The Shanghai Scooters exhibition is just about ready for next Saturday’s opening. The drawing show, which I’ve been working on since February, is based on two trips I took to China in 2009 and 2011. I was impressed by the way traffic flowed in the city. Cars, scooters, trikes, bicycles and pedestrians weaved through the packed city streets with little regard for signals or rules.

I took hundreds of traffic photos with a plan in the back of my mind to do some sort of project with them. I experimented with a few techniques but decided to use gouache.  The opaque ink has a unique ability to reveal both the bright colours of the vehicles and muted tones of the always-damp air.

The final results are pretty satisfying. Repeatedly drawing an object like a scooter let me really hone in on technique and figure out what was important in each scene. Ponchos and recycling piles were reduced to abstract forms. Portions of the drawings were left uncoloured for emphasis. Faces reveal the joy and hardship of daily life riding the streets of Shanghai. (you can see all the drawings here, or click the SHANGHAI SCOOTERS tab).

Shanghai Scooters runs from August 20 to September 2, 2011 at the Niagara Artists Centre, 354 St. Paul St., St. Catharines, Ontario

Opening reception: Saturday August 20, 8 p.m