Along the main street in Xian, OK, along one of the main streets in Xian, just near the Bell Tower roundabout, dozens of artists sit along the kerb and entice passers by to pose for their portraits. Sure you see plenty of these sorts of guys around town, hanging out at train stations and tourist spots, even in this town. Funny how they all seem Asian. Maybe they have come out of Xian! Not likely since the teenage artists sitting along the sidewalk in Xian are, without exception, seriously talented. That they can take any person, in half light and through pressing crowds at that, and sketch an uncanny likeness had me transfixed for, well seconds. Stay there any longer and they are wanting you to pose and before you know it you have a bunch of sketches in your bottom draw you will never do anything with. But they did not need my business to stay in business – parents with cute toddlers with braided hair and ribbons were the models of choice and like young parents anywhere they are happy to cough up for a cute picture of their children. Dozens and dozens of them.
However what these artists did do was prod me to get the old HB out and to get sketching again. That creative urge ties in nicely with the blogging. But there is nothing quite like a soft pencil on quality paper. Except perhaps a nice viscous Indian ink used for painting Chinese characters, and the soft, smooth paper they practise on. Now I did take some instruction on that in Xian, some of which I will get up on the site here some time. In the meantime here is a quick “one sitting” sketch from last weekend’s paper of Catherine Deneuve. Scanner did something neat with the highlighted look – I can’t take credit for that.
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