Rapid Sketching in Vietnam

One cloudy afternoon on a balcony in Hanoi’s antique quarter, there I sat beside the railings with a view of a thousand year old history. My hand automatically reached through the pocket of my bag with sheer excitement to feel the corners of the newly purchased “mini” watercolor pad back in Hoi An, Vietnam. That moment, I was absolutely ready.

With only a felt pen on hand, I began with the lines of the trees and buildings surrounding me, the tiny details of rustic windows and ant-sized vehicles from my perspective, the street light and the pole with spaghetti electrical wires. It was a rapid sketching of a beautiful chaos – ten minutes of scribbling crazy lines and cross-hatching, everything on one small page, all in black and white.

When the freshly brewed coffee with ice cubes floating on the glass arrived, I think I was done.

Watercolor and Ink rendering from Hanoi Old Quarter rapid sketching.

Watercolor and Ink rendering from Hanoi Old Quarter rapid sketching.

Sketching is always unfinished. It is a work that has no intention to be finished on the spot. Somehow, it is a very useful trick when you go around places where time is not much of a luxury.

A pen and a paper, two things so simple could weave lines to create a picture so close to reality.

When I arrived home from that trip, I reunited with my watercolors and recreated that moment once more. From the lines of the pen, from the scribbles and random hatching, from that memory of that view, the 55th Ma May Street in Hoan Kiem District came alive – isolated chaos from the many people in the street at present, with only an iconic subject to look at.


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