Myanmar Sketches

After a week of polishing things up, here are some of the sketches from Myanmar. There are no titles on the images yet as I have to get a map out and find the names of all the places and pagodas. These are the smaller paintings, the larger ones are still on the easel, so to speak.

I’m trying a new plug-in to display them. You can use the fancy PicLens screen or just click on the thumbnails to enlarge the images.

Let me know if you have any problems.

Myanmar – the Local Talent

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Maung Thiha painting near the Sulamani temple.

While in Bagan I was fortunate enough to meet a group of Burmese landscape painters centered around a teacher, Maung Thiha. They work mostly in watercolor en plein air, and paint in acrylics from photos in their studios. Apparently, a century ago, a Burmese painter (whose name I forget) studied in London and then returned to Myanmar to teach at the art school in Mandalay. Today there are a number of working painters and teachers artistically descended from this one individual.

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Lin perched on a pagoda, near the Sulamani temple.

Having local painters to show me the best spots (and drive me around on their scooters) helped immensely. In exchange, I left them painting equipment and took some of Maung Thiha’s watercolors to try to sell for him in the off-season. Here are a couple of his watercolors, contact me if you are interested in purchasing one of these gems.

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Burma Road by Maung Thiha. 30 x 40 cm, watercolor. (SOLD)

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Dhammayangyi at Dawn by Maung Thiha. 35 x 25 cm, watercolor, 2009.

On the last day, the maestro asked me if I would paint his portrait. I only had time for a short sketch, but one of his students filmed the whole thing and I tried my best to explain sight-size portraiture while working.

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Sight-size portraiture in New Bagan.

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The portrait sketch after an hour or so.

We also had a small exhibition towards the end of the trip and invited the local artists. It was quite interesting to get their feedback on what subjects they liked from our oeuvre. One problem I had when they were trying to show me their favorite spots was that they wanted to paint the ruins which looked like European ruins, whereas I was interested in the more exotic (to me) subjects. I got the feeling they were a bit bored of painting temples and pagodas (there are almost 3000 in the 20 mile radius around them).

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Our end-of-the-trip exhibition.

The interaction with this group of painters was probably a high point of the trip. If anyone else is planning a plein air excursion to Myanmar and will be passing through Bagan, I would highly recommend you stop by the Heritage gallery in New Bagan and ask them to show you the good spots.

Bagan Plein air

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Plein air painting at the Shwezigon Pagoda.

I just got back this morning from a month of plein air painting in Bagan, Myanmar. The trip was very productive and I managed to paint almost 40 sketches in 28 days. Everything is still packed up in the studio but I’ll put some of the work up when after I’ve polished it up. In the meantime here are some images of the trip.

You can see all the posts on the Myanmar trip here.

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The gang scouting outside of the Shwezigon Pagoda

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Anna scouting near the Soe-min-gyi Pagoda.

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Pushing the limits of what you can carry with a Julian box-easel.

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Justin, Anna and I heading off in the morning.

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A much better way to move around in 35°C heat, thanks to the local plein air painting group.

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My studio on the banks of the Irrawaddy River.

Myanmar preparations

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My stretcher bars on the raw linen.

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My canvas suitcase a week later.

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My trustworthy Julian half-box.

I’ll be in Myanmar (Burma) for the next month, painting plein air landscapes so no updates for a while. I don’t think I’ll have any internet access.

We’ve been given a house to use near Bagan, and the place looks incredible. I’ll be traveling with a small group of plein air painters with whom I’ve been doing this sort of thing for years. We get given a house somewhere warm during the Italian winter and we stay a month or two and paint the surrounding area. Past trips have included India, Morocco, Kenya, Puglia and Mexico.

In this case we will be having a charity exhibition when we get back with the paintings. Our host runs charitable organizations in Myanmar and the proceeds will go to these charities.