Thursday, April 25, 2019

Guatemala Sketchbook Workshop 2019 - Part 2

A sketchbook workshop in Antigua would not be complete without visiting the Antigua Brewing Company's rooftop terrace.  While drinking a cool beverage you can enjoy incredible views of the volcanoes plus the gorgeous tile roofs and cupolas of Antigua.  During the course, Amy demonstrated how to draw both clouds and rooftop tiles and I thought this image would be good practice at both.  I also decided to experiment with not using any micron pen in this illustration.  I usually draw a pencil sketch, ink it with a micron pen, and then add color.  I ended up liking the softness of the drawing without pen although it then presented me with another quandry. . . what medium should I use for the type?  I ended up using an Arteza watercolor pencil my friend Jodi gave me.  I think it worked as a softer alternative to ink but I did have to be super careful because blotting it smeared the type.

One of my favorite things about Antigua are the women and how they dress.  I have visited Latin America often but have never been to a place where the women actually wear traditional clothing.  I love the colorful huipil shirts, the embroidered belts, and the corte skirts.  I am also always amazed to see how they balance items on their heads.  Plus I adore their colorful ribboned "trenzas." Below you can see several examples of the beautiful clothing and my reference photo. 

Another wonderful thing about Antigua are the ruins everywhere.  The ruins below were right next to our posada and some day I am going to draw its ornately textured columns.


One of our sketching destinations was "El Tanque."  This is a covered portal where there is a large pool of water for people to do their laundry the old-fashioned way. 

On the way to "El Tanque" my Dad and I stopped to get a photo in front of "Iglesia San Hermano Pedro."  I love the detail on this church and it was one of my favorite sketches from last year.  If this church were made of icing I would want the corner piece!


A new sketching destination this year was a church called "San Francisco El Gigante."  True to its name the church was HUGE and the property contained extensive ruins within its walls.

Below you can see Monica and my Dad sketching among the ruins.

I found a shady spot to sketch near the entrance that had a view of the large dome of the church plus a very large palm.  I ended up being surrounded by groups of children having tours a couple times and had to fight off mosquitoes.  But all in all I quite enjoyed sitting among the giant columns and angel-adorned domed ruins.

The photo below shows the same view but from the second story.  I had wanted to draw there but it was too sunny.

I also really liked the enormous spiral columns on the facade of the building.


One of our most fancy sketching destinations was Casa Santo Domingo.  It is a gorgeous hotel that contains ruins and a museum on the grounds.  Below you can see one of the "alfombras" or carpets.  During the Lenten season designs made of food, fruit and vegetables are common around the city.  I had never seen one before just made of beans. (You can see last year's alfombra was made of vegetables here.)

At the end of this short video you can see the black Madonna that I sketched below.

This sketch was also an experiment using watercolor pencil.  I think it worked for the wood but maybe not as well on the Madonna.  Or maybe she was just a little wonky from the beginning.


The posada where we stayed is a lovely inn chock full of interesting vintage finds.  Below is a case of baby Jesus figurines.

I also loved the collection of old irons with chickens on the front.

During the course Amy did a color demonstration of the blue patio wall of the posada.  She encouraged all of us to try and capture the interesting color of the walls and to notice how the color changed in the shadows.  I spent a very relaxing couple hours staring at and painting the blue-green walls of the sketch below.  I looked and looked for a quote I liked to go with this image but couldn't find the perfect thing.  So I ended up writing a little blurb which I think sounds way cooler in Spanish than English. 

When she looked at the wall

all was still

The wind stopped blowing

her mind white as a sheet in the sun

the aging color enveloped her

turquoise, cream, grey, and rose

One could only describe it as love

Cuando ella miró la pared

todo estaba quieto

El viento dejó de soplar

su mente blanca como una sábana al sol

el color antiguo la envolvió

turquesa, crema, gris y rosa

Sólo se podría describir como el amor

I am fascinated by the door ornaments in Antigua and couldn't help but photograph them every time I walked by a new door.  Below is but a small sampling of cool door bling.

On our last day in Antigua we were walking back through the central park and the light was so pretty coming through the trees and fountain.  Poppy posed for this photo wearing his new guayabera recently purchased in one of the markets.

If I had to choose one word to describe Antigua it would be "enchanting."  Both times I have visited I am charmed by the friendly people, the vibrant colors, the abundant markets, the crumbling ruins and the cobblestone streets.  It is a land where you cannot deny the presence of living giants poofing in the background and where the sun may appear another "pelota" to be gathered by a determined woman to sell at market (see sketch here).  Every time I visit this amazing country I feel its magic soak deeper into my bones and I hope I am lucky enough to return again someday soon.

A thousand stones
Each one place by hand
To bear the weight of the world
    A rubber tire, a horse's hoof, the soft clad feet of man.
To feel from above
   the sun, the rain, and the moon
And from below
   the heat of coursing lava
Even "Antigua" cannot tell their ancient stories.
But if you kneel upon their worn bodies
Touch your hand to the aged surface
Cheek to stone
And listen
You may hear the ancient tales of fire and ice
Of the birth of the mother
and her beautiful, rounded children.

