Mission: One drawing per day for 27 days. Drawn on location. The goal was to capture the hearts and minds of the people of Myanmar with art. Document the work and record observations and leave the drawings there as gifts. Create an epic blog about the experience.
The Burma Project: full description
We found Black House Coffee down by the riverside following a trail of breadcrumbs left by another traveler. This is often how it happens. Travelers love to share their opinions and stories whether it be online, across a crowded bar, in books or in blogs. This particular breadcrumb was given to us in the form of a travel guide entitled “To Myanmar With Love.” At the time, we weren’t even thinking about going to Burma, talk of Bali filled our heads. Reading that one amazing book with it’s rich and varied stories got us thinking in a new direction and the many conversations we had with people who had recently been there sealed the deal. It was Myanmar or bust.
Fast forward to Hsipaw (pronounced Tee-Paw) located north of Mandalay in the Shan State. Looking like a movie set from The Wild West, the town’s dusty roads were bustling with activity. Many charming tea houses, the Burmese equivalent of a café or pub, sat open to the great outdoors and patrons could be found sitting on low plastic stools sharing the stories of the day. Alive with activity, Hsipaw is such a great place to walk, especially with my magenta umbrella providing shade. We went out in search of Black House Coffee and it’s owner, an Australian ex-pat named Maureen about whom we had read in the travel book. After stumbling upon the charming town and it’s denizens, Maureen decided to change her life forever. She said, “In Australia in one day I’ll meet fifty people and they’ll all be the same person; here, I meet fifty people and they’re all different!” So true. So true.
Black House Coffee is a beautiful teakwood building over a hundred years old that sits on the banks of the Dokhtawady River. You can enjoy the charming interior or go outside to a lovely terrace. It was in the bright sun and on a wooden bench that I sat down to draw. The famous Maureen was not there that day but we left her a note and told her we had come looking. Maybe we’ll see her next time.
I have a choice to use white or brown paper. In this case it was an easy decision as most of the image was comprised of warm tones such as burnt sienna and raw umber. Now the light shapes become the “accents.” The light blue sky seen through and around the building was lovely and I especially liked the satellite dish smack dab in the middle of the composition. It’s such a funny little contrast to all that rustic charm. It also typifies an important aspect of Burma’s culture, that being lots of old school with touches of modernity here and there.