Friday, December 30, 2011

Birthday Ballet

 Sue Pownall
I was very lucky in that a friend of a friend had a spare ticket for the sold out performance of Swan Lake at the newly opened Royal Opera House, Muscat. I love going to the ballet!

The costumes and sets were fantastic and the Mariinsky Ballet dancers were amazing. A bonus was that the new building is magnificent both inside and out. There are a couple of photos taken with my Galaxy below.

As you can see, whilst waiting for the performance to start I sketched some of the people in a box. The people I was sat with kindly said that there wasn’t a need for photos with my drawing and also wanted me to do the same to their programme, but then the performance started.

There is another ballet in February, which I hope to get tickets to as well.

Happy New Year everyone. 

I hope 2012 is a very productive one with lots of happiness for you.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Not a Christmas tree...

Sketching at sunset
 ... but an acacia.

It doesn't feel like Christmas here, although I was invited to a Carol concert and there are Christmas trees in the malls and hotels. As this is a muslim country we don't get a holiday, however the Dean has granted us Christmas Day off. I am heading into Muscat to have Christmas dinner with friends and their family. It is winter here, daytime temperatures are down to about 22C, so we will have the pre-dinner drinks outside on the terrace. Back to work on Boxing day - 7.30am, eek!
Acacia in Alaya wadi.
Last night there was an Omani wedding celebration on the waste ground opposite the apartment, with loud Arabic music - ouds, drums, snake charmer type pipes - and clapping and singing. Nothing like Christmas Carols or Slade's 'Do they know it's Christmas?'. It was an all male celebration. I took several photos, all without flash and have one that will become an abstract as soon as I buy some more acrylics. (Mine are in Italy). I want to sketch whilst I was there, but it was too cold (around 13c) to get my hands out of my pocket and I was trying to stay fairly inconspicuous.

Wedding celebration.
Future painting!

As I didn't sketch last night, and I have been very lazy with my art due to work and other commitments, I went out this afternoon to sketch this tree.

 Merry Christmas everyone from Oman.

May God bless you and your family.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Painting Oman

Scarves © Sue Pownall 2011
I was inspired to do some painting over the last few days, although I need to be completing some drawings.  The top one was done on Wednesday from a photo I took at the university's speech contest earlier that day. The scarves just lent themselves to being painted.
© Sue Pownall 2011
Then this morning, I went for a walk with my paints and sketchbook across the valley. I enjoyed walking around the farms (mainly date palms), and finally sat on a wall to paint this abandoned fort. I just wanted an impression of the morning and not an acurate painting of the scene, especially as over the years I have drawn hundreds of palm trees.
 Not yet finished. © Sue Pownall 2011

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Juried in!

Secret Garden. Pen & ink. 380 x 260mm. © Sue Pownall 2011

I have just received an email from my mother telling me that both The Secret Garden and Al Saiq Window have been juried in to the Colchester Art Society's Winter Exhibition. 

Al Saiq window. Pen & ink 260x 260 mm. ©Sue Pownall 2011

Both are available for sale at the exhibition or as limited edition giclée prints on my website: suepownallartist

If you are in the area, why not pop along.
CAS Winter Exhibition.
St Martin's Church, West Stockwell Street, Colchester.

Finally, my newsletter is due out next week: have you signed up yet?

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Long weekends are about art!

©Sue Pownall 2011       Despite having a lot of things to do this weekend, including still settling in, I’ve found lots of time for art.

Thursday, after a day of manic cleaning which included windows and curtains, I walked over to the wadi (Arabic for river bed or valley) where I collected the skull last week, for an hour or so of sketching. I had spotted a ruin, which of course I had to draw. It’s not one of my best, as I hadn’t sketched in a few weeks, but makes a start on my sketchbook – on page 3 as I can’t draw on page 1.© Sue Pownall         Walking back to the flat, I spotted …

warning don’t read the rest of this paragraph if you are squeamish and don’t look at last pic of this post

…a decomposing cow. Ignoring the fact of what it was, it was really interesting especially the way the hide had ended up like folded soft suede. I sketched it on site in ink, swotting the ever present flies, and then with the dimming light of dusk went home and added the colour.

