April 28, 2015

Campbell Lane - Exploring Little India

By Don Low, Singapore.

It has been so long since I returned to Little India. Campbell Lane is my favourite enclave to sketch paint and draw or just having coffee. Just many months ago, they were constructing the Indian Heritage Center along this location and it was all noise, clutter and chaos. I shunt the place for a long time. Finally I came back because my school term was over and there was a group of artists painting in the morning so I decided to join in.

I brought enough stuff to make a watercolour painting but I ended up drawing and painting on my all time favourite "Monologue" journal book. Campbell Lane was closed to traffic now so there is plenty of space to sit around. The sun was shielded by the Heritage center so we could draw in comfort away from the sun. Still, the heat from the reflected light was also quite unbearable.

Fountain pen and watercolour.
Brush pen and watercolour

On my sketches, I would add a final embellishment using coloured pencils. This is unnecessary though but I like the process of adding some coloured lines over my painted surface sometimes.

With the heritage center standing proudly in the middle of the once cluttered junction, this area has become a little cleaner and less noisy. The road is also flanked by coffeeshops on both sides so its easy to get some snacks and drinks as you draw or paint. Occasionally there would be a truck that stopped illegally to unload goods. It was quite annoying if that happened as most part of the view would be blocked. It happened every time. I might called up the traffic attendant next time if it happened again.

Here's the news of Campbell Lane converting to a pedestrian mall and walkway....

I am just hoping they would stop developing the area further if the authority is not adding to the colourful essence of Little India. For now the Heritage Center is a huge black monolith that stands quite jarring among the old shophouses... if more of such buildings sprout out in the future I am going to get very annoyed.

April 27, 2015

Dovecots, chapels, goats and giant rocks in the Aegean Sea

by Simo Capecchi from a trip to Τήνος, Cyclades archipelago, Greece, 2011.

A few years ago I was in Tinos, an island just in front of Mikonos that has a totally different kind of tourism: it is the destination for one of the most active yearly pilgrimage in the Mediterranean Sea. On August 15, thousands of pilgrims reach the Panagia Evangelistria church and its reputedly miraculous icon of Virgin Mary, crawling on their hands and knees as a sign of devotion.


Scattered among the island there are more than a thousand little chapels and a similar number of old venetians dovecots towers.


Rocks there have the most surreal and fascinating shapes. They can be perfectly round shaped and gigantic, or totally full of strange holes, and some of them can be divided in enormous perfect slices, good for making walls and other rural constructions. The entire island is like a land art masterpiece, a both human and natural opera, where ancient stones walls and abandoned circular threshing floors dot the wild landscape.


Wild goats are all over so the rare cultivated fields have to be very well protected.

Greece, South Aegean.

Tinos has been also famous for its marble quarries, used in ancient times. A marble processing activity is still alive specially in Panormos area, with lots of artisans and an art school. Some of the students must have carved this portrait of Aeolus, near an old quarry by the sea. Like in all Aegean island, the Meltemi wind blows very hard from July to August, safe enough for a kid to try surf, so my sons had fun too.

Greece, South Aegean.

This island is so special that I didn't want to leave it. I felt to keep it like a secret place, but change my mind now and I hope its inhabitants, whose main income might be tourism, will survive to this long crisis.  My other drawings in this set or in the slideshow below. A making of a watercolor here.

The reason why I remind now about this trip is a recent illustration I made for "Dove" (it means "Where"!), an italian travel magazine I started to collaborate with, inspired by my Tinos sketchbooks:


by Ekaterina Khozatskaya in Saint-Petersburg, Russia

Sketches made in different cafes of the vegetarian cafe chain "Ukrop", wich in russian means "dill".
Lately I've seen a funny article on buzfeed text about dill in Russia - 21 Disturbing Examples Of Russia’s Dill Addiction - laughed a lot.

 Ukrop-Leto (Dill-Summer)

 There are some swings instead of chairs, so it is possible to have your meal swinging.

Укроп на Марата
 Strawberry Banana Smoothie!

Укроп Квартира, антресоль. Ukrop-Kvartira (Dill-Flat) 

Cafe made in the style of a flat! This is an entresol. You can climb up there and even have your meal! Quiet a specific feeling, I must admit. Some people from below asked if this is my bike:)
But no, this beautifull one isn't mine. For some reason many cafes are now decorated with Electra bicycles - I suppose it's an original promotional campaign.

 Укроп Квартира

47th World Wide SketchCrawl, Gyeonggi English Village, Paju City

By Lee Yong-hwan, Paju City near Seoul, Korea

Main Gate of Gyeonggi English Village, pencil and watercolor, 24 x 32cm

City Hall, pen and watercolor, 24 x 32cm

a scenery around the main street, pen and watercolor, 21 x 29.6cm

Concert hall, pen and watercolor, 24 x 32cm

 a scenery around the market street, pen and watercolor, 21 x 29.6cm

Science Safari and Exciting Adventure, pen and watercolor, 21 x 29.6cm
Last Saturday, It was very fine and clear weather to sketch outdoors. In celebration of the 47th World Wide SketchCrawl, we usk Seoul members met at Gyeonggi English Village in Paju city close to Seoul. As soon as I entered the village through castle shaped  gate, a new world of fantastic atmosphere with beautiful buildings and diverse performances impressed me.
The street is lined on each side with the typical western style buildings where English programs are conducted, with the the restaurants and convenience stores drawing the interested visitors and tourists. All facilities have been newly built to simulate a village in an English-speaking country. Students can learn English by enjoying a cultural experience in an exotic environment. 
Though it is located near urban areas for easy access, it is a suburban English village in harmony with its surrounding natural environment. We enjoyed an exciting sketch time across the fantastic village in the outskirts of Seoul.

