Sketches From The Road


First I want to say how exciting this week has been, with my first Solo Show at Gold Standard Cafe. I met a lot of great people and the opening, and enjoyed a great cheese platter from the Cafe as well as some beers. There was a great turnout, sold numerous illustrations, and I could not be happier. The show runs till the end of November, so stop by and check it out.Michael Bencik Art Show

The following are some random sketches that I have done while traveling. A major goal of this trip has been to reconnect and re-inspire with my art. A drawing a day is the end goal.

Most are in pretty bad shape because my sketchbooks do not hold up well in the backpack. And even though my goal is to document them all, on the road, taking a picture of a drawing usually gets bumped for jumping on a bus, running to the airport, or just trying to get some food.

I hope you enjoy them as much as I did doing them.

May 25, 2013

Sports day.
Tokyo, Japan

May 21, 2013
Whale sharks today, than bus back to Cebu. No art.

May 20, 2013
Twenty. Hours on a bus to Oslob, no art today.
Cebu, Philippines

May 19, 2013

A sad day, our last night in this amazing island. We were getting BBQ for our beach dog Lobo when the owner of the shop pulled us in to her house to sing karaoke. She was such a gracious host, pulling out more and more rum for us to drink, while singing numerous pop songs. A crazy unexpected night for sure.
Malapascua Island, Philippines

May 18, 2013


I went to see the thresher sharks 24 meters/77 feet under the surface of the ocean. This is the only place in the world where you are guaranteed to see the every day. Thresher Sharks are unique because their tail juts out behind their body like a pendant. This morning there were two sharks at two different cleaning stations. Cleaning Stations are spots where large fish will stop to have their gills cleaned out by smaller fish. They calmly sit there swimming slowly as the fish remove parasites from their gills and mouths. I brought a water-board so I could sketch the sharks from life. Minus the fact that I was being pulled with the current, and there were ten foot sharks swimming ten feet from me, I gave it my best to sketch these magnificent animals.
Malapascua Island, Philippines

May 17, 2013

Fruit stand at night in town proper.
Malapascua Island, Philippines

A partially finished drawing of the beach.
Malapascua Island, Philippines

May 16, 2013

Our grill master was a ten-year old boy in town proper cooking us up a feast.
Malapascua Island, Philippines

May 15, 2013

Chilling out on The Beagle.
Malapascua Island, Philippines

May 14, 2013

The captain of the Beagle, with Evolution Diving. We were headed out to Gato Island for some diving.
Malapascua Island, Philippines

May 13, 2013

The end of the island.
Malapascua Island, Philippines

May 12, 2013

The festival in town proper. Everyone shows up for this, Disco Night. This is the basketball. Court near the church and school. A talent contest was going on and all these people were enthralled with the music.
Malapascua Island, Philippines

May 11, 2013

The festival was going on in town so the whole island was having fun. This show was taken in the village where some guys were playing basketball on dirt. Two things Filipinos love are Basketball and Cock Fighting. The aroma of pigs cooking was all around us also. As soon as I sat down in a chair to draw ten kids surrounded me, pressed so tightly I could barely move my pen. They were too shy to say anything till I drew them some angry birds.
Malapascua Island, Philippines

Second drawing is from the same spot. The little boy stood in front of me staring. Of course as soon as he realised I was drawing him he took off.
Malapascua Island, Philippines

Third drawing done late night at the festival. Picture is blurry, sorry.

