Sunday, August 29, 2010

Cixi, the Dragon Empress, Surrounded by Eunuchs


I just finished this new illustration. Even though historic and cultural themes are not topics I usually work on, I really enjoyed working on this project. Being a little bit on the geeky side, I think it's great fun to go to the library and go through many books trying to find information and reference images. Even though there is so much information online now, I still prefer and trust libraries. Acting out different characters for reference photos was fun too. I hope you like the final result.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Quebec City: Travel Sketches

Street musician Claude Berger

Street musician David Ogalde

The Parliament Building

Sveta and Sylvain

People watching a street performer

Château Frontenac with authentic Quebec rain drops on the painting

Université Laval

I fell in love with Quebec City all over again: the architectural details, the small winding streets, spacious avenues, and the overall European feel. The last time I visited Quebec City was three years ago. On the first visit, I took pictures of every window and every corner of every building (I was so fascinated with the architecture and atmosphere of the city). During this visit, though, I sketched and sketched, a few moments here and there, quickly, furiously, while doing the usual touristy routine (stroll, eat, museum, shop, stroll, eat, stroll, eat). My husband Ben and I were also lucky enough to have the non-touristy side of Quebec City shown to us by my friend Sveta and her husband Sylvain, who live in the area.

The more I sketched, the more I felt a part of the city. Most tourists happily put me in the category of a native, a local attaction of sorts. I never saw that much interest in a person sketching (though I never tried to sketch in Belarus).
After many more or less successful fast drawings, I decided to do the unthinkable and wake up before 6am and dedicate a few solid hours to sketching. I am not a morning person and for me being outside at 6am is a rare and fascinating expreince. Life just seems so different and fresh and simple and very strange. Peopleless Quebec City is an experience in itself, which I shared with a few more people an hour later. It's interestng to sketch so early in the morning; you are half awake and you are just drawing without thinking. People at this hour also seem more friendly, open and part of a sort of morning team.

I met a few nice people while I sketched and became the sidekick of a street performer trumpet player. He played. I drew.

Well, I liked that morning adventure so much that I decided to do it one more time before leaving Quebec City. This time wasn't quite as smooth. It rained a few times while I was traying to sketch the Chateau Frontenac, which in a way helped to keep the sketch loose and watery. Then I spent some time running after a harp player, whom I noticed a few days ago and I thought that he had a really interesting face and he plays a beautiful instrument. I found him, and I have two sketches to prove it.

This whole sketching experience was quite unexpected. Even though I brought a lot of sketching materials, my ink pens ran out of ink, my two sketch books quickly filled up, and I lost my favorite brush pen. I was definitely not prepared for that amount of drawing. I honestly wish I could travel more and sketch on location more and experience the city, the vibe, the community in that way.