Thursday, June 10, 2010

the curve of a clavicle

Figure drawing in Barcelona

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!

Cercle Artistic de St. Lluc

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.

Passeig de Gracia

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?


Anna Denise said...

Wow. So great. What a lovely adventure. You look like a great gang together!

I really long for those kinds of meetings with artists but always feel like such an amateur next to the talented people I meet that I'm usually afraid to bring it up. I'm fine with being an amateur, but in super-talented company it makes me feel so insecure.

When it comes to inspiration, I have the opposite problem. I have ideas and images and new projects going through my mind all the time. I have no time to work on them though and sometimes my head feels like a giant cave of frustrated ideas that aren't allowed to get out (yet).

Javier de Blas said...

Oh yes, what a nice experience at the Cercle Artístic de St. Lluc . I´ve never been there but I had heard about it.
Very nice nudes. Also like this watercolor of the tree.

szaza said...

Oh Anna, I think it's completely normal to feel insecure around people you admire— I felt so small beside Nina, Lapin and Miguel. I felt lazy and lacking in experience. I think we are often too hard on ourselves; we all work differently, are moved in different ways by different things, and one way is no better than the other. You are a bright, talented and energetic artist, who has nothing to fear. Your sense of colour, composition and humour are unrivalled. Your dedication to your journals is astonishing, and something to admire.

If you have more ideas in your head, my goodness— what excitement for us, your audience! Set time aside to uncork, get those ideas and projects out— even if it's one at a time. I can't wait to see them! Much love :)

Thank you, Javier!
You must go to the Cercle— it is such an amazing place! I know you will love it :)

freekhand said...

Seeing seeing this post I feel sorry because we were in a hurry... I had liked to remain a little more. I'll be living in BCN from 10 july on, so I hope we can repeat it soon (or maybe in Istambul, who knows!)


Thanks for sharing your great time here. I know what Anna Denise means. I cramp up and sketch like a child if i think anyone is going to look at my work!

szaza said...

Miguel, I hope to see you again soon— indeed it was too short, but oh so fun! You should definitely come to Istanbul :)

You know Bella, I think it's common for artists to feel inadequate, especially around other artists. I think you just have to jump into the deep end, not fearing how your work will look. I get tremendous anxiety sharing my work, so I force myself to. I hope eventually that insecurity will go away.