Monday, March 31, 2008
It wasn't exactly a secret but that is where I've been - in Beijing, Xi'an, Guilin and Shanghai. I had hoped to do a few sketches, and I felt very disappointed I couldn't do more, but now I'm back they don't seem so bad and I feel quite proud that I can say I sketched on the Great Wall, at the Forbidden City and in Xi'an where I sketched the Terracotta Army. I'm going to post sketches that were done there, that were started there and completed later and also some sketched from photos.
The first drawing above is of something I have looked at in photos and always wanted to see in real life. This is one of a pair of Imperial Guardian Lions at the Forbidden City. I'm only posting it first to have something pretty to start with!
I've never been one for order so here are some drawings done on the flight home. The first one I was quite pleased with as it was the man sitting right next to me and I like the lines. This flight must have been the longest, most tedious I've ever been on - 11 hours from Beijing but we started in Shanghai and didn't realise until we got to the airport that we would be flying back to Beijing. The rumour was then that we would be sitting in the plane for two hours but then it turned out that we would have to get out and check in all over again! This rather large man was only on the Shanghai-Beijing leg and he immediately fell asleep and snored so loudly it startled a couple of ladies in the next row! He came to when the food was being handed out and eat his and his wife's share. He then called back the attendant for a drink and as they handed him the drink he gulped it down and handed the cup for a refill about four times!
Beyond the snoring man, another passenger on the Beijing leg.
Beijing-Paris, it was as if time was stretching out in front of me. At one point when I thought we must surely be close to landing someone said there was 'only 5 more hours to go'! It was tortuous! After we got back on the plane everyone just wanted to sleep. Fair enough, I thought, they'll serve breakfast and open the shutters later and maybe I'll get enough light to draw but no - all but about three people in our section kept their shutters down for the entire flight! I can't help wondering if it were possible for anyone in the past to time travel to the present day, what would they make of a plane load of people totally disinterested in even looking out of the window to see what their planet looks like? The plane passed over Mongolia and Siberia - have they all been there, seen it already? I drew what was in front of me, a paper cup - the lady next to me had seen me drawing the other passengers so I thought I had better behave! The sticker was stuck on my jacket to identify me as a transit passenger in Beijing airport, and I took it off and put it in my sketchbook to use later only it stuck fast to this page so I added the pattern from the packet of wipes to balance it out.
Hours later, Alex asked for a Coke so I drew that too. Not a great drawing but when I look at it I'll be always be grateful I'm not as bored as I was then! It was 24 hours door to door, and I still don't feel I've recovered.
As we toured with a group, I soon realised that there would be very little chance for drawing. A greater proportion of time was spent waiting - at ticket desks, for coaches, in hotel lobbies - than was spent in the places we came to visit, something I found very frustrating. One of the rare times I could make use of this was sitting in the coach outside the hotel in Beijing. Opposite the hotel was an interesting wall with figures in relief. I don't know who this man is*, but he looked cool and reminded me of Dave Stewart of the Eurythmics!
*I think now that he may be Li Dazhoa.