Real vs drawing: fruit, vespa

Book, Colouring-in, Mexico, Sancris en Colores, Street scene, Värityskuvat

This double-spread image for my colouring book shows a typical street. I had in mind Almolonga here in Sancris, with its verdurerías (greengrocers), carnicerías (butchers) and abarrotes (corner shops). I also wanted to draw someone who pulled up next to me at a red light once: a young mum with her two kids, all on one Italika vespa, all wearing their favourite helmets. It’s typical here to see whole families on vespas but normally the driver is a man and nobody has helmets on.

And the third element is the fruit salad guy with his portable stall (a tooled-up wheelbarrow). You see these guys on street corners selling varieties of fruit in a cup. The jicaletas in the picture are slices of jícama on a stick, with a lick of jam or chili. You see juice guys, the orange-juice people with a nifty little orange-lathe for peeling. The mango seller uses a useful no-hands innovation for mango peeling: you stick a sharpened screwdriver into the base of the fruit and peel.

This is what the drawing looks like in the book; what it looked like when I was halfway through colouring it, and the final product.
You can buy the PDF print-at-home version of the whole colouring book on my Gumroad page.

Vespa double spread

The B/W original

Italika, adults colouring, San Cristobal de las Casas, travel, shopping, abarrotes, street scene

My partly coloured version

#SancrisEnColores, Mexico, street food, fruit, illustration

My fully coloured version

Real vs drawing: Animal hats

Colouring-in, Mexico, Sancris en Colores, Sketch, Street scene, Värityskuvat

Here in San Cristóbal de las Casas, 2200 m above sea level, when it gets cold it gets cold. The locals seize the opportunity to sell shawls, hoodies and knitted hats to the unwary tourists who left home in the sunny afternoon without enough layers… well, knitted goods and these synthetic, imported animal hats. You sometimes see whole families where everyone’s bought a different hat. Very sweet! I wanted to include this in my Sancris colouring book and now you can also decide which colour the sheep, canary and snake hats will be.

You can buy the PDF print-at-home version of the whole colouring book on my Gumroad page.

A coloured drawing of people wearing animal hats
This was my choice of colours. I printed a low-resolution version of the image at home – the books will be in higher res.

Real vs drawing: Sancris felt animals

Colouring-in, Mexico, Sancris en Colores, Sketch, Street scene, Värityskuvat

These felt souvenirs, made in neighbouring Chamula, are a ubiquitous sight here in San Cristóbal de las Casas. I find them very cute and endearing, even though they aren’t exactly cuddly. I prefer the ones made from rough woollen felt rather than the bright synthetic felt you see more and more. The animals sometimes have bright red rings around their eyes, giving them a hungover or even deranged look. As part of the great Sancris colour anarchy, you can colour these in any (and I mean ANY) combinations you like, each panel a different hue, and remain totally true to the original style. I wanted to include these animals in my Sancris colouring book – I originally got the idea of the colouring book when I started notcing the subtle differences in the Sancris felt giraffes, and thought that it would be fun to be able to colour them to my liking.

You can buy the PDF print-at-home version of the whole colouring book here on my Gumroad page.

Real vs drawing: la Merced plaza

Colouring-in, Mexico, Sancris en Colores, Sketch, Street scene, Värityskuvat

I have a soft spot for La Merced plaza in San Cristóbal: you often see people being free and active there, doing sports and smooching their boyfriends, like in European parks. We in the capoeira group CECA used to train* on the outdoor stage at La Merced, watching the clouds lit up by the setting sun while stretching. In the photos we are practicing a sequence with Treinel Cavera (in the rasta-striped knit hat). The capoeira, breakdancing and dog-walking is what I had in mind when I drew the image of la Merced for my Sancris colouring book.

You can buy the PDF print-at-home version of the whole colouring book here on my Gumroad page.

*Now we train at Wapani cultural centre on Mondays and Wednesdays at 6 pm.

New colouring book!

Book, Colouring-in, Mexico, Publication, Sancris en Colores, Street scene, Värityskuvat

For the past three years I’ve been chipping away at a little project of mine: a colouring book featuring street scenes from San Cristóbal de las Casas in Mexico, the picturesque town I live in. There’s so much detail and colour going on that it’s hard to take much in while we stroll around… apple blossoms peeking over a wall; a house painted in turquoise and peach; Chamula women’s blouse embroidery fashions; a courtyard from the 1500s; a garage opened to sell multicoloured pastries; the breakdance crew at La Merced; street dogs rolled up to sleep; the spectacular piercings of an Argentinian hippie.

With this colouring book, I want to give us fans of Sancris a chance to sit down and contemplate it, one scene at a time. And here we can finally paint a house in magenta and purple.

I’ll be distributing in independent bookshops in Sancris. You can also buy the PDF print-at-home version of the whole colouring book here on my Gumroad page.

