A Badly Drawn Weekend

It's been a tiring weekend. Tiring in a good way, though.

It was Bank Holiday Monday in the UK, so that was a day off, which was fortunate as I had a guest staying. Not just any guest, but a special guest. The last time we'd seen each other (apart from an all too brief meeting at her gig back in Kielce) was just over a year ago in Brighton. It was at the time of Brighton Pride, which is normally the biggest thing all year to happen in Brighton, but this paled into insignificance when compared to the quality time spent with my drinking buddy and photographic model.

This time we were meeting in Kraków and fortunately there were plenty of opportunities for not only photography, but drawing too. Luckily my house guest was quite accommodating and I didn't have to make too many changes to my weekend routine, apart from cutting out some of the slightly more boring bits.

Day 1

First drawing opportunity of the weekend was the usual Sunday meet-up at Klub Nie Lubię Poniedziałków (I Don't Like Mondays). My guest was prepared to model, but in the end she wasn't needed as we very nearly had more models than artists there. She was quite happy to sit and read while I tried very hard to create good likenesses of our two models. First up in the modelling hotseat was young Kasia, I'd drawn her a few times before, so she wasn't too hard to draw. The next model proved to be a little bit more difficult. A little bit more mature and two things about her that artists love to hate... glasses and curly hair

After drawing next on my Sunday timetable would normally be Scrabble. Much as I love Scrabble I wouldn't never inflict it on my guests. After a quick stroll around the Rynek (main market square) we decided to go a bar with a nice beer garden (Krakowskie Zakąski) so that I could attempt to draw her. The drawing didn't go too badly, it wasn't a great likeness, but it was very pleasant to sit outside drawing and occasionally supping my beer. Next stop was to get a bite to eat, just before a concert and inevitable drinking large quantities of alcohol that. The fact that restaurant was right next to Piękny Pies (where the concert was to be held) was a bonus. Inadvertently I had chosen one of the most romantic restaurants in Kraków. After our candlelit dinner we joined some of my friends at the concert. I took a few photos there. Really I should have done some drawings. Back in the good old days when I was at my artistic peak I would draw at concerts and jam nights with my artistic friends, if we didn't have paper we would draw on beer mats. After several hours at Piękny Pies my guest and I were fairly tired from the day's activities and headed for home.

Day 2

Monday turned out to be a day of photography rather than drawing. The first photo opportunity was at the botanical gardens. It wasn't the best time of the year to visit the gardens, but we got some good photos anyway. It wasn't all plain sailing though. Outside I had to use the neutral density filter so that I could shoot wide open at F2 in the bright sunlight. Of course, I was soon scratching my head wondering why the photos were so dark inside. Another useful lesson was learnt why I tried my hand at macro photography. My subject was a dragon fly. A fairly stationary one, so that wasn't a problem. Depth of field was a problem though. At F2 with the subject just inches away from the lens the depth of focus can be measured in mere millimetres. Lesson learned, next time I'll try a much smaller aperture. We headed back to my place, stopping on the way to take a new Facebook profile picture for me. Next stop was Pizza Hut, on the menu for me, pizza and photography. For my muse, pasta and posing. I managed to take a fantastic new profile photo for her. More by accident than design my sketchbook was visible in

Fully refuelled to set off along the river towards Wawel Castle. Kładka Bridge (with its many lovelocks) provided the next photo background. We ended up not taking any photos at Wawel and went to Kazimierz to find a nice place for a refreshing drink. Kolanko No. 6 proved to be the perfect venue. I had a litre of water and an ice cream and I was indeed refresh and took one of my favourite pictures there; possible source material for a proper drawing. But I settle for taking some photos. One of which turned out to be my favourite photo of the day, (and possibly the week, the month and the year). The subject was just a pretty girl, stirring her cappuccino. Simple stuff, but a lovely image. I'll try to make a drawing from it at some point. After my cool drink and even cooler ice cream I certainly felt like I had a little more energy. We decided to get a taxi back to the flat so that we would have enough strength for the evening's entertainment.

In the evening we decided not to take our cameras. I say we, but it was more my decision. As it turned out there would be plenty of things to photograph that evening. First event was the Language Exchange meeting, which I was supposed to be hosting. We each had a Ciechan Miodowe at Kladka Cafe and attempted to remake our beloved "Beers at Leicester Square" photo. The light was not good, to say the least. Then over the footbridge for dinner at the lovely Japanese-themed restaurant "TAO by Zen". A lovely interior which I could only capture using the camera in my smartphone. There is a saying that the best camera is the one you have on you. My model/guest/muse informed me of a different saying "Taking photos with a camera phone is like masturbating with a condom on." Well, I'm not entirely sure I would agree with that. But yes, it would have been nice to have a proper camera with us. Crossing the bridge there was some amazing spiders' webs lit up by the bridge's multicoloured lights.

Heading along Grodzka we stopped off at a shisha bar for a smoke. The shisha bar is an interesting place. You walk through what seems to be your average run-of-the-mill kebab shop. Then you enter a magical wonderland full of cosy "smoking bays". We chose the cosiest of the bays and had a rather pleasant shisha full of apple-flavoured smoke, washed down by a couple of beers.

Then we headed to the Rynek (yet again). Walking down Bracka listening and singing to Bracka by Grzegorz Turnau (thankfully it wasn't raining at the time). Some things you can't just capture on camera.

Day 3

The final drawing and photographic opportunity of the long weekend was at The Dorsz (Fish and chip restaurant). This place has absolutely fantastic lighting (especially downstairs). I made one attempt at drawing (which came out merely ok) and took some rather nice photos (although none of them were as good as those taken at Pizza Hut or Kolanko No. 6). Beers were drunk and (in my case) apple fritters (with ice cream) were consumed. A nice way to finish a long (4-day) Bank Holiday weekend.

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A difficult subject, glasses AND curly hair. At Klub Nie Lubię Poniedziałków
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At Dorsz
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Kasia (again) at Klub Nie Lubię Poniedziałków
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At Krakowskie Zakąski
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Cappuccino at Kolanko No 6 (this photo isn't my favourite photo of the year, but just a tribute... ie cropped differently)
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Spider's web at Kładka Bernadcka

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