Listening - watching
taking a moment
drawing the world
finding the way to connection
again and again.

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Sunday, March 20, 2016

The Big Easy

We recently spent a week in New Orleans.
In the midst of the ups and downs of my emotional life
I managed to get the pencil and brush moving on the page a few times.

It always feels like jumping off the high dive.
But then when I'm down there swimming around
the creative waters are fresh and enlivening.

We went on a swamp tour one day.
The guide was engaging, the creatures made appearances -
alligators, turtles, wild hogs and raccoons -
all (except the turtles) attracted by quantities of marshmallows
tossed in the water.

But the boat never stopped chugging along
so I had to draw on the fly . . . a practice in itself.

The next day I was drawn to a huge tree in City Park.
It was an overwhelming form.
I tried the relaxed approach, the only option to get me going -
letting go of the outcome - the big easy . . .
In the end I felt sad, disappointed, resigned and surprisingly okay
with the page - and my life !

 (click on the image to enlarge)

On the last day I wandered around the Bywater district
and collected the lively colors of the houses -

Everywhere we went there were colored beads -
hanging from the trees, draped over the balconies,
lining the railings, adorning the fire hydrants.

A City of Beads . . .

Friday, January 15, 2016

Cuba Libre

Okay, so it's the name of a drink in Cuba (rum and coke)
but it also captures something about the open heartedness of the place -
so that's my title !

I just returned from ten days in Cuba, traveling with a group organized by
George Mason University, studying the dances and culture of this island.

The trip began in Santiago de Cuba.
We moved to Guantanemo, then on to Baracoa on the eastern coast,
then returned to Santiago before flying home.

In between dance classes (Afro Cuban and Rueda - a kind of salsa square dance)
attending amazing performances by local dance troupes,
dancing in clubs and on the streets at night and generally moving around,
here is what landed in the sketchbook.

As the trip unfolded I became less and less interested in making the precise drawing
and more and more connected to the sensual movement of the pencil and brush on the page -
the rhythms of Cuba were sinking in !

I always leave the first page of the sketchbook blank until the end of the trip
and then put something there that encapsulates the whole time . . .
in this case a sensual Cuban flag !

The Basilica is Cuba's most sacred pilgrimage site.
It intertwines the worship of the Virgin Mary with the Santeria orisha Ochun,
the Yoruba goddess of love and dancing, represented by the color yellow.
The small statue of "Cachita" sits high above the altar,
with yellow and white flags on either side.

click on the image to enlarge

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In Baracoa I wandered through this sweet town one afternoon
and found my way to the La Roca Palador restaurant for a delicious lunch of teti fish . . .

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click to enlarge

Turning back towards Santiago . . .

Coming to the end.
Here is the snake deity who determines which orisha energy a person will work with in their life.
It is the logo of Cutumba, the dance company in Santiago who taught us
the deeply rooted Santeria movements.

I draw precisely, dropping into the coiled form -
then let the energy expand - and spin - and open out.

And here I am - fresh from dancing . . .