Monday, December 9, 2013

test with cans

I had to try out the spay paint available here at the local hardware store. Different makes, large sprays,

top of the beiranese summer, it took between 24 to 48h to get each layer dry enough in order to put the next stencil on, without pulling half the 2 previous layers off. 

it was a good try, and the end result is pretty much similar to what I imagined. The kissing friends were quiet happy about it

Same one, but the picture was taken outside and the colours are a bit better but there are shades from branches above. Cannot have everything.  


Thursday, November 21, 2013

Houseboat on Kariba.


Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Vacans en Sxis/ Halada in Sxis sketchbook

Sketchbook done about my holidays with the kids in the Alps, in a french village next to Chamonix.  
Nothing much much to say about that one, really, except that Emirates Rocks when travelling with kids: private TV with 275h of cartoons, special food and attention, amazing service etc. 
I am still struggling with the scanning process. I am so disappointed with the scanner results that I rather take pictures with my cellphone and use them. Any tips are most welcome.


I used some of these figures for a wall proposal in zimbabwe (Check Newlands facelift

Tuesday, October 29, 2013


Gorongosa, yeah! 

Just the right time to post about Gorongosa it seems, since its top of the news. The army bombed and attacked the Renamo's paramilitaries there last week. The opposition kept some armed men in the district since the end of the armed conflict in 1992. Well it seems to be the end of that. They are out of the place and back shooting people on the road, attacking taxis, villages and creating a rotten climate of fear here. People are afraid that this can mean a new start for the civil war. Nobody wants war, memories are still strong...

Gorongosa is a district of Sofala, a province in central Mozambique, and there is one of the best national park/ nature reserve that can be found.
The national park is amazing but since Girassol hotels took over the management of the lodges, food and accommodation prices are outrageous, and clearly out of reach for the middle-class Mozambicans. the only way to go is to camp there, or to sleep 50km from the park. It is sad that wildlife conservation is reserved for luxury and wealthy tourists.   
Why Gorongosa worth the visit? Because you will drive within a short space in different ecosystems, from wetlands, bush, plain, fever tree, masasa or Ilala forests, tropical rain forest, mountains etc.
The different ecosystems are always showing something great, and are full of moving creatures.

I went there for two days in September, it was my earthday and my family was in Zimbabwe. So I borrowed a tent and a cooking device, packed a mattress, some food and drinks- mainly cerveja and jumped in my car, to get to the park gates before it closes.

I was driving sweetly until my tyre exploded. For no reason, no potholes, no stones, no dead goat no piece of scrap metal from the previous truck accident. The tyre was completely ripped. No big deal, I have a spare one and changing it shouldn't take too much time.
Or so I thought.
A couple of months before I moved my tyres around and put 2 new ones in the front. I did that in Harare, in a legit shop.
They screwed the nuts back too tight.
I completely broke two wrenches- a shiny one, brand new chinese quality - the seller warned me about the fragility of the utensil but I choose not to listen - and my other old one, who was, well, too old.
I broke 2 wrenches, and was sweating with only one nut off.
A guy came to help, I stopped sweating and started watching. He came to the same conclusion than me, went to fetch a third guy, with another wrench and a 2 meter pipe. It took the tree guys jumping on the pipe to enable to get the nuts off, and then change the wheel. Once the nuts were out it took 3 minutes to change the tyre.
It may seem as a detail, but in wild wacky Afrika, a tight nut-job can make all the difference between life and death. Always better to stay a bit on the loose side.
 I got to Gorongosa just on time and spend the two next days enjoying spending time sketching animals, spending time looking at them, driving little,... just taking time. Generally, when we go to nationals parks with the family, the balance between driving and keeping the kids entertained watching an animal is very narrow. If you drive too much they complain and your game drive will last 2 hours and see all your snacks eaten. If you stop too often they get into a fight and out of 4 children there will always be one who shout/ want to go/ wants to eat/ don't want to share.
So for a WE I enjoyed my own company. I need to do that more often indeed. It is incredible the amount of things to be seen when you do not drive. As well I had the great chance to be in the park when pelicans and African monarchs were there to rest, eat and be eaten.
 Oh and my tent has been attacked by a porcupine at night. I know it would have sounded better for me to say that I was surrounded by lions and hungry hyenas and that I had to defend my grilled chicken against wild and blood thirsty beasts, but it was not the case. I was sleeping and a porcupine' mouth noises woke me up, he entered my tent, then probably saw that I was not his type and decided to leave. It was good. When you lie down half sleeping, a porcupine seems very big. 

So I had a great time.
Here under some of the sketches done during the 2 days, trying to fit them all on one page. 
Done in Prismacolour and Unipen. My book (Seawright) is too old and its paper has become very very porous, incapable of holding water any more. So I have to draw dry. I bought 2 such  books ages ago. The first one I used 10 years ago in Benin, and the paper was great at the time. I have since seen that some inks have made their way through the paper of that one. bizarre. must be due to the humidity. And this book I have now is not able to deal with water or any wet thing.


Windhoek in July

I had the opportunity to work for a week in Windhoek last July, which was really excellent. But because it was for work, there was little time to do something else, such as walking around, meeting new people etc. Nights are falling too early in winter for outdoor sketches and Windhoek is not a very busy place. It actually seemed rather quiet, the type of stillness of a small city... the light joie de vivre of a German town in the middle of the desert. 
And the feeling is enhanced with poetic street names such as LudwigvonBeethovenStrasse, buildings carved with the true art of bavarian architecture, a sense of order and decent beer. Namibian Breweries are trying hard to match Belgian brews, and it is appreciable.  

I did manage a day to walk around and do some sketching of the place. The capital seems to have grown a lot over the past decade, there are new malls, big towers, shops... Lost in the middle of the concrete newbies the old city still stands, a bit like Lilli Marlene surrounded by Star Academy contenders. 
It feels absolutely odd.

  This church (Christuskirche) is a landmark of the capital, and is surrounded by many old buildings, including the museum, old fort  (here under). The church has been build and shipped in parts to Namibia, back in the days. There was a wedding happening .

 This fort stands were the German troops held camp (Alte Feste Fort). The Fort is now hosting the national museum, interesting to understand the liberation struggles, the fights of the Herero against the Germans, the organization of the firsts concentration camps (Shark Island...) between 1904 and 1907,  the struggle that led Namibia to become the last country to take its independence in Southern Africa.
 Thank God, all these old buildings collecting dust and acting as a reminder of the colonisation are now dwarved by a brand new piece of wonder, a type of shiny barrel-looking building. 
It not of everyone's taste,  I can understand the need to mark the place and, as a symbol, to show that the German colonial presence is something from the past, but I do question the artistic- pertinence of the golden barrel standing between the church and the fort.

I went once or twice to the cardboard box backpakkers for a couple of drinks.( My hotel was just next door but had no bar. I also sometime prefer to talk with travellers on a shoestring who have 10.000 tips and stories to tell, including one involving a bus driver who - going off the bus to pay his road-fee,  came face to face with a smiling lion and ran back to his seat faster than Ussain Bolt.
It is pleasant to hear stories and not having to discuss the foreseen consequences of the economical crisis on the pecan-nut  market and the compared competitiveness of a Namibian prawn fishermen compared to Mozambican one.
I also went to a groovy spot in town, but I have no ways of remembering its name. The music was great, and good company as well. It was on the left side of town. good spot, I recommend it.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

I am back

Well, a month without sketching, going through a scanning adventure and uploading went by, and funny enough, the world has not stopped, not even slowed its rotation. How disappointing.  Not very good at all for my ego.
So lacking new material I’ll just put some outdated stuff, sketched last month. I’ll try to put some stories behind them though.


First, a view of Harare, from the 7th floor at Eastgate Mall, where I went for some meetings in REPSSI’s offices, meetings for my other life, working in child protection. 
I think that the road depicted is 2d Street, heading towards the train station, I am very bad with names, it could also be Takawira, Chitepo or R.Mugabe. All heroes (but Second street). One should know them, I shall not detail the deeds and wonders they brought the world, Wikipedia is a very usefull tool for those who want to learn something in that respect. 
Truth is that -apart from street names-, Harare centre show nice pieces of architecture, from early 20th, art deco small shops and buildings, Victorian style and colonial English, the type one can recognize in places where the british empire created cities. I should really try to find or set  a group of urban sketchers to roam the city centre and share its interests with the global world.
Another great thing about Harare, is that the place enable us to meet and discuss with members of the force. Not the laser-sabre ones, unfortunately, but the constables. Always ready to share their points of views, discuss eventual disagreements and test one’s knowledge of the law. I still feel that they should handle diplomas of good behavior and incorruptibility, once you are stopped by a constable for something you did not do, try to be fined a fine that is not existing and ask to pay it outside what is set by the law. I have a dream of discussing my case for 3 hours on the side of the road, being send to the cop shop to continue the debate and then, after a day spend over a 20 usd fine that should not be, to have the lady in Kalashnikov smile and say: “Well done Fred, you are really worth living here, for not taking bullshit, for not allowing quick bribes, for not being intimidated by the uniform or the nozzle of the AK, and in all cironstances to remain straight, righteous and honest. Please, here is a honorific diploma with the warm embraces of Zim Road Police Force”. She would then stamp the certificate, kiss me on the cheeks whilst hugging me (I will then understand the use of the AK, to keep a safe barrier between the agent and me, in case the sudden change of mood makes the embrace uncomfortable). I guess that such certificate could also be taped on the front window, under the insurance, the radio tax paper and the road tax one, and could serve as a waiver for every other police stops, let’s say for a year. It is utterly difficult sometime to explain to my kids the good cop /bad cop imbroglio. One day I have to tell them that mom is at the cop shop to put a police officer to prison, one other day we need the help of the police because they are here to help the common folks against thiefs and bad men. Then again, at least around here there is always room to discuss, whether you are guilty or not, and the encounters with the 3d kind make great bar stories.

