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

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Tuesday, February 22, 2022

At the Equator - Part One

I traveled down to Ecuador in January, moving through the dystopian world of multiple airports, finding my way to the Hosteria Izhcayluma near the town of Vllcabamba far in the south. In a new environment my sketchbook becomes a way of opening, recording and getting engaged with the place. Here is the first page, which I left blank until the end. By then I knew what the essential image of the trip was. I wrote the place and dates in the colors of the Ecuadorian flag. I saw many rainbows there . . .
Getting started in the sketchbook is always a challenge. There is the jet lag and all the adjusting, and then it just takes courage to step into the unknown and take the drawing leap. I felt tentative, afraid of making a mistake, telling myself I had to produce something - ugh. With all this going on inside just touching the page, getting the pencil moving, beginning to look out, was what I needed. Drawing is the act of connection. I waited until I felt drawn towards something, my eye followed the form, my pencil follwed my eye. I was in an alive conversation again. I started with the frangipani plant just beyond my porch, taking on a single branch. I began with line, added watercolor and then wrote some words that described the process. The words for me complete the experience.
Gazing out at the soft green mountains and valleys, watching the weather move through. I drew with only the brush this time.
The century plant (agave) was right there in my view. I painted it a couple times, first precisely, then simpler, looser.
Then I took on the whole scene, writing the description at the end, which included a particular sound. . .
I picked up two dark pods, dropped from the Jacaranda tree nearby. No flowers blooming now, just these complex sculptural shapes to study. A couple days later I added the branch and some colorful words telling more of the Jacaranda story.
My traveling companion Laura and I took a walk along the Rio Chamba. I was struck by these huge moving grasses across the river. I paused and quickly sketched before continuing on. I also took a small video of the scene to remind me of the energy. Back in my room I added color and words, letting the three part fullness of the place speak.
Sitting in a restaurant in Vilcabamba looking out on patterned walls and roofs and the mountains beyond. I drew the basic elements with pencil and took a photo, then finihsed up the details later, walking that edge between precision and looseness. With the words I found the way it all connected.
Halfway through our time we traveled to the historic city of Cuenca. Getting there took five hours on winding roads in a shuttle bus moving through high mountains and valleys. I like to sketch in a small notebook when on the road, catching details as they flash past to record more fully later. Here is a page from my tiny notebook -
Eventually the winding road and my intense focus turned into intense nausea (yikes ). Amazingly Laura had some Dramamine in her backpack (hallelujah) and I was able to steady my insides and make it through. Here is what I saw along the road to Cuenca, painted when not in motion !
More images and stories to follow soon !
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