Friday, April 29, 2011

Watching the Royal wedding

Watching the Royal wedding by travelingsuep
Watching the Royal wedding, ©Sue Pownall. travelingsuep on Flickr.
Here in Doha this afternoon, I went to a wedding lunch at a new friend's apartment. I sketched this just as Princes William and Harry arrived at Westminster Abbey. This was drawn in pencil with the watercolour added at home later.

I didn't sketch after this as the afternoon was taken up with watching the wedding, chatting to new friends, eating cucumber sandwiches (without crusts), scones & cream, and full turkey dinner along with supping champagne to toast the royal couple.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Sharjah Biennial

Friday prayers, Pen & ink, A5 sketchbook. ©Sue Pownall 2011
Reminded that Sharjah's Art Biennial was on and inspired to go by Omar Jaramillo's post Sharjah on his fabulous blog Omar Paint I booked a flight to UAE. I reached my hotel room as Friday prayers were taking place in the mosque opposite and I was amazed at how many people were listening to the cleric: he must be very good. Check out the photo below, which shows people stretched across the road in order to be at that particular mosque.
Click to enlarge and see cars driving around the Sharjah worshippers.
Initial lines of mosque
I grabbed my sketchbook for my 2nd sketch of the day as I wanted to capture the masses, even though I was looking down on them from the 14th floor. The small pic right shows how little of the mosque I drew in initially, hence the squiffy perspective when I tried to complete it later, as I concentrated on the rows of people and outlining parked cars. I took a few photos as I knew I did not have long to capture the scene, but managed to finish the people before prayers ended. I then drew the rest of the mosque. I intended to add watercolour later, but changed rooms due to the noisy (young children) in the adjoining room. I'm happy with it without the colour.

In true urban sketchers fashion, my first sketch of the day had been at Doha airport as I waited for my flight in Coffee Beanery. I was attracted to a family sitting across from me. It was only as I was sketching the lady on the right, as the last of the figures in the group, that I realised that she had a child asleep on her lap. Sketching really does allow us to see the world and live in it rather than just move through it oblivious to what is going on around us. After the family, a Qatari guy sat down with his OJ and newspaper, so I just had to sketch him too.
Coffee Beanery, Doha Airport ©Sue Pownall 2011
Being Friday, I had a rest after the mosque sketch and waited for the Sharjah museums to open at 4pm before I could I head out to explore. Sharjah is a very visitor-friendly city being small and easy to walk around, although the heat makes it difficult (Saturday morning was 36°c at 10am). Gaining a great guidebook to the Biennial at Sharjah Art Museum I wandered around a lot of the 10 Biennial sites absorbing the art. I am not a great fan of video installations, possibly because I am too impatient to watch for long, however throughout the sites were Judith Barry's Cairo stories, which were very watchable narratives. In the Sharjah Art museum, I was pleased to see that the Orientalist collection had not been removed for the event and got to see the wonderful lithographs of David Roberts and John Keppie's watercolours among others.

Arriving at the Heritage area, I was pleased but surprised to see the Heritage Days event (similar to the Muscat Festival) was still on. All posters and flags said it finished on the 18th and as it was the 22nd I expected it to be over. I tried to draw some of the people, but I gathered crowds watching me, as 1 of only 4 non-locals there perform - maybe I was on the program? When some musicians and dancers started to perform I abandoned the sketch and drew them instead, again with a vast crowd of onlookers. From the Heritage Days, I thought it was time to head back to the hotel and walked along the Corniche, which was quite pretty if you ignored the port on the other side of the creek, but there was a strong oil smell, so I crossed back into the city to wander through the streets. I got back to the hotel just before 8pm tired from the unaccustomed walking, pleased with my sketches and sated from the glut of art and culture.
Emirati musicians and dancers. Pen & ink, A5 sketchbook. ©Sue Pownall 2011
The following morning, I headed back out after a nice buffet breakfast to find the Calligraphy museum. I walked miles out of my way and was aided by a Yemeni young man to the museum. Unfortunately, unlike the Orientalists, all calligraphy had been removed for the duration of the Bieannial. I found an interesting old school, now a museum, and an old house (Bait Al Naboodah), which had belonged to a pearl merchant, to visit, and I also saw some more of the Biennial and the souqs. On setting out in the morning, I had intended to do some watercolours however, as mentioned above, it was too hot to stop for long even in the shade and I did not do any quick pen sketches either. I did take quite a few photos though, but will save them for another post.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Exhibiting on a train!

