May 29, 2015

Sketching in Goa: Part 3: The Best-est mango in the world!

Suhita Shirodkar in Goa, India

Back to mangoes (which I said a little bit about in my last post.). My all-time favorite mango? The Alphonso mango. Lucky me, my parents own a mango farm and I visited during mango season.

This is what a fully grow Alphonso mango looks like. Green, with just the barest touch of yellow. Picked by hand, these fruits are ripened in hay and smell heavenly when they are orange-yellow and ready to eat. I sketched while I sat under a tree in the orchard in Deogad, Maharashtra.


Once the mangoes are ripe enough to pack, they are graded by size and shape and those with spots and blemishes are set aside. (More for me: when you sell mangoes, like my parents do, you don't eat the perfect-looking ones-but you keep all the ones that taste as good but can't be packed for sale) That’s my dad standing and watching the sorting and grading operation.

The mangoes then go into green cardboard boxes that hold 12 mangoes each.

Every box has a bright pink colored tissue paper that covers the mangoes when they are all packed.


Mango season is short: it starts with the hottest days of the summer and ends as soon as the monsoons hit India. During this short season, it is mango madness. The markets are overflowing with mango. And every little street vendor sits around with a basket of them. You can never have too many mangoes.




Because everyone loves mangoes!

Concert in salon


In this period I'm staying in an organic farm in Tuscany, a byological oil farm.
The sons and grandchildren of the host play various instruments. During recent holydays they came to visit us and they did a nice concert in the big salon.

May 27, 2015

Black & White: traveling light

By Marcia Milner-Brage, Cedar Falls, Iowa, USA

Freedom is limiting myself to a fistful of drawing implements in my pocket-size Moleskin.  No color! It's a gratifying challenge to bring a place into being with just line and light to dark value. These are all recent sketches done within walking distance of my house in Cedar Falls, Iowa.

Rail Road Crossing 3rd & Iowa, again
Seldom used railroad tracks cross through my quiet, tree-lined neighborhood.

Curve in the Tracks Near 4th & Tremont
Curve in the Tracks

RR Crossing at Alleyway
The tracks cross an alleyway.

Shed with cement roof
A back-alley shed with a cement roof. Two towering elms have grown into it.

Heating oil tank between garages
In a back-alley, crammed between two garages: an old, heating oil tank and a truck door with a tree growing through it.

Longtime  Unused Airstream
A longtime unused vintage Airstream is parked next to a small construction business.

David's 1969 Airstream
A 1969 Airstream parked in a driveway. It's got deer antlers above the LP tanks in front!

All of these were drawn with a 5B pencil, a Bic stick eraser,  and a water brush to apply washes of water soluble graphite. I tried something new in the bottom sketch and added white acrylic ink loaded into a water brush.

See a few more like these HERE in Urban Sketchers Midwest's Freedom: NO COLOR.

Sketching in Goa: Part 2: The Markets

Suhita Shirodkar in Goa, India

The market in Panjim, Goa is a huge indoor area divided into many sections. This is the flower section of the market. These stalls sell garlands used either in worship or to adorn just about anything: a woman’s hair, the doorway of a home, a vehicle… The guy on the left pulls thread from a long spool and deftly puts together loose flowers from the baskets into garlands. I love the brilliant orange of marigold. It can vary from a deep egg-yolk-yellow to the orange of a California Poppy. The flower sellers got me a little seat to perch on while I sketched. And magically, a cutting chai appeared by my side. I love sketching in India.


More flower sellers. See the empty spools hanging at the top? That’s what garlands are suspended from. The market has a strange light. It is a huge, dark indoor space (to keep it cool) but bright light filters through windows set high in the building and then down through tarps, some made of white cloth, and others of a bright blue plastic.



The fruit section of the market always looks extra special when it is mango season. The seller at the top left specializes in mangoes but the woman on the right sells much more: bananas, jackfruit and papaya. And mango, of course.


These women sell just mangoes. The market is set on high platforms with wide walkways to stroll through as you pick your fruit and haggle over prices.


Every region in India has dozens of varieties of mangoes, and there’s always an argument about local favorites. My favorite Goan mango is the mankurad. But my all-time favoritest-mango-in-the-world? Coming up in my next post.

May 26, 2015

Sketching in Goa, India: Part 1

Suhita Shirodkar in India

1o short days in India. Too short for much more than a visit to my parents. And for sketching in and around the city of Panjim where they live. So these next few posts are just that: Sketches from the streets and markets of Goa, a tiny little state with spectacular white sand beaches. A state that was once a Portuguese colony and still loves it's siestas and little roadside chapels.