© Sue Pownall
On Friday, I had my first visitor from Muscat, the amazing photographer Ahmed Al-Shukaili. He is in the process of setting up a new website, but in the meantime you can see his awesome portraits and fabulous landscapes here and here. First, he took me to a semi-abandoned village, where I spotted places to draw on another trip. Then we drove an hour out of Ibra to Wadi Sep, which has the most amazing rock formations. As we were there an hour before sunset, the colours were amazing. I was very intimidated to be taking photos alongside such a great photographer, but am happy with the two I have posted here (top & right). It was a beautiful relaxing place and whilst Ahmed worked on getting the perfect shots I took out my A6 sketchbook. I didn’t realise photographers are harder to draw than children as they move more.
© Sue Pownall         © Sue Pownall
Early on Saturday, I had arranged to go sketching with 2 colleagues, so I took them back to the semi-abandoned village. It was a beautiful morning and the temperature was perfect when we arrived just after 7.30. Unfortunately, most the time was spent walking around taking photos (mine are on flickr), although I did a quick sketch when there was a cigarette break (I don’t smoke). Next stop was the fish market to buy our dinner. It is a long process as your chosen fish is cleaned and chopped, so I left the others to shop whilst I did two quick sketches.
© Sue Pownall © Sue Pownall © Sue Pownall
There are still 2 days left of the holiday and I plan to work on the Scottish ruin, which I started before I left the UK.

Beware, below is the sketch you may not like…

© Sue Pownall

Thursday, November 17, 2011

On the trail of a nomad.

© Sue Pownall 2011

For those of you kind enough to ask where I am and what I am doing here's a quick update, although these first photos may give a clue...
1st sunset © Sue Pownall 2011
In September I expected to return and stay in Qatar, however as I wrote in October's post WoOZ life sometimes has different ideas for us. A few people thought I was being mysterious about my plans: I wish I had been. The reality was that being left in the lurch without a job, which I must have to pay the mortgage and normal day-to-day expenses, I honestly didn't know what I was going to do or where I was going to do it, other than temporarily return to the UK.

A few days after the Edinburgh trip, I flew out of Heathrow to return to Oman, which I had left end of 2009, returning to work for my first Omani company. This time I am not in the capital, but in the interior in a town called Ibra, working for the A'Sharqiyah University.  I had my first real exploration around today, visiting the souq and one of the older parts of this town - it's actually like a series of villages. 
Watermelon seller © Sue Pownall 2011

So far I have not done any drawing, but picked up a goat's skull today, which I may draw tomorrow. I have damaged it slightly as it was quite fresh, so I used several kettlefuls of boiling water to clean it, then realised some of the very soft nasal bone has fallen away. Still it's better than any left over goat or germs hanging around I think. It is now sitting on the windowsill scaring the neighbours.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Mini adventure to Scotland

Solitude © Sue Pownall 2011
Taking advantage of being in UK for a little longer than anticipated, I took the opportunity to go to the opening of the brilliantly organised Trees For Life Charity Exhibition at Out of the Blue, Edinburgh. Details of the charity event can be read in my post Trees for life charity fundraiser. I would like to say again a big thank you to Trevor Jones, whose concept and hardwork brought it to fruition.

Newcastle Hotel, Rothbury A5 sketchbook © Sue Pownall 2011

I chose to drive up as I was dogsitting, whilst my parents went on holiday, which meant I got to spend some time in beautiful woods, parks & on beaches as I exercised him. I drove up to Northumberland the first day and stopped about an hour from the border. That evening, we both visited the dog-friendly bar of the Newcastle Hotel where I sketched a few of the locals. The next morning, after a foggy walk on the moors along St Oswald's Way, we crossed into Scotland at Coldstream. We stopped for tea at Hirsel where I outlined the building opposite us, then added watercolour later.
Hirsel. A5 Sketchbook © Sue Pownall 2011
Next, after a drive around Edinburgh, we visited the beach at Portobello, before heading to our hotel. I've mentioned before that Nelson always loves the sea and barks at the waves as they crash on the sand and I took the opportunity of a near empty beach to photograph him. More photos from the trip are on flickr.

