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.


Jamie Leslie said...

Nice job Vanessa! I'm glad you finally told us you were in Antigua. I was reading today about how President Trump has just cancelled aid to Central America. I sent him a letter as well as our congresspersons.

Nessy said...

Thanks Jamie! I know I was a little nervous to go considering the political situation. Luckily we had no problems.