Monday, July 30, 2012

Sketches for my piece about Spain.

I took a trip to Girona, Spain from July 2 to 13, to teach and have a solo show at a new event called "INTERQUILT Girona 2012," organized by CatINCat and InCatIs, along with Girona QuiltArt.  I unexpectedly fell in love with Girona and the many new friends I made there in such a short time.  I saw magical and mysterious things, tried sort of successfully to bridge the language barrier, and was amazed as usual at how people everywhere have so much in common.  The ancient history still alive in Girona really stunned me and inspired me to make up a myth of my own, and now I am ready to start my large piece about Girona.

I had never heard of Girona before, but I know they'd never heard of Wooster, either.  :)

The trip was planned over about 4 months, and during that time I became friends with Denise Labadie, an art quilter from Longmont, CO, who was also going to INTERQUILT, to show and teach.  We ended up flying over together and spending a lot of time together there, going on adventures together and with our new friends.  Denise makes art about old stone structures, like dolmens and sacred stones.  So you can bet she loves Girona, too!  It's loaded with old stones!!!!!

Here are my sketches, starting with ones I made in Girona.  I have to scan the little 5" x 8" cards I drew on there, but here is my sketchbook watercolor and ink piece, begun in the class I taught about drawing and painting on paper:

It's mainly my impression of the Pont de Ferro (Iron Bridge), or Pont de Eiffel (because it was designed by the same Eiffel who soon afterwards designed his tower in Paris!)  It's the bridge over the Onyar River that's one bridge north of the Pont de Pedra (Stone Bridge), which was right by my hotel, the Peninsular Hotel.  I put my students in the watercolor and ink drawing in my sketchbook, too.

I'm leaving out the little drawings I made on card paper, all over Girona, for now.  I think I'll make another blog entry about them later, and include the little quilt I made about the Leona then, too.

So, the day I left Girona, I made this sketchbook drawing of Mariana and her son Zion, who were my seat mates on the 10 hour flight home from Spain to Atlanta.  (It was a ways longer to get out of Atlanta and finally to Cleveland and then to our house in Wooster. I'm not the best globetrotter there is, by far!)

Mariana and Zion were amazing, and being with them made the long flight go much better than it would have been with a seat mate who didn't interact.  We stayed together in the Atlanta Airport, too, and even went through the crazy fire above our baggage claim, in the lights, as our bags came up on the belt below the flames! Then we went through Customs together and said goodbye, as they had a very short layover there.  I made it home at 3 AM the next day, thanks to more problems in Atlanta!  Yawn!  Anyhow, we had fun on that flight!

Now here are the sketches I started making in my sketchbook on July 22, after finishing up a small quilt I began in my second class in Girona.  These are for my large piece that I hope to start painting tomorrow!

I made a list of all the people I want to include in this piece, and it's pretty long!  Plus it's the 9 of Cups piece, or Pyrex Cups, in my Kitchen Tarot deck, so I have to factor that in, showing the cups.  I decided to show the houses along the edges of the Onyar River, which are so pretty and colorful, with the Cathedral and the Church of Sant Feliu rising up above these tall buildings.  And I wanted to include the Gigantos of Girona, the two wild puppet people that we happily got to see, without planning to, as we walked along the Rambla - Denise, Marta, Vlady, Cecelia, and me.

I made the houses along the river into the Pyrex Cups. And I put Topo Gigio, the little Italian mouse, along the side of the houses.  I was showing him to Eva, where, on You Tube, you can see him singing "Strangers in the Night."  :)

Through all the sketches, the most important story is the one of the Leona of Girona, the stone statue of a lioness hanging on a column, near St Feliu's Church.  My new friend Irene Sanchez showed him to me on July 6, after she showed me her house.

The story is that if you climb up these steep and freaky steps, so you can kiss the bottom of La Leona, then you'll have good luck and will come back to Girona again.  Well, you know me and LUCK, so I really wanted to do it, but Irene suggested, that since I didn't want to have an accident, we could take a picture of the lioness with my ipad and kiss the picture.  So we did that.

Earlier Irene and I took her bicycle to her house, after the day's events at INTERQUILT, and after La Leona, we met the rest of our group for a late supper in the main Plaza of the old part of town, the part that goes back easily to the 8th century, with pre-roman stuff of old stones everywhere you look.  It's all built in a steep hill, so there are uneven and beautiful stone stairways every place you go in the old part of the city.  It's also called The Jewish Quarter, but all the Jews were expelled from Spain in 1492, same year as Columbus got here and started ruining the native culture.  Something about that Izabella!

Here are more sketches, with a diagram of a Catalonia, or Catalunia, flag on the left, with the names of some people to include in the piece, written in the flag's stripes.

My list includes:  Denise Labadie and her friends Magdala and Gary and their other friends Nina and Anna, Olga and Gabby, Rosa T and Rosa B, Irene and her mother Sonya, Marta and Vlady and Cecelia, Joelle and Carlos, Flora, Nuna (the felt artist) and Luy and the other Gabby and Sara, Carine and Marcel from Belgium, Angela (my interpreter for my classes), Cristina Bono, Jacky Art, Perro LuNar and his hang drum, Xevi and the story of St George and the dragon sushi and building the cathedral, the two sets of old men at the old city wall, Alise and Alpha at the wine store and restaurant, Topo Gigio, La Leona, and others.

