The Twelve Pigs of Christmas

25 December 2007

Twelve piggies drumming

Eleven piggies piping

Ten piggies a-leaping

Nine piggies dancing

Eight piggies a-milking

Seven piggies a-swimming

Six piggies a-laying

F-i-v-e g-o-l-d p-i-g-s

Four calling piggies

Three french pigs

Two turtle pigs

And a piggy in a pear tree!

Tibet: Day 9

8 October 2007

Camping near Namtso


Prayer flags at Namtso

Tibet: Day 9

Rooftops, Lhasa

Street scene, Lhasa

Tibet: Day 8

7 October 2007

Tsurphu monastery

Prayer flags near Tsurphu

Day 6: Lhasa

5 October 2007

Norbulingka, Lhasa

The Dalai Lama’s summer palace, a complex of temples, pagodas, lakes and gardens.

Barkhor Square, Lhasa

Day 5: Lhasa

4 October 2007

Urban sketching in Tibet.

Jokhang temple

The rooftop of the Jokhang Temple in Lhasa, the holiest site in Tibetan Buddhism. I’m sitting in the shade of a wall, trying to keep out of everyone’s way, but the Chinese tourists are fascinated by what I’m doing. In minutes, I’m surrounded by them, watching every brushstroke. I’ve had my photo taken hundreds of times.

Potala Palace

When I show this drawing to one of our Tibetan drivers, he puts his thumb over the Chinese flag.

Day 4: Samye monastery

3 October 2007

Urban sketching in Tibet.

Samye Monastery is built in the shape of a giant mandala, that is a map of the Buddhist universe. The main temple represents Mount Meru in the centre. This black chorten represents one of the four continents.

Day 3: Kathmandu to Yumbulagang

2 October 2007

Urban sketching in Nepal and Tibet.

Kathmandu airport, waiting for the flight across the Himalayas. A monk buys Tolberone and Pringles. 

In Tibet: Yumbulagang monastery. Prayer flags cover the hills around.

Day 2: Kathmandu

1 October 2007

Urban sketching in Nepal. Second stage of the journey gets us a far as Kathmandu. Lunch at a restaurant overlooking the dome of the Boudhanath Stupa (behind the umbrellas).

Looking from my hotel window, I realise that we’re in one of the highest buildings in the city. Unlike every other capital, Kathmandu has no skyscrapers cluttering up the view. But it has enough traffic to match any other city: cars, painted lorries, overcrowded minibuses, bicycles, motorbikes, rickshaws, nervous pedestrians and sleeping dogs fight for road-space. It’s also the rule that when you’re driving, and you see another car (or van or lorry or minibus or bicycle or motorbike or rickshaw or pedestrian), you must sound your horn.

Day 1: Heathrow to Doha

30 September 2007

Urban sketching in Qatar.

Heathrow airport

 First stage of the journey takes us to Doha, with its L-shaped city views. Old, low-rise buildings stretch along the coast toward a very modern development of skyscrapers and cranes.


You walk out of the airport into a wall of heat. It's too hot to walk anywhere, so I took the lift to the top floor of the hotel and drew the view back along the peninsula.

Allotments at Standen

26 August 2007

Ink and watercolour, A4.

Venice: Day 4

9 July 2007

Rio dei Frari

Urban sketching in Venice: The problem with painting in Venice is that whichever way you turn, there is another stunning view of a canal crossed a quaint bridge, and lined by crumbling Renaissance palaces.

(It's not really a problem.)

Rio del Frescede

Another canal, another picturesque bridge, and more beautiful buildings.

Piazza Roma

A quick sketch while waiting for the bus back to the airport.

Marco Polo airport

Venice: Day 3

8 July 2007

Rio dell Erimete

Urban sketching in Venice: In spite of the hordes of tourists that suffocate St Mark’s Square and the Rialto Bridge, you don’t have to go far to find somewhere quiet, where you can paint undisturbed.


The entrance to the Venetian dockyards. The gateway, built by Antonio Gambello in 1460, and the first structure in Venice to use the classical properties of Renaissance architecture, is behind the tree trunk.

Venice: Day 2

7 July 2007

Urban sketching in Venice: Early morning in Piazza San Marco, before the cruise crowds arrive. View from the Palazzo Ducale of the column with the statue of St Theodore, and a corner of the Libreria Sansoviniana.

After visiting the John Singer Sargent exhibition at the Museo Correr, we tracked down some of the sites where he painted. This is the Campo San Canziano.

Sortie de l’├ęglise, de l’├ęglise, Campo San Canciano, Venice
John Singer Sargent,1882

Little has changed in 125 years: the buildings, the windows and the doorways are the same. Even that white paint on building on the extreme right is still there. The only thing that seems to have changed is the colour of the main building.

Venice: Day 1

6 July 2007

Urban sketching in Venice: The view south down the Grand Canal, from a corner of the Rialto Bridge, inches from the water. I’m using the Grand Canal as a water supply, and to wash my brushes in.