Tuesday, June 9, 2015

China 2015 - Exhilarating

We are just back from three weeks in China, and I have to say, the trip was nothing short of exhilarating. Happily, I did lots of sketching, mostly in situ.  I will spend the next few days or even weeks posting from the trip. 

One of the real highlights from the trip was our time spent in Hongcun, Anhui Province. It is a Unesco World Heritage Site. (read more here http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/1002) Apparently about 1000 people still live in the village, a rabbit warren of tiny, water channel lined stone footpaths between ancient two storey buildings and tiny yet productive vegetable plots. There are infinite possibilities for sketching and the cool thing is that the village is a magnet for art students from all over China. We met university students from Xian, Sichuan and Guangdong provinces, as well as from some local cities like Hefei. Literally hundreds of these students emerge in the mornings with sketchbooks, paints, easels and tiny stools to capture the beauty of the place until late in the afternoons. We had a great time sketching along side these students, sharing our work, looking at images on their cell phones and becoming Wechat buddies (a bit like a Chinese version of Facebook). 

Art students painting  Hongcun.

Old fellow drawing in my book.
The old fellow's 10 minute pencil sketch. 
At one point, an old fellow from the village came over to look at my sketchbook. He seemed really interested, took my book in his hands and flipped through the pages. I was a little nervous, wondering if he might walk away with it. I have had people ask me for pages from my book or even if they could have the whole thing. Instead, he picked up a pencil and started drawing the scene. Turns out, he is a bit of a local celebrity and can certainly draw!

Painting set up on my tiny borrowed folding stool. 

The inspiration 

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