Monday, August 15, 2016

Sketches of Austria 2 / 奧地利速寫 2


Woods and lakes 

多瑙河河畔‧維也納 / Donau River, Vienna


The most fascinating scenery in summery Vienna can be found along the Donau riverbanks. People sunbathe, swim, or hike along the trails. Every time when I feel lost or fidgety, I will retrieve my inner peace there. 

多瑙河河畔‧維也納 / Donau River, Vienna


I love the spot so much that before going home, I sketch again in the same place. For me, the place is my definition of Vienna. 

羅保國家公園‧維也納 / the Lobau, Vienna 


This place is the highlight of my trip. I planned to go hiking in the Lobau, but I fail to find the hiking trail. However, my lack of sense of direction leads me into this nude sunbathing area. I am really shocked in the beginning, but I do think seriously if I should take my clothing off. In the end, my discreet Asian personalities kill the desire to take such a bold step. I sit there covered from head to toe, thanking Wieners for being so magnanimous with me. 


Yet, the visit makes me think about the body. People who go nude sunbathing don't have the most beautiful bodies in the world, but they are so ok with being naked. I hope one day I can liberate myself from all the pointless concerns and restraints. 


As a matter of fact, Austrians, in my eyes, are polite and reserved, so if they don't find nude sunbathing outrageous, I have a good reason to open up too. Well, the trip to the Lobau is probably the most thought-provoking experience this summer. 

維也納大學‧維也納 / Vienna University, Vienna 


Wherever there are lush shades, there are people taking a break under the thick foliage. The university campus during summer break is serene and relaxing. 

市中心草地上 / on the lawn near Volksgarten 


Often I am amazed that tourists gather in a certain area. Beyond an invisible line, no matter how close, no tourist is seen. This is the lawn near the exit of Volkstheater metro station, which leads to all the major museums and tourist spots right in the center of the city, but I only see the locals coming here either for walking dogs or taking a nap at noon. 

哈修塔特 / Hallstatt


Hallstatt, the renowned town along the lake, is packed with visitors. My toughest challenge is to find a quiet corner as streams of people keep flowing by. However, the miracle does exist. There is always a spot where I can draw without being exposed to the sun--that is the bench under the shade of some trees on the lakeshore. 

哈修塔特 / Hallstatt


As I draw, raindrops start to fall. Surprisingly, I can hold an umbrella and keep sketching in the rain. People taking shelter next to me cannot help smiling at me. I bet they must find me incredible.


But truth be told, I have to go after it rains for about ten minutes. Actually I go back to draw again after the rain stops. 

哈修塔特 / Hallstatt 


When I can't bear the crowds anymore, I take the ferry to the other shore. There, apart from the train passengers, my only companions are the bees and the beautiful lady that rows alone on the lake. 



格拉茲 / Graz 


In the super sunny morning, I do not feel heat in a shady corner in Kaiser-Josef Markt. Now,  I miss most the slow pace of life there very much. 


the zoo 

Schönbrunn Zoo, Vienna / 美泉宮動物園‧維也納


I envy these kids very much. They do nothing beside preening their feathers. I love the empty look in their eyes as they stare off into the distance. What a simple life! 

Friday, August 05, 2016

Sketches of Austria 1 / 奧地利速寫 1




Hunderwasser Village in Vienna


I tend to feel confused and lost when I first arrive in a new city. I am tempted to visit renowned tourist spots, but I fear crowds of tourists. 


The rich colors and curvy lines of Hunderwasser Village so remind me of Barcelona, but it's only the size of a small block. Fortunately, tourists gather only within the block. I find by accident that around the corner, there are only local residents passing by from time to time as I am sketching. 


My paper is pricey watercolor paper, but I feel like using only black and white, which is one of the answers I've got from the trip. 

Ottakring 地鐵站出口‧維也納

Ottakring metro station, Vienna 


I travel in Austria for sixteen days. During the last few days, I feel that I've had enough of traveling. I come to the conclusion that I shouldn't visit tourist attractions anymore. One day, I discover the community near the Ottakring metro station on my way to the woods. Vegetable and fruit stands line the plaza right outside the station. There, the locals come and go, and my radar tells me that this is the perfect place for sketching. So on the last day of my trip, I spend the whole morning sitting in the shade to draw. 