I was really fascinated by the history of Catalonia, and how it was a world power before Spain waa, but became a substate of Spain once Ferdinand of Catalonia married Izabella of Spain.  You remember them, right? There's a Catalonia flag that's all red and yellow, but if you see one with the star at the top done in white on a blue field, with the red and yellow stripes, then it's the flag of Catalonia to leave Spain!  :)

In this sketch, the Eiffel Bridge is along the bottom, which I've decided is too stagnant, even though the bridge is really straight, made of bright red iron beams, which I love!  Beside me and Irene and the lioness is a couple, Carine and Marcel from Belgium.  I met them here in Wooster last year, when it was Carine and my birthday, and the innkeepers of the Mirabella B&B decided to surprise Carine, who quilts, with meeting me on her birthday.  Jimmy and I went to breakfast there, and Steven ad Susie Ellis hosted a sweet birthday breakfast for Carine and me, since I'd explained to them that it was my birthday, too.

Fast forward to Girona, and SURPRISE!  Carine and Marcel came to Girona, to take my class at INTERQUILT!  We ended up going to Barcelona on July 10 on the train, and Denise went with us. We got so hot and tired, hiking up, up, up, to see the garden of Gaudi's art, that Carine poured a bottle of water all over herself.  It soaked her bra, and as she squeezed the water out, she named herself Aqua Bra.  I am not making this up, and it wasn't my idea, though I wish it was!  It's brilliant, and Carine became AB!  She's a mermaid in these sketches.  Ha!

In my next sketch, I focused on Olga and her new butch haircut.  Olga Gonzalez owns Girona QuiltArt, and she is the one who chose to have me come to Girona.  We met two years ago, when I had a show and taught a class at the Festival of Quilts in Birmingham, England, and she bought my Kitchen Tarot cards, along with her buddies, and they kept coming back to my show to talk.

Olga wears very lovely, fashionable, femme clothes, and even with her crazy new buzz cut, which she got Marta and Denise to give her, she looks as girlie as you can imagine.  Her husband Gabby did a great double take when he walked in and saw her new doo!  It was great!

In this drawing I show Olga with Xevi, the guy who was the chef for the fab luncheon buffet at INTERQUILT every day of it, July 5 - 8.  Somehow I got to talking with Xevi about the Cathedral, and I asked him if Girona was named after St George, who slew the dragon.  He apparently didn't know, but he really egged me on, so my imagination took off, and soon I had a story:  St George slew the dragon where the Cathedral now stands.  He invented sushi, to use up the dragon meat.  And now, even though it SEEMS weird that there's a great Sushi Bar in Girona, you will note that you can sit in that restaurant and view the Cathedral rising up behind the lovely houses across the river.  This is no coincidence, as they put the Sushi Bar right there, in honor of St George and the dragon, sez I.

St George = Gorgio =  Jordi =; Girona ... ????????

Then I even said maybe they have the Holy Grail here.  Only NOW I found out, by fishing up a book to read after my trip, anything I could find that's digital, that's about Girona, I find that Patrice Chaplin wrote about the history of this big myster of Girona and it being the home of both Kaballah AND the Holy Grail, and she swears it's a true story.  I just don't know!  I wonder if she'd believe my story about the dragon and the sushi.  It's a good book called "City of Secrets."

Here's a little sketch of Gabby admiring Olga's new hairdo.  :)

 Today I started this sketch on larger paper, and at this point in the unfinished effort, I remembered that this wide rectangle of a piece will later need to be cropped in Photoshop, to make it the right vertical rectangle proportion for the actual Kitchen Tarot card of it, that will hopefully get published, once I get all 78 of these crazy pieces done!  For now you can only buy the first 22 cards, the major arcana, that I made as quilted paintings, and that Dennis Fairchild made a guidebook for using, in the published 22 card Kitchen Tarot deck that Hay House published in August, 2010.  This major cards deck is very useful and enjoyable, even without the 56 minor cards that will eventually come out, I hope!

Note Sept 3, 2012: I made one more very complicated drawing before I started making my big piece on cloth the next day. In that drawing I worked hard to make all the stuff I absolutely had to have in the vertical rectangle card later, all be in the central part of this wide rectangle piece.  I only used that final sketch as a reference while airbrushing the drawing and then the painting for the piece.  It changed significantly from the final sketch to the painting, like always for me, since I don't even look at the sketch while I'm actually drawing on the painting with my airbrush.

I have the big, quilted painting of Girona all finished now.  It's 60"h x 86.5"w and I finished it on August 28.  I have a long statement about it in my 2012 Gallery on my website, but there are no pictures yet. It's my Quilt National '13 entry, and if I show it on my site, there's a 100% reality of its images migrating to other sites, especially because of robot apps like Google Images.  So no pix yet, sorry.

Quilt National has a rule about having the works that get into the show be seen really for the first time, at the show opening.  So I can either post my pix when it gets rejected in October or after the opening Memorial Day weekend next year!

You can go look at my two albums of photos of my trip to Spain, with comments on each picture. Spain part 1 and Spain part 2 are both pretty full, so give yourself either a lot of time or be ready to zip through the images fast!

Also, here's the little video I made of Marc Pou, aka Perro LuNar, playing his hang drum at the Cathedral in Girona.  Enjoy!

Thanks for reading and looking at my sketches,  Lucky