When Lapin asked me if I might feel like a bit of figure drawing, my heart leapt out of my chest. To say I love figure drawing would not come close to how I feel about the human form on paper. To say I'm passionate about capturing muscle, fat and bone with a pen, crayon or pencil, does not express the flutter in my heart and belly when moving my fingers across the page, within the curve of a clavicle.
On the metro to Jaume I, Lapin, Nina and I warmed up our creative muscles with a little sketching, unaware that we were being carefully watched. As we returned our sketchbooks to our bags and hopped off the train, a young guy came running up to me with a piece of paper and an enormous grin. I have no idea what he said to me, but when I looked at the paper he thrust into my hands before running back to his seat, I was overwhelmed. I managed to look up just in time to catch his eyes and exchange smiles before he was sped away.
That's Lapin in the hat, sketching me sketching a passenger!
In a narrow alley stands the humble building that housed our mid-morning treat. The Cercle Artístic de St. Lluc was founded in 1893 by a group of prominent artists that included Antoni Utrillo, Alexandre de Riquer and Antonio Gaudí, and was frequented by artistic big shots like Joan Miró. I loved watching the white and silver-haired artists with their thumb-printed wooden boxes of charcoal, pads of thick paper and eyes squinted in concentration. To think we were drawing where Miró drew...
After sketching the morning away, we meandered over to a lovely nearby café that had the most exquisite pasta and home-made ice cream. Nina, Lapin and I got out our various art supplies and took to drawing on our paper place mats during our post-pasta coffee.
Lapin's drawing of me sketching The Girl with the Thong.
Bellies full, we headed out to an art supply store where Urban Sketchers Bologna correspondent Miguel Herranz, aka Freekhand, met up with us. As luck would have it, Miguel was in town the week I was, and I not only had the opportunity to meet him, but to draw with him. I've been a huge fan of Miguel's for ages— so you can imagine how thrilled I was to sketch with him and listen to his stories. Miguel, Lapin and Nina are all such talented and inspiring artists, I felt so honoured to draw, eat and chat with them.
I was reminded of something Picasso once said: "Inspiration exists, but it has to find you working." While my move to Istanbul has been an exciting turn in my life, I've somehow hit a block with my artwork. I feel inspired to travel and experience new things, but not to draw the way I had been in San Francisco. I find it hard to focus and get to work, I have difficulty bringing the bucket up from the well of my mind. Inspiration seems to be walking by. When Nina, Miguel and Lapin shared their sketchbooks and thoughts with me, I was amazed by the amount of work that had flowed out of them— and it wasn't just the number of pages and books and ideas that impressed me, but the absolute beauty of them. I'll never forget the chills I got when Lapin pulled open drawer after drawer of a file cabinet, each packed full of sketchbooks in all sizes. Indeed, inspiration must find your fingers moving, your mind racing, or else it passes you by.
As Miguel, Lapin and I sat down on Passeig de Gracia to sketch the Modernist house Manzana de Oro, we asked a passerby on the sidewalk if he would be so kind to take our picture. He introduced himself as Valentino, and announced that he would do one better. Valentino sketched us.
A most marvellous day of art and conversation ended with a glorious gazpacho from the sumptuous kitchen of Lapinette. Wine, art, soup and laughter with friends on a warm May night. Does it get any better than that?