Mexico City has gone to Red Level based on the Covid threat, and while I understand it means a high level of precautions must be taken, it’s an absolutely surreal time to be in CDMX, especially as a newbie. So I will do the things that help keep me sane: biking, art and my dogs. Oh and sketch in the Zoom Sketch Sessions with a dedicated group of artists, a good way to ride out this ongoing pandemic, focused on art.
Today I grabbed an Ecobici and rode down to Coyoacán to see what’s happening; it’s definitely quieter and less crowded which made it easier to navigate, but there’s a looming fret in the air due to the Delta situation; I suspect no one knows what’s in store — for any of us. I’m pretty mindful as I maneuver my way around, being on a bike helps, but I spent my time in Coyoacán on foot (no ecobici docks), and even had some time in the mercado because it was so sparse. Gorgeous mercado but limping along (no carnitas and chicharron guys!! Well it is Tuesday…). I ate a delicious Chiles en Nogada standing at a counter (first time I actually liked it because it was not sweet). Of course I went to Museo Frida Kahlo although I didn’t go in, I sat on the curb and drew it. I talked to the mango sellers; they’re from Puebla, their wives were on the corner selling Frida masks and dolls and they are quite nervous about the lack of tourists, the ripple effect is in full ripple. Most of the Centro Plaza with the coyote fountain was roped off, but I enjoyed a refreshing Nieve de los Dioses while taking it all in. I know it is a precarious time to be in Mexico City, and it feels as though I’m seeing and experiencing a moment of great transition of which we’re all uncertain — this could be said of the entire world, but there’s something about the reality of life and death in Mexico that smacks you across the face and asks you to snap out of it. The festiveness of Mexico is on MIA and it appears everyone is holding their breath. But alas there’s still some dancing in the streets! Godspeed to Mexico xx
ooooooMmmg real ramen!! If ya know the Japanese guy who teaches salsa in Parque Mexico, you’d know he puts out a list of his favs + most authentic. This Condesa restaurant is half Asian kitchen/cooking supplies, half restaurant — and it’s riquisimosso
Sidebar: my transportation is the Ecobici, I ride it wherever I go, unless I’m walking with my dogs. Today was the first day I said to myself, “ohhhhh I won’t be gone that long, I won’t need my raincoat nor any other rain gear.” Well naturally the hugest rainstorm blew in just as I finished my ramen and I decided to blast on home for the 13 minute bike ride — and what a treat that was NOT! Literally strikes of lightning and thunder, I was completely soaked to the bone and in hindsight it was a pretty stupid thing to do, but I was fueled by a powerful broth, hiiiiiijole
Sunday inMexico City, after a long bike ride up el Paseo, I stopped on the edge of Chinatown to capture somechaos with my Sharpie penandfluorescent highlighters, inspired by myZoom Sketch Sessions#kaPOW
I moved to Mexico City and I don’t know anyone here. I have my two dogs; Chiquis, who is my “Henny Penny the Sky is Falling”, and often I just hold her and hug her until her breathing returns to normal. In the wee hours of the night however, I’m right there with her: earthquakes, water supply, Covid, banditos and oh yeah right that delta –the hits just keep on hitting. There’s a lot of fear on that side of my mind, but then there’s Bun. She, on the other hand, is having an absolute ball. So many creatures to flirt with, parks to explore, trees to sniff and ohhhh so many butts! I am both my dogs and grateful to have them at my side as I adapt to this new city.
I am also so glad I stumbled upon this Brene Brown video this morning…. that elusive notion of belonging anywhere has always been a thing for me; I never felt I belonged starting with my family and it evolved from there. This past year I truly embraced and honed in on being an artist; I’ve balls-to-the-wall leaned into my craft and it provides me with focus and makes me feel like I belong. I’ve been in Mexico City 10 days and in this short amount of time a few of my drawings are now proudly hanging in some of the corner cafes in this no-gringo neighborhood, and people wave to me as I walk the streets with my dogs. I don’t know anyone but I know everyone. Art is my reason, art makes my life sacred, art connects me to this world. So very grateful for this sense of belonging
My first morning in Navarte, I knew exactly where I wanted to have coffee: Cafe Cafe CDMX. I did my research and wanted to visit the cafes that did their homework, and their research. Oh and I also needed some good neighborhood aesthetics for my early morning coffee sketch!
I’m really enjoying the Continuous Line practice, it feels like a grand roller coaster and I cannot get off until the end. It helps for me to push through the fear of not knowing what to draw next; it doesn’t matter becasue I’m on my way. I’ve incorporated it into my Zoom Sketch Sessions and I hear a number of participants comment that it’s helping them to break through fears as well.
Soooo much amazing architecture in Mexico City; today I chose to draw La Casa de Las Brujas, an incredible building with an incredible history. The building looks like a witch’s hat and the story goes some high-ranking witches used to call this home, and their high-ranking clientele used to visit!
