Borobudur recalled

March 12, 2013

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12x16cm graphite pencil 4B and watercolor sketch, in A4 Milini 150g sketchbook

Under the ongoing influence of Bangkok, the watercolor painting on watercolor paper and supports by colleagues last weekend, Steve B Reddy’s on-location sketching en grisaille with watercolour washes added at home, I worked up a tiny watercolor study from a tv news story. I’m aiming to do at least one small daily “watercolour” between now and my attending watercolour class next month.

These tourists climbing Borobudur in Java, Indonesia reminded me of time there – a vast, silent monument, apparently collapsing in on itself very slowly. The European tourists in sarongs means wardrobe standards are being enforced these days; sarongs are rented out to unsuitably-dressed tourists here, as in Bangkok and elsewhere, when visiting Buddhist temple-monuments. The grounds of Borobudur, as seen in the tv news story, indicate a lot of effort has been put into the surrounding environment since I was there. It’s great to see Java resurrecting its long and distinguished cultural heritage; there is always present in Java a certain feeling of refinement in relation to its cultural past – a subdued seriousness (the word is halus), present both at Borobudur and nearby Jogjakarta, compared to Bali is which is much more in-your-face ‘Hindu’, vibrant and pulsating.

As I did with yesterday’s sketch, I taped off the area for the watercolor instead of working to the paper edge, but this 150g paper doesn’t like masking tape.  I upped the sky blue, based on the too-pale sky in yesterday’s sketch.  Working through my new tin of Derwent pencils, it was the turn today of the 4B, well suited to the very dark diamond-shaped holes in the many stupas. The sign at left mentions the word kebersihan which refers to purity/cleanliness (“bersih” meaning “clean”); I assume that’s an exhortation to visitors to not destroy the joint and keep it nice.

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