Urban Sketching, Bangkok-style

December 23, 2012

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From what I can gather, urban sketching in Bangkok involves standing up tucked out of harm’s way in very narrow streets, or settling into long studies on the lawns of universities, or in air-conditioned comfort in shopping malls. It’s probably  a good idea to leave my sketching stool at home. That said, many urban sketchers in Bangkok seem to favour not tiny sketchbooks but prepared boards and large watercolour sheets, not unlike their counterparts in Singapore.  Each to his/her own style of course, but it’s interesting to compare working methods and ‘corporate’ styles of various Urban Sketching groups around the world.

So far I’ve been sketching Bangkok virtually into a toned ground sketchbook. I’m rapidly coming to the conclusion that the best medium, given what I imagine to be the conditions, is probably my box of Prismacolor coloured pencils. The Prismacolor white is better than any white charcoal; in fact their pure intense colour is superior to any other drawing pencils. Watercolour isn’t suited to the 118g sketchbook paper, though the 5×8″ size would certainly be more manageable in Bangkok than an A4 sketchbook. I’ll spend more time looking at Bangkok Sketchers Facebook to see how the locals do their sketching.

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The sketching event scheduled for late February is already attracting sketchers from elsewhere in Asia, a step up from the numerous one-day sketching events Bangkok Sketchers has been organising for the last three years. I like the recording via drawing of disappearing heritage associated with the riverfront in Bangkok; the idea strongly underpins the work of Urban Sketchers Singapore. I like the contemporary sketching carrying with it memories of the past and uncertainties about the future. To that extent, the rapidly changing face of cities like Sydney, Singapore and Bangkok have much in common.

I have finally found a floor plan for Wat Arun so various pieces of the architectural puzzle are falling into place. Inevitably, I’m becoming more interested in the architectural detail: the frieze of Buddhas holding up Mount Meru, the detail of the various outlying buildings, etc. The ziggurat contour of the wat is not unlike some of the stepped Art Deco buildings in Sydney; the clipped trees in the gardens remind me of Japan. Of course, I am grappling with the effects of filters used to take the various source photos, but it feels nice to be gaining an understanding of what I’m looking at.

My understanding improves but my sketching does not, with my Wat Arun looking decidedly dumpy from time to time – lol!

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