Sketching in Iran

One of the best investments I ever made was in a tiny A6 sized sketch pad, which I’ve spent the past few years filling about two thirds of it. It started off very Auckland centric but has come into it’s own when travelling. There is nothing like trying to draw something to really see it.

After a six month break I regained my sketching mojo in Iran, with ten sketches in my two weeks there. It was a great way to capture memories and meet a few of the locals. Someone sketching always attracts attention and generous complements.

The Jame Atiq Mosque and Mausoleum of Shah Cheragh in Shiraz inspired me to sketch again. To warm up I drew the mausoleum, onion shaped domes proving as tricky as expected to draw. As I concentrated I heard the snap of cameras. Looking up I found three ladies in chadors with sizeable cameras photographing me at close distance. They were ‘photo journalists’ employed by the mosque to capture an earlier event. After a brief chat they wanted me to pose a little with my sketch, quite a surreal experience.

I was much happier with my second sketch though, of the magnificent gate in the middle of the Jame Atiq Mosque. It was a good evening.

The next night we stayed in a local’s home in Kahran, built by their father fifty years ago. Had a wonderful evening sat on the floor in their main room, learning about the life of a nomad, while I sketched the fireplace. About two thirds through the sketch I looked up to find that the fireplace had been lit!

The next morning after waking early and going for a walk up the hill I still had time to kill before breakfast, so I found a handy log and sketched the village across the valley below.

Caravanserai Zein-o-din is Spice Road era accommodation, with the main building offering great views from it’s roof of a smaller neighbour, a new building for the staff, and the Zagros Mountains behind. Nice spot to sketch as the sun set though it did make consistency of shadows and lighting a little challenging…

I spent a spare afternoon in Yazd happily sketching, exploring the Old City being hard work in 37C temperatures. First up was one of the famous badgirs, ingenious wind catchers, an ancient and effective form of air conditioning.

Next I tackled the elaborate facade of Masjed-e Jame (Friday mosque), which proved a little tricker, and certainly more time consuming, than I’d expected. Pretty happy with the result though.

Tackled another Friday mosque in Esfahan, the huge Masjed-e Iman, getting the hang of how to capture their elaborate facades and complex plasterwork, but losing perspective and depth…

The Se-o-Se Pol Bridge is an iconic sight of Esfahan and a good test to capture perspective. One of the sketches I’m most pleased with from this trip.

Further down the river in Esfahan I tackled, less successfully, the Khaju Bridge. It’s a more complex structure and I perhaps should have drawn from an angle with more perspective.

Author: jontycrane

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