For me the travel sketcher, I threw down some pencil lines to frame it up, then went at it with my sailor fude fountain pen to create a continuous line, a little white crayon then the watercolor. I forgot to add people, I was so in the moment, but I’ll be back to sketch The David, who was right behind me, wooooH0000 Buenas Noches Witches!!
I’ve been wanting to see this church since I arrived; Saturday was the first time I was able to slip in between communions and baptismals, yowzah.
It’s a ginormous concrete of a building, and their website offers a lengthy history, but here’s the final gist:
El Purísimo Corazón de María is a parish which is located on Gabriel Mancera Street between Torres Adalid and Luz Saviñon, where Division del Norte, Amores and Colonia Del Valle avenues converge, in the neighborhood of the same name. The total height of the Parish is 65 meters with its 20 meter high polyhedron dome topped by the image of Mary with semi-open arms that together with its base measures 10 meters and can be seen from a great distance; It is a unique church thanks to such a figure that is at its peak. Few know his name and think that the great figure that crowns its dome is a Christ instead of the Virgin Mary.
There are still more people who do not know the name of the temple and lack to know it, they call it “Our Lady of Transit”, because with its open arms it seems to want to contribute to speed up the vehicular traffic that converges on the neighboring avenues of División del Norte, Colonia Del Valle y Amores around what was the Glorieta de Mariscal Sucre.
Both the exterior and interior are striking for their great beauty, full of extraordinary details on all sides. Inside, its stained glass windows stand out, its candelabra next to the benches, its gilt bronze tabernacle with a revolving base, the main image in its dressing room of the Virgin Mary with the Child God (it measures 4 meters high and is the work of Antonio Ballester), the murals that cover an area of 1400 meters created by the painter Pedro Cruz, the two high reliefs alluding to the motherhood of Mary, on the outside its monumental concrete façade, its staircase, the three wide gilt bronze doors, its two concrete towers symmetrical that finish off the façade, its majestic architecture that is described as a mix between art deco and functionalism with a certain gothic air.
Inside the temple you can see fantastic stained glass windows and murals that represent various biblical passages in an extraordinary architecture.
It is likely that for all these reasons, in 1996 Australian director Baz Luhrmann chose this Parish as one of the main locations for his film “William Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet” starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Claire Danes.
I have my own urban sketchers’ club, since the Covid situation is doing anything but improving, and it’s super important for me to be mindful of what’s happening in Mexico City. I will continue to walk with my “club” members, capture scenes in my sketchbook, and will hope there’s some esperanza for those who can endure through these strange pandemic days (happening all over, not just Mexico).
I think without my art, I would have lost my mind ages ago…. it’s my greatest meditation tool (#continuouslinedrawing #ftw), it helps me connect with people (they stop to say hello to my dogs or look at what I’m doing), and it marks a time and place in my life that’s the greatest and coolest memoir EVAH. Stay safe, maneuver mindfully not insatiably, and help keep your community safe.
I’ve been doing a lot of Continuous Line Drawings these days, as a way to calm myself and get lost in the line making. I drew “The David” on location — that was HARD and I’m not even referring to the fact that it started raining. It takes a lot of inner calm to not worry about the people, my abilities, my materials, my phone, my anxiety — and just lean into the drawings which are honestly so much fun. Red Square and Midwest Carnival done in the Zoom Sketch Sessions, I’m making everyone try this meditative art practice OMMMMMMMMmmmm #dropsmic
Delicious coffee explorations continue, and my coffee sketches are being shared by the cafes I’ve visited! Today we went to Mercado Lazaro Cardenas in Del Valle; no pets are allowed in Mercado, but ask nicely and the Señora selling bancos to the side of the main entrance will kindly watch your doggies while retrieving a delicious swan-topped coffee. Not possible to sketch this one, so I’ll look for another opp Deeeeeeeeelicious coffee!!!
CAFÉ Passmar serves up a damn fine cup of coffee, and I bought some to have on hand.
Adolfo Prieto s/n Local 237 Col. Del Valle Norte, Deleg. Benito Juárez, CDMX
I moved to Mexico City’s Colonia Navarte in July, 2021, with Chiquis and Bunner in tow, just a tad south of Roma Sur— and so far I love it!! It’s a tranquilo residential neighborhood full of people walking their dogs, quality coffee culture and a high ranking neighborhood for taco aficionados. I’m looking forward to becoming a local —and sketching it along the way (temporarily lost my sketching mojo, will trust that it’ll find its way back — we’ve got work to do!!).
The unbearable heatwave in Amsterdam ended almost as soon as the Urban Sketchers Symposium’s closing ceremony, and I was thrilled to jump on a train and head to Belgium, with a stop in Antwerp, bound for Brugge. I’ll be honest I first learned about Brugge about ten years ago when the movie “In Brugge” came out, and knew immediately it was a town I wanted to see and explore, even though it was the butt of many jokes throughout the dark-ish yet hilarious-ish movie.
