Friday morning in the park, Chongqing

The hotel we stayed in last night is located next to Erling Park, in the Yuzhong District of Chongqing. We walked in the park after breakfast and saw many local people practicing their Tai Chi.
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It was about this time that I discovered that it’s actually quite difficult to draw people doing Tai Chi. The movements may be slow, but the continual flow is a challenge to capture.
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We walked through the park to a section that overlooked the river. The park was originally a private garden and we realised that the viewing platform where in fact the roof of a pavilion. Having descended the stairs we found a beautifully designed building, one small corner of which I’ve captured here.
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On our way back through the park we saw a beautiful bridge with railings carved to resemble thick ropes and an area of the gardens where old men were ‘airing’ their caged birds in the trees. I could have stayed much longer but we had to catch our bus for our next destination.

Kunming

You know what they say about the best laid plans… Well I was expecting to be able to post some drawings of the Stone Forest, an amazing landscape of limestone rocks that we visited yesterday, but it started to rain just as we got to the stones and drawing proved impossible. Of course by the time we got back to Kunming the rain had stopped. As compensation we bought some tea, because tea plants (Camelia sinensis) are native to this area. So here is my consolation cup of chrysanthemum tea.

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Thankfully the weather was much better today as we visited the Western Hills area of the city to climb up to the Dragon Gate, a Daoist shrine on the side of a mountain overlooking the city. Here is my sketch of the gate in its pristine state (I’m considering putting some colour on it). The character on the left is ‘gate’ and that on the right is ‘dragon’. You may notice a ball shape on the underside of the lintel. It is traditional for students about to sit their exams to climb the mountain and touch the stone.

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So good luck to you all and we’ll settle for the weather to be kinder when we visit the ancient Buddhist sculptures at Beishan.

Yangshuo Markets

Like any Chinese city or town Yangshuo has  range of markets. Across the road from our hotel is the local fruit, vegetable and meat market. It opens very early, we were there at 6.30 and it was already getting underway. I did two quick sketches of some of the vendors and buyers on the street outside.

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West Road is the tourist market at the river end of Yangshuo. It’s full of ‘not quite’ silk scarves and antiques that are at least a week old. Our guide suggested that it is a good place to buy cheap souvenirs, or maybe a special present for someone you don’t like very much!
It was 30 C and quite humid today so we had a pleasant cold drink while watching the world go by. This is some of what you can see looking towards the river.

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Li River Cruising

For anyone who has been to the Guilin area a cruise on the Li River is an obligatory part of the visit. Thankfully it’s an experience that actually lives up to the hype. The scenery is like one of those Chinese paintings, all contorted mountains, sculptural rocks and bamboo growing along the river banks, with fishermen on their bamboo rafts, except it’s actually there before you. The only slight ammendment I would note is that most of the bamboo rafts have now been replaced by rafts of exactly the same design made out of pvc pipes with the ends capped. I am still trying to work out how they get them to bend at either end, with heat I presume.
I was lucky enough to have taken this boat cruise before so I was able to focus on my drawing (and take a few pictures). I managed 12 pages of sketches before I gave up. Here is a selection.
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On most pages I’ve tried to fit in more than one drawing. The two objects in the upper right drawing are just two of the flotilla of cruise boats making the trip.
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I spent some time after we got back to the hotel adding some watercolour to some of the drawings. Here is one of the successful ones, others were not so successful.
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Hi to my sketching buddies

Hi folks, I am still having a great time sketching daily life and scenes of China, but the wheels have fallen off the uploading waggon in the last few places we’ve stayed and I haven’t been able to upload posts with pictures. So depending on how things go you may see no posts or lots of posts depending on the wifi.
A special shout out to Kestrelart, we went out last night (25 October) and saw the cormorant fishing. You know it may be set up for the tourists, but the birds don’t know that. It was a magical experience even though it took place next to a busy road, under a big traffic bridge and with jet planes going overhead. The fisherman just kept encouraging the bids to dive for fish. The birds were really getting among the fish and caught quite a few.

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I was able to get up close to the birds before and after the demonstration and they seem fit and well and pretty happy with their fishing family.

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Anyway I hope I will be able to send some more pictures soon.

Suzhou Museum

I entered the central garden area of the Suzhou Museum and immediately this wonderful architectural space gave me the strong sensation of stopping and taking a deep breath.
Designed by the internationally renowned architect IM Pei, the museum was completed in 2006 and is said to be his last design.
I only got to visit because I pleaded with my guide to let me off the leash while the rest of our group went to the Humble Administrators garden next door to the Museum. I got 45 minutes to look before I had to rejoin my group.
While I seriously considered spending all of my short time at the museum sitting and looking at Pei’s rock garden I dragged myself away and did what would have to be one of the fastest museum ‘crawls’ on record.
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Thankfully I had left my camera on the bus so I had to draw to if I wanted to record anything. Here are the two items I drew. Firstly a stone in the Song Pavillion, a reconstruction of a scholars’ room. It came mounted on its own completely made to measure stand.
In the Neolithic section a sand cast ‘tripod’ ceramic pot which had a wonderful surface texture and a compelling shape.
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Finally I returned to the garden and spent my remaing 10 minutes drawing part of the rock garden.
Not surprisingly all the colour on these drawings was added after I returned to the hotel.
I would have loved to spend more time here, but at least I got there in the end. If you ever get the chance to visit please go.