Friday, October 24, 2008

Urban Sketching Part 2: St. Petersburg, Russia

This is Part 2 in my Urban Sketches series: St. Petersburg, Russia
Part 1: Chicago Faces
Part 3: Jyväskylä, Finland
Part 4: Uppsala, Sweden

In 1997, when I was doing research in Music Perception, I got a few papers accepted at the ESCOM conference to be held that Summer in Uppsala, Sweden. (ESCOM is the European Society for the Cognitive Sciences of Music.) Through my contact with researcher Mari Tervaniemi I was also invited to give a talk in Finland at the University of Jyväskylä. That led to yet another opportunity, to go a bit east from Helsinki and visit St. Petersburg, Russia.

Taking a train to Russia by yourself is a pretty daunting experience. But since I thrive on foreign cultures and like using my wits to make the best of foreign situations, it was an amazing adventure. It was a pretty slow train with lots of stops, so I had lots of time on my hands to sketch lots of faces, many of whom were very different from faces one sees anywhere in the USA.

There were many businessmen on the train to St. Petersburg. I spoke at length with one of them (not this man, though). He believed that Russians would take very long to "get" capitalism...two generations minimum. That's how long it would take them to learn not to expect the government to provide them with everything.
This is one of my best likenesses. Later I talked with him and he told me he is a policeman. He and his friends got a good laugh over the pic when I showed it to them.
Here's a few sketches of a very lean, athletic looking business man with a strikingly Scandinavian face. He and his colleagues got a kick out of seeing my sketches of them.
Another sleeping businessman who enjoyed seeing this sketch later.
An accurate likeness of a woman with a very stark Scandinavian face. Made me think of the Finnish composer Jan Sibelius.
Helen, who was my guide to the Hermitage museum in St. Petersburg, and also showed me around town. That's her handwriting, with her name both in Cyrilic and latin characters. She's right, it was a bad cartoon of her face, but it still helps recall the memory of a nice afternoon.
Young man with a very stark Scandinavian face.
Two sketches of a man from the dining car. Another unusually Scandinavian face...which reminded me of composer Richard Wagner's.
I vaguely recall that this young man was part of a tour group, perhaps as a guide, which explains his very "on" expression.

See my sketches gallery for the rest of my drawings from this trip.

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