Bought a jar of fluorescent pink paint, months ago (prompted by a flash of inspiration that I can’t remember, now), and decided to see what it would do as a ground cover. I like the little bits that show through cracks or glow behind layers in the painting—in small amounts and under other, less-bright colours, the hot pink flickers interestingly—though I find the solid parts a bit too strong. Still, it was fun to work with. Not a colour I’ve ever used, so it was different.
I had fun with the woven pattern on the book cover…I don’t actually have a book covered in fabric like this, the original is an ordinary planner, beige,that I use to jot down deadlines, appointments and shopping lists.
The two cups look a bit strange together, especially since they are so different from each other, but I had simply sketched what was in front of me at the time, without thinking about composition or trying to make any sense.
Couldn’t decide, in the end, what the cup of coffee would say, so I left it blank with the idea of filling it in later. Before drawing anything else, I had stuck down a slip of paper from a fortune cookie—“You’ll never plow a field by turning it over in your mind.”—and more words would have been overkill, I think.
Looking at the dark brown speech bubble now, the coffee simply seems to be announcing itself (I drink my coffee strong, black, and unsweetened). I may leave it. It’s just a journal page: something I feel the need to do every few days (really, I’d like to do this daily, but never manage to keep it up) for myself. It fills an inner need to slow down and look intensely at something for a couple of hours.
Kris has completed the first (and most difficult) leg of his trip home. After 71 days at sea, he has crossed the Atlantic and is in Cabo Verde, Africa.
From here, it’s back across the Atlantic to South America, again, but angling down South, toward Cabedelo or lower. Tacking on a grand scale.
Just so relieved to finally hear from him and know that he is all right. The e-mail appeared two days after my birthday, and I couldn’t have asked for a better birthday present than that.
Left my glasses at a tortilla shack in town today, will go back and get them tomorrow. In the meantime, just a post of things I’ve been playing with, lately, and not a lot of soulful writing… because I can hardly see what I’m doing!
In the first three photos are some of the art I put into old-fashioned letters to friends…though I’ve since learned that Guatemala’s post office no longer functions. (The government put a Canadian company in charge, but hasn’t paid the company’s fees in past months, so the postal services have shut down.) Bummer. May just have to post these from Mexico.
Also, some meaningless photos of paint…I’ll be going home to Australia later this year, and I’ve just realized that I can’t take my paints with me. Arrggh! So I am doodling, playing, experimenting, and being quite heavy-handed with the palette knife these days, trying to use up as much as I can. Hopefully they won’t dry out before Kris gets the boat (and all my art materials) back to Darwin…though they’re at least a couple of years old, already, and dry out very quickly on the palette.
That’s all for now…have a great weekend!
Based on all the reading up we’ve been doing on Orishas, I painted an Elegguá spread of pages in my journal.
Kris had bought an Elegguá necklace (two feet long!) and I drew it as the border. Then, I “made” my own 2D version of the orisha. Traditionally, every Santero has to build his own Elegguá—usually just a mound or cone of soil, clay, or cement—using dirt from a crossroads, a cemetery, a prison cell, a bakery, the entrance to a church, and an open field. I made mine from a collage of local newspaper items about traffic lights, obituaries, prison cells, flour shortages, religious events, and cattle ranchers, plus bits and pieces about roads…close enough! Cowrie shells (called caracoles) are used for the eyes, mouth, ears. I painted my caracoles, and stuck them on. I even gave him a paper cigar…
The text around my Elegguá is just a Cuban Santero’s description of the orisha…his powers, his character, his areas of influence, his roles among the other orishas…
Elegguá is the master of pathways and doorways.
He is of the keys and the knots.
It is he that ties, and unties.
He is the beginning and the end of all paths.
He is the sentry of the days and the nights.
He mixes sugar and blood….
Everything is turned upside down, he is playful and sensitive.
Dangerous, like a child, he rescues or kills.
He is also tricky and bloodthirsty….
He is greedy and gluttonous, you win him over by giving him sweets.
He likes whistles, balls, kites, and spinning tops….
He holds the keys to the destinies of man.
So far, Santeriá has been the most interesting new thing we’ve come upon in Venezuela, and the richness of its rituals and paraphernalia have been feeding our creative appetites.
Kris says I have grossly understated the economic situation in Venezuela in my first post. “Come on, it’s not ‘very, very affordable‘ here…Venezuela is currently recognised as The Cheapest Country in the World, for crissake!”
He’s right, of course. So there you are, it’s even better than I made out. The black market dollar rate is a hundred times the ‘official rate’ artificially set by the government, and the value of paper money here is next to nothing. To pay for a meal for two at a mid-range restaurant, you hand over a wad of 100s about a centimeter thick…Bs1,800.00 or thereabouts. And, for all that, it amounts to something like 3 bucks. Petrol is 7 litres a dollar. Need I say more?
So this is one country where I can afford to keep a sample of each denomination as a keepsake in my journal…a whopping 21 US cents are attached to the page above.
The reason I WANT to keep these bills is that Venezuelan money is beautiful. I love the vertical format, the bright colours, the modern graphic layout, the metallic inks and holographic strip that runs through each bill…they’re gorgeous. I’ve been painting them on postcards and in my sketchbooks…challenging, absorbing, and fun to do. Makes me wish I’d thought to make painted versions of the money we came across in the different countries we’ve been to since the start of this trip.
Kris jokes that I should be painting US $100 bills instead of Bolívares…says they, at least, would be worth all the effort. Especially here, if we can find a money changer who will take watercolour dollars. 😉
It’s never a good idea to have expectations when you travel; we broke this cardinal rule when we sort of allowed ourselves to look forward to the coffee in S. America. So far we have had no luck finding decent, locally-grown arabica beans. Neither Brazil nor Guyana had any decent arabica for sale. Everywhere we went, soft bags of dried-out, burned-tasting, robusta coffee were the norm. Dreadful stuff.
Now we are in Grenada, and the chance of scoring decent arabica are even slimmer here. The supermarkets have precious little in the way of real coffee (Nescafé has invaded all these countries…you even get instant coffee at fancy restaurants!) and what few bags of ground coffee are available are robusta (robusta is a high-yield, low aroma, low-flavour, high-caffeine crop…most countries grow robusta, now, because Nestlé is their main buyer, and Nescafé is made only from robusta).
It’s really disappointing…the local stuff is overpriced, and gives us palpitations, and doesn’t smell or taste like anything but strong dust. In desperation, we bought a tin of Maxwell coffee (the label on the back says “100% coffee”; that’s like buying “100% wine”, the quality could be anything!) but it’s no better than the local stuff, and more expensive to boot.
Hoping and praying that Cuba has better coffee, though we won’t be in Cuba for a long while, yet. Oh, well, I guess it’s time to check out the teas in Grenada…