The train, with the Trans-Siberian Art Centre in carriage 9, sets off in 4 days going from Moscow to Beijing.  This 6 day train journey is to support and promote new emerging art internationally. As you can see from the poster above (click to see larger view), I am one of 150 artists from over 20 countries exhibiting one of my drawings postcard sized.
Khalifa's House Gate, Omdurman. Pen & ink 400x200mm  ©Sue Pownall 2010

The Khalifa's House Gate, is the one being displayed. Wish I could go and see it.

For further information on the event click here.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Tom & Michael help Japan

Tom & Michael, pencil 290 x200mm ©Sue Pownall 2011
As I said in my last post, a colleague offered a generous donation for a drawing of his sons. Here is the drawing and I got my donation, although his idea of generous and mine are very different. Oh well, all for a good cause.

The final total I raised here in Doha to help Japan, with a lot of help from my friends and colleagues, thank you, thank you, thank you, is:

Donations from SketchCrawl participants (330 Qatari Rial) $90
From colleague sponsorship & drawing above ( 1,370 QR) $376
Total = $466
Edit: Just sent the money. 19th April.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

31st WW SketchCrawl Doha: Japan Benefit

A selection of photos from the Doha SketchCrawl
Enrico Casarosa, who established the Worldwide SketchCrawl, suggested that this weekend's event should be a benefit drawing marathon for Japan. Here in Doha, I arranged an event for the day before as some people work on Saturday, including several of my architect friends - for most of us our weekend is Friday/Saturday. After setting up an event on facebook, I then posted it on some event forums, plus put up and/or mailed flyers around the city and posted here. I suggested a minimum donation to join in as it seem that many people here have already given to various charities helping Japan.  
ShelterBox emergency equipment © ShelterBox 2010.
I have donated through the charity shelterbox, who provide emergency boxes, with each box supplying an extended family of up to 10 people with a tent and essential equipment to use while they are displaced or homeless. Please check out their website. They are also in UK,, and you can read reports about their work in Japan on both sites.
WIP. Pencil. A4 ©Sue Pownall
Enrico suggested us crawlers collect sponsorship, so I printed out some forms and asked my colleagues at work. Some gave a fixed amount whilst others offered to pay a per picture amount, motivation to draw lots on the day, however the storms of the previous days made drawing loads doubtful. One colleague took a form into his classroom and got some incredible amounts pledged. Yet another colleague asked me to draw a picture of his sons for “a large donation”. Whilst, I find pencil drawings a bit flat and boring, I of course started the drawing that night. It is still a work in progress (above) but will be finished before work on Sunday.
My 1st A5 sketch. Brunch in the Atrium. ©Sue Pownall
Friday arrived and it was pouring with rain. Here in the Gulf, in April, it is an unusual phenomenon, and we have had storms on and off for the last few days. I don't have an umbrella, so began to wonder how to draw and keep both me and my sketchbook dry. Our meeting point was the Atrium Lounge café at the Sheraton and I arrived early to get my first sketch done and to worry if anyone else would come out in the rain.
2: Orchids, coffee pot, dessert ©Sue Pownall
At 12.30, start time, S called to say he was on the way and arrived a little later with 2 others, and before them 3 of my good friends turned up. Drinking teas and coffees, which the lovely café staff brought with big smiles, we drew each other, hotel things, even the biscuits which came with the drinks.
3. F sketching me sketching him. ©Sue Pownall
We stayed there in case anyone else was going to show up and until we were out of inspiration, but it was only the 7 of us when we moved about 2.30.
5 .K & K with shisha pipe (no predrawing) ©Sue Pownall
Outside it was still raining and very windy, so a plan B was quickly hatched. Jumping into the cars we went to a local's cafe at the other end of the Corniche and secured a table outside, but under a straw awning. Sketching recommenced whilst more teas and coffees were drunk and some shisha (hubbly bubbly pipes) smoked. At one point, an Omani sat at the next table with his friends asked to be drawn so F & I obliged and then gave him the drawings in exchange for a donation to our drawing fund.
7. Khamis by me ©Sue Pownall
Khamis with Khamis by F