© Sue Pownall 2011
That evening, I drove to the gallery for the opening of the exhibition, meeting the harried Trevor Jones briefly, before admiring all the donated work. I was delighted to see that Jeanette Jobson was hung on the adjacent board, as it was her contribution The Gate Keeper, which you can see here, that got me involved. You can still snap up some original pieces of art at the bargain price of £45 each, including  The President's Tree, either at the exhibition, which is open until the 13th November, or on the website here. Below are a few photos from the night.
Opening speech by Trevor Jones
Gentlemen looking at mine & Jeanette's work.
My drawing, The President's Tree, & I
Don't forget to visit the charity's website to see how they aim to restore the Caledonian Forest. Finally a quote from Trevor written last Saturday:

"£5135 and counting  ... We've raised so much money already so thanks again to all of you."
Let's get the remaining pictures sold  and push that total higher!

Friday, October 28, 2011


Checking maps in Picadilly. A6 sketchbook © Sue Pownall 2011
Yesterday in London, having arrived early at our meeting point of Eros in Picadilly I sketched the tourists around me. I was a little concerned by a Spanish lady in woolly hat, thick scarf and hooded coat, as it wasn't that cold. We met at Eros as we wanted to see the Degas exhibition at the RA, but unfortunately as we hadn't prebooked, it was half term, and we chose not to wait the 45minutes+ to get tickets.

People at Eros in A6 sketchbook © Sue Pownall 2011

Instead my friend, the fabulous designer Mary Wright, & I went straight to Tate Modern, via the protestors at St Paul's, to see the Gerhard Richter exhibition Panorama. I was amazed at the mixture of styles from super-realism to abstraction that he uses. I can't confess to liking or understanding all of his work, but I'm very pleased we saw the exhibition. I introduced Mary to my favourite café in the Tate, no sketching as I was too busy chatting & eating, before we explored all the other exhibitions.

Next stop was back across town where we went to the National Portrait Gallery, my favourite, where I saw Marc Quinn's Blood Portrait for the first time. Something else I'm not sure about, but it is certainly intriguing. Unfortunately, we were at cultural overload by the top floors, so we went to another of my favourite cafés The Café in the Crypt.

Finally, here is a photo of a happy customer with her edition of Cuban Scenes, which had arrived in the post that day.


My website is now live. Please check it out.


Thursday, October 20, 2011

Cuban Scenes - Available now!

Throughout this book there are photographs and drawings from the capital Havana, in the countryside at Vale de Viñales, and in the town of Trinidad. They were all taken or drawn this summer, 2011.It is available in normal paper formats and as an ebook, which is for iphone/ipad/or to download to your computer.

Portraits of Khartoum is also now available as an ebook too.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011


Envisioning Doha skyline as Emerald City backdrop.© Sue Pownall 2011
 The day after I returned to Doha I ended up at the welcome night of the Doha Players, the local theatre group. Somehow, I ended up volunteering to be involved in the set building for their upcoming Wizard of Oz (WoOZ), and better have been engaged to translate the director's and build team's ideas for the sets into workable designs. Sue Pownall- Artist, illustrator and set designer??? Unfortunately not as I am leaving Qatar tomorrow.

Waiting to audition © Sue Pownall 2011
My A3 sketch pad.
Anyway, my first task was to turn up to the auditions to view the space we would be working with. By coincidence the next day, Cathy Gatland, A sketch in time,  posted a lovely sketch of children rehearsing. Inspired I decided to see if I could produce something similar.

First off I drew the stage, and then concentrated on the groups of children sitting, standing,and singing. Considering how much children move about, I am very pleased with the results.

Then, the following week, I had to produce the first, and as it turned out last, set idea, which was for theEmerald City backdrop. I would like to have done more, and seen the project through, but life has other plans for me. Keeping me focused on drawing perhaps?
Auditions © Sue Pownall 2011

btw the sketches were done in pencil and the set with coloured inks and ink pen.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Showcasing my work

Before the event.
On Thursday I wrote that a friend was hosting an art event to showcase my original drawings and new limited edition giclée prints here in Doha. I am very happy to report that it was a wonderful day and a great success. I was especially worried that nobody wold turn up, but we had people coming in all day. It was a wonderfully informal affair, which suited me, with people staying for a tea or coffee, cake and a chat.