That day, I feel the changes of light and shadows, what Austrians are like, and how people live. Best of all, I have the opportunities to interact with others. Though I don't speak German, I find smiles and thank-you are more than enough. 


Early in the afternoon, a couple of street performers mark the end of the trip for me with their modern ballads. It's so beautiful that I am totally moved. What a perfect way to say goodbye to Vienna! 


St. Wolfgang 


St. Wolfgang is a holiday resort in the lake areas. I dreamed of taking long walks around the lake and hiking in the hills, but during my visit, it hardly stops raining. I can't help but focus on staying away from the cold and the rain. 


As I shiver in the cold rain, the long benches on the plaza catch my attention. Sitting there to draw is the best way to kill time. Then I realize it's actually the meeting point of many tourist groups. It's fun that tourists speaking different languages gather near me and sometimes make their own comments on my drawings. For example, one of the French tourists suggests that I add some people inside the windows. I LOVE the idea since I feel quite lonely at that moment. I feel soothed after drawing some imaginary friends who actually desire to come to play with me in the rain. 


Next come two Taiwanese tourist groups. As the tour guides introduce the buildings, I realize that the building on the left side in the first picture is the most famous hotel in St. Wolfgang: Weissen Rossl! 


My trip is casual to such a degree that some people might be shocked, but the truth is, I have numerous amazing discoveries! 


bird's-eye view from Museum of Modern Art, Salzburg


Salzburg is small yet compact, but it still takes me three hours to attempt to draw all the buildings. (If you look carefully, you'll find I've missed some.) 


When I finish the sketch, I tell myself, "Now the city can be proud of me!" 


Gästehaus im Priesterseminar, Salzburg


When I would like to take a break from traveling, I sketch in my hotel room. The little black cat is as lonely as me, but the truth is, he has many mysterious friends. 


along Salzach, Salzburg 


Only when I remember to stay away from tourist attractions do I really get to see a city as it is. The last morning when I am about to leave, the weather finally clears up. I sit and sketch along Salzach as the locals jog or bike by in front of me. What a peaceful end! 


To be continued ...

Friday, July 29, 2016

If I am lonely, / 如果我感到寂寞,


it must be that I forget to take out my sketchbook. 






The significance of this trip: 

I went to Austria alone this summer. Desiring some change, I chose not to use my beloved Moleskine journal. Instead, I went for single sheets of watercolor paper. Also, desperate for the sense of safety that only writing can give me, I brought along a really convenient and inexpensive journal of MUJI, which greatly soothed me along the way. 

I told others, "This is a safe trip." Instead of emphasizing personal safety, I focus more on the meaning that there weren't great adventures, but on the other hand, it was very relaxing, which I needed at the moment. Meanwhile, I got to look back on my life in Europe before. One friend said this was a very "deep" journey. Yes, it was. 

I stayed in several small rooms in different cities, but they always felt kind of dejavu to me. I couldn't ask myself, "What did I come back here for? What difference do I feel now compared with four years ago?"



大太陽底下,躲在Sisi Museum有陰影的大門後面畫著不確定的線條,打掃的阿姨說我的腳不能放在大理石上。

My place in the new city: 

I was defining the significance of my trip in my life inside the hotel room. When I walked out of the hotel, I was looking for my niche in this city. It was especially challenging when I knew that I was just one of the tourists, but I wanted to prove my difference so much. 

Before I found the answer, I hid in the shade behind the door of Sisi Museum. My lines were indefinite, and I had no idea what I was doing. The cleaning lady said I should put my legs down the marble ledge, but I could sit there drawing. 


It was distracting to bring so many sorts of media with me. I had to choose between the journal book and sheets of paper. And of course, there was the scorching sunshine to worry about. I found myself so busy that I really envied the big guy in the Schoenbrunn Zoo. 




Sightseeing or sketching? 

The purchase of a package with one ticket could blind me. To visit as many museums as possible, I would persuade myself that I had no time to sketch, so I ran around like a madman under the sun. Much as I had learned, I couldn't help feeling kind of empty. 

I would go back to the same spot to make up for the view that I had missed. I realized that only when I sit down to draw peacefully will I feel cool breezes. 




