This past Saturday my grandma Abuela Chave passed away. She was 98. Even though she had been sick for some time it was still a difficult time, especially for my father and my two uncles. We went to her hometown, Ciales, for her services. I hadn’t been there in some time, after spending nearly every weekend there while I was growing up. Both my parents were raised there, so we visited weekly my four grandparents. My dad’s father passed away some years ago, but both my mom’s parents are still alive, one is 100 and the other is 98. I’ve been lucky enough to have them for so long. I remember my Abuela Chave’s specialty, “alcapurrias”, a traditional puertorican snack; she prepared them as no other I’ve tasted anywhere.
I passed some time driving around the town, and reliving those memories in the Calle Obrero. I wanted to sketch her now vacant house but it was an emotionally difficult task… maybe some other time. However, right besides the funeral home a park has been built that has a beautiful view to part of the town. I felt then like sketching, as a little homage to Abuela Chave and her beloved hometown… I don’t know when, if ever, I’m going back to Ciales, so spending a little time sketching will help me keep my childhood memories alive.
Abuela Chave, hasta luego…
Today I went with my wife to Old San Juan with our sketching materials. On the way there, my car broke down, but I managed to get to the parking lot at La Puntilla and left it there… hope it is still there tomorrow morning. We went to a very nice coffee-house called Cuatro Sombras in Calle Recinto Sur #259. The coffee was not the best I’ve had, but the experience was so good that I’m giving it another try some day soon… maybe the barista was new…
There they have this stunning piece of machinery, which I’m guessing is used to roast the coffee grains. The shape and colors contrast beautifully with the warm wooden boards. My sketch is nowhere near of conveying the energy of the space there. I tried to be loose but… I think that somehow ended sloppy instead of loose… I’ll try it again on my next visit. Next time I’ll focus more on the place as a whole than on the object. This was done with a Paper Mate flair and watercolors with a water brush.
So, as we have no car to get home, we decided to get to the ferry. We got our sketchbooks out, and speed-sketching we went… a-la Prof. Leytham’s Sketching School
I’d love to include more people in my sketches, as they convey the sense of place. In my last sketch from the ferry, I decided to sketch the two women that were gossiping right in front of me. Notice the husband of the woman with the hat is there too; he is completely disregarding their conversation…
I’m in love with the iPad2… I just downloaded an app called ASKetch after reading a review of it. This was my first sketch with it; the app is extremely simple and it just simply works. It feels like if you were using graphite. You control the darkness by pinching: a small circle draws very dark and vice versa. It isn’t pretentious, only a handful of tools, but it gave me a very good first impression. And for $0.99, it is a bargain. Maybe the iPad won’t replace my sketchbook, but it seems promising.
I only could sketch for a couple of hours, as I had a class, but my industrial design students joined me at the end of the class and participated as well. I always had wanted to sketch the courtyard of the building I teach at, which is the restored building of Hospital de la Concepción. The second sketch is a view of the gallery around the courtyard. The third sketch is the Castillo San Felipe del Morro, as seen from the main building of the School of Fine Arts of Puerto Rico. I used a Paper Mate Flair and Copic Sketch markers on a cheap Mead Academie Sketch Book.
A good thing about virtual paintouts is that you can go “exploring” other countries without having to do it physically. However, sometimes I want to sketch interesting places or buildings and not necessarily streets, which is, well… Google’s Street View forte. But I remembered seeing the Colosseum in Rome as the opening screen, so maybe “Street View” is not limited to streets.
So I searched online for traditional Japanese architecture. I remember when in architecture school we were introduced to Japanese gardens and villas. I stand behind the word “introduce”, because that is exactly what they taught us, a very brief lecture on Japanese gardens. Oh, and it was as part of a design studio, not in History of Architecture. That is a flaw the curriculum I studied in had; we barely touched oriental, middle-eastern or even latin-american architecture.
But whatever… I found about Himeji Castle, regarded as the finest surviving example of 17th century Japanese architecture, and it happens that Google Street View works in it! So I explored around the place and found a couple of interesting views. It is a beautiful place. I sketched it directly with Sennelier watercolors on a 9″x 6″ heavyweight paper sketchbook. It’s not watercolor paper, but it behaves better than I expected. I used a water brush for this, very convenient when painting watercolors in front of the computer (no water spill accidents).
I hope I keep finding interesting “street views” in the virtual paintouts from now on.