The video below shows the entire sketchbook spanning two years of visiting Antigua on Amy Bogard's sketchbook workshop.

(Music courtesy of Fonogramas América Afroindígena: Free Music Archive)

If you are interested in taking Amy's workshop, visit her website here:

To see the first post from this trip click here: Guatemala Sketchbook Workshop 2019 - Part 1

To see last year's trip click here: Guatemala Sketchbook Workshop 2018 - Part 1

Friday, April 19, 2019

Guatemala Sketchbook Workshop 2019 - Part 1

This April my Dad and I attended Amy Bogard's Guatemala Sketchbook Workshop.  I took the workshop last year and I thought my Dad would love Guatemala.  I wasn't sure if he would be up for sketching but he surprised me and has not only quite a talent for it, but he has continued sketching even after we got home!

Guatemala is a place where you are always reminded that the land is alive.  While we were there we experienced a small "temblor."  It was relatively minor but left me sleeping with one eye open every time a large truck rumbled by.  Our first night we were also greeted by loud explosions quite near our posada that left us questioning if the source was fireworks or something we needed to be concerned about.  Needless to say we were all a little bleary eyed our first day but that didn't stop us from exploring the streets of Guatemala.

“He was attracted to this edge of unknowing, of hope and fear, he instinctively knew that surfing it was precondition for growth and transformation. And for feeling alive. Waking up and going out into the world not knowing what each day would hold, taking life as it comes, relinquishing any illusion of control. That's fresh, that's a good morning!”
― Matt Padwick 

We arrived a day before our course started and my Dad has always been a good shopper.  So we spent our entire first day perusing the incredible stores and markets.  Of course I had to take him to Nimpot which is a GIANT market store full of Guatemalan wares.  Below you can see the section of santos and masks.

There was also a super creepy section of Day of the Dead skeletons and Maximón (a Mayan deity and folk saint) seen below in the black suit.  He is a complex character that can be both good and bad and is often viewed as a trickster.

And then there was the fabric section.  I could spend all day just looking through the incredible fabrics.  Last year I covered some chairs in my basement with Guatemalan huipiles I bought at Nimpot (you can see them here).

I should have made my Dad stand by this giant bowl of chinchines (maracas) for scale.  It was about 6 feet wide. I love the crazy, colorful abundance that resides in Nimpot.

Our class began with a trip to Bella Vista coffee shop.  True to its name you get incredible views of both Volcán Agua and Fuego. You can see "Agua" in the photo below.

After delicious coffee and breakfast our first task was to create a grid of our watercolors so we could see the colors in our travel sets.  I was so proud of my Dad for jumping right in.  Not only has he never used watercolors, but he is colorblind.

Our first sketching destination was the "Convento de las Capuchinas."  It is a beautiful ruin of a convent from the 1700s that has been partially renovated and houses offices and a museum. 

Before settling down to sketch we wandered around the ruins and came upon a staircase that lead down to a basement room shaped like a donut.  The acoustics in this room were amazing and Monica and Cindy sang us a song that was so heavenly it sent chills up and down my spine.

I imagined their beautiful singing set the souls of all the old nuns that lived in the convent at ease.  It was completely magical to be standing in this old nunnery listening to angelic voices that could easily have been coming from another time and age.  For the rest of the day we all kept singing songs and I couldn't get "How do you solve a problem like Maria?" out of my head. 

Afterwards we all settled in for some sketching time.

I ended up sketching a spade-leaf philodendron and bougainvillea that was climbing the wall of the ruins.  You can see my sketch of the courtyard from last year here.

One of the things I most wanted my Dad to see during our stay in Antigua was "La Procesión."  During the Lenten season huge platforms displaying statues of Jesus and Mary are carried by somber men and women.  The men wear purple robes with pointed hats and we learned they are called "Cucuruchos," which means "cones".

You can see last year's sketch of La Procesión in this post.

The photo below looks a little cloudy and that is because there was so much incense in the air.  Between the smells and the colors and the melancholy music it is a full body experience and I found myself full of joy and sorrow at the same time.  

It is also an incredible people-watching opportunity.  If you look closely at the the young man in the bottom right-hand corner you can see he is selling stuffed toy Cucuruchos.

Below you can see my Dad sketching a little candle "Cucurucho" that he bought at mass.

One of our assignments was to draw whatever we wanted around the posada.  I ended up sketching the view of the rooftop on the second floor and the stairs leading to the rooftop terrace. (You can see last year's sketches of the posada here.)

The staircase appeared quite normal,
But next thing she knew,
She was on top of a mountain,
In a foreign land.

To see more sketches from this trip click here: Guatemala Sketchbook Workshop 2019 - Part 2.