Sunday, February 28, 2016

friday's sketch

Bad weather and a bad leg make for a great combination when all you really want to do is wrap yourself up in a blanket, pour some tea, play some good music, and draw. I had this little vial of shiny black powder that I bought at the medina a while ago, which the herbalist swore was kohl for the eyes, but I have my doubts. I thought I could use it for drawing, and while it gave me some nice warm greys, it left behind rough glittery particles that would not go away no matter what I did. In came the 8B graphite stick to punch up the value and save the day!

Monday, February 22, 2016

a midnight-ish self-portrait

I started drawing this sometime last night before midnight and finished the majority of the drawing around two in the morning. The orange background took a good part of today, as the book is pretty large (the portrait is a wee bit less than life-size)— a great way to spend a rainy Monday! It has been a wonderful thing rediscovering Caran D'Ache's Neocolor I wax pastels, something I loved playing with in college and had forgotten about until recently rummaging through Pedro's cache of art materials in Lisbon.

Saturday, February 13, 2016

slivers of sky

and sharp shadows.

twisting metal

This scene of a man tirelessly twisting metal into curls reminded me of a photo I took nearly three years ago in Şanlıurfa of two metalsmiths cutting rods with a hammer and clippers:

A dusty hole in the wall, the smell of metal, the force of muscle. I am drawn to all things made by hand, no matter the material— but there is something about the twisting of metal that has always intrigued me.

giant carrots, pyramids of olives, and the camel butcher

Saturday, February 6, 2016

couscous friday

There's this marvellous thing that happens on Fridays in Morocco: couscous. A staple of kitchens across the Maghreb, couscous is crushed semolina that is steamed to a delightfully fluffy consistency and served with a stew of meat and veggies. Highly labour intensive, couscous typically happens on Fridays, the holy day in Muslim tradition, when families get together after prayers to enjoy a meal together. Pedro says it's very much like Sunday lunches with the family in Portugal, which no doubt is Christian in origin.

During the past six months in Morocco, I've been sampling couscous when I can get it, and what I have noticed is that it can vary considerably in flavour depending on who is making it. It can be bland or overly buttery, and it might be served with cinnamony caramelised onions (my favourite), or dried fruit— a happy discovery made at a restaurant in Meknès.

Couscous is often served with a glass of leben, a sour-tasting buttermilk. The idea is that drinking water will expand the couscous in your stomach and cause you unwanted distress, whereas the leben will aid in the digestion of all that goodness you just ate. Whether it expands or not, you are guaranteed to feel full and slip into what is lovingly referred to by my colleagues as the Couscous Coma. Try teaching a classroom of eighteen sleepy kids after a couscous lunch on a Friday, when you yourself could just curl up for a nap!

Well at least there's always a glass of mint tea to help wake you up.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016


Well it was one hell of a busy day yesterday, and I'm afraid I didn't take a photo of myself for my annual birthday post. Here in its place is a fine horse in the Place el Hedim in Meknès, posing in front of the famed Bab el Mansour gate. Thirty-seven, here I come!