Sunday, October 31, 2010

DTFF & Dhow trip

Sketched Thursday night at DTFF.
On Friday, in the middle of this crazy week where there is both the WTA tennis championship on and the Doha Tribeca Film Festival (DTFF), I had the opportunity to go out on a dhow (I added a photo for you Sandra below) with a great group of people.
A cute little dhow at Banana Island. Our boat was larger.
Some of my fellow cruisers.
I took the A5 sketchbook along too. Shortly after setting sail, once people had started to settle down, I sketched some of them. Marian asked do people see their sketches - well I openly sketched, I got a few complimentary comments from those around me, but those being sketched didn't bother to look. I think they were too relaxed.
A dhow moored near us, but moved before I finished.
Quick watercolour of Banana Island. (with mystery red corner)
Yesterday at DTFF I was privileged to have a ticket for the Middle East première of The First Grader. This film is the most moving, beautiful film I have ever seen. The cinematography, acting, and script are all superb. It was voted The Audience Award for Best Film, and it was thoroughly deserved. I gave it 5/5. At the Q&A afterwards the audience, after giving a standing ovation, were too stunned to ask anything. Justin Chadwick is one of the nicest, genuine, down-to-Earth men I've been lucky enough to meet. I met him outside the cinema afterwards and gushed how amazing I thought the film as tears still ran down my face; it is such an emotive film.
First Grader stars Naomie Harris and Oliver Musila Litondo with director Justin Chadwick.
The red carpet & entrance to cinema at DTFF.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

WTA Championship Doha

Watching Vera Zvonareva and Victoria Azarenka match.
Last night, I went to watch the women's tennis championship here in Doha. The first 3 days are a round-robin competition. I had with me my A5 sketchbook and started off sketching as we waited for Vera Zvonareva and Victoria Azarenka to warm-up. To quote Al Jazeera International, it was "an uninspiring opening match", so I then sketched the picture above.

Before leaving home I had been looking at Marian Fotunati's blog, where she had written "the need to decide what you want to paint, then decide WHY you want to paint it". Now, I think sketching is slightly different from painting in that it is a personal thing, and not made for public display and sale - ok apart from on blogs- but this question of why was going through my mind as I drew the 2nd sketch. Why? - because I thought the guys waving the flag interesting.  Because she was in front of me. Because I could.
Watching the warm-up.
The final sketch was done whilst waiting for the Kim Clijsters v Jelena Jankovic match. The man with his binoculars caught my attention. Although we were not sat too high up he was watching the line judges, players prepare themselves, the crowd etc. through them. The foreshortening of his arm, due to him being across an aisle from me and also a few rows lower was the challenge, which I guess would also answer the why. The man behind kept resting his arm at a strange angle to his leg and so had to be included. This sketch was the most challenging, not due to those factors, but because the spectators kept walking down the aisle between us and blocking my view.
Binocular man.
Purple palms.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Exam sketches - Doha

My students had a practice exam today. With only 4 of them in the class there was not any way for them to cheat, so to fill in the hour I drew two of them. 

Pencil, for a change, in W&N A6, which ALL previous sketches have now fallen out of it. I guess that makes it a pad of paper rather than a sketchbook ;p

Sunday, October 24, 2010


Following our SketchCrawl success last week, Mahmoud & I went sketching again yesterday afternoon in a local mall. I'd spotted a hockey match near the food hall, which I thought could be interesting. I ended up drawing some spectators as I thought the hockey players would end up strange looking due to their padding. Squint at the bad copy below and you can see a couple of skaters. I then drew a Filipino lady eating her Kentucky.
Next we went into the small indoor theme park Gondolania, hence the post title.I liked the touches of red in different places, although I sketched only in pan and then had to add the red at home.
Scenes in Gondolania.
Finally, we headed for the peace and quiet of Starbucks, where I sketched the queue, it's very popular, and the back of someone's ghutrah; the large piece of cloth worn on a Qatari man's head.
Rear view of ghutrah
All sketches were drawn in pen, in a Daler A5 sketchbook as the Winsor & Newton has disintegrated and is no longer portable. btw no-one from W&N has got back to me after the initial "we are looking into your complaint" email.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

29th World Wide SketchCrawl

The page fell out of my W&N sketchbook!

Today was great! I connected with two other sketchers here in Doha, Mahmoud & Nasrin, and we spent several hours in Souq Waqif. I arrived early so did my first sketch of the Qatar Islamic Cultural Centre as I waited. I just love the shape of this building.

When Mahmoud arrived we set off in search of inspiration, which we found in the form of a porter asleep in his barrow. Unfortunately, he woke before we had finished, so we headed to a café.
Mahmoud drawing the porter.
Mahmoud did an amazing pencil sketch of some old boats, and after a couple of false starts I painted the souq (above). Nasrin had joined us at the café and did a nice picture of a balcony in pencil.
My sketch of the porter.
Moving along the souq, we chose another café where Mahmoud drew an alley, Nasrin worked on another building, and I sketched a few shisha smokers, unsuccessfully as they kept changing position. My final sketch of the day was of the blue doors, which Mahmoud had pointed out.
 I had a fabulous day. Thank you Mahmoud & Nasrin.
Three Doha sketchers.
Dont' forget to checkout the other fabulous results for 29th SketchCrawl at, which was founded by Enrico Casarosa.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Hazy skyline: Doha

A little watercolour experiment from a photo I took at the beginning of the month. It was a hazy, dusty, humid day and I did this sketch on site and everything was very flat blue. I'd wanted to try some of the things I learnt on the Ken Kempley workshop and it seemed a perfect subject matter.