In the meanwhile in Mozambique other uniformed lads from the opposition party understood that the system is a bit unfair to any discording voices and decided to take up the weapons once again, after years of peace and stability. Armed groups cut the north-south road, train lines etc. Worse still, they RPG two trucks from Cerveja de Moçambique, killing two. So travelling by road got more spicy: there is an added chance of getting bullets and a lesser chance finding a cold beer to quench the adrenaline rush.
Anyway. Life is good.  
 The sketch above is from the beach in Beira, behind a hotel complex made in China, the Golden Peacock Resort, the canon is probably russian, and as any military/offical/administrative building, taking a picture of it can lead to prison (cfr Lianne's story ), but I don't really know if  drawing something one cannot picture also constitute a crime. I really should ask my lawyer here about it. Anyway, a couple beers, a pack of friends, big guns and the beach, a nice way to spend a sunday afternoon.

 Above, a house I wanted to sketch for a while for it is always in the way. On one of the posts with the sketches from mozambique of 2012, I've drawn the bombeiros,. Well, this place is not too far.
The next view, neither. From the fire-man-house go straight towards the house sketched above, and continue, one should reach the Praca do Sun Light (a very popular chinese entertainment place with a jumping castle for kids, hot dogs, burgers and beers) from where this sketch has been made.

I had to meet up with two guys who came back from France doing a juggling technique taining. I was late, they were later, so i sketched the shoe and bras sellers on the other side of the road. Sitting on a plastic bench, at Sunlight. A half a dozen beers later and to resume the conversation, they are looking for some contracts or sponsors for their show. And they are bloody good (Vinos and Cokas and Co).

That is it for now. Cheers.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Ghorwane @ CCFM

If one ever feel in dire need of some good vibes from Mozambique, Ghorwane can fill that gap. 
They have been playing since 83, and kept their good energy, they are still the good boys Samora Machel called them once, with a few more wrinkles, white hairs, probably a higher body mass index  but well trained voices, musical skills and show. 


The sketching was interesting, the CCFM (‎ concert hall as dark as it should, the public started seated on the arena's benches but we were all soon standing dancing and singing along. In my case I was faking to sing, and have had many reasons to:
First, if Mozambicans have known the band for 30 years, I was hearing them for the first time.
Second, I barely hear words in songs, and have an absolute talent to not remember them, not even twinckle twinckle little star or bah bah black sheep, which made it in the under 3 years old top 10 for the last 200 years.
Third, i was already trying hard to move to the riddim and draw to the beat, which are 2 things to do simultaneousely: difficult.

As I was sketching that girl on the other side of the aisle when a guy dancing accidentally pushed another guy that was making his way down. His glasses fell and broke. An altercation followed, the band was playing, the guys were competing in order to make their point clear, 

"Hey, it was an accident" said the dancer who looked truely sheepish and sorry.
The ex-glass wearer followed up with lots of foul language and many puut-holes words.
"You -puuuut- puuut- puut- are -puuut- puuut- puuut- broke my glasses you -puuut- puuut- puuut--puuut- puuut- puuut-puuut- "
Now the dancer started to look a bit outraged himself.
"Hey calm down, you don't tell me to  -puuut- puuut- puuut- you go -puuut- puuut- puuut- yourself,"

a bit of a push on either side, crowd is forming, the band sings about love, doves, sea, sex and sun. The guys are trying to out-shout each other, veins are pumping in their necks, their faces might have been crimson red, but I couldn't tell, because it was dark, and they were mozambicans and it is blimming hard to observe baffled blushing black blokes batteling in the dark. 
Eventually the broken glass guy put an end to the conflict by pulling the glasses off the dancing one (who also had a pair on his nose) and in a remarquable justice-seeking act of equality, broke them  then threw the pieces to the dancing crowd before running away, leaving the guy completely taken aback, outraged and ready to murder him. 
An eye for an eye they say.

As for me, for the price of one I had 2 shows. Now that is even better than most cell-phone promotions.