Sketching in China


It is crazy how time has just whizzed by. I  cannot believe that my last post was when I came back from my trip to China.  That experience  felt like a personal cross roads – travelling to the other side of the world with  people I had not met before and  not knowing what to expect when we got there.  It was very much a plein air sketching trip and  most of the subjects were huge. I was deeply conscious of the fact that  (a) I don’t usually paint the bigger landscape, (2) I don’t really ‘sketch’ in the conventional way, (3)  I mostly work indoors to achieve all the kinds of effects and mark making that make my work  individual. and (4) there were buildings involved and with regard to painting or drawing buildings and straight- lines  I am practically phobic!  I felt really out of my comfort zone  but determined to  give it all my best shot.

One of the  things I  loved once we had arrived and got into the swing of  the activities was noticing how the other painters work. I have been aware of this before, when I have worked alongside other groups of artists such as the Arborealists.  There seem to be two types of plein air artists: those who wander round looking at absolutely everything before choosing a subject, procrastinating because there might be something better around the  corner and others who arrive, choose their subject immediately and get straight on to it.  I am usually the first  type but I decided to  behave differently on this trip  and simply dive in at the deep end.

I came home with a variety of  paint sketches and drawings. None of them were finished pieces, nor is it likely that I will   take them further. However, the process of doing them  was extremely enriching, I had used unfamiliar techniques to tackle different subjects which felt really good. I had  tackled some of my weaknesses  full on and  returned home empowered and stronger. I am now really inspired to do more sketching outdoors and see how it feeds into my studio painting.

I have recently  painted some  completely different  chinese subjects in  my studio but more of that to follow next year. In the meantime here are some of my chinese sketches:

Camellias and pagodas by the water- Chinese passers- by were not at all impressed by the bits of collage and abstract quality to this!


Wenzhou city- the old and the new- across the river from a sparkling clean ‘gin palace’ boat- scared to spill paint on its white surfaces!


hovels and old walls by the blue mountain. Bits of collage stuck on for the leaves.


Beach with old fishing boat. Hot, humid and sand in my paint.





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