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

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Thursday, March 17, 2022

At the Equator - Part Two

 If you missed Part One here it is . . . 

I traveled to Cuenca halfway through my time in Ecuador and began to explore this historic city.There were museums to wander in full of objects from ancient Ecuadorian culture. 

At the Museo Pumapungo I circled around the pottery displays, slowly sensing what I could take on. 

No photographs were allowed so I had to rely on catching as much as I could quickly (my traveling companion was moving along) and filling in the details from memory later. 

I sketched a colorful ceramic plate, imperfect and quirky in its forms. 

I noted the colors but didn't get the date. 

I was drawn to some simple animal forms on the heads of metal funerary pins. This led me later online to the deeper story about the Incan funeral practices :

The bodies were folded into fetal positions, wrapped in layers of textiles and placed in tombs with offerings of food and corn beer to nourish the spirits, It was believed this bundle making would transform powerful ancestors who could create new life, like a seed giving birth to plant. The bundles were like plant bulbs, the cemeteries like gardens.  

At the Arqueological Museum I walked through the collections and then chose one object from each room to draw, moving up through the centuries. Here I could take photos to refer back to as I later shaped the forms in watercolor. 

Spending time with each of them felt like time travel. The intimate dialogue with ancient things through drawing attention stretched and energized me. 

We wandered through a big food market and I took pictures of unfamiliar fruits and vegetables. This turned into a portrait gallery of shapes and names. 

On the last morning in Cuenca I quickly sketched the view out the hotel window across the roofs and beyond. Over the next few days I painted in the details, referring back to the photo I'd taken and seeing if I could keep a light touch on a complex scene. When I made it to the sky the cloud strokes were quick and simple. 

During the last days back at the retreat center I worked on finishing up the sketchbook and also took on that frangipani plant again. This time I filled the whole page, jumping in, getting lost, finding the way, enjoying the delicate web of overlapping complexity. 

Some friends stopped by to look at the sketchbook the day before I flew home. We gazed out at the view from my porch and they pointed out two things that I had not noticed all the time I'd been there !

May we all - in this troubled world - take in the long view

and also what is near - and opening - and bright.