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Posts tagged ‘Beijing’


Everybody Draw.

We all know that it’s just about ready to be the Year of the Horse, however, I want this to be the Year of the Oil Painting if possible.

Work commitments and personal circumstances have meant I’ve devoted a lot of time to drawing in the last year or so, and am just about to embark on a drawing course at one of our national galleries, however, I want to see this as the prelude to starting to have some fun painting again. This was a pen and ink sketch I did last summer.


Meanwhile, we could do worse than take our inspiration from the Chinese and their interest in drawing.

In the stunningly serene setting of the parkland that surrounds the Temple of Heaven in Beijing, I happened to see this older man practising his calligraphy which is a very precise form of drawing if ever I saw one. All the man uses is a brush, some water, and the paving stones as an ephemeral canvas.


Chinese painting and drawing has tended to be very traditional over the centuries, bound up with the culture and class system. I don’t see too much change on the way in the short term, but you never know. Certainly, this junior art class on the shores of West Lake in Hangzhou, has the children’s attention and engagement.

DSCI0078Look more closely at the students though and you’ll see that it’s a fairly rigid copying process they’re being taken through, with a very traditional choice of subject matter.


The course I’ve signed up for sounds a million miles from this – watch this space!



Somewhat embarrassed to have to resort to this tactic but am seeking support and guidance from my fellow bloggers. As an enticement, here’s a shot of the Beatles album – Help. 


Well you wouldn’t really expect anything less from a shameless scouser now, would you?

So, here’s the thing.

Swanning off on a business trip to China last October, I managed to miss the deadline to migrate my MobileMe account to iCloud.

Lovely flight from Paris to Beijing, though, it has to be said. Was a little smoggier the day I arrived to be honest.


I still have an AOL email address but this doesn’t appear to be playing ball yet vis-a-vis my blog. Apple support has been a big old faff.

My goal – to be able to reply to comments of fellow bloggers and to follow their blogs.

Help! Any tips and advice gratefully received.


Silk Screen

DSCI0018Forget Katie Melua and the bicycles of Beijing. This is hazy Hangzhou – a city of nearly 8 millions souls sitting on the indecently beautiful shores of China’s renowned West Lake. And that view above shows Qinghefang Street, home to a parade of shops selling Hangzhou’s famous silk. It had a languid feel when I visited in the warm October sunshine in spite of the bikes and bicycles.


No more languid than here at the end of the street. Even the cops are chilled and have time to read the papers.


It is kind of surreal though. Mannequins that look like they’re reprising the role of Joanna Lumley’s Patsy from Absolutely Fabulous are everywhere.


And amid the traditional silks the younger generation of Chinese eagerly display their taste for western fashions and kit.


Don’t be fooled, though. For every Mercedes and BMW you’ll see sights like these even in the busiest of thoroughfares. But for how much longer?


If this has whetted your appetite you might want to take a look at this site –


iPhone Photos from China

Sometimes you just don’t have your regular camera to hand. Especially when you’re sitting at breakfast in your hotel in Beijing and a picture leaps out at you. In fact, I might as well call this one Breakfast in Beijing as these two Chinese businessmen tuck in with little sense of anything around them. At times like these, the iPhone camera really comes into its own.

This next one was actually taken from the back of cab as it edged slowly through monstrous traffic jams into Beijing. It was pouring down outside as you can see. It was the dullest of days but the colours were vibrant. Reminds me of a watercolour.

Meanwhile, this slightly fuzzy shot was taken from the back of a car we were being driven around in down in Jiaxing.

And finally, our tuk tuk had run out of fuel and had pulled in to fill up. Welcome respite from being bumped violently around the busy streets of Hangzhou.


Wet Bike In Beijing

Bikes and Beijing – a bit of a cliche thanks to Katie Melua. Here’s a shot of a cyclist in the rain struggling in the rush hour traffic, complete with face mask, shades and poncho. I’ve enhanced this iPhone shot by using Laplication.


Temple of Heaven

A detail on the astonishing Temple of Heaven in Beijing. Similar style and colours to those in the Forbidden City but so much more impressive, not least for its location in the middle of an incredibly peaceful park. This item in Lonely Planet describes it very well –


Beijing Opera Artwork

I had taken a shot of a black and white print of a figure from the Beijing Opera that was on the wall of the corridor outside my bedroom in the Qianmen Jianguo Hotel last December. Been wondering what to do with it until I put it through my new Art App – Popsicolor. Hope you like it.


Blurring the Boundaries – No.1

You might have noticed that I like the effect that blurring the image can create so I’ve decided to turn some of these shots into an occasional series. Here’s Number 1. It was taken on a bitterly cold December afternoon last year in Tianjin – a vast port city just 30 minutes away from Beijing on the new fast train. The subject was a rather severe looking military figure who strode past at speed in his great coat. See what you think.


Hutong Express

End of my first afternoon in Beijing. The sun was setting over this hutong as a Beijinger threads his way down the narrow street.

The shadows grew longer as the bitterly cold day drew to a close. The motorcyclist is wrapped up in warm clothes. Signs of China’s new economic wealth appear in the form of cars dotted along the side of the street. In the distance on the left you can just see a huddle of locals gambling with a curious withdrawn intensity.

While reminders of a more traditional way of life remain in the form of these covered rickshaws parked casually against a sort of kerb.


Ni Hao 你好!

Ni Hao 你好!

So you thought you’d seen the last of my China photographs, eh? Me too, until I watched ‘The Last Emperor’ on dvd last weekend. Much of it was filmed in the Forbidden City which prompted me to look through the shots I’d taken there last December.

I really like this shot of an enormous, traditional, decorative urn with the modern Beijing skyline just visible on it’s rim.

Wonderfully rich echoes of China’s imperial past are all around such as this gilded frieze on the walls of one of the many impressive halls.

Hard to describe how vast the Forbidden City actually is other than to say it took us the best part of three or four hours to go through. It’s extremely popular with the Chinese people themselves. I was probably the only Westerner there that bitterly cold December afternoon. Here’s a glowering and wintry sun just starting to set over the Forbidden City as it’s no doubt done for a thousand years or more.