Tag Archives: textiles

Book Work

I find myself unexpectedly weary today after a day of art making and eating and not much else. It was great fun to dive fully into book work but it is work. And work I love dearly.  I feel a bit more up to snuff in my sketchbook after today’s efforts so I’ll share a few more Antigua adventures with you here.

I’ve been really enjoying meeting the other artists here in Antigua and beyond. Rosemary has made many connections over the years between service trips for her speech pathology work and textile tours. Yesterday we had the pleasure of stopping in to see Lidia López who is a talented weaver among many other wonderful things (I’m keen to learn how to make Pepian sauce from her!).

Lidia was pregnant with her son and visiting friends in Panajachel, and I was a 7 year old kid living in Guatemala City when in 1976 tragedy struck this region in the form of an earthquake.  Thousands of lives were lost and it was indeed something one never forgets. But time passes, and as Lidia says, it was not our time then. We had more work to do.  And so we did.

It was lovely to chat with Lidia about the work she does and life in general. She patiently let us practice our Spanish on her, although her English is amazing. We talked to her about visiting again when we come for the travel sketch workshop next year which I hope comes to frution.

Our visit was over far too soon and I hope to stop in to say goodbye and share with her some of the work we have been up to in the mean time. Including a drawing I made of Lidia herself.

Later in the afternoon we went to sketch and photograph a lovely ruin…..

I was very happy to have my fancy camera this day as the structures and light at play in this old convent make for beautiful imagery.

But time was ticking and the ruins close fairly early to visitors.  We knew we had to get to work if we were to get a sketch in.

As the kids do often put it,

¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Seems kids have been the same since time began….

We had 40 minutes to do a quick study and we opted for a fairly complicated stairwell.

While this is not a scaled architectural study, it’s not a bad painting to my eye.  Coming back to this drawing in my sketchbook in years to come,  I’ll remember the light in this stairwell, and church bells on the wind and quiet drawing time with a good friend.  The gifts of a well fed travel journal.

Today was a slower paced day in the way of touring. We had meals out of course but mostly we stayed home and caught up in our books. Little things here and there….

…like this creepy antique wooden baby Jesus spotted at a collectibles and antiques owned by a nice fella called Axel.

I also did a page spread in my book to try and learn a bit more about the weaving tradition here in this country.

Although it took me the better part of the day, I’m happy with the results.

I wanted to try to capture the beauty and variety of the indigo dyed corte or cuts of cloth we encountered the other day at the market in Panajachel. Each piece different, punctuated with the colorful seam stitching called randas.

The textiles in Guatemala are not something I can try to adequately comprehend in one go, but it’s been great fun to get a weaving 101 from Rosemary, Mari and Lidia.

Tomorrow there will be more and more drawing. And I hear tell of some hot chocolate which contains chili powder in it. Two days left in this captivating country. For this visit at least.

 

 

Field tripping

Yesterday we took a field trip to a town called Panajachel where a weekly market was to happen.  We awoke early to be driven higher into the hills near Lake Atitlan. Though rain was forecast, we were greeted with a most lovely day.

I was traveling with my friends Rosemary and Steve of course, who are helping me build my second travel sketch class, but we also were accompanied by Mari Gray of Kakaw Designs, based in Antigua. More on Mari’s work in a bit, but suffice it to say, this was a business trip for her. For me, it was a nearly overwhelming array of color and texture. All gently used and ready to be repurposed.

It was difficult to choose! I purchased one small bit of cloth I hope to make a wee something of eventually but at the very least, it’s just a gorgeous bit to have on hand as a throw.

The prices were amazing and we counted our quetzales and haggled a bit with the vendors which was fun and good Spanish practice.

Soon we were vended out and went in search of a place to eat with a view of the lake. We found a little spot courtesy of our lovely driver and knowledgeable guide, Andres, and we all enjoyed the breezes.

We didn’t tarry long though as we had an afternoon appointment at Multicolores, an amazing artist cooperative changing the lives of women artisans in many areas of Guatemala.

We were greeted at the mysterious teal colored door along a busy side street in Panajachel by the lovely Rosario who proceeded to show us around and introduce us to the vital work going on at Multicolores.

Artists from Guatemala are trained in this rug-hooking technique and given further instruction on basic things as well, such as color theory and even vision statements. 

