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The world needs your gift as much as you need to bestow it. May Sargon warns us that “ the gift turned inward, unable to be given, becomes a heavy burden, even sometimes a kind of poison. It is as though the flow of life were backed up.”

My teacher Crystal Marie said that, for the artist not to create, or not to be able to create, it is a kind of death.

So to celebrate my return to art in a more intentional direction in 2020, I offer you my new series. The theme is Spirit Trees : I have been drawn to the healing power of trees since quarantine started in March, and they have emerged as my salvation and refuge since the. I live a stone’s throw away from San Diego’s jewel, Balboa Park, where I go daily to walk, hike, do yoga, read, meditate and even use as an “office” and classroom sometimes.

Never before have I been so drawn to trees, and while I have always wanted to spend time in the park I was always too ” busy” and caught up in a myriad préoccupations with no time to sit in nature. I am thankful that one of the silver linings of this year has been reconnecting to Mother Earth and her beautiful trees.

Trees: they are our brothers and sisters, giving love and life unconditionally; each with their unique personality and look, just like human beings.

In Balboa Park i have my two favorite meditation trees, where a squirrel always likes to hang out and we have become friends. One of these trees is pictured in the watercolor above. I have also been looking at and taking photos of trees –aiming to combine spirituality, atmosphere and nature.

It is no wonder that the Buddha meditated under a Bodhi tree- where he found enlightenment. Krishna is said to have given the Gita sermon under a Banyan tree.

It is in this spirit that I have started my tree series in October. Enjoy.

“Some things, like the gift of sacred idleness, are completely impractical, yet necessary”.

Paraphrasing from “Simple Abundance: A Daybook of Comfort and Joy” by Sarah Ban Breathnach
Colors of the Fall…
Birches. Watercolor. September 19, 2020.

Happy Fall!

Is it “oh my God” or “Finally?”

How has your summer been?

Mine was a summer that wasn’t, between the lockdown on international flights and non-stop fulltime teaching plus fulltime academic duties. More work, adjustments, screentime and zoomed/voiced out feelings than i care to admit.

Still, there is gratitude for being able to work, pride in the results achieved with colleagues this summer, and beautiful moments of connections with my students, as we thankfully learn, adapt and evolve to communicate solely through these new media. It was a summer of intense learning, yet the curve was gentler than in the terrible Spring.

The closeness of the human voice substitutes the immediacy of vision – and this whole business of teaching and working remotely is getting a little less painful/ more bearable.

Have patience. All things are difficult before they become easy.

Saadi of Shiraz, Persian Poet, 1210

We are learning, fast, multiple new ways to transmit knowledge, of being there for someone, new ways to stay present, engaging and caring. We are growing and expanding- and this growth will stay with us even when “things return to normal”…whenever and whatever that is. I’m thankful for the enormous adaptability we possess as human beings.

Voyages – Collage June 2020

With more Covid-related uncertainty, rightful continued political protests and unrest against police brutality and killings in the U.S, waves of closures and reopenings here in San Diego, the California/ West Coast fires, alarming news from Lebanon, immense trepidation for the upcoming U.S elections –and these are just the top things that come to mind – the summer of 2020 continued the general trend of this year’s suckiness (yes I just used that term) and moments of poignant glory.

(just added, since drafting this on the first day of Fall, the passing of the indomitable US Supreme Court Judge Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a tremendous loss and the terrifying prospect of trump nominating a third judge to the highest court of the land, with multigenerational repercussions)

—- b. r. e. a. t. h. e. —

Protesting in the streets of San Diego after the killing of George Floyd at the hands of the state. Black Lives Matter ✊🏿 – and that’s just a start. June 2020

Personally, there was heartbreak and loss, hope, and gentle local travel in my beautiful state of California and the West Coast.

Endings and beginnings.

Graphite and Derwent Inktense pencils on paper. August 2020

As ever, the lovely friends and helpful spirits, old and new, God /Universe put in my path —along with a renewed spiritual practice— saved the day.

San Clemente Pier, California. August 2020.

I hope you were able to find moments of peace and beauty in the storms of your life, the nation.. the world. I hope you my readers found oases of joy in nature, friends, loved ones, cooking, yoga, joyful movement….art and spiritual practices. Time for yourself, to learn from solitude and silence. I hope, more than ever, you are taking better care of yourselves physically, mentally, spiritually and emotionally – for we are asked to function normally- and, some of us, to work even more, while there is a war going on.

The Surface and the Deep. Watercolor. July 2020.

“When under, remember the surface. When on the surface, remember the deep”. When our days are turbulent and troubled, our challenge is to remember the wave is not the sea. Though it pounds us, the pounding will pass. Though it tosses us about, the tossing will pass, if we don’t fight it. Often our fear misleads us to stay in close to shore, when the safest place is in the deep, if we can get there. Any swimmer knows: stay too close to shore and you will be battered by the surf and undertow. We must swim out past the breakers if we are to know the hammock of the deep. Stay on the land or make it to the deep. It is the in-between that kills.” 

Mark Nepo, The Book of Awakening.

I, ever the optimist, even started a running list of “silver linings” which resulted from this uncertain 2020.

Art will save us. Setup for my watercolor classes. One of the good things to come out of this year is my return to art, in form of art classes, and now I can join anywhere in the world, since everything is online!
My first watercolor with Escuela Alda con Limón in Madrid. My teacher was Ana Grasset. An attempt at a monochromatic studies when I still could not tell the difference in my Kuretake Japanese watercolor pans.
Second watercolor with Escuela Alda con Limón in Madrid – Ana Grasset’s workshop.

Six months into the new reality, and with a full collection of artful masks to wear each day before I step outside —and to remind me of our strange time —these are things I know for sure:

Image from lolomercadito.com

I know right now the good is even better because we all stopped taking things for granted months ago.

Rumi

I know the Global Pause ( as a colleague called it) is a chance for all of us to reassess the “ busyness” a lot of us identified with — and perhaps were distracted by. I know this is a chance for all of us to go deeper, to interiorize, and find the center of calm and stillness inside of us. This is life changing.

Watercolor of my favorite tree and remnants of my “Drawing with scissors: Matisse” workshop with the London Drawing Group. September 29, 2020.
Watercolor class with Juan Saturio {take 1} from Escuela Alda con Limón in Madrid. I want to try this again as my street got too dark/muddy ( a danger with watercolors). I think even my imperfect children need to be shown.

I know that the work of lightworkers is needed more than ever, and these times ask each of us to lighten the load of our fellow human beings, in however capacity we can do this. Be a light and help to a neighbor, an elderly acquaintance, a friend you lost track of. We can take this time and insulate ourselves or we can greet our better selves at the end of this surreal journey.

Watercolor experiments in light. September 29, 2020.

Finally, I know and can vouch for the healing power of movement and Nature. Move that body! Move that body everyday, walk or run among trees or by the ocean. Exercise in the fresh air to revive your mind and minimize the dreaded screen time. Open your windows wide ( if there are no fires around that is ..) Make sure you move everyday at least one hour to combat fatigue, depression and what in Italian we call abbrutimento ( degradation, brutalization) which comes from never leaving your home. Challenge yourself to go to different nature spots, to give your eyes something new to look at, and revive your spirit. Rumi also said the soul needs to travel as much as the feet. Daily loving movement, as the FlyLady calls it, is the foremost way we can help our body feel better- and when we feel better we can be better to those around us. Do anything you can not to go default.

The pier in San Clemente beach, which has been my refuge in this strange summer 2020. August 2020.

This summer I managed to steal moments of beauty and time for mini-art and writing retreats in long weekends spent in the beautiful “Spanish village by the Sea” San Clemente, California.

Drawing Third Street Promenade in Santa Monica, California. June 2020.

In June I ran away to Santa Monica.

The Music Experience Project by Frank Gehry, Seattle. Graphite and watercolor. July 2020.

There was a brief visit, right before the 4th of July weekend, to a subdued Seattle. The architecture was galvanizing.. and it was so healing for me to give my eyes different views to see, after months of lockdown in San Diego. I visited the Autonomous Zone there and stood in front of menacing police in riot gears . Of course I will share my photo-dossiers of these escapes of mine. All in good time.

