Monday, August 22, 2016

Waking Up

I finally woke up last week. At first I thought I had been in a coma for the past eight months, however, nobody noticed my absence, and it seemed to be a rather dramatic diagnosis. Other possibilities: hibernation, suspended animation, or sleep walking. As my family appears to think that I have been present, I'll have to go with the sleep walking diagnosis as I do have a history of promenading at night. 

True story: when we lived in a ground floor apartment (centuries ago), my husband woke up one night, saw I wasn't there and then found the front door open. He caught up with me half way down the street. "Where are you going, Honey?" "Gotta go to the park, gotta go to the park." "Well, why don't you come back to bed now?" "Oh, okay."
Mr. M. is still traumatized... 



Anyway, last year, I signed up for online classes that were interesting and cheerful, and that would take me by the hand and tell me what to do. I put myself on automatic pilot. I got through the last 8 months of Mr. M's life-threatening illness and surgery, stitching away...
...and nobody knew I was sleep walking. 

Finally, last week I woke up early in the morning and felt like myself. I mean, I really felt like myself. I went through a list in my head of the day's activities and felt some degree of pleasure and a reason to get out of bed. 

I pulled out the Pomegranate Tree Quilt, on which I have been mindlessly stitching French knot leaves in the evening. I spread it out on the bed and examined it, wide awake. Oh my, a whole section of weeds hadn't been finished. I attacked the weeds with determination.
I am now eating healthy (no white sugar or flour), doing a yoga routine every morning, and feeling wide awake and alert. I'm thinking about my artwork again as a body of work. 

Indeed, I made myself a journal to finish up all the lettering begun in online classes, so I can get back to fabric and thread. I have a lot of subject matter in my sketchbooks to digest and interpret into fabric.

My new journal begins with a quote by Joshua W. Shank: "Creative people depend on flexibility to an unusual degree, and their personalities show tendencies of thought and action that in most people are segregated. Creative people simply embrace contradictory extremes whereas everyone else learns to develop one or the other."
I'm so glad that I woke up to be able to embrace my contradictory extremes!
May you be wide awake as well.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Sea, Sand, and Sun, 3

It's no secret, I'm not  in my best element at the beach. I tomato (yes, "tomato" is a verb in my world). No chance of a tan.
However, Mr. M. spent his youth on the beach as soon as the weather allowed, since he grew up very close to the Mediterranean. He LUVs the beach, so I agreed to go with him for a day at Korba (beach town an hour and a half South of us).
I did thumbnail sketches on the way down with a ballpoint pen and colored pencils.



True, there was a pleasant sea breeze keeping the temperature down and I did enjoy one 15 minute dip, more or less.

Most of the time, I sat in my folding chair under the parasol and sketched people as discreetly as possible. Why this man was trying to fix his bait and fish on a crowded beach beats me. Seemed dangerous to me...


Then there was the sleeping baby with his mother...full sun...seemed unreasonable to me as well...

Hmmmm...people watching.




Eventually, I got fed up and switched to stitching. I think I am becoming the Reluctant Sketcher again.

Instant calm as I worked on a red on black piece in the Book of Etudes. The lobster red was a fairly accurate description of my skin when I ran out of sun screen...sigh.

Here's the problem: I have accumulated a good deal of material in my sketchbooks and I'm beginning to itch to express that into something larger (maybe life-size?) in fabric. I need to digest and then reflect on it all and interpret it into my own visual vocabulary.





Paper is beginning to annoy me. 
I think I lost Nadia someplace over the last couple of years. 
Anyone seen her around?

Linked to Nina Marie's "Off the Wall Friday."

Monday, August 8, 2016

Memories of Parisian Museums

Although, I didn't get around much while I was in the Paris region in April and May, I did manage a few museum visits. And what spectacular exhibits I saw! First, I visited the National Picasso Museum, which is housed in the "Hôtel Salé", a city mansion. There was the sculpture exhibition, and the permanent collection was equally impressive. Limited on time, I tried to do just a small sketch at each museum--to remember...
What intrigued me and sort of tickled my fancy was the juxtaposition of the stately mansion sculptures hanging off the top of the wall at the edge of the ceiling in a corridor where Picasso's "Buste d'une femme" (1931) sat tranquilly. Nobody seemed to notice the dialogue going on between the man with curls, flowers and flowing drapery staring down at the woman stripped to her stark essence. She seemed oblivious to it all. 

Another day, I visited the Orangerie, after walking through the Tuileries. It is well-known for the series of wall-size "Nymphéas" paintings. 





I did a humble sketch of just one little corner to try to understand movement, color, and technique. I could have done that for a week and learned so much! And, of course, the permanent collection downstairs was exceptional. 

The Musée d'Art Moderne de la ville de Paris featured an exhibit of Albert Marquet (1875-1947), who was a member of the Fauves.  

There I saw a number of the paintings that I had studied in textbooks. Quite lovely.