This is just a normal day at Bombay airport, where I wait to catch my flight to Goa. Sketched in pen and blue pencil.


And the perfect contrast to the busy milling crowds anywhere are the stray dogs who sleep peacefully through any amount of noise and chaos. They make such great models. Nothing can wake them up, and they don’t even notice when I stand right over them and sketch them.


Another common sight everywhere: the water tanker that fills up your water tank. Much of urban India suffers from water shortages, and if you’re lucky you can afford to buy water from a private company.


This three-wheeler, the autorickshaw can make it’s way through almost any traffic jam.



Here’s a lineup of them at the auto stand outside Panjim Market.



This is the tempo, a cousin of the auto that’s used for carrying all sorts of stuff.

And while I’m posting vehicles, here is a Royal Enfield, a beautiful Indian motorcycle.



And another Indian classic, a Hero bicycle parked in a side street.


Lots more sketches from India coming soon.

My Melbourne Sketchbook

by Liz Steel, in Melbourne Australia


Last month I was in Melbourne for 12 days on a sketching vacation. I feels like a long time ago because it always seems to take weeks for me to get around to scanning and posting all my sketches. So finally, I can now share them all with you.


Here they are in a single image


and here in an Issuu version so you can flip through every page.


As always with a trip to Melbourne I managed to sketch Flinders Street Station(FSS) a FEW times (this is an understatement!)… in fact I do try to sketch it every day I pass by it - one day I sketched it three times!  The opening image was my last sketch for the trip just before I headed to the airport and this ink sketch was done immediately after arriving.


I also sketched it from other angles - from looking down one of Melbourne's famous laneways and from the other side of the Yarra River. Yep! I am have a chronic FSS problem!


I continued my recent trend of sketching bigger street views in ink only - East Melbourne in a grey ink and Swan St Richmond in brown ink. Both were done using a Sailor pen with a Fude nib.


I also visited a lot of cafes and drank a lot of coffee. The coffee in Melbourne is amazing, however I think the tea is better in Sydney. Many of these cafe visits were in the great company of Urban Sketchers - Chris Haldane from Sydney, Paul Wang from Singapore or any number of the amazing local Melbourne Urban Sketchers. We were certainly looked after very well!


The biggest thing about this trip for me was the fact that my sketching was limited. I know that it doesn't look that way from the quantity that I achieved, but my left hand was out of action for a few days (recovering from an injection that I had a few days before the trip). As a result I did a number of sketches using my other hand (right hand)!


It was a lot of fun, although slightly frustrating, and I realised that most of my sketching skills have to do with my vision and the decisions I make rather than the execution, so having limited control using my other hand didn't make quite as much impact as I thought it would. It made me ponder whether my eye-hand coordination skills were transferrable between left and right and whether it was simply a matter of control - something that was improving every time I tried! It was also a lot easier to paint that it was to draw (this sketch of my food was all right hand!)

If you want to read more about my trip please visit my blog. As always I learn so much when I go on a sketching trip and come home with new ideas - these are summarised in my Seven Reflections from my Melbourne trip.

some sketches at the Seoul Forest Park

By Lee Yong-hwan in Seoul, Korea

a peaceful scenery in the Seoul Forest Park, pencil and watercolor, 24 x 32cm

Visitor Center and Management Office, pen and watercolor, 24 x 32cm

Insect Garden and Butterfly Garden, pen and watercolor, 21 x 29.6cm 

Outdoor Stage for culture and art, pencil and watercolor, 21 x 29.6cm

Giant Statue for playing new types of creativities, pen and watercolor, 21 x 29.6cm

Children's Sand Playground, pen and watercolor, 21 x 29.6cm 

Deer Corral in the Eco Forest, pencil and watercolor, 21 x 29.6cm

Foot bridge over the forest park, pen and watercolor, 21 x 29.6cm

Miss Anna from Germany joined Seoul sketchers, pencil and watercolor, 21 x 29.6cm
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Seoul Forest is a large park in Seongdong-gu, Seoul. The park is an eco-friendly zone appreciated not only by the people of the city but also those visiting Seoul. Seoul Forest Park is rapidly developing into the premium city-park of Korea like Hyde Park in London and Central Park in New York. Seoul Forest Park  was opened in June 2005. The park has a long and diverse history over the years. A water purification plant was established here in 1908 to provide water for the royal family and citizens. Another area of the park was turned into an industrial area in the 1950’s. Seoul Horse Race Track, a golf course and a sports park were built here. In the early 2000’s the area was developed into a park. It consist of five parks : a Cultural Art Park, an Ecological Forest, a Nature Experience Study Field, Wetlands Ecological Field, and Han River Waterside Park. There are many people enjoying their weekend with friends and children all over the forest park.
Last Saturday, the weather was very fine, we Seoul sketchers met at the park and enjoyed sketching  in a very friendly atmosphere. I was excited by the colorful sceneries and sketched rapidly here and there in the pleasant park.