May 10, 2013
The view from our veranda.
Malapascua Island, Philippines

May 9, 2013
Yvonne was chilling on our porch when I hear some girls voices talking to her I come outside and Yvonne is surrounded by two ten-year old girls who are painting her toenails. Show them my sketch pad and they ask me to draw them. Their little brother comes over so I let him play Angry Birds Star Wars Edition and we never heard a peep out of him after that.
Malapascua Island, Philippines

May 8, 2013
A happy Buddha statue on the beach.
Malapascua Island, Philippines

May 7, 2013
A very bad day for me, I snorkeled all day then drank too much Red Horse. No art. 😦
Malapascua Island, Philippines

May 6, 2013
Travel Day, Taxi, Plane, Taxi, Boat. Random guy.
Beijing, China

May 5, 2013
We were killing time before we caught our plane and this guy fell asleep in front of us.
Beijing, China

May 4, 2013
The outside deck at Santou Hostel. This guy asked me to draw him the day before but I did not have time, so I drew him the next day. I did not get a chance to show him but if he checks out my blog then comment so I know your thoughts on it.
Beijing, China

May 3, 2013
Forbidden City, No Art
Beijing, China

May 2, 2013
This day just disappeared.
Beijing, China

May 1, 2013
We did the most amazing day trip to the Great Wall. This really is one of the true wonders of the world. They renovated a section of it, then left another section in disrepair so you could see the condition it was in before.
Great Wall, China

April 30, 2013
The Summer Palace was where royalty went to relax. It’s 77 hectares large, with numerous lakes and palaces. The biggest lake is Kunming lake,which is portrayed in the drawing. Along the hill line is the Perfume Pagoda.
Beijing, China

April 29, 2013
The outside deck at Santou Hostel.
Beijing, China

April 28, 2013
Business men in the Airport at a café.
Beijing, China

April 27, 2013
Was going out with some friends in Myanmar for my birthday, so I was killing time at a local cafe as my buddy Joshua picked up his wife. No one spoke English there but through sign language I got them to get me pen and paper. Once I started drawing they came over and chatted using sign language.
Yangon, Myanmar

April 26, 2013
After desperately searching for a money machine, non-existent in much of Myanmar, we cut our beach trip down by a day. So after riding the beach on a scooter we decided to have a drink at a local bar. After a few drawings and some beer the guys were giving us homemade booze and the weirdest green goopy snack I have ever tried. Pictures Pending.
Ngwe Saung

April 25, 2013
Guy chilling out on beach watching sunset.
Ngwe Saung

April 24, 2013
At the nicest beach I have ever been to. 11 miles long, soft white sandy beach was far from the palm trees, and almost no one was on it. Two dogs that befriended us.
Ngwe Saung

April 23, 2013
Waiting at the bus station at 7 am. Started drawing some kids and a teenager with reddish hair sat down and watched everything I was doing. So I incorporated him and his buddy in the drawing.
Yangon, Myanmar

April 22, 2013
I woke up at sunrise to get some photos of the temples of Bagan. I found it so relaxing I sat down in the ruins of one temple and sketched the sunrise.
Bagan, Myanmar
The second drawing is of the traditional horse carriage still used here.
Bagan, Myanmar

April 21, 2013
A traditional puppet show.
Bagan, Myanmar

April 20, 2013
The manager of a hotel was waiting for some guest to arrive under the tree. He is wearing the traditional Lungi. A lungi is similar to a skirt, and is worn in hot countries where heat and humidity make things a bit damp down there, so with this you can air it out.
Bagan, Myanmar

April 19, 2013
Riding bikes through temples in hundred degree heat. No art today, just a very exhausted Mike
Bagan, Myanmar

April 18, 2013
Nine hour bus ride to Bagan. This was a stop where a girl was buying corn on the cob with her mom.
Another bus stop, where a monk was eating his lunch.
A few hours from Bagan, Myanmar

April 17, 2013
This drawing we did on Myanmar’s New Year. We had wandered into Traders, a modern five-star hotel for air conditioning and a hide out from the 104F heat. Sitting in their lobby, I started doing a sketch of the interior when the guy who was in the back ground came over and introduced himself. His name was Jonathon, a financial guy from Malaysia. He was very well spoken, but funny that he was wearing running shorts with a plaid dress shirt in the middle of this fancy hotel after that I never got back to the drawing.
Yangon, Myanmar


March 31, 2013
3-31-13Next to the mighty Mekong River is a large statue of Chao Anouvong, last King of Laos to live in Vientiane. There’s a road here closed off to traffic filled with people running and biking. A really great city, so glad we chilled out here.
Vientiane, Laos