This summer I took A LOT of art classes online to stay sane and “force” myself to show up to my art practice. I am on a journey to develop an authentic contribution and I am exploring a lot of techniques and art workshops to find my voice amongst the languages of art. There is a lot of experimenting… right now I’m more sure of what is “ not me” than what is… but the experience is filled with light and play. There is discipline, too.

I hope you are able to follow me and my progress on Instagram, at least unti I develop the practice to post and write here before going for the insta-fix. Below samples of the art exercises I completed and the outcome from the Summer art classes I attended.

Delicate. Five minute collage, following the method of Crystal Marie Neubauer. Mixed Media. May 2020.
The Road Home. Five minute collage. Mixed Media. May 2020.
Ombre watercolor class with Jennifer Evans, of Periwinkle Studio. July 2020.
Abstract watercolor class with Jennifer Evans of Periwinkle Studio. July 2020
Gaillardia watercolor class with Jennifer Evans of Periwinkle Studio.
Fall Bouquet watercolor workshop with Jennifer Evans of Periwinkle Studio.
She Rests. Five minute collage. Mixed Media. August 2020.
Letters to Love. Five minute collage. Mixed Media. August 2020.
Love is Fragile. Five minute collage. Mixed Media. August 2020.
Abstract watercolor class with Jennifer Evans of Periwinkle studio. September 2020

What else? I finally started a morning journaling practice centered on my art development, and came up with with my approach to life and art, in the form of the French word “doucement”- softly, sweetly. How to bring a quality of luminosity to everything I am, everything I do?

“Drawing with Scissors: Matisse” course with London Drawing Group. August 2020. This involved cutting figures and shapes freehand on sheets of tissue papers( no drawing beforehand).
“Drawing with Scissors: Matisse” class with London Drawing Group. August 2020.
“Drawing with Scissors: Matisse” class with London Drawing Group. August 2020.

I watched a film that still echoes, Bright Star, on the Romantic Poet John Keats, started rereading Art & Fear and am finally, systematically, going through my possessions and purging with Marie Kondo’s book.

I know I have said this for years but it took been grounded for a whole summer to finally tackle this.

Postcards from Japan. A collage inspired by the Vintage Collage class by Jennifer Evans of Periwinkle Studio.

Until next time, be well!

Namaste Coronavirus. Collage. March 13, 2020. 4”x 4”

The influence of a beautiful, helpful, hopeful character is contagious, and may revolutionize a whole town.
Eleanor H. Porter

( american windows and other psychoses )

i remember the cardboard house on the wrong side of the train tracks- perennially in twilight. screened windows shut, curtains drawn on august mornings.

how many layers does it take for you to feel safe

from the outside air

how many fluorescent bulbs for you to feel free

how many guns

we turned the light on to have breakfast. that house never knew breezes, or sunlight.

this saturday night i want to play music from my window — no balcony here. but there are screens, promptly shut if i throw them open to air out the room — the conditioning to fear starts with the white picket fence. the death of beauty with these factory sliding panes, the jail crank, the midwest faux wood panel fan cum light fixture, driveways. You can take the girl out of suburbia but

the great outdoors- a nation of weekend warriors

just not sunlight and breeze in the house

We keep flies away back home, we don’t shut ourselves
in

they don’t like balconies too close

to their neighbors either.

~intermission~ suspend judgement~

I walk the earth, the blades of grass

Tender — my instep sinks, my knees appreciate

We are made of the selfsame matter

You and I

are too

The goddess says,

right before Child’s Pose

“Breathe three-dimensionally”.

This is the global pause.

The “Great Pause” you have been waiting for.

The Slowing Down.

Here. is. your. chance.

The earth holding her breath,

so that you could learn yours.

So that “your soul could catch up

with your body.”

Like the building waiting for the sale,

the lease renewal.

We are all waiting to exhale.

Carla says there are two magic words:

Right.

Now.

I keep my phone in a leather holster :

it is the gun that kills

this moment.

That takes me away from the beauty

of this Now — this silence.

This moment calls for quiet acts.

The solemn going in.

It is a mourning time too, not just a collective coming together ( are we coming together or coming apart? The jury’s still in.)

It is a requiem for The Dream

for those who thought themselves

Untouchable, invincible, immune.

He said he never saw empty shelves in his

forty-six years.

Afterword 

If we could only put poetry

ahead of tidying up

ahead of our lists, even now that we are

home bound

ahead of laundry

I hear my neighbors laugh outside for the first time in 11 years.

The Italian nurse says she works with the same people day and night fighting this war, but she can’t even hug them.

“I haven’t seen their smiles in so long I don’t remember them, their faces before these mask”.

Still the body to still the mind

Only meditation is “like meditation”.

This is the year where everything gets canceled.

Except love

Except time, her hindsight gifts.

The padded silence.

Except our being naked as people, as countries.

Those who lose themselves in crowds in parties in bars now, finally, face themselves. Or not.

If you’ve been saving something for a special occasion:

Well, you are the occasion —

says my art teacher.

This is the time to

Write with fountain pens

on expensive paper

 imported ink.

She taught me to work in silence

So I could hear myself.

I told her about wells, not puddles.

This is the time to burn the incense, aromatherapy of supreme self-care

Light all the candles in all the churches of Italy

( the priest holds mass in front of the photos of the parishioners – and there is police tape on street benches, they are “closed”- we have crossed into the absurd)

I forgot to tell him

In my dream I was on the rooftop of a train

Flying between the skyscrapers of New York

I was exhilarated

In my dream I was riding a motorcycle, free

I forgot to tell him

New York is the beating heart of this country.


[This post and poem were written in March 2020 and only edited today, May 26.]

Collage. Mixed Media, Golden matte medium and glue. March 15, 2020. 9” x 12”

I return.

With some scraps pasted on watercolor paper, with a draft of a poem. Like a pater familias who periodically abandons the domestic domicile and neglects his duties to answer the siren, wearing only a backpack.

Wanderlust. It’s in my blood.

Five minute Collage. Mixed Media, Golden matte medium and glue. March 13, 2020. 4”x 4”
Ten minute response Collage. Mixed Media, Golden matte medium and glue. March 14. 2020. 4”x 4”
Ten minute response collage. Mixed Media, Golden matte medium and glue. March 14, 2020. 4”x 4”
Three element collage . Mixed Media, Golden matte medium and glue. March 14, 2020. 4”x 4”
Five minute collage. Mixed Media, Golden matte medium and glue. March 13, 2020. 4”x 4”
Five minute collage. Mixed Media, Golden matte medium and glue. March 13, 2020. 4”x 4”

So, before they shut down California and closed all her beaches ( I can just see the headline of Italian newspapers: California Surrenders), I attended a mixed media workshop taught by an empowering teacher, Crystal Marie.

These are the outcomes ( and voyages ) from Collage and the Intuitive Voice — A Collage and Writing Collaboration , hosted at the idyllic Way Art Yonder Studio, owned by my friend Jana Freeman. My heart rejoices when we take the right turn to the house on the hill, where my spirit can sing, where it is okay to play.

My station at Way Art Yonder Studio ❤️
Taking shots for the ‘gram.
By the way, you can see more process photos, work from my fantastic colleagues, read the quotes I collected – aaand follow me and my wanderings live – on Instagram : @sketchbloom
Laying down the pieces from the “piles of possibilities”. This collage prompt came from our morning pages.
Finished piece! It is very joyful to me.
How to grow an artist. How to grow SketchBloom, my digital studio. A process that requires support, mindfulness and grafting, as in growing a new type of fruit.
“ How To Grow An Artist.”. Mixed Media, Golden matte medium and glue. March 15, 2015. 9” x 12”

I was able to join Crystal last year for an encaustics and collage workshop last February , with exciting results and exposure to new techniques. I posted my work from that workshop on Instagram and will feature it here next.

This time the experience was deeper. I came away with sooo many lessons, quotable quotes and insights: the journaling/writing aspect of the workshop was incredibly soothing and therapeutic in personal fraught times ( Italy was preeminent in my mind). I love returning to writing, my first love. Most importantly, I was able to reflect and share and CELEBRATE what it means to be an artist.

Redacted morning pages. Quedate con lo bonito = Only keep the good. Quotes on being an Artist.
Collage. Mixed Media, Golden matte medium and glue. March 13, 2020. 9” x 12”
A small tribute to the most beautiful country of the world, now mortally wounded.

Now, I could berate myself for only producing artifacts at this intense levels once a year when I attend these workshops, but let’s not do that. Other duties and career and life commitments vie for time..I just enjoy the return each time. Like a soldier returning from war, knocking on a door— as as they say in Mad Men.

Dichotomy: my architecture world vs. my art world
Response Collage (10 minutes) Mixed Media, Golden matte medium and glue. March 13, 2020. 4”x 4”

Each day is a new beginning, like the title of the little book I found in the alley of my building, full of smoke and the story of a recovering alcoholic. Each breath. Each spring.

These are the days of stasis — the dormant days or deepening ones.

Collection of 5- minute Collage. Mixed Media, Golden matte medium and glue. March 13, 2020. 4”x 4”
A work in progress, beautifully unfinished.
My wonderful teacher Crystal Marie!
One of Crystal Marie’s motto : Just Glue It.
What I see of my work/myself ….
How other people see me/ my work or … what I let people see…
Here my work and my desk — all cleaned up— on Final Presentation Day ( pardon my archi-speak).
Ciao Way Art Yonder Studio! See you soon!

Before I leave you to my draft poem ( upcoming post ) and artifacts from my latest retreat — and a retreat it was, from life and obligations…Art is always a refuge…before I push publish on these collages of words and paper and sticky stuff, I just want to say that this is the time to finally read ”La Noche que Volvimos a Ser Gente”or “The Night We Became People Again” by José Luis González, inspired by the big New York blackout of 2014.

The night will be longer this time.

Chagall_Krishna_web
Postcard from the Chagall Exhibit at the Palazzo Reale in Milano, December 2016 | Fountain ink drawing of Krishna’s silhouette on Muji thin sketchbook paper.

Art is a refuge from the busy hive of activity…and I’m lifted.

Sometimes I even float.

A fleeting instant, the diver coming up for air.

Digital painting on Sketches app. January 19, 2020.

Blue_Mosque_Sketch_IPAD

Hagia_Sophia_Sketch_Ipad

Istanbul. Hagia Sophia or Church of the Holy Wisdom. Digital sketch. Built by Isidorus the Elder  and Anthemius of Thrallos under Emperor Justinian in 537 AD.



Maybe Istanbul was the city in the sky where the people who were our reflections lived.
Burhan Sönmez

A quick trip to Ahmet Square in Istanbul on my way back from Italy, to visit Hagia Sophia and the Blue Mosque. You can see my photos and a video on  @sketchbloom

These are my first architectural sketches using my new Ipad and the SKETCHES app.

( I had previously used drawing apps on my phone to sort-of draw a portrait, experiment with digital watercolor and collage).

Learning the tools and the limits of the app was really interesting, as was experimenting with all the different tools and lineweights. I completed these few days ago on the plane ride from Istanbul to Los Angeles- looking at photos i took. The first one took me 15 minutes, the second one three hours. No ruler was used, tracing or overlaying – just a stylus with different tips and a brush.

 

Last time I was here, back in April, the subject was New York. I think it would be poetic to end begin the year ( and begin this post ) with a postcard from my latest visit.

Here are the sketches and sketchnotes from lectures I attended that I compiled in my sketchbook in 2019. I have not been good at sharing them here (or being disciplined about doing art regularly) – but here they are, proof that I haven’t given up on my art or drawing entirely; I hope you, Single Reader, never give up on me.

This past week I read that, in Norway, the period between Christmas and the New Year is called RomJul. Jul means Christmas and rom, or room, is the space one makes in his or her life for the New Year. It is a time to pause and take time to reflect and clear out our lives before the arrival of this new page, or chapter, or book we are about to write.

As Mark Nepo says in The Book of Awakening:

Creation is ongoing. The world begins anew each day. We think it is night that covers the world, but everything living is recreated in that mysterious moment of rest that blankets us all.

And each time you open our eyes, you can begin again.

My wish for 2020, for you and for myself, is for this year to bring calm amidst the pace of contemporary life – analog time to reconnect with ourselves and intentionality and mindfulness in productivity.

Be quiet, be still. Let the mind rest.

Discover who you really are.

Nina Wise

 

 

Rainer Maria Rilke writes:

Nobody can counsel and help you, nobody. There is only one single way. Go into yourself. Search for the reason that bids you write; find out whether it is spreading out its roots in the deepest places of your heart, acknowledge to yourself whether you would have to die if it were denied you to write.

This above all — ask yourself in the stillest hour of your night: must I write? Delve into yourself for a deep answer. And if this should be affirmative, if you may meet this earnest question with a strong and simple “I must,” then build your life according to this necessity; your life even into its most indifferent and slightest hour must be a sign of this urge and a testimony to it.

[…]
A work of art is good if it has sprung from necessity. In this nature of its origin lies the judgment of it: there is no other.

In this spirit I offer you, Reader, this poem and these images, stemming from one brief November visit to the city than never sleeps – and several months of correspondence.

 

 

In a New York Minute [Glissando]

 

“If you can receive it at the wavelength is is playing at, you may love it.”

From a review of the series “Forever”

 

 

We existed

in the ellipses between

words appearing on screen

and giving up

 

Suspended above the city

you loved how I used the word luscious

 

We kissed with our souls

on the tip of our tongue

this is from Spoon River Anthology

 

You are morse code

and I need continuity

 

–when I asked if we were ships in the night

and you said yes did you notice me wiping the water

on my cheeks? I barely noticed too.

 

But then you said : “Body and heart.”

Body and heart.

 

You spoke of fire between our souls,

as if you knew about souls.

You only know about fire.

 

My tears don’t fall

I do

every single time

— how many goodbyes did it take?

 

So elegant in your detachment, like it was an art form.

Precise in your choice of words,

I fell in love with your philosopher brain.

I still fall in love with it every time — liminal.

 

A New York minute.

You were the space separating

Love and reason

 

I was addicted to a city

giddy at the thought of walking her streets beside you

how do you fly and walk

at the same time?

 

Even if you don’t see her torn feet

the effortless dance of the ballerina

is a flower bloomed out of pain.

 

Take each sentence, rearrange as you wish.

This is not to scale.

The timeline is not linear.

 

To hear you whisper, half-asleep: “When?”

Zero things better.

 

I heard that New York is the heartbeat of the world.

In that heartbeat a part of me is marked by your passage.

 

We will never go to Tokyo.

Jazz @ The Handlery

jazz 001

Well,  Happy New Year.

I think it’s valid to still say that, as long as we are still in January.

Last night I attended the last Friday night Jazz at the Handlery Hotel. I had only some copy paper, a bic pen and an Arabic calligraphy in my bag ..but was so thirsty for drawing that I started something I was hoping would just be an exercise…but I’m actually happy with it.

I am sure You, Single Reader, have been wondering if the Earth swallowed me whole…

Since my last post I visited Oaxaca, Mexico, then was in New York (each for a long weekend) and finally, in Milano for the Christmas holidays.

Instagram is the reason I have neglected my blog..it is much easier and more immediate to share work there..where in here the point is to craft each post. But I am here today because (thankfully) the Instagram Gods thought my drawing too long to post it there in its entirety..and so I am following my own advice (which I never do) and posting here first..and then a “teaser” on IG.

I have been working on a long New York poem, and still have to share my photos and a drawing from there…same with Oaxaca. I also have couple of artist features to share with you (and which you will love). But, this shall suffice for now…the demands of life and career are calling me- the forces which prey me away from my craft and from this digital room which is my calm and my natural habitat.

The good news is that I am teaching a Drawing/Representation course for design (not Architecture) students, so I have been practicing what I preach. And,  there is more freedom and anarchy to be outside of the realm of my chosen profession.

Until soon…..

Here is to closing parenthesis.

 

I finished my visual journal a week after Roxanne Evans Stout’s beautiful workshop, but left right away to Oaxaca, Mexico ( photos forthcoming 😊). Here are some photos taken outside of Jana Freeman’s fabulous Way Art Yonder workshops (above) , Day 2 of the workshop ( details from Roxanne’s teaching table and my work area with “preparatory piles”) and, finally, my completed journal.

At home, I had to co-opt my kitchen ( I need my studio back 🤪)… but thought this would make a nice tableau, so I’m sharing it here. This is how things looked deep in the night, two Sundays ago..

And finally…c’est fini! My first art journal – and first video posted here on SketchBloom.

All of the lovely journals from the workshop:

A closing plen air celebration at the end of the weekend. Can’t wait for my next (February) art workshop…

Today was a beautiful day of art and comraderie!

I attended the first day of Roxanne Evans Stouts’ workshop at Way Art Yonder in Jamul, California. This was my second workshop in this wonderful art studio – and another opportunity to spend a day fully with my art, exploring mixed media and collaging.

Today’s workshop involved learning foundations and advanced tools for making an art/visual journal. I learned countless new ways of using acrylic matte medium along with pastel, plaster of Paris, Golden high flow acrylic, distress stain and different papers/ glazing uses to achieve translucent effects.

Then there were demonstrations on how to use plaster of Paris with stencils and ink pads.

We made the background pages of what is going to be a visual journal based on the concept of windows and daydreams.

This was the official workshop prompt.

“Daydreams and Window Light”

A book of expressions in mixed media and collage about the changing seasons with Roxanne Evans Stout

Imagine creating a handcrafted artist book in which every page is a window into the story of you… either symbolically, or perhaps even a literal window that we will make out of metal, plastic or cardboard. Our covers will be made of plexiglass, that we will sand, texture and glaze. Our inside pages will include vintage photo frames, mica and distressed metal sheets, all of which I will provide. Join Roxanne and she will guide you in creating beautiful books with pages that are rich in color and texture, and pages that sing of the light and magic that is uniquely you!

Some of the keywords of the days were texture ( of course), story, China marker, gesso,wax paper, deli paper, parchment, distressed, embossed, awl, hole punching, tacky glue, gloss and matte medium, layer, pan pastels, high flow , tracery, filigree, aluminum, gold and copper foil paper, plexiglass, sandpaper, etching, unfinished/open, assemblage, vignettes, patterns, glazing, negative space, russett and burnish.

It was really interesting to know that my professor was a botanical artist before coming into the world of mixed media/collage- she used to draw photorealistic flora and fauna for publication, but found mixed media and it re-lit the fire of art in her soul, a fire that was lost in the technical precision required of her former profession.

These are some of the background pages I produced today- tomorrow we will work with collaging and creating our windows.

And finally, some observations around the studio: photographing a a stack of stencils, and a single well-burnished ones. Washing the stencil, stenciling water on concrete.

The last three pieces are from my talented and formidable art-friend Carla Bange 🙂

collage_web

Butterfly Closures (a type of band-aid for deep cuts and stitches sold in the U.S). Mixed media on paper, ink and graphite. Better Buzz Coffee Roasters, Mission Beach, San Diego. September 22, 2018

 

The belief that women talk too much is rooted in the understanding that women should be silent.  “The talkativeness of women has been gauged in comparison not with men but with silence,” is how well-known feminist Dale Spender explained her reasoning in her book Man Made Language written decades ago. “Women have not been judged on the grounds of whether they talk more than men, but of whether they talk more than silent women.”

Emily Peck

 

This is another novella.

“Poetry is the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings: it takes its origin from emotion recollected in tranquility.”

William Wordsworth

 

Angel comes from the Greek angelos, the messenger, the sent one.

 

Who more than the poets can speak about love?

-she said I contain worlds-

after six days his kisses stopped

he who told me all my no’s became yes’s

he who brought the wind

he who said I talked too much

-but could not spell-

and taught me to stay

by being the one who left.

 

“Never gift a book to someone who doesn’t understand vowels.”

 

I’m just removing the pebbles I’ve had in my shoes for two months, yes tonight- yes he was sweet, boiling ice. Yes he was heartless.

It’s the light in your eyes I cling on to save me

-or distract me-

my fallacy

the shine of yet another city – and i am the magpie with butterfly wings.

 

Of eyes i like when they tighten to focus like the lens of a camera

a mind is sometimes a beautiful forest, and layered people

a cosmos

he was my mirror, but you are on the other side of this screen

 

I have been running for seven years

but i was never more beautiful than the night we first went out – that glow was hope.

Seven years is what it takes for all cells in the body to renew

therefore in November I am, molecularly, a whole different person than the one she knew.

 

In July the old woman asked me why I was not married.

“God has to send me an an angel.” I replied. “An angel.”

 

We made fire in August. Consume.

We were southern blood, I was like sea.

To suffer for love is the greatest privilege.

In the morning the sun would wake me up by warming my feet; at one the vendors made their way back from the beach. We passed black bodies picking tomatoes in the fields of Sardinia.

They started pulling the umbrellas from the sand in the clubs in September. The light in the house was always crepuscular, like Tara in Gone With The Wind.

 

I guess it boils down to a lack of belief, a lack of patience

I am impetuous, and impulsive – female like guerra

if two pieces in a puzzle are too much alike, they don’t lock

I never thought your tattoos could cut me

I followed their path : they taught me the root of the word “seduction”

your eyes stopped seeing me, and it felt like violence.

 

Poetry is making pain elegant, and writing with broken hands.

Cruelty is not giving the beautiful words you say you have- to someone who lives by them. Mercy is never knowing when the last time comes.

 

“What we initially fall in love with is what hurts us the most in the end; he dressed really well, he was early, and his hair spelled trouble.”

I ran away to the ease of palmtrees and terracotta tiles (a cop-out)

because you cannot heal where you got sick – and I know you take yourself wherever you go, but 7,000 miles in between help.

They say it’s enough if only one of the two loves

and we know that i’m in love with the feeling,

the person is just an excuse.

it is not you who i missed- but what came with you;

I belong to freedom, and my art.

I steal words from my travels.

 

I can tell you in real life (IRL) men do not come in the middle of the night to tell you they don’t want to lose you- no matter how pretty or intelligent you are. nothing is fought for any more, and stories end for a nothing, for fear, on cloudy mondays.

 

Poets are one soul in the end, share one collective heart

the only ones who are not ashamed of being publicly immolated

but on the contrary, they show their wounds to the sun

they never explain them

– and that’s how they heal.

 

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Ink and graphite on hand.book paper. Sardinia, August 5, 2018.

Travel and tell no one,

live a true love story and tell no one,

live happily and tell no one,

people ruin beautiful things.

Kahlil Gibran

 

Venezia Notturna

The Feast of the Redeemer (or Festa del Redentore) is one of the most important Holy days for Venetians. For one day the whole Basin of San Marco is transformed into an immense piazza/party with hundreds of boats and revelers enjoying dinner on the water and waiting for sunset. The religious day is held the third Sunday in July, and chronicled here is the day before.. the secular fête. I had seen a painting of Tintoretto depicting the yearly ceremony of the City of Venice’s marriage to the Sea.. and when my cousin, who is from nearby Mestre, told me he was invited to the Feast I suspected it would be a once-in-a lifetime occasion, and I begged him to let me tag along.

At night, beautiful fireworks light up the already dreamlike city of Venice. It is a dream within a dream ( lucid Venice) .. just like the hallucinatory Carnevale.

This tradition was started in medieval Venezia, in 1576, when a Feast was planned to celebrate the end of a particularly disastrous Plague (Venice suffered many) which killed more than 50,000. The painter Titian was amongst the perished. None other than Andrea Palladio was commissioned to build the Church of the Redentore, which was completed in 1576.

The Doge ( the Venetian ruler of the Imperial Serenissima) would walk on a bridge made of barges from Le Zattere area of Venice to the Redeemer Church each year.

