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!

Rabbit cooks a pancake

16 December 2007

Tibet: Day 18 - Kathmandu

19 October 2007

Garden of Dreams, Kathmandu

Tibet: Day 17 - Kathmandu

18 October 2007

Garden of Dreams, Kathmandu

Tibet: Day 15 - Everest

14 October 2007

We camp outside Ronbuk monastry, in heavy fog. A sleepless night: yak bump into the tents at all hours, and the temperature falls below the range of the thermometer. I wake about 3am, put on every item of clothing I can find, and it's still too cold to sleep.

Next morning, the fog clears, and in the clear bright light of day, the peak of Mount Everest looks close enough to reach out and touch.

It's a twenty minute walk, or five minute drive, to base camp. When I arrive, a soldier asks to see my passport.

Tibet: Day 9 - Drepung monsatery

09 October 2007

Tibet: Day 12 - Lhasa

Lhasa: Beijing Road

Some of the old Tibetan style buildings that are left, prayer flags on every rooftop. Monks in maroon robes are a common sight.

Yothuk Road, Lhasa.

As close as I can get to Barkhor Square to paint, without being surrounded by tourists.

Tibet: Day 11 - Lhasa

08 October 2007

Urban sketching in Tibet.

Lhasa from the roof of the hotel, looking west along Beijing Road. In the distance, the Potala Palace dominates the city.

Tibet: Day 10 - Lake Namtso

07 October 2007

Camping at Damshung

Yak carrying hay over the river; mess tents; where we’re sleeping tonight (my tent is fourth from the left); and the latrine tents

Namtso (Heavenly Lake)

Highest saltwater lake in the world (15,479 feet). Sacred to Tibetan Buddhists, its shores are covered in prayer flags and chorten.

Prayer flags at Namtso

Blue symbolises space; white is water; red is the colour of fire. Green represents air and wind, and yellow is earth.

Tibet: Day 8 - Tsurphu

Tsurphu monastery, hidden in a long valley, like Shangri-La in “Lost Horizon”

Prayer flags near Tsurphu

View from my tent

Tibet: Day 6 - Lhasa

05 October 2007

Urban sketching in Tibet.

Norbulingka, Lhasa

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

Barkhor Square, Lhasa

Tibet: Day 5 - Lhasa

04 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.

Tibet: Day 4 - Samye monastery

03 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.

Tibet: Day 3 - Kathmandu to Yumbulagang

02 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

01 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 sunshades).

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.

Our guide tells us, "The only way you'll ever cross the road is to just step out into the traffic. They'll go round you."

Tibet: Day 2 - Doha, Qatar

30 September 2007

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. A day here, before we fly to Kathmandu this afternoon.

The entire city is a building site. Outside it’s 40°C plus; the air hits you like a brick wall.


It's too hot to walk anywhere, so I took the lift to the top, twenty-sixth, floor of the hotel, and drew the view back along the peninsula.

Tibet: Day 1 - Heathrow

29 September 2007

Journey to Tibet: Urban sketching on the roof of the world.

We fly out late on Saturday evening to Qatar.

Heathrow airport

Allotments at Standen

26 August 2007

Ink and watercolour, A4.

Venice: Day 4

09 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

08 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.