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.
The course I’ve signed up for sounds a million miles from this – watch this space!
It’s nearly the New Year in China – and this year it’ll be the Year of the Horse.
Or maybe it should be the Year of the Rowing Boat for this happy crew.
I snapped this while being rowed lazily around the almost impossibly beautiful West Lake at Hangzhou, a sizeable city of a mere 8 million souls a little over an hour away from Shanghai by high speed train.
So many happy memories of China and hope to back there soon.
Forget 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 – http://www.travelchinaguide.com/cityguides/zhejiang/hangzhou/shopping.htm
This is China’s famous West Lake in Hangzhou. The temperatures had climbed to about 30 degrees but smog was heavy when I took this.
Surprising what you can do with a blue filter.
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.