I made some more sketches of the same character from the Mandarin Chinese textbook I use at work, a Russian girl called Lena who is studying in China. I was curious to see if I could make several sketches of the same character so that she would be recognizable – I’ve never really tried it before. And I guess I’m satisfied with the results, enough at least to try moving on to doing the same thing with some other character from the same textbook.
I guess part of why I like making illustrations for this textbook is that it reminds me of my own time in China (I studied there for 2 years, not counting all the short trips). I was drawing this Chinese food on the table, and I almost felt the taste of steamed dumplings from that little place near our campus in Shanghai. When I graw this sketches, I attribute my own experience to the characters and it makes them a lot more real for me, more like personal acquaintances than just generic textbook characters. And since I teach using this textbook everyday anyway, this adds another dimention to the teaching process. Plus it’ s good illustration practice, of course.
To my surprise (I’ve been teaching Chinese for a few years now and never tried doing textbook illustrations until a few weeks ago), I realised that I was sitting there grading my students’ homework and thinking about possible illustrations of the lesson we are currently on in our textbook. And since drawing textbook illustrations is a great way to procrastinate grading piles of homework, it’s obvious which I chose to do.
The dialog in the textbook is about a student who has so much schoolwork that she spends all her weekends studying in her room. Only after finishing the bedside table I realised that the furniture layout in the room in the picture was exactly the same as my dorm in Shanghai two years ago.
Following a long discussion with my colleagues about the illustrations in the Mandarin textbook we use at work (which are not too great, to put it mildly), I came up with a quick sketch for the topic I was teaching this morning – buying fruit.
Another sketch from my trip to Taiwan:
Here are some sketches from the two weeks I spent in Taiwan.
A girl from the hostel in Taipei:
People and other fragments of the classroom where we had most of our classes: