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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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