Seoul winters are long and cold. And as much as I love the cold, I don’t especially cherish the fact that it puts an end to my outdoor sketching routine. By November temperatures fall to single digits, winter coats are out, room heaters are on, signalling my retreat to the warmth of cafes along with my art supplies.
Friends who live in similar climes have suggested wearing fingerless gloves. Pictures on social media showing artists sitting in snow covered landscapes in their winter gear doing oil paintings makes you wonder if you’re trying hard enough?
Last winter I did try. And quickly realized in barely one sitting how ill-equipped my body is to pursue something like this. In a matter of minutes, my fingers became numb and refused to move across the page. My nose was running, lips froze and the ears started hurting. It was over.
A year later, the older and wiser me heads straight to the warmest spot inside any cafe and parks herself there. These sketches are from those visits. Each sketch tells a different story but one thing common across all sketches is the pile of winter coats you see about the cafe drinkers. They’re either hung at the back of the chairs or piled on top of the table or on empty seats. I find the floppy sleeves sticking out of their crumpled masses really funny!
These women were talking loudly about something very funny. I was amused just looking at them laugh so hard. As I don’t speak Korean, every overheard conversations feels like a missed opportunity!
The Christmas trees were out early December and a lilting voice from the speakers urged Santa baby to hurry down the chimney every single night.
This hygiene-conscious couple had a big bottle of hand sanitiser with them which they took turns to take to the washroom each time one had to go. I never know what i’m going to see next!
During Christmas, the Paris Baguette next to our house had Santa cut outs all over the store and had installed an excellent Christmas tree which made the hideous looking Christmas tree in our building lobby look even more drab.
On weekends Alver cafe is packed to the gills. You can always see a bunch of people standing nonchalantly waiting for other people to finish their coffee and leave. As long as they have a phone, waiting doesn’t seem to be a problem!
Vrooom Vrooooom…pow..pow..pow..vroommm..whooosh- we were treated to an intense Dinosaur flight with sound effects by this little guy. There was head butting, arm wrestling and a lot of pushing and shoving. It was by far the cutest thing I came across in a cafe!
Underneath the powder blue coat this lady was dressed like a character from Great Gatsby. Only partially, though. Top half- Sequin top, vintage looking chandelier necklace with matching bracelet and earrings. Bottom half – distressed denims
The crowd at Cafe Alver
After spending an afternoon with my friend Christina exploring the insanely busy Dongdaemun Shopping Complex we stopped by a nearby cafe with big windows and sketched. This was the view from my side of the table. I love how Christina has no qualms about me sketching her! She always says yes when I ask for permission and is never bothered by the outcome
Interesting couple at Cafe Alver
The guy seated in front of me was reading, listening to music, eating and drinking all at the same time. Meanwhile someone in the corner started applying makeup as soon as her companion left the table to go to the washroom
When the food arrives the food paparazzi goes click, click click!!!
The Girl With The Strawberry Tote Bag