Garden of Forbidden City, Beijing
When I am drawing, sometimes people will look over my shoulder to see what I am creating. Usually they just stand there for a while quietly. Sometimes they will compliment me on my sketch and walk on. I’m at a point where I am not feeling self-conscious about it anymore. I think painting t-shirts during parties with the Big Bug Collection made me more at ease with people watching me when I draw or paint. A couple of years ago this made me very nervous and would block me completely. Now, I don’t even notice the people anymore. I’m so concentrated on my sketch that they only reside in the periphery of my attention. So I guess just drawing often enough in public makes you get over your fear or unease for it.
Great wall of China, Beijing
I’ve seen many amazing sights while travelling. When a sight is amazing enough, it often attracts more people who want to see how amazing the sight actually is. So you’ll see great places filled with tourists snapping pictures of every angle they can get. I’m very guilty of this behaviour too. However, I like to counterbalance my picture taking with sitting down somewhere and capture it in a sketch instead. A sketch requires you to pay a thousand times more attention to what you see than a picture does. Where a picture might be a 2 second action where you can always ‘look at it more closely when you get back home’, a sketch requires you to look. What do you see? How high is the building? How big is the tree compared to it? In what angle are the lines of that flat positioned? How does the colour of the water evolve as a cloud suddenly sneaks before the sun?
Drawing can be a form of meditation. There is only the now, only room for processing what you see at this exact moment. You need all your attention to take it all in and capture it well.
Wild Goose Pagoda, Xi’an
I found myself a nice spot in Yu Garden in Shanghai, were I looked out on the water, a beautiful bridge, an old Chinese building and a collection of green plants. While I was quietly drawing I was approached by a Chinese guy and we started talking. At one point he said that I was the only one who really felt the garden. I understood what he meant. As I looked around, I saw a bunch of bored-looking tourists slouching around, fatigued and hot, snapping an occasional picture of something that caught their eye, and asking to their tour guide when they would leave to the next highlight. There were so many beautiful spots to see around this garden, and it seemed like they weren’t really looking, noticing. It was the perfect place to just sit somewhere and take in the sunlight, the fish, the smells and the flowers.
Yu Garden, Shanghai
Sketching in Yu Garden, Shanghai
When was the last time you saw something amazing and really took it all in? Did you resist the urge to get out your camera or phone instantly and post the shot on Instagram or Facebook with a witty caption? It’s perfectly possible to see a beautiful sunset and just look at it, enjoy it, feel it. Be in the moment. Being in the moment and taking a picture for a later moment don’t really go together.
One less sunset picture is not going to make the Internet explode.
Have you noticed your surroundings today? I mean, really notices them. Did you take the time to enjoy something small and beautiful?
If not, you still could.
Bamboo drawing on trainride from Yangshao to Shenzhen
Hong Kong skyline
PS: In other news. I decided not to go to Nepal given the current conditions. Instead, I flew to Indonesia a few days back. I’m in Bali right now (not a too shabby alternative, right?). Two more nights before Joran joins me! Yay!