March 30, 2013
3-30-2013A drawing of the main temple Wat Mixay. I met a novice monk here who explained to me about the various teachings in Buddhism, and all about the rules for being a monk. For a layman, you follow five precepts, a novice follows ten, to be a monk though you follow 126, that’s a lot of rules.
Vientiane, Laos

March 29, 2013
3-29-2013Our shy bar tender who mixed a really deadly Rum and Coke.
Vientiane, Laos

March 28, 2013
3-28-2013We stayed across the street from Wat Mixay, a Buddhist temple. I hung out and sketched the monks.
Vientiane, Laos

March 27, 2013
3-27-2013 A3-27-2013 BOut side our lovely hotel were some working girls, and let me tell you they were not shy. We could hear them calling customers all night.
Vientiane, Laos

March 26, 2013
3-26-2013What would South East Asia be with out its Tuk Tuks, they are everywhere. Each country has their own style too. This is a typical Laotian Tuk Tuk, with lots of chrome and bright colors.
Vientiane, Laos

March 25, 2013
3-25-2013This is Makphet, a great restaurant where they train street kids to work in the industry. The food is top-notch, and the atmosphere is great too. I did this sketch while enjoying a wild boar stew, so yummy. Here’s their link for more information. Makphet
Vientiane, Laos

March 24, 2013
3-24-2013A local eatery, just a girl chatting to her friend about the birds and the bees.
Vientiane, Laos

March 23, 2013
3-23-2013This is half my home-away-from-home. It’s actually twice the size of most other backpackers packs.
Vientiane, Laos

March 22, 2013
3-22-2013We just arrived in Vientiane exhausted after an interesting eight-hour bus journey. Found a decent place to crash and hit the western section of the city, where we enjoyed overpriced gyros, but it was good. This man was running around seeing to everyone’s needs.
Vientiane, Laos

March 21, 2013
3-21-2013Men playing Petang, a Laos version of Bocce Ball. We watched from the sidelines while eating dinner. The waitress saw the drawing and started laughing at the guy, so then all the waitresses showed up. They loved the older guy, and got a real laugh out of it. Next thing they take the drawing out to the court, and all the guys are laughing at his posture, and duplicating it. Apparently, you throw the ball with your hand down, not up. He came over and shook my hand. It was hilarious.
Thakhek, Laos

March 20, 2013
24Picking lettuce in the fields at dawn.
Konglor, Laos

March 19, 2013
3-19-2013 C
Tobacco and lettuce fields.
Konglor, Laos

A karst near Konglor Cave above a river.
Konglor, Laos

March 18, 2013
3-18-13A cave filled with Buddhas discovered in 2004. This drawing was my quickest because we were there at 5:07, and it closed at 5. They let me draw for about seven minutes. Great place, cool story.
Thakhek, Laos

March 17, 2013
3-17-2013In honor of St. Paddy’s Day.
Thakhek, Laos

March 16, 2013
3-16-2013A typical night market on the square, serving up everything from entire chicken on a stick to whole frog on a stick.
Thakhek, Laos

March 15, 2013
The worst bus ride ever, twelve hours when it was only supposed to be seven. The ride was bouncy and just a bit crazy, no air-con, overcrowded. The guy next to me offered a frog on a stick and some moonshine. Then they loaded the bus with illegal lumber, in the isle of the bus.
Thakhek, Laos

March 14, 2013
A lovely morning on the mighty Mekong River. They often beach their boats during dry season to make repairs.
Don Det Island, Laos

March 13, 2013
A water buffalo chilling out on the beach on the Mekong River.
Don Det Island, Laos

3-13-2013 B
Tourists chilling out on the beach on the Mekong River.
Don Det Island, Laos

March 12, 2013
3-12-13A series of waterfalls on the Mekong River.
Don Det Island, Laos

March 11, 2013
3-11-2013A beach on the Mekong River.
Don Det Island, Laos

March 10, 2013
3-10-2013A bus stop on the Cambodian border with Laos.