April 26, 2015

Honoring Kathmandu

By Stephanie Bower, from a trip to Nepal in 2011

I have dreamt of seeing Kathmandu since I was a child, as merely the name conjured up images of what must be the most exotic and wonderful place on the earth. So it was literally a dream come true when in 2011, I had the opportunity to travel to Northern India and Nepal…quite literally, the trip of a lifetime, and the trip that got me sketching again.

Sunday’s 7.8 earthquake has devastated such a beautiful place and its people. Based on what I’ve seen online, what were once ancient and intricate Hindu and Buddhist temples have been reduced to piles of bricks and splintered wood, some of which are recorded in these sketches. The loss of life, of Nepal’s heritage, is beyond words.

So today with heartfelt sadness, I post these images from my sketchbooks...to honor the beautiful people and beautiful places in Nepal.

Ancient Hindu and Buddhist temples side by side in the Kathmandu Valley’s Bhaktapur, Durbar Square, intricately detailed brick, stone, and carved wood. There are three ancient Durbar Squares in the Kathmandu Valley, each is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The pale gray Vatsala Shikhara Temple near the center of this sketch has been destroyed in the earthquake.

The Boudhanath Stupa is the largest Buddhist stupa in the world, located in Kathmandu. It has been damaged in the earthquake.

Entry to the Boudhanath Stupa, Kathmandu. There is a constant stream of people from all walks moving clock-wise as they spin the many prayer wheels around the perimeter.

This is a tiny temple in the Durbar Square of Kathmandu, filled with numerous ancient temples. Red curtains hang from the eaves, and each corner of the roof is the form of a bird.

A sketch of courtyard of the wonderful hotel Kantipur Temple House in Kathmandu, intricate brick and wood detailing.

Very quick sketch while surrounded by kids, of Patan’s Durbar Square.

This is Swayambunath, sitting atop a hill in Kathmandu with busy monkeys hopping about. It is the oldest Buddhist Stupa in the world.

Me sketching in Patan’s Durbar Square, surrounded by curious children poking at my pencils and erasers, lifting the corners of the pages in my sketchbook.

Phoenix Trip Sketches

In Phoenix, Arizona by Mike Daikubara

Business trips can be exhausting but they're also a nice way to get away for a while and see/experience new things - especially when taking trips to a new location.

This was my first time visiting Phoenix and I was pretty excited - also because it was really warm out there and during this time Boston was still getting pounded with historical record breaking snow.

Warm up sketches usually start off at the airport and inside the plane. Just a great way to shift the mind and to get into the mode of travel sketching.

Boston Airport Untitled

Landing in Phoenix, I took the light rail into the city instead of taking the cab since I was in no rush. I tend to prefer walking, biking and public transportation over cars since it allows me to see the surroundings better. Train to downtown

After checking in, I walked around the city sketching and looking for a place to eat. Church Also ran into a classic car street festival.  Wish I had eaten prior to finding this festival since I was too hungry to sketch.Car Untitled

For breakfast, I frequently ate at this nice breakfast place next to the hotel. This was one of the most health conscious dishes I've ever had. Maybe too health conscious for me...Breakfast

It was a Sunday and I had some free time. The hotel had a rental bike (free!) so I just freely rode around the city. Untitled 

I ran into a place called the 'Friendship Garden' - quite fascinating to find a Japanese garden in a desert area. Koi carps and everything. Very tranquil.

Friendship Garden Koi Carps @ ROHOEN (鷺鳳園) Japanese friendship garden in Phoenix Arizona. Sketching the Koi carps - very relaxing. 

The same church drawn on day 1 but this time looking from a balcony across the street. That's were my conference was taking place.


I had my (free) hotel bicycle so I didn't get a chance to try these city bikes placed throughout the city but these bikes had really nice attention to details and quite high tech too.

GRID Bicycles

I also had some time to visit the Heard Museum (American Indian Art and History) which was fascinating, and an amazing exhibition of Da Vinci's original writing/drawings were on display at the Phoenix Art Museum.

Hopi Katsinas @ Heard Museum Phoenix Museum Phoenix Museum leonardo Da Vinci - The Codex Leicester @ Phoenix Art Museum. I'm so glad i had my emergency "Golf" pencil with me to get a sketch of this at the museum. Absolutely fascinating person and i'm sure he had very little friends...

Seattle Sketchers visit Seattle Chinese Garden

In 2011,  I visited the Seattle Chinese Garden with my family.  At that time, the “Knowing the Spring Courtyard” had just been completed.  Four years later, just last Sunday the Seattle Urban Sketchers went there for our monthly sketch outing.  The garden is still not complete.  In fact, most of the change I saw was in the additional planting areas.  Funding has slowed the progress of completing additional pavilions and buildings as well as other infrastructure.  Buildings and Pavilions are fabricated in China and artisans are brought over to work with local contractors for the installation of the work.  There is a lot more to be done.    It is planned to ultimately have a total of 12 buildings, including an education center and a banquet hall.  When completed, the gardens and buildings will cover  4.6 acres on the north side of South Seattle Community College.

The project is a collaboration between architects and artisans from Seattle and its sister  city of Chongqing.  The Garden when completed will represent the traditional Sichuan style Chinese garden.

Seattle Urban Sketchers -It looks like we were in China!
Admiring the work done during the day.
My sketch and the Pine and Plum Pavilion
The Pine and Plum Pavilion
Rear entrance of the Knowing the Spring Courtyard
Walkways that surround the Knowing the Spring Courtyard.