I received a set of Unison portrait pastels for Christmas and thought I’d find a subject where I could give them a road test. I had some images from my trip to South East Asia which caught some figures in the light – always a favourite subject of mine.
This is a compilation of a number of those images – ones of Buddhist monks and their initiates – and reflects a mindset I certainly get into myself, of being absorbed into activities which take away all sense of time. On talking to one Laotian monk in particular ( who engaged me in conversation just to practise his English) I came to the conclusion that they passed their life absorbed in worship, following rituals and were comforted by that routine. He did also say that many were monks for a short duration only and then activated the ejector seat to return to the secular world.
We left the enchanting town of Luang Prabang on the banks of the Mekong and travelled into the hills on some very dodgy roads to Vang Vieng on the Nam Song River which looks quote impressive with boats going to and fro along it. Then you see people wading across it , sometimes barely knee deep. The town looks down at heel compared to Luang Probang, but I managed to hire a bike and explored the surrounding countryside. This is the dry season and those who cant afford irrigation pumps leave the paddy fields for pasture for their cows. The fields have raised sheltered decks dotted about.
This small roadside farm could have been anywhere in the world, except that the fencing was made of bamboo. I was cycling back to Vang Vieng and had an hour to spare so why not paint it. I like the almost meditative aspect of sitting down painting, pausing a while, and studying the view in front of me. Even if you come out with nothing the time spent in contemplation is worth it.
The second day of navigating the upper reaches of the Mekong. I did these first two in the misty morning.
The afternoon sketches were much brighter when I looked at them – It seemed I was affected by the intense light.
We arrived at Luang Prabang which was once the capital of Laos. Today it is a laid back town on the confluence of two rivers mixing eastern and French styles. A welcome break after some of the frenetic cities we have visited.
Well it’s hardly floating, more flying down the fast flowing river powered by a large motor. The captain sits at the front kept company by the cook, as you can see in the first sketch.
As the scenery changed and passed out of sight so fast I decided to do small thumbnails.
However, being on the boat for six hours with nothing else to do allowed me to practise my watercolour, whilst the rest of my fellow travellers caught up with their sleep. There were some great views particularly in the later afternoon sunshine.