Cinnamon Sparrows, Kathmandu, 1990
Thursday, September 4, 2014 at 11:05AM
Alex Tomlinson

In 1990 I lived in Nepal, working in the jungle of Chitwan on the border with India.  Every few weeks I’d have to go up to the capital Kathmandu for a few days to sort out admin.  My one luxury was to have tea every morning in a courtyard café that was completely shielded from the noise of the city.   The tea was always cinnamon and there were always exotic birds flying in and out to scavenge scraps from the tables. There were always parakeets, mynahs, drongo’s  and Indian Rollers passing through but my favourite was always the cinnamon sparrows.   They just looked like regular sparrows that had been dipped in cinnamon.  They’d have dust baths in the baked clay of the ‘flower beds’ and then sit and fidget on the café owner’s dodgy wiring.  

I’ve had this and a couple of other bird paintings in my head for nearly 25 years.  Periodically I have a crack at them but never quite seem to get the whole thing out onto paper.  When I started working digitally I’d have another go each time I got a new machine or software upgrade but couldn’t really find a way to do the idea justice digitally.  Now, 8 or 9 PC’s later, working on a Cintiq with a combination  of Photoshop and Corel Painter I’ve managed to scrape this off the inside of my skull.  This is the closest I’ve got, it’s too early to tell but at the moment it feels like this mental itch has finally been scratched. 

It’s taken me a long time to realise that the idea I was trying to paint wasn’t one view but a collection of impressions and memories.  Wherever you went in Kathmandu the Buddha's eyes were always looking down at you, not from the stupas at Boudhanath or Swayambhunath but embroidered on a million T shirts hanging outside every other shop window.  The little coloured squares of faded prayer flags hung everywhere framing every view.  The snowy peaks of the Himalayas were visible everywhere you looked.  Not the actual mountains, they were too far away to be visible from the capital even without the dust and smog, but every shop front and advertising hoarding had ‘Everest this’ or ‘Annapurna that’ plastered all over it.  I still miss Everest Beer :) and the kukri XXX rum, but that’s another story.

BoudhanathKathmandu, 1990Sleeping Vishnu at Budanilkantha

Cinnamon sparrows (actually it's just one sparrow, singular, bobbing about) fidgeting after a dust bath in a courtyard in Kathmandu, Nepal.  Prayer flags, Buddha's eyes looking down on you from temple walls over saffron water splashes and the statue of Vishnu sleeping on a bed of Nagas at Budanilkantha.

I've uploaded the image to a couple of print on demand sites in case anyone wanted to buy prints. 

Click here to buy from Fineartengland.

For OZ/NZ/Asia click here to got to my Redbubble pages where you can buy prints and a couple of other things.

Or if you prefer, click here to go to my Society 6 website in the US where as well as prints and canvases they also sell the image on cushions, mugs, clocks, laptop skins - and bizarrely duvet covers and shower curtains.  Don't believe me? Look!

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