Discovering the Architectural Delights of Doncaster

by Lynne Chapman, from Sheffield, England

I can't believe that I have lived in Sheffield for so many years and yet never before visited Doncaster, which is just half an hour away on the train. I discovered by chance that there was a lovely Minster there, so did a quick search to see what else there was to draw. That's how I found out about the gorgeous Corn Exchange, which made my mind up to go there, for the next meeting of Urban Sketchers Yorkshire.

That was last Saturday and, at last, we had a lovely day with NO RAIN - hurrah! It was so relaxing, sitting on the grass, peacefully drawing the Minster in the sunshine. It was very gnarly, with loads of gargoyles and a fabulous rose window. I intended to do various sketches, inside and out, but got very into one complex drawing, so ended up spending the entire morning on just that. I used my Koh-i-Noor 'Magic' pencil to get the multi-coloured line, which gives a softer finish than black and doesn't overpower the subtlety of watercolour:


I'd made yet another concertina book before the visit (I can't use the 35 I made recently, as they are to be saved for my residency). The concertina format was perfect, because it could expand with me as I worked my way up the building. I like to draw big enough to explore the nooks and crannies, so would never have been able to fit it in otherwise.

We had lunch at The Red Lion, which looked from the outside like a little, traditional pub, but unfolded like a tardis once you got inside. Wetherspoons had recently spent millions on it. The indoor restaurant was a bit busy, but there was a lovely courtyard garden: a real suntrap. We pulled 4 tables together and spent a very enjoyable hour chatting, eating and, of course, doing quick sketches of one another. This is me, between two newbies sketchcrawlers, Richard and Alec, sketched by another first-timer with Usk Yorkshire, Steve Beadle:


We had about 6 new members this time, so there was loads to talk about. As we were leaving, one of our first-timers, from Doncaster, pointed out two enormous paintings on the wall of the restaurant, one of Doncaster Market and another of the race course. He had been commissioned to do them by Wetherspoons. We were all suitably impressed!

The Corn Exchange had the sun behind it. I could tell that squinting at it all afternoon would give me a headache, so I wandered around the adjacent market for a while, trying to decide on other things to sketch. It was no good though - the grandiose building pulled me back. 


As with the morning, I spent all my time on the one drawing and never even got to see the inside. The concertina book did its work again: this time expanding sideways. The building was huge (I had to work really hard to make myself fit it into the height of the book). 


We went back to The Red Lion for the sharing. There was some amazing work done - really inspiring stuff. I always enjoy nosying through people's sketchbooks. Having so many new members gave me plenty to look at and there was a good deal of 'wow'ing.


It was quite late by the time we started for home. I ended up on the train by myself, and was lucky enough to have a 'snoozer' opposite, so got out my rainbow pencil again. I showed it to him as I got off.

I had a really smashing day and I met some lovely people. I've got to go back some time though, to draw the inside of the Corn Exchange and have another go at some of the other views of that Minster.

May 25, 2015

Euphoric sketches in Turin

 by Mário Linhares, Sintra, Portugal

Last April I spent 12 days in Turin sketching with some fellows. 
The city have a very special sanctuary called Consolata, which is baroque. We went there on Sunday, for the holy mass, and stayed there sketching with our most colored material. Each 2 minutes we changed the pencil/pen/... and we should keep sketching during the entire hour.

The results were so euphoric that we keep sketching that way all day...


Outside, in Piazza Castello, when the watercolors arrived, I took the opportunity to paint the sky. The trees turned blue because a blue pencil came to my hand when I was supposed to draw them!


In this square, I try to use one single color in one single motive. We were changing materials very quickly... 


One week later, again on Sunday (this time the Easter Sunday), we repeat the dose!


Piazza Castello, inside a coffee shop. So cold in Turin that day...


Inside the train. Everybody was sketching in a multicolor euphoric way...
I think we all dreamed about overlaid colors! 
:)