My favorite exhibit of all was also at the Ville de Paris Museum. Paula Modersohn-Becker (1876-1907), a German artist who visited Paris when she could, had wonderful portraits of children that were solemn, yet gentle. Her almost tender treatment of nudes, which included a mother and child series, is such a contrast to the male painters of her generation, such as Marquet, who did his share of the erotic. I did a quick sketch of her daring self-portrait in the nude and pregnant (when she really wouldn't be pregnant until the following year). Exquisitely lovely.

And, of course I did get to the Paul Klee exhibit at the Georges Pompidou Center, since Klee had spent time in Tunisia. Another breath-taking and thorough exhibit with lots of historical information.

Ok, ok, I never got to the Louvre because there is so much to see in Paris. Next time, and hopefully under much better circumstances...

Friday, July 29, 2016

Sea, Sand, & Sun, 2







Or should the title be "Bake on the Beach"? Because that is my interpretation of beach hotels in Tunisia. 
The large hotel we stayed in caters particularly to Russian and Eastern European clients (looking very pink or red after a day on the beach), although we met a few French clients, and Tunisian families came as well.

The Tourism field is truly interesting to study. Last year I taught Tunisian students about the possibilities of tourism (medical tourism, sports tourism, cultural tourism, etc.), however, with the rise of terrorism and fear, much has been lost. Here's how things look today: groups are flown in, escorted to the hotel where everything is provided (meals, drinks, entertainment, spa facilities, etc.) and they never leave this closed world until it's time to take the plane home. 

In addition, tourists paying with Euros are paying less for the trip and stay in a hotel than Tunisians pay for their stay (no airfare included). 

This is a sad state of affairs. Although some hotels seem to have plenty of clients, this does not seem to benefit the community, except for a few jobs (mostly low grade). The restaurants, markets, and craft stores that depend on tourism are struggling, many have closed or else they have cut back on personnel. 
Cultural institutions are struggling as well. The day I visited the Bardo Museum in Tunis with my grandkids, there were maybe six visitors, whereas they used to have crowds of at least two or three thousand a day. There was nobody at the wonderful Uthina ruins, when we had our yearly visit.

True, tourists can spend a peaceful vacation on a nice Mediterranean beach, however, they learn nothing of Tunisia and do not get to know any Tunisians. Appreciating a certain cultural and intellectual level, I can only comment with a caricature--just drawing what I see...

Monday, July 18, 2016

Sea, Sand, & Sun, 1

Grandma's Bootcamp always includes a stay at a Mediterranean beach where campers swim, play, and even go on a parachute ride. 
It's only an hour away from home, and although I drag my feet (I do not tan, I tomato), the few days at the beach provide a break in routine and everyone is happy. I always take plenty of self-entertainment.

This year was exceptional. While I sat sketching people at breakfast with a swimming pool in the background, a Frenchman said "I've always wanted to do that. May I sit down?" And so, I met J.-C., a Parisian, and we chatted about Paris, materials, and techniques. 

We sketched every morning after breakfast in an idyllic setting (no overflowing garbage at this hotel). 


J.-C., who incorporates his own cartoons into his job, "signed" my sketchbook with a delightful drawing.--> 






Sketching seems to be a good conversation starter at a beach hotel. How much time can you spend on a beach and not be bored silly? People would come talk with me, including kids. 



Donia (in the middle), who likes to draw, "signed" my sketchbook as well.--> 




Truth to tell, I only got salt water on me once, but, I did do a few laps in the pool before breakfast everyday. The kids loved the beach and the pools. Mr. M, whose skin had a grayish tint after his hospital ordeal, came home with a lovely tan and a smile, a picture of good health. Guess I can't complain!

Monday, July 4, 2016

Paris Urban Sketchers

I got a chance to meet up with the Paris Urban Sketchers the day after I arrived in Paris in April.

They had scheduled a meeting at the Parc de Sceaux for the Hanami or Japanese Cherry Blossom Festival.

It seemed that all Parisians of Japanese origin had come to picnic under the lovely old cherry trees of the Parc, which put on an amazing show of pink.

The cold weather and threatening gray skies did not seem to bother anybody except me. It was very cold.


Three days before my departure, I was able to attend another outing at the "Grand Train," a sort of railroad cemetery with some lovely old locomotives. It had been converted into a sort of park/picnic area for families...and thankfully, there were no tourists. I sketched a group of women with a locomotive behind them in my recycled, trashy sketchbook/journal using watercolors and brush pen.






Then I started on a beautiful red locomotive in excellent condition. This I had to finish later as it started to rain.

Seeking shelter in a nearby café, we sat around tables that the owner kindly lined up for us, and shared sketchbooks and stories. I surreptitiously sketched a Parisian sketcher at the other end of the tables and then asked her to sign. Thank you, Estelle.

And so, I would like to send a big "Hello" and "Thank you" to the Paris Urban Sketchers who began and ended my visit to Paris in such a wonderful way. My blessings are many...

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Paris and Comics

Fortunately, there were some moments in Paris that were almost light-hearted, even pleasant.The "Polishing" class at Sketchbook Skool prompted me to use a comics style to record a funny conversation. True story:
And again, I recorded an interesting day in Paris that included a museum, a good meal in a restaurant, demonstrations, and falling asleep over my stitching...
Paris is such an interesting place!