I was NOT disappointed! It was cloudy and cool when I arrived, and lucky me chose and Airbnb room equipped with a bike, which was the perfect method to travel about the area. I totally fell for medieval Brugge, enjoyed its history museum, the main plaza, the locally produced beer, and I will never, ever forget the incredible Belgium chocolate sold in about every third shoppe. Belgium has never really ranked on a “must-see” list, but now I’m scheming to find ways to return. It was lovely, delightful, gorgeous, so long as you stayed a step ahead of the throngs of tourists who arrive by the busload beginning about 10am, but by that time I was well on my way to see windmills and the beach-loving dachunds on the Netherland coast. Sunset in Brugge, which much like Amsterdam lasted about four hours, was a delightful time to watch the twinkling lights come alive in Brugge, as the horses clopped by, and the action turned local.
On my way to the airport, I stopped for an afternoon in Brussels, and as a good student of Rick Steves, I marched right into the Tourist Office to ask what should I see right here, right now. They told me the Royal Belgium Palace is only open to the public four weeks each each, and today was the first day, so they recommended I march right over — and oo-la-la I did march right over! I saw the Royal Belgium Palace in all its glory! After that, a quick handstand in the Grand Marketplace, followed by some mussels from Brussels and a gorgeous local beer, and then away I went.
Three days, that’s all I had, and I can’t wait to return. I see there’s an illustration workshop there early next year…. hey what a great idea, a sketch workshop IN BRUGGE … <3
July, 2019 I finally attended my first Urban Sketchers Symposium, this year held in Amsterdam, The Netherlands –and it was amazing! The only downside was that there was a historic heatwave throughout all of Europe, and made it quite challenging to endure the long days spent sketching out in the streets. I stayed in an adorable attic apartment, but it was sweltering as well, so it was a crazy-hot and bright week. Would I do it again? IN A HEARTBEAT. Next year’s event will be held in Hong Kong, and it’s my intention to get my heiney and my sketchbook in HKG next April!
My photos and sketches from my time in sweltering Amsterdam, where I took the following workshops:
Memories of a City, Reportage with Veronica Lawlor
Amsterdam Rooftops with Hugo Costa
Urban Portraits with Marina Grechanik
While on vacation in Puerto Vallarta, I quietly completed one year of daily drawings, based on a mostly-randomly-selected tweets. It was an extraordinary personal exercise, and challenged me in ways I had no idea would be challenged. A drawing a day? Seems fairly straight forward and people are doing it all the time, no big whip.
I had no idea I was bent towards drawing the naked body, but I really enjoy drawing the naked body. If I could draw the body in one fell, solid stroke, I was happy as a lark and felt accomplished as I began my day. Little victories. Early on during this drawing exercise, I began to attend live model drawing classes, and the things I learned in there, oh my! We all have bodies, right, but have you ever thought about all the different ways we can move, bend, stretch, contort? Simply amazing! The body aside, what about emotions? Emotions can make a body erect as the Washington Monument or crumble in a heap of rumbles all over the floor –and everything in between.
I also liked the idea of trying to tell a story from someone’s tweet. This was not always easy, but in hindsight, it was invigorating. I was accused of being a pervert, gay (really?), asked “how do you figure a naked person from this?” and unfollowed more than a few times. I didn’t mind — although it’s not my intention to be offensive, I was simply practicing my story-telling abilities, which may or may not have included a naked person, but never vulgar and always joyfully intended.
On March 17, 2016, I completed a full year of daily drawings — I did not miss one day, thank you very much.
It has been almost two weeks since #PicTweetArt ended. I’ve dreamt of it, day-dreamed of it, looked at people hard and wondered how I would draw the lines of their face or the shape of their calves. I even got busted in Vallarta for taking a picture of a woman’s legs as she stood in line at the bank because she had truly amazing calves.
As much as I loved how this exercise changed me; it improved my confidence, opened my mind, taught me anatomy, ETC., the most difficult part of #PicTweetArt was reading Twitter each morning.
Ugggggg Twitter. No one talks on the platform anymore, people are mostly pushing out their stuff — just as I was pushing out my stuff. I had to search for real tweets, so many brutally empty tweets that no one gives a rats ass about. I allowed myself about 10 minutes to search for a tweet and as loathsome as it was, I somehow found a tweet for one whole damn year, and I drew that tweet — hard.
All this brutal poppycock aside, I’ve decided to continue the practice of daily drawings via Twitter and starting Friday April 1st, I will be back at it!
I’ve unintentionally started a habit I quite like; each New Year’s Eve I draw my version of a Marc Chagall painting, because Chagall was all about love; at least he is to me. His paintings calm me down, give me hope and make me buzz, happily. I like this ritual…