There is no way that a camera, let alone a phone ( with, what I suspect a wet lens) on a moving boat could capture what the Redentore is, being surrounded by thousands underneath the summer night skies, all in love and in awe of one city. The energy of seeing a people dancing and celebrating on a sea of boats was awe-inducing ….but here I offer some impressions, pale comparisons to the live Lady at Night.

Just as wonderful as the Feast and the fireworks, was the ride through Canal Grande to admire nocturnal Venice. The Canal is only open to boats without resident permits once a year: on the day of the Festa del Redentore.

Paintings by Suanne Summers

On Sunday I was lucky enough to spend the afternoon at my friend Jana Freeman’s Way Art Yonder Studio for one of her monthly open studio days. I met Jana at my school, first we were friendly colleagues then mischievous friends, and now she is living the Dream running her own art studio and hosting incredible workshops with Mixed Media artists the world over…

Here is a sample of the work I was “curiousing” on on Sunday ( yes, I am making up this word). Most of the vibrant work I photographed is by Suanne Summers, then there is the dreamy stitch/ fabric art of Shelley Watkins and the layered collages of Krista Jarrard. Jana, the studio owner, can be seen completing one of her exquisite pieces. This is my Art tribe, comprising of Carla Bange who could not make it this time.

Paintings by Suanne Summers

Collage in progress by Krista Jarrard

Jana in the process of assembling one of her captivating mixed media works on small square canvases, painted black.

This cool collage is by a sweet lady from Minnesota (!) . I will find out her name 🤔[[[[[[

Fabric/stitch art by Shelley Watkins. She dyes her own fabric 😮

Above, Jana and her regal ring touching one of Shelley’s distressed samples of fabric. She uses a process involving peroxide to “ eat through” the fabric. We named this “ Dickensian Orphanage, or the street urchins.”

Here is more of Suanne’s work:

What can I say, these ladies have been at this a long time and I need to up my game and get back to my collages instead of collecting drawerfuls of materials (but if I say so my self I have lots of exciting materia prima from my travels).

But first I want to finish my “flower portrait”- here is the work-in-progress ( which will include poetry and mixed media). The

The original was GORGEOUS, made for me by a very special person who ” painted” my portrait with handpicked flowers. {swoon}

Work in progress, acrylic on canvas.

Jana and I at Way Art Yonder, my happy place!

Thank you Jana!

I will soon be back under the portico with my bags 😉

This is one place where I don’t feel bad lugging all my stuff with me- as all the other tribe members do the same. I think I found my people.

Digital drawing done on IPhone 7 Plus with Sketches app by Tayasui. June 27, 2018.

Napkin Sketch for fundraiser auction; poem La Ciudad by Octavio Paz. Fountain ink on Napkin paper. April 2018.

Yann Tiersen in concert at the Theatre at the Ace Hotel in Los Angeles, June 20, 2018.

Quick sketch using colored pencil and pastels. June 30, 2018.

My corner in the plaza of the Getty Villa in Los Angeles. June 2018.

One more post before the month is done.

This Spring was filled with intensity in and outside of my University.. the final stretch of the school year. Accelerated timelines, accelerated heartbeat. Stealing time between deadlines to go up to LA once more for a life-changing Yann Tiersen concert ( of Amelie fame), participate to sketching and art+Jazz events and jot down few lines to be shared later (after all, poetry is emotion recollected in tranquillity).

Stealing time from time… to be and to feel alive. Sketching (almost) everyday is doing wonders for my spirit- and glow!

Single reader, I hope you have time to disconnect and renew. Happy Summer.

You heard me talking about Visual Notes before. Sketchnoting is something I’ve started to explore lately.

The summer is near and it’s time to come back…

Here a quick watercolor from two weeks ago – a day trip with my Graduate students in the Architectural and Urban History Class.

We visited the Getty Villa- a replica of a Roman House in Santa Monica, California ( replica done with some poetic and unpoetic licenses…), contained in the Silvetti Machado contemporary expansion, a poem in stone that sets the Villa in an imagined archeological dig, with strata of travertine marble and concrete to pay homage to Roma.

Architecture is poetry in stone

The days since my last post have been filled with school activities, gratitude, beauty, poetry, reading, and finally.. some sun after the May Gray and June Gloom burned off. Oh, and I’m finally getting my place to where I want to be ( thankyou Marie Kondo).

Things are ( finally ) falling into place. It’s funny but I used to produce more art– and share more poetry — when my life was more chaotic, and centeredness has meant more introspection and less output. Now I’m much more deliberate and mindful of what/when to share…

I still have to steal these moments for art ( the demands of the modern living condition!) but I realize that there will always be more work to do, and let us all stop glorifying being busy.

Art helps us being in the Now- and that is all we have…I want to do less and be more. Thank you for reading, single reader.

Do you meditate? I have been for few months…and have added short gratitude prayers, reading and alignment to start the morning right. They say if you conquer the morning you conquer the day- and if you conquer the day you conquer your life.

Some days are better than others- and this weekend I will be going to my first spiritual retreat.

It has been one good, long day.

I trust all will be shared in time.

I just got back from another lovely stay at my personal retreat away from the world and telephone connection: Bahía De Los Ángeles in Baja California, Mexico.

I brought *all* my watercolor stuff with me (acquired some pretty awesome new pearly Japanese watercolor pods) but, typically, not watercolor paper- so the first experiment on drawing paper turned out a bit flat.

One of the guests i met at Mauro’s Posada, my Baja California home, had watercolor paper with him (!) so the water/sand beach scene shows a bit more promise. Still learning/ playing with watercolor techniques…

I also (re)discovered the zentangle technique and it has been fun to conduct a little tangle class with my friends –they call it “yoga for the mind” or meditation in action. I find it very freeing and love, as with collage, not knowing the outcome.

Below are some of the best sunrises and sunsets I have ever witnessed.

I put all my best photography from this trip on my Instagram page, @sketchbloom, so if you want to see more saunter over there.

The time in Baja California- and México- never fails to transcend into the magical, to bring unexpected gifts. The ones always awaiting are authenticity, peace and heart-naked beauty.

As for the others…who else/what else are you going to find and meet in a place named Bay of the Angels?

This place is an anachronism, the last Macondo…off-the-grid living, with no telephone towers, post office, atm’s or even too many people. It is a place for dreamers, wanderers and seekers. It is hard to get to – and always heals.

It is a place for reading, for the mind to be quiet. I took down some poetry lines, to be shared soon.

L.A.nguid

While I wait for the next set of

glistening eyes

Yeah, when you say maybe

and mean never

When I met him I told him

You use your eyes like weapons

Some things are only meant to be burned on the altar of poetry, liquid like skin

Two planets colliding:

orbits not meant to ever meet again.

Some cities, like kisses that have no right to take and give so much, go to your head.

Where to start? Perhaps from the end

– going backward.

We danced on the H of the Hollywood sign

‘Tis the time of rose gold here

The color of California sunset

The spring of Lana Del Rey and Lorde

Laidback, the occasional listlessness

Head tilted backward on a convertible

We don’t know how lucky we are

His reckless back was softer than your silk robe. I’m not forty, I’m in my second twenties.

In an Uber, real tired, I realize the city I live in possesses the quality and repetition of a videogame,

“what should a town look like”- the approximation fails at convincing

I put the matchbook in your pocket so that one day you may find it in your hand and smile- go back to that night, that rooftop. that’s the scene from a movie.

If your man is gentle, and a good lover, you have two women to thank.

Before I even spoke

He was singing over me

He was counting each of my hair.

Art is a Way of Being

“While I had at this point been drawing and painting for many years, and had lots of exhibitions, the revelation of seeing/drawing turned upside down all my views on art and of what it means to be an artist. Being an artist does not mean covering clean pieces of paper or canvas with ink or pigment. It does not mean solo exhibitions or prizes. It definitely does not mean labeling ourselves “an artist.” When I hear someone proclaim: “I am an artist,” someone in me whispers, “That so ?” But if they say : “I paint,” or ” I draw,” or “I play the piano,” I like to talk about painting, drawing, or playing the piano with them. Saying, “I paint” or ” I am a painter or pianist” may be a factual statement, but artist is an honorific. Proclaiming oneself to be an artist is all too pretentious. Art is neither a profession or a hobby.

