Saturday, March 3, 2018

Not Sewing

Not much sewing. And I feel decoupled, almost unhinged.

I just returned from a sketching-painting tour of Havana with Jane LaFazio. And in the weeks leading up to it, I was distracted by life situations, all unrelated to sewing or creating. I did manage to make one pair of linen pants from the Sewing Workshop's Quincy pattern to take with me. I had fun adding a little something to the ankle. Light-weight linen was just right for the perfect weather in Havana.

Havana was divine, so full of color, culture, and energy. Each day we visited a special location for drawing and then painting with wonderful Jane. However, my artistic attempts started out a little bumpy as I did not bring the correct supplies.

I've done a bit of doodling and sketching for quite a while now, but I had never tried water color. I thought I purchased a small water color set but soon (not soon enough) I realized I had only bought tubes of water color paints. That is, I had no palette. Oh, and I also brought cheap water brushes.

So there I was sitting with my fellow artists in Cathedral Square in Havana trying to recover from this goof. That first day, I used only pencil, permanent pen and the tombow pen. It was probably not a bad discipline. But I was certainly discombobulated and had to breathe deeply for a bit.

Luckily it had been suggested that we bring extra supplies to donate to a community art center in Havana. One of my fellow travelers gave me a brand new set of water colors from her donation pile and Jane had an extra water brush, one by Kuretake (Japanese), the good kind.

And then I was off!

The next day we visited Hemingway's favorite hotel room, as well as his home just outside of Havana where we enjoyed a tour plus more time sketching and painting. That's Jane doing a yoga-pose-in-a-public-place, one of her signature travel activities.

Another day we visited a tobacco farm. We had a fascinating tour followed by a delicious lunch in an open-air dining room there. Then we began to sketch and paint. Each time Jane provided instruction and individual guidance, showing how she draws/paints as well as making suggestions for improvement.

Of course, it was necessary to include a vintage car, this one similar to one DH owned in high school.

Another day we visited a community art center where local artists provide free lessons to the neighborhood children, as well as adults. Classes include printing, painting, singing, videography, and musical instruments. We were treated to music performances by two local groups and a great lunch too. This is where we left donated supplies.

There were a number of rusted vintage sewing machines (Singer, of course) used to decorate the arts center.

The center was decorated in an eclectic, vibrant scheme, showing the artwork of the volunteer artists. This was a great scene from which to select drawing/painting subjects. There was also a small gallery where the local artists displayed and discussed their work. I purchased one small piece from one of them.

Cheerful flowers were sculptured in the art center. Also pictured is our souvenir from the farm - an artful package of hand-rolled cigars.
We had a little homework one night. We were to create an antique-looking background for drawing beautiful but run-down buildings near the National Museum of Fine Arts. We also visited the museum but had no time to draw there.

I don't drink coffee but I spilled a little Cuban coffee on the right. I dirt-stained a bit of letterhead from our hotel too. The soil at the tabacco farm was richly pigmented.
We spent a fair amount of time on a bus but that was fun too. Havana looks like no other city I've visited. You can see my impression of the bus rides in the upper portion of the picture below.

My fellow travelers autographed my travel journal.
Our last major stop was an arts neighborhood, where there were many little shops with similar Cuban paintings, as well as a park-like area (Fusterlandia) with tiled art by a Cuban artist. The entire neighborhood was delightful and surprising.

My attempt to capture the primitive, cheerful tile art. Hearts, fish and roosters were themes.
We visited a number of local artists in their studios - a photography studio which is also a restaurant, an experimental print shop, a paper making shop, and galleries of unique Cuban artists' work. In fact we saw much, much more that I did not manage to capture in my travel journal.

Jane provided each of us with an accordion art journal measuring 4x6. Some of the experienced artists found this size to be too confining and they chose to bring larger media. For me, this size was just right. Any larger would have left me overwhelmed. And I think I'll take another like it on my next trip somewhere.

For many years I've wanted to visit Cuba. I vaguely remember my dad visiting in the late 50's when he was in the US Navy reserves. It has always intrigued me that it is so close in miles, yet gallexies away in terms style, culture, politics.

And now back to a little sewing. And a little sketching and painting.

uh-oh. I now have another hobby.


  1. Wow, I am envious! I have always wanted to visit Cuba. I bet it was colorful, exciting, and exotic. Probably some things not so good as well, but what a great trip. I think you have talent in drawing. I have been trying to find some local classes for watercolor. I think I would enjoy it, but definitely don't have the talent you have. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Wow, just WOW. What a great trip. My DH wants to go for the scuba diving.

  3. What a fun trip! I am envious. And enjoy that new hobby. It goes great with travel.

  4. What an amazing experience! Loved seeing your watercolors.

  5. What a wonderful travelogue Martha! Your drawings are so GOOD.