They were asked to really consider their life’s calling. One wall hanging said:

Solo existen dos dias en el año en que no se puede hacer nada. Una se llama ayer y otro mañana. Por lo tanto hoy es el día ideal para amar, crecer, hacer, y pricipalmente vivir.

Loosely translated, there are only 2 days in the year that you can do nothing, yesterday and tomorrow. Every other day is ideal for loving, growing, doing and principally living.

So, not only are these artists learning a skill they can earn a real living off of, they are bettering their lives all around. They take used clothing from the local thrift shops and painstakingly turn them into exquisite utilitarian works of art.

There are also a few beautifully embroidered dolls available as well, which some folks might not consider utilitarian, but I do. Play is a most useful thing.

Will you look at her sweet hair??!

These guys had secret coded messages to share with anyone who knows the language of symbols.

After much careful consideration and admiration of the sheer amount of work this collective produces, Rosemary chose a new piece of art for her newly remodeled space at home. Its stunning. And even more so in person!!!

As much as we had enjoyed this full day, we soon needed to get on the road to avoid traffic on top of the already two hour drive back to Antigua. With rain and pea-soup variety fog on hand, Andres calmly got us through a somewhat white-knuckled  drive and we were home by sundown.

It was a day of no art making for me, but rather of gathering material for consideration. The best travel journals come from real, lived experiences and the impressions these experiences bring to us on many levels.  The tastes and smells of food, the textures of things at the vendors, the people. Conversations with new friends and those overheard at the parque while walking.  All of these things get recorded and captured in some way, even if they don’t make The Book on that very day. There must be a balance to it all.

This taking-it-all-in field trip mode continued into today with a visit to Mari’s place back here in Antigua. It was amazing to see how this young designer lives and works and to just visit and have an opportunity to see the things she creates with the types of materials acquired the day before. She lives in a hidden little magic place with a sweet dog.

Such a sweet, magical place, even the fairies are in residence.

Evidence of Mari’s passion for textiles is at every turn.

Soon we got to see some of her products and how they come together. These lovelies have been well worn and even re-heeled over the years.  They are still beautiful and on my wish list.

She had a few shiny new pairs around as well But they weren’t in my size.

We so enjoyed hanging out with Mari again today and I feel I’ve made a new friend here in Antigua. I’m so thankful Rosemary knows so many lovely folks here!!

This all just takes us through to this morning! I could certainly tell you of Lydia, a beautiful weaver and vendor (and yet another lovely friend of Rosemary’s) who lived through the same earthquake I did in 1976.  And I might also share our afternoon visit to a local ruin and the sketches which resulted.  But alas, those sketches could use some daylight to best share and perhaps these are tales for another day and another blog post.

We have another solid three days here in Antigua and no more lofty plans such as the last couple of days have seen.  Just working in our books and soaking up more of the beauty here in Antigua Guatemala.

We are still working out details for the 2018 Travel Sketchjournal -Antigua trip but if you’d like to be on a list to get more information as it unfolds, just comment below or send me an email.

A busy resting

This morning began misty and mysterious. I sipped coffee and sketched a bit.

We breakfasted – and, following the sunshine, then did a bit of perusing the shops round town.  Have I mentioned the feast of textiles to be found here? Old and newly made, well worn and repurposed, they are everywhere. Draped on the furniture, piled in shops, peddled by Mayan street vendors.

Besides the traditional, there are more modern and quirky things to find as well. I picked this one up for Jack.

Because remember that time he played fiddle and banjo in a hilarious Fringe Festival play called Hot Damn, It’s The Loveland Frog? And also played the frog at the very end… With banjo?

Hmmmm, yeah. Me too. What can we say? It was a paying gig, and it was fun, strange as it all might seem.

I picked up a pair of pantalones from a lovely vendor named Gloria whose passion for the handwork she does in her home pueblo of San Francisco A.C. is truly inspiring.

They have pockets! I love pockets.

All over town things delighted our senses, more to bring back to our sketch practice later over a lunch of leftover pizza which was delicious!

I could make art for ages merely on the procesión we witnessed yesterday.

All the while, our watchful volcanoes drift in and out of their self made mists, teaching us to breathe.

After some work on next year’s travel sketch workshop plans and pondering, Rosemary, Steve and I drifted out once again for our evening meal. Taking in Antigua along the way.

Buenos noches, amigos.