omg do I really pull such faces when drawing
Finally, around 5, we posed with our sketchbooks and said our goodbyes, promising to sketch together again soon. I hope so as it was a lovely afternoon, although tiring from the concentration of drawing so much.
31st WW SkC - Doha Sketchers
Thank you all for turning up and making it a successful afternoon. Our donation envelope held 330 Qatari Rial, about $90 at the end of the day. My sponsorship and the amount for the pencil sketch are still to be collected. 

Edit: A map of all the 31st SketchCrawls that took place and their results (currently a work in progress as the results come in)

View 31th World Wide SketchCrawl in a larger map 

Sunday, April 10, 2011

ta da working again

WIP: Secret Garden.
WIP: Storm over Beirut II

Despite arranging the Doha WorldWide SketchCrawl (this Friday 15th), meeting journalists for interviews, arranging to see potential clients for commissions and everything else that has to be done, I have started drawing again. ta da 

The three WIP on the wall are progressing and I have decided that comfort eating doesn't help, but drawing gnarly trees is perfect.

btw on a technical note: I have gone back to using Rotring pens after buying some in Beirut last month. Let's see if they replace my favourite Staedtler Pigment Liners. So far, the ink is definitely blacker but the 0.1 nib is wider, why?

THREE WIPs with Secret Garden in the centre.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

IF Duet

End of a cycle. Pen & watercolour 190 x 130 mm. ©Sue Pownall 2011
I know, I know, you are wondering how I got from this week's Illustration Friday prompt of duet to an illustration of dead roses. Well, the thought process went something like this...

Duet - oh cool - music, singers, dancers, flamenco, er.... pause. Then I saw Susan Sorrell Hill's duet entry where she wrote about renewal, spring, cycle of life. Here we don't get the obvious signs of spring, and my thoughts went to the end of the cycle - death, dying, dead flowers.
Perfectly sensible entry now that's clear, isn't it?

I apologise for the blueish cast, I can't get the colour correction right.

Monday, April 4, 2011

31st WW SketchCrawl Doha - raising funds for Japan

Due to some people only having Friday off in Qatar, I'm planning this event to start after Friday prayers. We are meeting in the Atrium Lounge, Sheraton Hotel and will sketch our way along the Corniche to the Museum of Islamic Arts' coffee shop. However, you can join us at any point. A suggested minimum donation per artist/photographer/watcher is 20QR, but you can donate as much as you like. All money will be donated through Artists Help Japan through . I have set up a FB event if you would like to contact me.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

I'm a winner.

I've just heard that I have won Susan Sorrell Hill's anniversary give away, which is a print of her beautiful painting Inner Vision. woo hoo.

The post with the painting is on Susan's blog Dream & Vision here.
Susan's website with more of her fabulous work can be found at

Thank you Susan for having the competition and choosing my name from the hat.

Saturday, April 2, 2011


WIP: Secret garden 2nd April
Works in NON progress for last 2 weeks.
The struggle continues, I've not even been sketching, however today I forced myself to work on Secret Garden. Bored now. Unmotivated.

A positive: I have updated my book Portraits of Khartoum with new improved cleaner pictures AND a price reduction. Why not order yourself a copy?