Art is a Way of being.”

Frederick Frank

Zen Seeing, Zen Drawing. Meditation in Action.

From now on I will no longer say that I am an “artist”… but an art-maker.

Three hours in New York City in December. Some flânerie and a visit to one excellent bookstore. A dose of “cityness”.

New York has been called the capital of the twentieth century and an architectural battleground. Here are some of the stories I found at Rizzoli.

The playful books of architectural sketches (i also found this and this at the Museum of Contemporary Art store in the airport) reminded me that flawless execution is not as important as

1) discovering your own graphic “voice”

and

2) developing the trust, consistency and playfulness needed to making it heard.

Other books looked as delicious as desserts in a literature bakery.

That’s what a book is, a single serving of story and ideas you can carry with you and devote yourself to, like listening with intention to one speaker. Attention is, after all, the best form of generosity.

Sometimes the tabs of my internet browser become a cacophony. Sure all of the books of Rizzoli, William Stout and Hennessey + Ingalls too, could be contained in a thumb drive. But what those people that consider bookstores obsolete don’t understand that bookstores are not just purveyor of books: they curate selection, there is a mind at work.. one that reads and knows about books. Perusing books on Amazon versus holding these portable maps in our hands is the difference between buying produce at a Walmart superstore or handpicking heirloom tomatoes in a farmers’ market. Bookstore owners are the farmers of knowledge. Once bookstores are gone from a city, soon will civitas and intellectual discourse [see San Diego. the only one of the major 6 cities in US without a bookstore… panem ( or rather vinum) et circensis is what fuels downtown.. when it should be the arts and local businesses.]Books like these in your satchel could make the difference between being a tourist or being a pilgrim, and inspire to sketch the city playfully.

Carillon. December 16, 2017. San Diego, California.

Carillon. December 16, 2017. San Diego, California.


They had put together a delightful album with the postcards that Pietro Crespi received from Italy. They were pictures of lovers in lonely parks, with vignettes of hearts pierced with arrows and golden ribbons held by doves. “I’ve been to this park in Florence,” Pietro Crespi would say, going through the cards. “A person can put out his hand and the birds will come to feed.” Sometimes, over a watercolor of Venice, nostalgia would transform the smell of mud and putrefying shellfish of the canals into the warm aroma of flowers. Amaranta would sigh, laugh, and dream of a second homeland of handsome men and beautiful women who spoke a childlike language with ancient cities of whose past grandeur only the cats among the rubble remained. After crossing the ocean in search of it, after having confused passion with the vehement stroking of Rebeca, Pietro Crespi had found love. Happiness was accompanied by prosperity. His warehouse at that time occupied almost a whole block and it was a hothouse of fantasy, with reproductions of the bell tower of Florence that told time with a concert of carillons, and music boxes from Sorrento and compacts from China that sang five-note melodies when they were opened, and all the musical instruments imaginable and all the mechanical toys that could be conceived. Bruno Crespi, his younger brother, was in charge of the store because Pietro Crespi barely had enough time to take care of the music school. Thanks to him the Street of the Turks, with its dazzling display of knickknacks, became a melodic oasis where one could forget Arcadio’s arbitrary acts and the distant nightmare of the war.”

“Habían hecho un precioso álbum con las tarjetas postales que Pietro Crespi recibía de Italia. Eran imágenes de enamorados en parques solitarios, con viñetas de corazones flechados y cintas doradas sostenidas por palomas. «Yo conozco este parque en Florencia», decía Pietro Crespi repasando las postales. «Uno extiende la mano y los pájaros bajan a comer.» A veces, ante una acuarela de Venecia, la nostalgia transformaba en tibios aromas de flores el olor de fango y mariscos podridos de los canales. Amaranta suspiraba, reía, soñaba con una segunda patria de hombres y mujeres hermosos que hablaban una lengua de niños, con ciudades antiguas de cuya pasada grandeza sólo quedaban los gatos entre los escombros. Después de atravesar el océano en su búsqueda, después de haberlo confundido con la pasión en los manoseos vehementes de Rebeca, Pietro Crespi había encontrado el amor. La dicha trajo consigo la prosperidad. Su almacén ocupaba entonces casi una cuadra, y era un invernadero de fantasía, con reproducciones del campanario de Florencia que daban la hora con un concierto de carillones, y cajas musicales de Sorrento, y polveras de China que cantaban al destaparlas tonadas de cinco notas, y todos los instrumentos músicos que se podían imaginar y todos los artificios de cuerda que se podían concebir. Bruno Crespi, su hermano menor, estaba al frente del almacén, porque él no se daba abasto para atender la escuela de música. Gracias a él, la Calle de los Turcos, con su deslumbrante exposición de chucherías, se transformó en un remanso melódico para olvidar las arbitrariedades de Arcadio y la pesadilla remota de la guerra.”

“Avevano fatto un grazioso album con le cartoline postali che Pietro Crespi riceveva dall’Italia. Erano immagini di innamorati in parchi solitari, con illustrazioni di cuori trafitti e nastri d’oro sorretti da colombe. “Io ho visto questo parco a Firenze,” diceva Pietro Crespi sfogliando le cartoline. “Stendi la mano e gli uccelli scendono a mangiare.” Certe volte, davanti a un acquarello di Venezia, la nostalgia trasformava in tiepidi aromi di fiori l’odore di fango e peoci marci dei canali. Amaranta sospirava, rideva, sognava una seconda patria di uomini e donne belli che parlavano una lingua da bambini, con città antiche della cui passata grandezza restavano soltanto i gatti tra i ruderi. Dopo aver varcato l’oceano alla sua ricerca, dopo averlo confuso con la passione nei brancicamenti pieni di veemenza di Rebeca, Pietro Crespi avevo trovato l’amore. La ventura portò con se la prosperità. Il suo magazzino occupava allora quasi un isolato, ed era un semenzaio di fantasia; con riproduzioni del campanile di Firenze che davano l’ora con un concerto di carillon, e scatole musicali di Sorrento, e portacipria di Cina che se aperte cantavano temi di cinque note, e tutti gli strumenti musicali che si potevano immaginare e tutti gli artifici a molla che si potevano concepire. Bruno Crespi, il suo fratello minore, dirigeva il magazzino, perché lui non aveva tempo che per badare alla scuola di musica. Grazie a lui, la Strada dei Turchi, con la sua abbagliante esibizione di cianfrusaglie, si trasformò in una gora melodica per dimenticare gli arbitri di Arcadio e l’incubo remoto della guerra.”

One has to start somewhere…

After finishing my sketch I ran into two dear friends who had come to the cafe.

Perhaps the cafés can be the new piazzettas somehow.

Here’s to spontaneous gathering and holiday cheers.

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The French poet Paul Valéry said that all things are generated from an interruption. I learned this from my favorite Italian thinker, Alessandro Baricco, here in en español, whose lectures – to be found only in Italian – I listen to to learn about literature, writing, and life.

There were many interruptions this year, and not just personal. I can think of the devastating Hurricane Irma in my beloved, beautiful Puerto Rico, or the September 19 earthquake in my favorite city this side of the Atlantic, Ciudad De México – which occurred on the 32nd Anniversary of an earthquake that killed more that 10.000 people.

My personal earthquake and hurricane happened on August 21 of this year, when my dad passed away. I can now finally begin to write this sentence, and about it, without being swallowed up in the chasm that this loss left in my life. I know his spirit went back to his sea, where he returned, and I feel he is near, both inside my heart and dancing around in freedom and light. I like to think I can take him with me wherever I go now, and share my life in a more immediate way. I like to think his energy was transformed into waves of the sea. The sea can hug you, yet you can’t hug the sea, his immensity. I like to think he is in a butterfly, sometimes in a song. A friend of mine wrote “I heard your dad went back to the Universe”. I like that.

My dad loved the Old Man and The Sea, drawing boats and fish, Jonathan Seagull, reading, Venice, watching documentaries on nature, fishing, and working on his boat. He loved his friends and he loved me. He is the reason art is in my life. He is the reason I read One Hundred Years of Solitude in middle school (I used to raid the books of his youth unbeknownst to both my parents). It became my favorite book, it still is, and magical realism, anarchy and arcane literary worlds shaped who I am.

