Thai Buddhist monk

December 31, 2012

This is another in the Virtual Bangkok series, working from photos. I spent some time today looking at amateur filmclips of Bangkok on Youtube. They give very tangible clues about travelling around in tuk-tuk taxis, travelling along the river (almost identical to Sydney ferries) and spending time in shopping malls (identical to Chatswood Chase or Westfields Bondi Junction). The streets in the shopping district (Siam Square) are wide as in Osaka: identical to Osaka except for the largeish Buddhist shrines which dot the footpaths and where people come to pray with a nod and clasped hands.

One of the weaknesses of Urban Sketching is the ease with which sketchers fly in and out of cities, stopping only to capture the tourist postcard icons. It’s understandable and justifiable (sketching is done on-the-run and for novelty’s sake we love our globetrotting rock star Urban Sketchers dearly, plus a city these days isn’t a Proper City without its architectural icons) – there’s nothing less challenging than drawing the Sydney Opera House or Sydney Harbour Bridge, for example, because they press all the right buttons. Unfortunately for Sydney, its soul lies in the bland suburbs, not the flashy Central Business District and iconic examples there of very dysfunctional architecture. That said, there are some wonderful examples in the Urban Sketching world of Giorgio Morandi stay-at-home types who travel but little.

So it’s all very well to sketch in Bangkok Wat Arun or the Great Mount or the Royal Palace. Which is why the farang-0perated Attic Studio is interesting because they do clothed figure drawing of a Thursday morning, events called “Bangkok Life” incorporating everyday working Bangkokians.

Today, I got the hips wrong (perspective distorted by the photographer standing over the reading monk) but it was mainly an experiment to see how Caran d’Ache crayon (water-soluble and wax) worked on the Strathmore Toned Gray 118g sketchbook. In the manner of Roz Stendhal, it lent itself to gouache, but this paper doesn’t take kindly to water, I think because it’s 30% recycled. Roz’s signature style relies on a single subject (with no background paper showing through) against a strong blank background. One can’t leave a blank background with figurative drawing though, but I will simplify it next time.

I overworked the sketch, but it was interesting to see how one crayon worked over the other. I need to re-visit with a more careful eye to the drapery. If I have to work more on tone in my figurative drawing before moving to (watercolour) sketching the figure, then heaps more tonal studies are probably the way to go. Not just contour, but showing more of the mass and volume of the figure. More work on Kneeling Figures too!

buddhist monk


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