March 9, 2013
3-9-2013The mighty Mekong river, in the dry season, and might I add, the hot season. Miserably hot today, but with a little luck we might see the Irrawaddy Dolphins.
Kratie, Cambodia

March 8, 2013
3-8-2013A girl doing her best to ignore me on an eight-hour bus ride from Phnom Penh to Kratie.

March 7, 2013
3-7-2013A technician working on my iPad at Rogue iPad specialists.
Phnom Penh, Cambodia

March 6, 2013
3-6-2013The courtyard in the National Museum in Phnom Penh. This building was the most gorgeous I had seen in all Cambodia. The roof line is just insane.
Phnom Penh, Cambodia

March 5, 2013
3-5-2013A street corner near the Gecko Café. The city is full of French Architecture.
Battambang, Cambodia

March 4, 2013
3-4-2013Teenage girls doing what teenagers do, chatting on their cell phones and checking Facebook as they work. This is a typical city market that has a little of everything you could ever need. It’s the Phsar Naht Market, which was built by the French in the thirties.
Battambang, Cambodia

March 3, 2013
3-3-2013 BThese sketches were done at Wat Ek Phnom, a Khmer temple built-in 11th Century. There is young man with Polio who was crawling all over the monument asking for money. The second drawing was of him.
Wat Ek Phnom, Cambodia

March 2, 2013
A scene from the Gecko Café in Battambang. The wiring is a very neat job for what you normally see out here.
Battambang, Cambodia
March 2, 2013

Special thanks go to Patrick O’Brien for joining me on the Thirty Day Challenge. The following are his sketches over the last month. You can see his work in Earth Cup Cafe in West Philadelphia. Job!


20130227-113001.jpgTa Prohm Temple Complex, Angkor Wat National Park. Love this complex the best of all the different complexes. Here they left the temple in the condition it was rediscovered at the turn of the century, with all the trees growing out of it. They filmed Tomb Raider here also. I did a pencil sketch and then inked it with brush in hundred degree heat.
Angkor Wat, Cambodia


20130227-112505.jpgHospital waiting area and a close up of one of the nurses. This was so much fun, half the staff was all leaning over me looking through my sketchbook. There was only one person who spoke English and everything was translated through her. No worries about us though, everyone is fine. More likely to be an English speaker at a hospital than going to doctors.
Haiphong, Vietnam

20130227-111456.jpg Sketches I do on the back of post cards for my nieces and nephews. I send them at least one per country so they can follow me along my trip.
Phu Quoc, Vietnam

20130227-111821.jpg A royal tomb of Tu Duc.
Hue, Vietnam

20130227-110958.jpgThe Imperial Palace
Hue, Vietnam

20130116-185755.jpgThis is the most famous landmark in Hoi An. The Japanese Bridge was built in the 1500’s. The story goes that the head of the dragon is in China, the tail in India, and the center where the bridge was built in Vietnam. When ever the dragon was angry horrible things would happen to Vietnam, so they built the bridge over the dragon trapping it for ever. The People felt bad though for trapping such a powerful beast so they built a shrine in the bridge to pray for the dragons spirit.
Hoi An, Vietnam

20130116-184859.jpgAnother cafe drawing near the market. The two guys on the corner were scooter taxis, looking for business and chatting away the time.
Hoi An, Vietnam

20130116-182837.jpgThis drawing is from a small bar called The Hangout in Dalat. The staff were so much fun and we met so many interesting people. This drawing is of the owner playing cards while his wife and a friend play with their son.
Dalat, Vietnam

20130116-184436.jpgThis drawing is one from a beach bungalow where I spent hours relaxing and drawing.
Koh Lanta, Thailand

20130116-182642.jpgI did this after a scooter ride around the island. At the end of the island was a large hill over looking the sea. There was a gorgeous sea eagle flying around in thermals also.
Koh Lanta, Thailand

20121205-190631.jpgI did this sitting in a corner cafe in historic Chinatown.
Melaka, Malaysia

20121203-074543.jpg This drawing was inspired from an amazing scuba dive we did around a tiny coral island, literally big enough to play shuffle board on. The coral under it was the third best diving I had done in my life. We saw garden eels, snowflake eel, three sharks, lion fish, sea turtle, schools of fish a thousand strong and a sea snake. This was done from the boat Alliki too.

