Monday, October 27, 2014

Longhua Pagoda, Shanghai

In my trip to Shanghai this October, I used a new medium for my sketches: Derwent Watercolor Pencils.  These pencils are lovely.  Put one color on top of another and tada!!! a new color emerges, making the creation of immense colors possible even with just a limited number of colors to start with.  Block in the shapes you have drawn with colors, just like a kid doing a coloring exercise, and create a beautiful watercolor painting by just adding water to the colors.

Here is the outcome of my first attempt in using watercolor pencils in my urban sketch.

The sketch shows the Longhua Pagoda in Shanghai.  The pagoda consists of 7 storeys with each storey smaller than the one below it.  Unfortunately, tourists are not allowed to climb the structure and can only appreciate its architecture through looking at its exterior.  According to the plaque placed on the wall surrounding the pagoda, walking clockwise around the pagoda is a sign of respect to the gods.  Immersing ourselves in the culture, we walked around the pagoda once before entering Longhua Temple.

I am not an expert in sketching, but I would like to share what I learned while doing this sketch.  I had a difficult time drawing the corners of the pagoda's roofs.  After drawing the roof of the top storey, I had to look carefully on how the corners of the second storey's roof are positioned relative to the corners of the top storey's roof.  I continued doing this for the third storey's roof until I realized that there is actually a more efficient way of drawing the roofs.  I drew straight lines that served as guides on where the corners of the roofs should be placed.  See below for illustration.

I think this technique can be applied in drawing any architectural structures.  Try to look for patterns and draw lines that will serve as guide for the position of parts of the structure.  This will ensure that the structure is drawn in proportion.

Photo taken by my brother while I was sketching.

Something interesting happened while I was working on this sketch.  Two curious men were watching me sketch and when I turned my head into one of them, I was greeted with "Langfei shijian!"  "What you are doing is a waste of time!," said one of them.  I just smiled and continued with what I was doing.  I guess only a sketcher knows the joy in the process of sketching.  We draw our interpretations of what we see, creating a unique picture that no one can imitate.

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