Day of the Dead has passed but the warm colors of the holiday reverberate as the weather gets chillier. I took this photo with Velvia slide film with my Rolleiflex in 2015 and rediscovered it in the bowels of my harddrive as I look for painting inspiration today. Big bunches of flowers dominate the market in Xochimilco, Mexico City--a prelude to the holiday festivities.
It's been a big few months for me. I'm moving back to Cali, with a two month pit stop in Colorado Springs. I've been sketching up a storm and practicing some painting exercises to improve my work. Specifically I've been working on value sketches and translating that to my paintings. It's a huge challenge to translate my sketches to paintings and capture the same essense, but each painting is something learned.
There's a lot to be inspired by here. I especially love Garden of the Gods with its surreal red rock formations. The colors fade and gain vibrancy as the sun travels the sky. There are a ton of hiking trails, so I can take my sketchbook and gain new perspectives.
I have a feeling this is going to be one of those days where even the smallest victory is something to cling to. I managed to get up early enough to make my own lunch today! And my retirement calculator says I can retire 1 week ahead of schedule! Go me!
On days like this, when all I seem to hear is the digital call and response of tinkling office phones and my own typing is pounding in my ears, I remember that I can stop what I'm doing and peer out the window onto Rockefeller Center gardens and Fifth Avenue bustling below, and damn...it's actually a beautiful New York spring day outside.
I've been thinking recently of all the New York 'favorites': my NY places both beloved or newly discovered that remind me how lucky I have been to live in this place. And I think a good remedy to the Mondays is to share them! For me, any one of these activities is a rut-breaker and steels me for the NY hustle. These are my New York Places with a capital "P".
1. The Edgar Degas Rooms at the Metropolitan Museum of Art
I've lived in NYC for 18 years, so how often do I even make it up to the Met anymore? It's shameful. Still, the rooms of Edgar Degas' oils and pastels in galleries 816 and 817 comprise my favorite spot in the museum. The easiest way to get there is to go up the stairs upon entering the Met and hang a left, which will take you straight through the Drawings and Prints and Photo galleries and into the 19th and early 20th Century European section. Though this wing is never particularly tranquil, my seas calm and my mind-silt begins settling to the bottom when I enter the dimmed gallery of drawings. The lights are low to protect the vibrancy of the pastels, many drawn on colored papers that have since faded to tints of grey. Still, the colors glow in the low light. I never get tired of looking at the studies of little ballerinas and the women trying to bath in improbably small basins.
So this marks the first in my own personal "best of" New York list. Every time I feel a case of the Monday's coming on, I'll share another New York spot that brings a smile to my face.
I've been looking through some unfinished drawings and half begun projects recently and have decided to revisit a few of them. I did this drawing of Balboa Island sweet treats a couple years ago after a visit home to California. Balboa Island was our childhood vacation spot and I still like to get a Balboa bar whenever I'm there.
I can never decide what media to bring on a visit to Coney Island... camera or sketchbook, film or watercolor. Yesterday was a drizzly day at the annual Mermaid Parade, so I'm glad I brought my Fuji Instax to take some mini snaps of the parade and amusements. Though many of the mermaids were hiding out in Ruby's to escape the rain, even gray skies can't dampen Coney's spirits and the parade was amazing and colorful as usual.
I love collecting found snaps, making up a tale to go along with them. So I'll kick off the first blog entry of my re-vamped website with something I've been saving--a vintage store find in the Navigli district of Milan last September. The navigli were the city's medieval canals, and though much of the system disappeared beginning in the 1930s through 60s, two remain - Naviglio Grande and Naviglio Pavese. No longer with provenance nor destination, they are now the center and namesake of a pretty cool neighborhood.
The day we visited, a strange scene was unfolding in the canal, attracting a small Saturday morning audience. Workmen waded into the stagnant water netting up all the small remaining fish. To rescue them from the receding water level? In anticipation of some city rehabilitation project? We weren't sure. In some spots the water was so low, what we imagined were pleasure barges with bars were stuck, suspended in some Friday night past.
I wandered into a small antique shop across Ripa di Porta Ticinese. Inside, a drawn sign indicated no pictures allowed. As I turned to leave, I was drawn to the illustration on the cover of a small negative holder. Inside were dozens of medium format negatives --mostly family vacation portraits by the sea.
Ten Euro and several months later, I look at them and imagine a big Italian family living in an apartment with a view of the naviglio. And one July or August they escape the city heat for the sea. Momentarily trading their inner city canal for a wider, saltier stretch of water. It's making me long for summer on a frigid New York night.