20121201-072331.jpgThis is a shot from my adventure on the boat Alliki. This was during the sunset and this couple was relaxing in front of us while sun went down from the top deck of the boat.

20121201-072250.jpgThis shot is from my porch.
Bali, Indonesia

20121201-072214.jpgThis was done after we climbed Mt Bromo. We were waiting for our bus and I had some time to kill. We were in the mountains and the view air was cool and sunny, a rare thing in the tropics.
Java, Indonesia

20121201-072057.jpgThis drawing was done from the cock fighting arena. This sketch was the inspiration for my Cock Fight That Never Was story in my blog.
Donsol, Philippines

20121201-072120.jpgThis drawing was done from the cock fighting arena. This sketch was the inspiration for my Cock Fight That Never Was story in my blog. This was the drawing of his friend he wanted me to do.
Donsol, Philippines

20121201-070145.jpgThumbnails for Cock Fight That Never Was story in my blog.

20121201-072142.jpgThis drawing was done from Anda. It was rough thumbnails for my comic Catching Crabs in the Tropics.
Bohol, Philippines

20121201-071953.jpgThis drawing was done in Manila. We were caught in a rain storm so we went to an outdoor bar to get out of the rain in the Red Light District. These guys were a mixed batch of veterans and older guys, all paired up with young Filipino girls. One girl kept coming back and screaming at the man that she needed more money. He asked her what happened to what he gave her, and she had gambled it all. So he ignored her and for thirty minutes she kept coming back and screaming how cheap he was, how he did not have the money, what an ass he was. Lots of drama and great people watching.
Manila, Philippines

20121201-072034.jpgThis was a preliminary sketch of a seventy something year old man with one eye who had two Filipino girls with him. He was a real nasty looking customer.

20121201-065923.jpgMy original concept sketch for my logo.

34 responses to “Sketches From The Road

  1. Hey Mike!! You look like you’re really enjoying yourself out there! Great sketches too! Glad to see you really living your life. I hope to hear all about it someday!! Be careful out there, my friend. 🙂

  2. Badass, Mike. Though the photos are great, these are really a window into your experience. They also show all kinds of diverse things. Keep up the great work!

  3. Hey Mike & Yvonne….loving the regular updates (fasinating stuff) and you’ve got a great knack of writing about each place, the sketches are brill…you’ll def get a book out of this trip Mike….love to Yvonne…Marie 🙂

    • Thanks Alex. It would be great if at some point you could meet up with us so I could draw you into the tale. I’m working on a thirty day challenge now, a drawings day. So I should have a great variety of sketches to show you in the beginning of April.

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  6. These are great! I like the freedom in the movement. That is one thing I am still working on, being more ‘loose’ with what I am doing, thus the use of ballpoint pen.

  7. Actually, some of these are more enjoyable than photographic versions. It’s cool how you captured the various environments of everyday life. I’m not a very good sketcher. I took a recent drawing class and most of my pencil artwork takes me longer to do because of details. Lately I’ve compositted some of them in my cgi posts, like my “Strigidae.” Thanx for sharing your work with us.

    • Thanks so much for checking them out. I find that a photograph flattens things out a lot, especially for me, who is not that great at photography. When I sketch I study the scene, and try my best to remain in the back ground. I would prefer people never knew I was sketching, less pressure for me. I used cheap pens for ever, and only recently switched to artist pencils. The pencils tend to fade in the book, but are much quicker to do. With all drawing, I find practice is the most important thing. It the main reason I am doing the 365 day challenge, to keep my skills up and even improve them.

      Its my pleasure to not only do the sketching, but to meet people through my blog who enjoy it. I have a show in Philly in November on my sketches that I am excited about.

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