hospice, mother, daughter, illustration, cover design, art, drawing, watercolour, watercolor, acuarela, painting, pintura, ilustración, tea bag, cup, saucer, sketches

I roughly sketched out my initial idea of an aerial view of two tea cups a number of times (above) until I’d found the version which ‘clicked’.

green tea, té verde, book cover, portada, play, comedy, tragicomedy, marcel snyders, playwrite, hospice, mother, daughter, illustration, cover design, art, drawing, watercolour, watercolor, acuarela, painting, pintura, ilustración, tea bag, cup, saucer, layout

The rough full size layout of the chosen design is shown above.

The closeness of the cups represents the relationship between the two green tea drinking characters in the play; also, the angle between the cup handles and the intersection of the saucers at the edge of the image is intended to create a sense of tension. 

Marcel approved the layout at this stage and I drew the design out more carefully on watercolour paper, first in pencil, then in waterproof pen before adding layers of watercolour paint (below).

green tea, té verde, book cover, portada, play, comedy, tragicomedy, marcel snyders, playwright, hospice, mother, daughter, illustration, cover design, art, drawing, watercolour, watercolor, acuarela, painting, pintura, ilustración, tea bag, cup, saucer

Marcel was keen on an eye catching combination of green and red for the cover; they’re complementary colours which makes them ‘pop’ dramatically when they appear next to each other; an effect that further raises the tension of the composition.

Finally I scanned the painting into Photoshop, added the text and some ‘splatter’ effects to reinforce the violence suggested by the ‘bloody’ background  (below and top).

green tea, té verde, book cover, portada, play, comedy, tragicomedy, marcel snyders, playwright, hospice, mother, daughter, illustration, cover design, art, drawing, watercolour, watercolor, acuarela, painting, pintura, ilustración, tea bag, cup, saucer

Tajo de Ronda

ronda, tajo de ronda, malaga, andalucia, catalonia reina victoria, hotel, spa, view, valley, tajo valley, landscape, pen and watercolour, sketch, watercolor, watercolour, sketchbook, travel, illustration, paisaje, acuarela

To celebrate my 50th birthday on the 5th June I traveled to beautiful Andalusian town of Ronda in the province of Málaga.

I booked into the lovely Catalonia Reina Victoria Hotel and spa for a bit of luxury pampering…

….and it was lush. I think the anti-aging facial was a bit too little too late but it felt delightful!!

I painted this view of the Tajo de Ronda from the balcony of my room while I was sunbathing.

 

Emerson Radio Sketch

 emerson, art deco, antique, retro, vintage, radio, pen and wash, pen and watercolour, watercolour, watercolor, sketch, sketchbook

Another visit to the antique radio collection, this time to sketch an Emerson Erla art deco model made in the United States in 1934.

Today’s stormy weather added to the sense of peace and cosiness in the back room of Angel’s shop; all in all a lovely way to spend a couple of hours.

RCA Radio Sketch

rca, antique, retro, vintage, radio, pen and wash, pen and watercolour, watercolour, watercolor, sketch, inktober, sketchbookI am reliably informed by Señor Angel, Vejer’s proud and knowledgeable collector of antique radios, that this art deco style beauty was produced by RCA in the USA in 1933 and was modelled on the Empire State building.

Its name is Victor and  it’s brown in real life.

I was laughing to myself while I was painting as Angel was twisting the tuning knob of an old set and creating that glorious whiny crackle that one hears so rarely these days…joy!