Shakhari Bazar

A narrow street in Old Dhaka, densely lined with decorated brick buildings and artisan shops specializing in the crafting of jewelry from conch shells. The following images show the evolution of the sketch, from a stream of consciousness approach to the overall composition, followed by the application of darker values that begin to define major shapes, and finishing with a few inked lines to suggest certain details. I definitely prefer laying ink lines over a watercolor rather than laying down watercolors over inked lines. The former technique fosters a freer approach to the laying down of color and value.

Casa Azul (Blue House)

A view of the central garden courtyard around which the Casa Azul (Blue House) was built in 1904. Located in Coyoacán, one of the oldest neighborhoods in Mexico City, this casa is where Frida Kahlo was born in 1907, grew up, and where she died in 1954. Four years later, Casa Azul was turned into a museum dedicated to the life and work of Frida Kahlo.

Five Rathas

Another pandemic-induced hybrid sketch, this time of the Five Rathas site at Mahabalipuram, on the coast of the Bay of Bengal, in Tamil Nadu state, India. The complex, built in the 7th century during the reign of King Narasimhavarman I, comprises fine examples of Indian rock-cut architecture. Each ratha (chariot) is carved from a single granite monolith. The above view shows the Bhima Ratha on the right, the Nakula Sahadeva Ratha back and toward the left, with a full-size elephant sculpture in between.

This is another view drawn on site during my visit to Chennai in 2015. The Five Rathas was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1984.

The Pantheon

The combined effects of the ongoing pandemic and current cold, rainy weather have made it increasingly difficult to leave the home office to go out to draw. So it’s a good time to explore new ways of working. Just as with the portrait of Istanbul posted previously, this familiar view of the Pantheon in the historic center of Rome was created through a hybrid process involving a watercolor underpainting, scanned and imported onto my iPad, and using the Procreate app to draw over the watercolor image.

Keep in mind that using a photograph as a reference is very much different from drawing on location, from direct observation. A photograph captures a moment in time and reflects the processing that flattens out three-dimensional data onto a two-dimensional surface. A drawing done on location, such as the view above, takes longer to execute and involves our senses, especially that of active seeing.

But in both cases, like a conversation, we do not know precisely where the drawing or painting process will lead. Even though we may have an objective in mind when we begin to draw, the sketch itself takes on a life of its own as it evolves on paper and we have to be open to the possibilities the emerging image suggests.

Memories of Istanbul

A view of Istanbul inspired by Ara Güler’s photographs that document the multilayered life of Istanbul from the 1940s to the 1980s, as well as my own memories of visits to that historic city that bridges east and west.

A brief word on process: First, a watercolor splash of Istanbul’s memorable skyline punctuated by her mosques and minarets. Then, a scan imported into Procreate on the iPad. Next, several attempts at foregrounding a hint of the steamers and smaller fishing boars that ply the Bosphorus.

Sunflower Study

In these uncertain times, flowers always seem to uplift spirits and brighten days. And so instead of gravitating toward my usual wide-angle views of buildings and urban spaces, I decided to do this study of a sunflower we had among others in a vase on our dining table. I first dabbed some watercolor on the d’arches cold pressed watercolor paper. After the watercolor had dried, I then drew over it with my trusty Lamy fountain pen. A fun exercise.