I thought about coming back to SketchBloom with a post on Van Gogh, and the film Loving Vincent, which I saw this month. The movie reminded me of my dad, of his love of painting, his simple bedroom , and his fisherman shack on the beach, La Baracca Del Bucaniere, which he lovely composed for the last ten years of his life here on the Earth school.

That post is in the pipeline, and I took new photos of his sculpture when I was last in Calabria –  but I wanted to return with a sketch, a return to art.

I just got back from Mexico (that is how the locals call it, Mexico…no need to use “Ciudad de”) yesterday, where I finally got over my protracted artist’s block.

Here, a simple sketch (above) and some photos/vignettes/stories I bring back from my trip.

Walking in Coyoacán – Frida’s neighborhood:

Scenes from Roma, one of the neighborhoods of DF:

This is Barba Azul, a cabaret from another era, where salsa is danced from midnight till dawn, where there is an altar upstairs (I have seen them in parking lots, too) and where the exit is a tiny rectangle carved into a decorated garage door- something out Pinocchio’s Paese dei Balocchi (toyland)…or a circus in a Fellini movie. One of the many surreal vignettes of this metropolis.

Unfortunately I could not take a better photo of it (with the usher emerging!) but it is on my list for next time. I also learned about the ficheras , the ladies of the establishment who sell a dance for a token (and more, at their discretion).

The obligatory photo of the Palacio De Bellas Artes, November 2017 version:

Where I had the chance to see Diego Rivera’s murals…

…and learn about the Rojo Mexicano (the red pigment from cochinilla bugs found inside the cactus fruits in Oaxaca, which was utilized in paintings around the world from the XV Century to the XIX) and see Van Gogh’s Bedroom At Arles with my own eyes (!!!).

I also visited Cuernavaca, La Ciudad de la Eterna Primavera (The City of the Eternal Spring), where i completed my yearly self-evaluation for #work in a garden within Jardines de Mexico, surrounded by butterflies. Talk about INSPIRING.

Italian Garden at Jardines De Mexico (my favorite, obv)

In Cuernavaca, I stayed in a copy of Unité d’Habitacion (but if you follow me on Instagram you already know this).

I want to close with a poem by Octavio Paz — who is considered the greatest Mexican poet and thinker — and, of course, was a native of Mexico City.

This is his poem Hablo de la Ciudad | I Speak of the City. Below the text in the original Spanish and the translation in English.

This poem perfectly encapsulates what Mexico City is. I have more posts on La Ciudad to craft, from my previous visits, and more poetry- but this shall suffice for tonight.

Here is to more gentle earthquakes and hurricanes in 2018, inner ones to bring soul renewals, and to a kinder year.

For the Aztecs, this was the bellybutton of the Moon.

Nos vemos pronto, Tenochtitlán.

A Thousand Churches (Your Eyes). Graphite, Watercolor, India Ink. August 12, 2017.


Dear Single Reader,

You might have thought I had disappeared, and would be the third person in a week to ask me what happened to my sketchbloom…but I’m back for the summer.

An international conference in Hong Kong , research writing /presentations and academia have absorbed me until the end of June…not to mention that thing called life, and heart, and two moves in two months ( apartment renovation). It has been CRAZY. 

I just got back from two amazing weeks in Puebla, Mexico where I was part of ArtFest17 and went to teach at UVM (Universidad de la Valle México) a workshop called Myth of the City.  

Here you can see all the work done with my students and read about Puebla, the “Second” city – the first being of course, Mexico ( Ciudad de). It was an incredible experience, after having co-taught the course in Santa Fe, New México in 2013 and 2014. One could say I went from New Mexico to “Old” México with this.

In Puebla i was surrounded by “my people”, migente, artists, intellectuals..the bohemians and the romantics, and got back my creative juices!  Now, a new beginning…

I have lots of travel photography and new poetry to share so stick around 🙂 

Thank you for reading me and not forgetting about me ❤️ your support means everything to me, as art is and always be my first love- and the true love of my life. 

I am on an art-recovery program but I don’t know what to do about those pesky writing deadlines…#thestruggle. Life is so full, and exciting new design opportunities –like being a juror for Orchids and Onions in San Diego and a Pecha Kucha presentation on Storage Cities — keep presenting themselves. It’s accelerated, beautiful life…yet art needs the half-time of dreams.

Well, wish me good luck, there are some posts in the pipelines so I will see you soon and… work in progress as usual! 

I do hope you are having a glorious summer.

Below are some photos from lovely, lovely Puebla… two of my students’ models and the City that is home of so many incredible riches. A true treasure of humanity/ patrimonio de la humanidad. 

PS: I have been posting on Instagram but have to confess I always feeel guilty if I don’t post drawings/sketches/watercolor/collages… after all it is called Sketchbloom not Photobloom ( but you can follow me [@sketchbloom] there and it would make me so happy😊.) 




Puebla, Estado de Puebla, México:

What a magical city: Baroque churches where Tllaloc and Quetzacoatl are venerated, the fusion called Barroco Indígena ( San Francisco de Acatepec and Santa María de Tonantzintla – Barragán’s favorite church), Aztec temples and cities, 400 year old stone buildings, the tallest church towers in Mexico and the greatest covered stepped pyramid in the world ( Teocalli de Cholula)…finally the oldest public library of the Americas. Puebla is where the battle celebrated during Cinco de Mayo took place and where the Mexican Revolution started. Wow. 

Take a look…




Beautiful Thinking

Encinitas, January 2017.


Mission Beach, San Diego, January 2017



Beautiful Thinking

By Angie Estes

Each morning, before the sun rises
over the bay of Villefranche-sur-Mer
on the Côte d’Azur, cruise ships drop anchor

so that motor launches from shore
can nurse alongside. All afternoon we studied
les structures où nous sommes l’objet, structures

in which we are the object—le soleil
me dérange, le Côte d’Azur nous manque—
while the pompiers angled their Bombardiers

down to the sea, skimming its surface
like pelicans and rising, filled
with water to drop on inland, inaccessible

wildfires. Once, a swimmer was found face down
in a tree like the unfledged robin I saw
flung to the ground, rowing

its pink shoulders as if in the middle
of the butterfly stroke, rising a moment
above water. Oiseau is the shortest word

in French to use all five vowels: “the soul
and tie of every word,” which Dante named
auieo. All through December, a ladybug circles

high around the kitchen walls looking for
spring, the way we search for a word that will hold
all vows and avowals: eunoia, Greek

for “beautiful thinking,” because the world’s
a magic slate, sleight of hand—now
you see it, now you don’t—not exactly

a slight, although in Elizabethan English, “nothing”
was pronounced “noting.” In the Bodleian Library
at Oxford, letters of the alphabet hang

from the ceiling like the teats
of the wolf that suckled Romulus
and Remus, but their alibi

keeps changing, slate gray like the sea’s
massage: You were more in me than I was
in me. . . . You remained within while I

went outside. Hard to say
whether it was Augustine
speaking to God or my mother

talking to me. Gulls ink the sky
with view, while waves throw themselves
on the mercy of the shore.

The Tuscan/Pomegranate sky in San Diego right now. Absolutely no filter.

Pomegranate

By Kevin Pilkington


A woman walks by the bench I’m sitting on

with her dog that looks part Lab, part Buick,

stops and asks if I would like to dance.

I smile, tell her of course I do. We decide

on a waltz that she begins to hum.

We spin and sway across the street in between

parked cars and I can tell she realizes

she chose a man who understands the rhythm

of sand, the boundaries of thought. We glide

and Fred and Ginger might come to mind or

a breeze filled with the scent of flowers of your choice.

Coffee stops flowing as a waitress stares out the window

of a diner while I lead my partner back across the street.

When we come to the end of our dance,

we compliment each other and to repay the favor

I tell her to be careful since the world comes to an end

three blocks to the east of where we stand. Then

I remind her as long as there is a ’59 Cadillac parked

somewhere in a backyard between here and Boise

she will dance again.