About loneliness: 

The day when I left Vienna, the weather took a downturn. The moment when I pulled my gigantic luggage out of the hotel, I thought to myself, "Well, at least now I don't feel lonely, if I have to list a difference from the past." Interestingly, as if to prove I was wrong, within a few hours, God bestowed the big gift on me.  

On my way from Vienna to Graz, I felt more and more lonely despite the lovely scenery. 




A crisis is also a turning point: 

I feel especially lonely when I change hotels. Right when I feel used to one little room, I have to adapt to another room. It feels bleak. It came as a blow when I found that I didn't have an adaptor with me. "How can I stay in contact with the world I know without my iPad?" 




Live at the moment when you travel: 

Others envy me for my holidays, for my courage to travel alone, but truth be told, there was a lot going on inside of me. Fortunately, I always manage to find an answer: If I feel lonely, it must be that I forget to take out my sketchbook. 

That Sunday in Graz, tourists all left for somewhere else, most shops were closed, yet I found my most loyal partner--my sketchbook. 


I sketched while waiting for the bus, while taking the bus. 


While walking in the city. 


While encountering artworks that I really adore.


Until I found a perfect spot for sketching. Then the passer-by would tell me, "You have a special record of the trip." I went on to say, "And a very calm feeling." 



There's no need to give everything meaning: 

I learned not to give everything or every picture meaning. New understanding will arise from pure observation. 

Bad Mitterndorf



Be prepared for change all the time: 

I was sketching while waiting for the train in the quiet countryside only to find that the train wouldn't come. However, the shuttle bus came after I finished a sketch. 

St. Wolfgang



It's a must to sit in a cafe on rainy days: 

Traveling is more than moving around... 


I had to stop drawing in the journal at this point because not many pages were left for my text record. I actually brought paints and colored pens with me, but to my surprise, I ended up drawing in black and white. That was what I hadn't expected beforehand! 

Sunday, June 05, 2016

去上海途中 / on our way to Shanghai


     The plane meal tastes of freedom for me, so I never complain about the food quality. In fact, I have a thing for plane meals. 


     I haven't had a window seat for ages. That's why I am so impressed by what I see as the plane lands. I can hardly draw all the scenery, so I can only record it with simple sketches, which turn out to be the only ones I draw on this trip. 


     The pictures depict scenery I see at different heights. 


     The unique view of Yangtze River mouth: Green islets dot the brownish-hellow river. 


     As we get closer to the land, I see roads and houses in geometric shapes, along with the ships along the riverbanks and gigantic machines for industrial use. 


     Tiny rafts scatter on the vast river surface. 


     The orangish yellow school buses of the Taiwan businessmen's school are waiting for us as we head out of the airport. Our suitcase literally cram the small bus, and it reminds me that we are no longer where we come from...

Thursday, June 02, 2016

Free airplane! / 自在的小飛機!


Today my fifth class has graduated. Since I kept reminding myself to say goodbye to the girls with my best wishes, I did have a great day. See, I have made much progress in the summer before turning forty! 


     A few weeks ago I was looking for some answers. I felt the strong need to make some breakthroughs because I am almost halfway through my teaching career and feel like change. Luckily, I had an opportunity to go to Shanghai thanks to work earlier in May. Along the way I was blessed with many inspirations. After the trip, it took me a while to realize within the box, there are still many possibilities if I use my imagination and creativity. 


     Kids of every generation vary greatly, and now I strongly feel only when I really accept their differences will I live well. I am heading forward my fifteen year of being a teacher, and my goal is to be a free airplane. I would like to overlook everything from the sky, but I won't be emotionally involved or make subjective judgments. 


     My new scenery, see you in three months! 

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Botanical garden / 植物園


Sketching in the botanical garden in summer, I have the company of mosquitoes and sweat. 


   Also, a crowd of passionate photographers who are eager to record the beauty of lotus. 

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Trial / 試煉


Before I am aware of it, I have become a pretentious and bad-tempered adult. Time for me to meditate and shake off these annoying shackles! 

Monday, May 23, 2016

The Lin Family Mansion & Garden / 林本源園邸


In Shanghai, we traveled at a lightning speed. I didn't have any time for sketching, and now my heart craves for the classical gardens. Well, it's funny that I am asked the question, "Where are you from?" It must have something to do with the fact that I adore exotic stuff so much that I myself appear kind of exotic too.