Drawing busts

Britain, croquis, Nib and ink, Sketch, Street scene

…both marble and plaster busts, of course. The Royal Academy of Arts has a nice feature – a room where they’ve busted out (ha) (sorry) their old …busts, and made them into a pleasure/education feature by adding benches and free paper and pencils. You can sketch the busts and practice drawing. Or if you’re me, you sketch a few busts, and a few sketchers.

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The mauve Uni-Ball is a very unforgiving pen for sketching, especially moving tragets like the bearded art lover. But the HB pencils provided by the museum were even less satisfying when I used them for the readers on the bench.

RA busts001

These guys stood still for their portraits… very still.

Sketches from Paris

croquis, France, Sketch, Street scene

I was lucky enough to see Paris a while ago, and sketch! It turned out to be a fantastic way to appreciate the art on display at the Musée du Quai Branly. When you draw, you have to watch carefully.

Museum pieces

Sketching is a brilliant way to really see things in a museum.

The Café Industrial turned out to have a similar colonial vibe…

Paris Café Industrial croquis

Palm trees, brass, beautiful waitresses and topless natives in the paintings.

Paris002

Fellow café-goers.

San Cris felt souvenirs

Mexico, Sancris en Colores, Sketch, Street scene

Would you buy a multi-coloured felt cow with goggly orange-rimmed eyes? Of course! They are endearing! These marvels of creativity are sold by scores of handicraft sellers in San Cristóbal de las Casas in Chiapas, Mexico, and once you start looking, you start noticing how amazing they are. The quality of the felt, the sense of colour combination, the finishing, the creativity… Felt bulls and chickens are classics, and the current fashion is for felt unicorns and Tyrannosaurus Rexes.

Sketch of the day: Scarf fashions croquis

Sketch, Street scene, Turkey

scarf-fashion004

I was waiting for someone outside a mall in eastern Turkey and started noticing the women’s fashion, specifically the clothes of the ones following an Islamic dresscode with hair and limbs covered (lots dressed in the same way as women in secular places). At a first glance they all looked like they followed the same dress code: headscarf tucked in, overcoat buttoned over dress. But it quickly became apparent that the details matter. Older, more conservative-looking women had the ends of their scarf hanging down under their chin, younger and trendier ones tucked the ends into the scarf. Some had cardigans, others that strange overcoat with a double row of buttons, some floaty long vests. Skinny jeans and ballerinas were much in evidence. Muslim dresscode – here’s yet another example of how it’s not an oppressive imposition. Here are my three-second croquis done standing up in a little notebook.

scarf-fashion001scarf-fashion002scarf-fashion003scarf-fashion006scarf-fashion007scarf-fashion008scarf-fashion009

Sketch of the day: grasshopper salesman

Mexico, Sketch, Street scene

A Mexican street scene: one of the guys selling toasted snacks, peanuts and grasshoppers (chapulines) with lemon and hot sauce. (In addition to people selling macadamia nuts, creamy pastries, shoeshine services, oranges whole, peeled or juiced, cotton candy etc… and I haven’t even mentioned the textiles or child labour)

Chapulines

 

This guy was one of the least enthusiastic salesmen I’ve ever seen, and I’ve lived in African controlled economies.

Mirerani hairdressers

Africa, fieldwork, Just for fun, Sketch, Street scene, Tanzania

This sketch was inspired by some hairdressers we interviewed in 2012 in Mirerani in Tanzania. Mirerani is a frontier-flavour mining town – the origin of all the world’s tanzanite, a precious stone. Our partner organisation was finding out about the social impacts of the tanzanite companies – and small-scale miners. Our interview with some women at the hairdressing salon turned into a major streetside spectacle.

Sketch Hair salon

Sketch: Seven Survivor

Africa, Comics, Just for fun, Sketch, Street scene, Tanzania

Seven Survivor is a Tanzanian band who play the urban music mchiriku. This is a sketch from a gig of theirs in November 2013. (Another famous mchiriku band is Jagwa Music.) Mchiriku is a frenetic genre based on high-octane staccato drumming. The rest of the instruments and the rapping seem almost secondary to the drumming, which sounds as if the drummer is on speed; or as if he’s anticipating the end of the world any second and is trying to fit in a lifetime of drumming into a few short minutes. The pace and intensity of the drums ebbs and flows but never falls below ‘feverish’. It’s a rhythm that you can only dance to by jumping up and down, but you’d have to do that very quickly – almost vibrating! – to keep pace with the drums. The band also featured a lethargic mini-Casio keyboard player; a rapper (the lyrics are political and worth getting into), another percussionist using sturdy sticks on a small coffee table, and a guy shaking home-made maracas made with nailed-together bottle tops. Here’s a link to one of their gigs. And the main man – the drummer – was in some sort of trance with his head thrown as far back as possible. You’d need to really be at one with the flow to manage to keep that level of intensity going for hours.

Sketch Seven Survivor