As she leaves content with her dog, its tail wagging

like gossip, I am convinced now more than ever

that I once held hundreds of roses in my hands

the first time I cut open a pomegranate.

The final full moon of Winter 2017: the Worm Moon {Native Americans} or Storm Moon {Pagan Rites} or Lenten Moon {Christianity}. Also known as the Seed Moon or Chaste Moon. This is the final moon of Winter 2017 and the last full moon before the Spring Equinox. Tonight is also the time that Daylight Saving Time ends in most states of the U.S… returning time and hours to their natural cycle and us to a more harmonious rhythm. The days will be longer thanks to moving the clock ahead one hour -in the UK this is called “Summer Time”. This is the moon of nature’s rebirth from the dark winter months; its meaning is new, fresh starts.


//These poems were typed, not copy-pasted. It makes a difference.//


Venus Just Asked Me 


Perhaps 

For just one minute out of the day 

It may be of value to torture yourself 

With thoughts like, 


“I should be doing 

A hell of a lot more with my life than I am 

Cause I’m so darned talented” 


But remember,

For just one minute of the day. 


With all the rest of your time-

It would be best

To try

Looking upon your self more as God does. 


For He knows

Your true royal nature.  


God is never confused 

And can see Only Himself in you.  


My dear, 

Venus just leaned down and asked me 

To tell you a secret, to confess 


She’s just a mirror who has been stealing 

Your light and music for centuries 



She knows as does Hafiz,

You are the sole heir to 

The King.




Hafiz



The Size of the Love-Bruise


The

Gauge of a good poem is 

The size of the love-bruise it leaves 

On your neck. 

Or 

The size of the love-bruise it can paint 

On your brain.

Or 

The size of the love-bruise it can weave 

Into your soul. 

Or indeed-

It could be all of the 

Above. 




Hafiz


 …


The Shape of Laughter


Let my words become like a skilled 

Potter’s hands, 


Quieting,

Smoothing your life 

With their knowledge,


Reaching into your tender core 

And spreading you out 

Like the morning 


That leaps from the sun’s amused wink 

Onto hills, brows and backs of so many

Beautiful laboring beasts.


God’s duty is to make perfect 

All your movements of mind, of limb,

And your ascending shape of laughter.


Watch the way my hands dance 

With their diamond-edged brilliance 


Cutting you open with music, 

Reaching into your heart


And spilling the night sky- jar you carry 

That is always full of giggling planets and stars. 



My words are a divine potter’s wheel.

If you stay near to me, 

Please, 

Stay near to me–



And Hafiz will spin you into 

Love.




Hafiz



…..

The Fools Who Dream 


Here’s to the ones

who dream

Foolish, as they may seem

Here’s to the hearts

that ache

Here’s to the mess

we make


She told me:

A bit of madness is key

to give us to color to see

Who knows where it will lead us?


And that’s why they need us,

So bring on the rebels

The ripples from pebbles

The painters, and poets, and plays


And here’s to the fools

who dream

Crazy, as they may seem

Here’s to the hearts that break

Here’s to the mess we make


From “La La Land”, 2017 

Signs Abound 


A night light-writing ( photograph) of one of my favorite homes in my neighborhood held a sweet surprise. 

Luminous Paths 




Moving


I think moving is not the few hours on a bleary Saturday morning

-the act of-

No, it is weeks:

Looking around at everything you love

And know you’re going

to have to say goodbye.


Like holding a lover for the last time

A little death


Everything we know is going to end

One day 

They say”


Maybe moves and doomed love affairs are

God’s gentle way of reminding us

Nothing is permanent.



Remember that last look

right before you closed the door

and knew you wouldn’t be back?

Isn’t that the definition of living,

Isn’t that the definition of loving.

Love is On | Or When the Rose Showed its Thorns. Paint, found objects, fabric, dry roses. March 2017.

My friends,

I had to choose between sleep and Art

Between clear eyes and Poetry

So I chose to get lost in Divine intoxication

Now Hafiz and Rumi while away the small of the night with me

I drink their wine

Frida winks at me and snaps her fan

I took leave of the land of the measured – now I only visit-

I shall follow my heart and the Muse

(she does not come to those who run their life like a business – and  a clean easel is the saddest sight you will ever see)

Now my hands are tinted blue

I hear the birds praying each dawn

The crickets come in through the open windows.

San Diego, March 6, 2017 

The Eyes of the Poet 

Stealing 1.5 minutes from Chronos to roughly sketch out surroundings. Academia has claimed the time reserved for Art, yet Art shall overcome. Cafe Bassam. January 2017



The Eyes of the Poet

Let me try to explain the way
the poet sees.

To the poet the sparks of electricity
zapping along the trolley cables
are falling stars

A thread on the blue carpet
curls in the shape
of butterfly wings

The poet writes on the bus
and carves
tiny offerings to the Muse
out of dense, secular days

The poet sees a sky of pink
when she looks at the facade
under fluorescent street lights

(that’s when they started killing nuances)

The poet is always, always somewhen else

For example, when she closes her eyes she is in a city of spires and
horizonless turquoise

Here, wings tethered to a chronograph,
longing only for infinity,
and the only time that matters,
art

In her chest the poet keeps:
incense and ink
the space between words
certain nights

Her soul is already beyond the asphalt,
Through the pavement to become light

She understands exile now
and the words of those far
from the land of the two domes, from Beauty

As she walks through a city with no past a man tells her:
Let me guess. Size six.


Variation on a theme. The power of the rule of thirds and fourths on a 16:9 ratio.


I‘m working on a couple of deadlines ( or three) for another version of my Self-Storage Cities paper and related major presentation ( which involves writing a script and turning an academic paper into a story!). I am exploring new formats and taking layout and storytelling to the next level. The layout study above  is for the visuals to accompany my narrative. 

The second image is a collage-in-progress. It seems that everything in my life is in a permanent in-progress status but I guess it’s better than standing still. 

Though some things move at a glacial pace, still they move, still they come to completion in their time. So yes, I rejoice.

Deadlines are a time where I get everything else done in all aspects, in this case carving half an hour for my art, organizing my office/art studio and finishing decluttering my place ( more on that when I can show off the remarkable before and after) 

I like all my engine firing at once.

And I’ll make sure my fountain pen is never far away from now on.

Reflection through glass of my favorite morning view, the terra-cotta tiles from my windows. I feel my gaze is always southward, Mediterranean, drawn to the Sun

I love the aging cracks of my favorite lilac mug. These cracks represent our relationship, and countless mornings where the heat of coffee or tea strained the enamel into a filigree of imaginary landscapes, or sea creatures


When choosing amongst different photographs of a subject, I always ask myself “Which one makes you dream more?”

I want to leave you with this quote today, shared by my Yoga teacher Michael Caldwell:

“Love is paying deep attention to your life.”

The Trees Wispher

 Little brothers and sisters: 

“You must give up the life you planned in order to have the life that is waiting for you.”

Joseph Campbell

The Prophet described iman, or faith, as such: “Faith is to acknowledge with the heart, to voice with the tongue, and to act with the limbs,” (Chittick 6).

This outlines the hierarchy of bodily domains that human beings consist of: the heart, signifying innermost awareness; the tongue which articulates and expresses; and one’s limbs, the source of action.

The art of poetry incorporates all three of these, for one cannot compose a poem without the cognizance of the heart, the use of speech or the physical use of limbs to write out the words.

Poetry channels the three spheres of the body so that awareness, thought and activity fuse to create one product.

Beyond Words: Chronicling Spiritual Ecstasy and Experience in Sufi Poetry

Kate Van Brocklin 


A picture is a secret about a secret, the more it tells you the less you know.

Diane Arbus

Must Be Milano 


Yesterday I was lucky enough to visit the old section of the town of Vittorio Veneto, in the region of Veneto, in Northeastern Italy. Present-day Vittorio Veneto is the result of the fusion of the municipalities of Ceneda and Serravalle after WWI. 
The photos below are of the old Jewish ghetto of Ceneda, and the centro ( center or downtown) with its villas, park and piazzetta ( small piazza).