Location Sketching In Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia

This time I finally did something I’ve been wanting to do in Ulaanbaatar for my last couple of trips to Mongolia – sketch on location.

I got started right away since I had a couple of hours before I left for the countryside on July 10, having arrived on July 8. The Naadam celebrations had begun at Sukhbaatar Square, so I walked over from my hotel and did this page of quick studies.

Naadam 2010, Sukhbaatar Square

Back in UB after the camping trip, I met up with a new Mongol friend I had originally connected with on Facebook and we spent part of a morning at Gandan Monastery. It was fun to have a sketching buddy. He hadn’t drawn since high school, but must have still remembered something, because he immediately turned out some nice work.

I got an interesting comment on the stupa drawing. An older man came by, looked at what I was doing and told me, through my friend, that there HAD to be nine smaller stupa shapes below the main one. I couldn’t really explain that I simply couldn’t see them from the angle at which I was sitting, so just had to let him walk off in a minor huff.

Stupa, Gandan Monastery

There are a number of these big (close to 8′ high) incense burners around the Monastery grounds. Visitors circle them while trailing a hand along the surface.

Large bronze incense vessel, Gandan Monastery

After I returned from the countryside, I went back to Sukhbaatar Square and sketched some of the buildings. The Palace of Culture is one of my favorites. The top of the tower is metallic gold and sparkles beautifully in the sunshine.

The Palace of Culture
Mongolia Telecom

I started to draw some attention at this point, particularly from a nice young man who wanted to practice his English, and had to give it up. Yes, that’s a giant Coke bottle on the left hand side of the building.

I also went back to Gandan Monastery for another morning of sketching. This time I tried adding some color with my water-soluble colored pencils.

Gandan Monastery

The preceeding sketches were all done in a small Strathmore premium recycled sketchbook. But I also wanted to experiment with working on location on toned paper. These were done during the second stint at Gandan Monastery and also at the Museum of the Chojin Lama. I never do architecture, really, so it was a challenge to try to keep things in reasonably decent perspective. On the other hand, unlike animals, the buildings, at least, don’t move.

Gandan Monastery temple
Museum of the Chojin Lama temple gate

Next Friday, I’ll post more drawings, this time from the journal that I kept during the trip. Dogs, dinosaurs, the desert and…..

3 thoughts on “Location Sketching In Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia

  1. Your wetting my appetite even for the city and I HATE cities. Can’t believe I’m on my way in less than a week now – YIPPEE! Mongolia here I come.


  2. Yeah, I’m not big on cities, either. But there’s something about UB….

    You should have good argali watching. The only water in the reserve when I was there was the spring near the research camp. There were sightings almost every day and the sheep were pretty tolerant of humans.

    There’s also a big billy ibex with a radio collar that they’ve named Dwight who is apparently seen pretty regularly. I’ve got a pic of him up on the top of rocks that form the sides of the valley.


  3. hi there,
    my name is gerel, you have cool drawings! however my motherland is not developed enough, i love my mongolia.

    have a nice journey!


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