Winter Europe Trip: Madrid Museums

We visited a whole bunch of museums and historical sites on this trip, however museums of Madrid were the ones I spent the most time preparing for and where I drew the most. 
In Prado, I was excited to find a Museum guide and map in Ukrainian and marked my plan for everyone in our group so that they would know where to find me (follow along!). Goya is always a hit and this time I went not from earlier works to the late years but in the opposite direction and it created even a bigger contrast and wonder. In the Naval Museum, I drew some figureheads and spent my time finding the best depiction of the sea (there were quite a few spectacular ones!). We also went to the home and museum of my art hero Joaquin Sorolla, found his works in two more museums, and visited a little but fantastic exhibit "Sorolla's Summers" on its last day in Madrid. I ended up painting a "bunch of Sorollas" in my sketchbook as I could not stop thinking about all the light that he saw! 

Plant Eviction

I bought this little garden-in-a-pot (a concept I enjoy) and sketched it a couple of days into its stay on our kitchen table. But very quickly my allergies informed me that the hyacinth is not my friend and in fact is a serious enemy. It filled the whole house with fragrance and despite some effort put into denial, I had to evict the whole little garden outside. Where there was a lot of wind and rain and... well, I did not draw it after eviction. But it is getting a lot of watering!

Winter Europe Trip: Toledo, Spain

One of the destinations out of our Madrid hub was Toledo. This was my second visit to this glorious city (the first one was with my Mom in 2011 - here is my blog post from that one: The time we spent in Toledo did not disappoint despite quite a bit of rain and too-big-a lunch! Another city I would like to see through different seasons and visit again :)

Sketching with Friends: San Francisco

This weekend I finally met one of my online friends in real life! Wonderful Marie-Hélène Brohan Delhaye and I connected through Instagram, then through Urban Sketching and Uma Kelkar, and then Ukraine, and then just through the sheer joy of sharing a journey of documenting our lives, experimenting, working with direct watercolor painting and the glory of using color.

Marie-Hélène traveled through California and we met on a glorious sunny day on the top of the hill in San Francisco. The four of us - Suhita Shirodkar, Uma Kelkar, Marie-Hélène, and myself were sketching, chatting about art supplies, catching up on world and family events, exchanging plans and hopes for the year, petting dogs, and swapping greetings with passers-by. The best thing? It felt like we do it all the time - this sketch and chat together - even though this was the first time we did it in real life with Marie-Hélène :) I enjoy having friends at all distances and making them in any way imaginable - but to see them in real life, hug them, and tell them in person that they make my world better is not always possible. When it is - I celebrate!

Photo of all of us - by Marie-Hélène.

Winter Europe Trip: Madrid, Spain

The second part of our trip was centered in Madrid. 
We arrived on the very first day of the year and experienced a super quiet and empty center of the city. This presented some problems (food?!) and a lot of opportunities to be the only people on the streets. We enjoyed the ghost town while hunting down some basic supplies - and after about 22 000 steps we had bread, eggs, salt, and oil :) 
The weather was grayer and colder during this part of the trip, with some rains and glorious fog but a good guide through the city gave us enough stories to keep moving from one historical site to another, and I found more gardens and fountains to fall in love with :) 

Winter Europe Trip: Drawing on the Trains

I already praised public transportation after returning from this trip since this was a wonderful opportunity to draw people. But I also tried to draw scenery from the windows of my moving trains.

Drawing is always an exercise in visual memory, selection and interpretation but when the train is going 150 miles per hour it becomes a challenge of a different scale. I cursed a lot and was not happy with anything I drew - but now that I am back home these little sketches altogether bring me a lot of joy and memories of rides through Spain! So - public transportation is amazing - I would never draw these from a moving car :)

January Amaryllis Update

Some time in December I reported that my Mom and I are growing amaryllises together. Hers advanced much faster and I kept mine in a dark and cool place while I was away on a trip - but moved it to a sunny spot when I returned. It took some time but Amaryllis made a spectacular entrance in January (and it still goes on - but that I will show later!) Here are some of my January observations of how the flowers opened up one by one:

Winter Europe Trip: Seville, Spain.

We got to see Seville on a marvelously sunny and cool day and it was such a gift - to experience the light without heat, to walk (with a great guide) through the city, and try and imagine it through the different years and events. I saw the beauty of the idea of the outside world being framed by windows for the viewer who is inside while we walked around Plaza de España. The story of Carmen played out when we circled the Tobacco factory. I walked the riverbank from which the first ship to successfully circumnavigate the world sailed. Alcázar had so much history and beauty interwoven in such an intricate, compact yet voluminous way that my head just stopped processing anything but garden. And gardens! Gardens stole my heart with the sunlight and shadows, colors, fountains, trees - it was just magic!
Another city where I want to go again!