Sunday, March 30, 2014

Having Gumption - China

Humble Administrator's Garden, Suzhou China

Before going to China, my big goal was to have the gumption to draw and paint in situ and not be self conscious about people looking on. I know my sketchbook is for myself, but there is nothing like an audience to make you feel like you have to produce something wonderful. To date, people who have stopped to look have been nothing but enthusiastic and encouraging. Even so, I'm still working on getting over my impostor syndrome. 

What I discovered on my recent trip to China, is that finding a quiet place (with my back to a wall) is very conducive to being able to relax enough to draw and paint. This building roof line was done in The Humble Administrator's Garden in Suzhou. The garden was heaving with visitors but I found a quiet dead end. Granted there are a few problems with depth and perspective but this quick watercolour sketch reminds me of the day and captures the feeling of being there. 

Door Handle Yuyuan Garden, Shanghai.
This was an interesting combination of starting in situ and finishing from a photo back at the hotel. Usually I'm loath to go back to a painting. Often when I continue to mess around, I lose the freshness. But in this case, adding some shadow to the door handle as well as  painting in the rough and peeling door details improved it.

Here is the back story. As I stood in a tiny courtyard staring at and starting to paint this door handle, two of the clerks from the garden souvenir shop came out to chat with me. We had a lovely conversation  about how they had learned to speak English from tourists. And after seeing a quick sketch I'd done of a bench detail, they told me about the bat symbols in the garden. It was a connection that I would not have made if I hadn't had my sketchbook out. I like this door handle painting but I enjoyed the conversation even more.

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