Remember in that last post I wrote:
"if I make a sale I will be happy or if I gain a commission that would be nice too"
Well, with regards to prints, I covered my printing costs and ended up in profit on print sales. I sold all four copies of my book Portraits of Khartoum that I had. However, the biggest news was that I sold the framed original of Khalifa's Gate. I'm sad to let it go, to be honest, but I know the new owner will give it a good home. Two of the prints sold were also of Khalifa's Gate, which I have to confess to being a favourite. Still, as one of our guests said,  'Duke Ellington, who, when asked what his favourite composition was, replied that he hadn't written it yet'. I guess my favourite is the next one I draw.

SOLD! With the happy new owner of Khalifa's Gate.
A special thanks goes to my fantastic friend Karen who hosted the day, a big thank you to all my friends who came and supported me, and finally thank you to everyone who bought something.
With the event's wonderful hostess.
If you wish to purchase one of my limited edition giclée prints, or wish to commission a drawing, please use the contact form above. 
Full details on print availability were in my newsletter and will be available on a tab here in the next day or two.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Busy, busy, busy

Hanging pictures ready for Art Event: Private view this Saturday.
So much has gone on these last two weeks it is hard to know where to start.

Synchronicity occurred during the first week of October when I entered an online facebook competition to win a book of b&w photos with the Qatar Museum Authority (QMA). Sunday lunchtime - I was drawn from the hat, and Monday I collected my prize over a cup of tea and quick chat about who I was. Tuesday nasty photo published of me and my prize on FB plus my FB page & blog details. (see below) As I wrote on my facebook page "I won a prize and got some publicity for my art too".

If only I had known how much... The same day I was called by their senior designer who wanted to commission some illustrations after looking at my work. Last Thursday, I met her and  she commissioned some drawings for her concept towards a collectors exhibition. You may notice from the example below that it is not my normal style, I was requested to do them in a woodblock/scraper board effect. As with all these things, there was little time to do the work, this morning, a week later, I delivered 3 illustrations. Fingers crossed the concept is accepted because that will mean lots more work for them. A big thank you to all of you who replied to my email asking for help: all your answers were very useful.

Khanjar (QMA commission) © Sue Pownall 2011
Now, a normally sane person would take a break after working too many hours to get the illustrations done on time, but no... This Saturday, a friend is hosting an art event to showcase my original drawings and new limited edition prints, which has involved making posters, promoting it, signing prints, hanging pictures (see top photo), converting prices into local currency and the to-do list is still a mile long too. However, if I make a sale I will be happy or if I gain a commission that would be nice too.

Another thing I have been doing, is working on a new book of drawings and photos from this summer's trip, but I haven't finished it yet. To the left is the contents page. I'm currently calling it Cuban Scenes, but if you can think of a better title, all suggestion are appreciated.

Finally, I wrote and distributed my first newsletter. Don't worry if you didn't get a copy, you can still sign up and receive it, just use the tab above.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Doha doodles

Critical Thinking Lecture. A5 sketchbook. © Sue Pownall 2011

Here are a couple of sketches from this week:

Prof. Bucsescu reading his notes.
The double page spread above was done at a lecture by architect and Pratt University professor Dan Bucsescu. The lecture was Critical Thinking in Design at VCU, Qatar. Whilst an interesting subject Prof. Bucsescu cannot give lectures and sat reading his laptop whilst the slides showed his "script". The only time I need to look at the stage was when he gave examples of theories such as Munch's Scream. Great opportunity to draw the people around me, and I also got some nice food to eat.

Earlier in the week I had gone to the Doha Players', a local theatre group, welcome meeting and sketched this on my notes's. A friend said "you can't help yourself [draw] can you?" ummmm no. At the meeting, I had gone to volunteer to help with set painting, but I think I have ended up helping with set designing, as I get to translate ideas into workable designs and help build them.