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Hong Kong sketches May

MAY 22, 2013
It's hard to believe that our year here in Hong Kong is winding down as we prepare for our return to the USA in July. I feel pressure to draw and paint as much as I can before we leave. Frequent thunder and lightning storms and temperatures in the 90's herald the onset of summer in the sub-tropics:
A butcher in Sheung Shui, a town with thriving street markets in the northern New Territories, and the last stop before the border with mainland China. This butcher has used imaginative lighting in his stall to display the meat to its best advantage.
Shoe repairman, Mong Kok. This man sets up his shop on a busy public sidewalk sandwiched between entrances to an elevated pedestrian walkway, a store that sells holiday decorations, and the art store which I frequent. I've walked past this location many times and have never seen him absent. There's an understanding that this location belongs to this man, for the store that sells holiday decorations that spill out onto the sidewalk never usurps his space.

Waffle and juice stand at Fa Yuen and Bute streets, Mong Kok. I'm a great fan of this neon sign that gracefully wraps around the corner. The appetizing scent of fresh waffles and curried fish balls mingle with the putrid odor emanating from the stinky tofu stand a few doors down. (Stinky tofu: Is there any cooked food on earth that smells so different from the way that it tastes?) No other neighborhood in Hong Kong has inspired me to sketch as much as Mong Kok East with its carnival-like atmosphere, profusion of neon signs, hotels that rent rooms by the hour, and lively street markets that sell everything from goldfish to knock-off designer jeans and durian fruit. The combination of competing smells and tropical heat turn these streets into a veritable olfactory Olympics.

Kite flyer at the Plover Cove Dam. Kite flying is a serious hobby in Hong Kong. On weekends both novices and passionate flyers congregate at the Plover Cove Dam and in nearby Tai Po Waterfront Park to fly kites of all shapes and sizes. This skillful flyer seems to be in a league of his own. At the entrance to the dam are several large trees festooned with dozens of kites that once belonged to less skillful flyers

The engine room on the Star Ferry. This door is always open when the ferries are in service crisscrossing Hong Kong harbor. I'm always tempted to step inside and take a closer look at all the vintage machinery. To me, this sailor's body language says: "You can look, but you can't come in."

Topical: Hong Kong sketches