Learning points: I need heavier watercolour paper to layer properly as we were shown then. Also, the foreground is too bland and doesn't draw you into the picture. Oh well, I'm happy with how productive today has been, even if not it hasn't been totally successful.

The energy of flamenco

This watercolour is just for me, an experiment, some fun.
On Wednesday, I went to the see the dancers of Ballet Carmen Cantero give a free Spanish folklore and flamenco performance at the Qatar National Theatre. Once all the dignitaries from both the Ministry of culture, arts and heritage, and the Spanish Embassy, along with their guests had sat down, there was nearly 2 hours of dancing.

Unfortunately, it was too dark to sketch; besides I didn't want to miss a moment of the dancing, so today I wanted to capture some of that energy and have some fun. I didn't do any drawing here, but went straight in with watercolour on 24 x 32 cm 185gm cold pressed paper.  btw Not having a scanner the colours are not correct. It is on white paper, which gives a better colour contrast than here with its bluish tinges.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Work sketches: Villagio

View from my office: Aspire Tower
This morning, not having a full timetable, I sat in my new office and drew the Aspire Tower, which I can see through the window.
I then covered a class, which was doing a writing task, and so took the opportunity to do two 5 minute sketches.

Friday, October 8, 2010

A learning opportunity.

WIP: August
I started this painting back in the UK and only laid down the initial washes. Post 1 is here whilst the picture is right. This week, I opened my paints for the first time in Doha to work on it. I started by adding a darker wash all over the heather, to balance the strong tree line, plus a greater contrast for the sky. Then it took ages to dry, which I knew I had to be patient about. yawn. Today, I went back to it, and it is a failure has become a learning opportunity. It is now too dark, and overworked. Originally I was just trying for an impression of the heath and I have fiddled and faffed with the front and ruined it.

Study 1 aka a failure.
As I said to my friend Sandra, "Before I left UK, my dad & I went to visit the Alfred Munnngs House in Dedham where I was reminded that we do not have to draw/paint a subject once. He had several "studies" of the same topics and unlike some painters he didn't use the studies to change composition, but to work on the colours and techniques" and I suggested to her that a painting that wasn't going too well could be the first study. I think I should take my own advice and leave this a week or so and start again.

Saturday, October 2, 2010


Brown Staedtler pen in A5 sketchbook.
The ironing pile needs to be tackled, especially as I do not have any clothes for work tomorrow - here in Doha the weekend is Friday and Saturday. Instead of doing it, I sat in front of the tv and sketched the corner of the lounge. Now, I'm on the computer and the ironing still need to be done.

Friday, October 1, 2010

First Doha sketches

Corner café at Souq Waqif
Fairly early on a hazy, dusty Friday morning, I caught a taxi down to Doha's Corniche and was dropped near the fishing wharf. I pass it daily on the way to work and it has a magnificent collection of dhows moored along it. I had my DSLR camera, sketchbook, paints etc., but started off sketching the men fishing in pen. I soon discovered that not only was it hazy, spoiling photos, but the humidity was very high, and although it wasn't even 9am I was perspiring so much the paper was getting damp from my hands. ugh 
High rise office district of Doha across the bay.

An amazing outfit for fishing.
After about 5 minutes of drawing the fishermen I walked to the end of the wharf where a slight breeze was coming across the bay. I sat on some rocks squinting into the haze to draw the skyline, again I only drew for about 10 minutes as the humidity was too much for me. I plan to return in a few weeks time once the temperature has dropped. [The Weather Channel stated humidity ranging between 58-80% today with temperatures around 32c]

I walked around the wharf and then crossed the road to souq Waqif searching for an open coffee shop and the chance to get into air conditioning. Although most of the souq (market) was closed as it was Friday, I did find  the Corner Café open. Inside over a cup of tea and a large bottle of water I rehydrated, cooled down, and sketched the counter. The souq has lots of interesting things to draw -  on another outing.
Souq Waqif, Friday morning quiet.

TWO sketchbook malfunctions!!!

Late August I purchased 2 Winsor & Newton Heavy weight Case bound sketchbooks. The A6 one has been in my handbag since I completed my moleskin on the 5th September. I have completed just 5 pages (I have been very lazy) then last Tuesday it broke and that's in just 3 weeks!  Today, whilst sketching in a café I noticed a couple of pages coming out of the A5 that I was using. However, it is not losing pages along the perforation, but the glue has failed. This comes just four days after the A6 one. I have used just 15 pages of the A5 one on 4 separate occasions starting on the 2nd September.

Luckily, I have an A5 Daler sketchbook, like my previous A5, which Paula gave me (thank you) and will switch to that for sketching out and about. With the A6 I wrote to W&N and am waiting a reply and will have to buy some super glue until I find an art supplies and can replace it. I don't think I will buy another Winsor & Newton one though.


Brown pen in WHITE A5 sketchbook .
I have only drawn once since I arrived in Doha. This is due to tiredness. I get up for work at 5.15am to be collected at 6 and return around 3pm. After a late lunch and maybe a nap, by 5.30pm it is then dark but still too hot to wander about drawing. Last weekend was spent trying to catch up on sleep, sort accommodation etc.

My contract provides fully-furnished accommodation here in Doha, but it does not have a clothes drier. A little improvisation with a mop and 2 chairs enabled me to dry my shirts and towels. I thought the shapes it made were interesting, as opposed to the rest of the flat, which could be anywhere in the world.

Today, Friday, is the first day of the weekend and after an early night I am shortly to head out with my sketch book although I may head inside quickly as the temperature is already in the 30s and it's not even 8am.