Saturday, August 1, 2015

Notes from Cuba, Part 2: Streets of Havana

Previous: Notes from Cuba, Part 1: Havana Bay >




Here are more drawings from my recent trip to Cuba with Ronnie and Margaret, a group tour organized by Jim Richards & Marimar Travel.

Old Havana. Corner of Floridita bar and restaurant, famous for being Ernst Hemingway's favorite hangout spot.



Havana, for the most part, is devastated by neglect. You can tell that this was a rich, gorgeous, blossoming city at the beginning of the 20th century, with colorful, eclectic architecture that mixes Colonial, Baroque, Art Nouveau, Art Deco and Neo-Classical influences. But now the buildings are crumbling. There's no real estate ownership as such. The government owns everything. People have only "moral" ownership of their abodes. If they invest time and money in fixing things up, the government can come at any point and take it, so people don't fix anything. Neither does the government. Some of the buildings have deteriorated so much that all that's left are facades with piles of bricks behind them. People, whose housing approaches a near-collapse condition, get a letter from the government, stating that they can move to a shelter, or remain in their current place at their own risk. The tour guide told us that shelters are way worse, so people tend to stay, regardless...

Fruit vendors.




There is no proper septic system (can't flush toilet paper, even at the 5-start Hotel Nacional), and in many public restrooms one must manually flush with a bucket of water.

Government food store.

Government stores are a sad sight. I had a flashback to Soviet Russia of my early childhood in Moscow, when people stood in long lines to buy food or clothing by redeeming government-issued ration coupons. And the stores were nearly as empty as this one, above. Under a watchful eye of Fidel on the poster-a bag of rice, a few piles of vegetables...


Despite the circumstances, people are warm, kind and fun-loving. There is SO much live music, both on the streets and in bars, and dancing. At night, people are hanging out in cafes, like the one below, and line up along El Malecon, Havana's waterfront, which has been dubbed the "eternal bench of the city".
Street cafe along El Malecon in Havana.
"Guantanamera, Wahira, Guantanamera..."
Street cafe at night, and a classic American car.


Old cars are the only cars in Havana. Some are Russian-made models Lada, Moskvich and Kamaz tractors (another Soviet childhood throwback), others are American relics like the one above. Most of these cars are falling apart, but Cubans have no other choice for the past 60 years...The best-looking convertibles serve as luxury taxi rides for tourists. We took a ride in this pink beauty below.




In the next post: a trip to Viñales, cigar factory, and more...


p.s. You can see some photos from this trip on my Instagram >

Friday, July 17, 2015

Cover of Canson Mix Media Artboards

I am very excited to represent Dalvero Academy on the cover of the new Canson location pads: Mixed Media Artboards.

Photo courtesy Chris Brody.


This is a drawing of Mission Solano in Sonoma that I made in 2011 during the Dalvero Academy drawing trip to the West coast.  Best memories!

The other 3 pads are Watercolor Artboards, cover art by Veronica Lawlor; Canva Artboards, cover art by Margaret Hurst; Illustration Artboards, cover art by Evan Turk. Thank you, Canson, and thank you, Veronica and Dalvero Academy!


Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Celebrating Pilgrimage


Here's a drawing I made of a pilgrim woman tending her garden in the 17th century village at the Plymouth Plantation, MA, while on a drawing trip with Dalvero Academy.

With this drawing I'd like to celebrate my 21st anniversary of coming to America and "tending my garden" on this fertile soil since July 1st, 1994.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Notes From Cuba: Havana Bay



Recently, I spent 5 days in Cuba with my most favorite people, art mentors and friends Ronnie and Margaret.

We went as part of a larger tour group, and saw both, town and country life, albeit at the speed of the constantly moving tour bus. We stayed in Havana, with one night in the beautiful small town of Viñales. I hungrily seized those little pockets of drawing time that we got “on land” and will be posting some of the drawings in the weeks to come. Here’s the view of Havana Bay wall. Fishermen's boats take on a rather heavy meaning, once you find out that Cubans aren’t legally allowed to get into a boat, unless they have a fishing license or a permit, which pretty much makes Cubans prisoners of their own country. 


Havana Bay Wall and Fishing Boats

Here's Part 2: Streets of Havana >




Sunday, May 17, 2015

Life Drawing Weekend, Part 2


[continued from previous post]
Kika

Patrick

Kika
Kika
Kika
Kika

Kika



Kika
Kika


Kika
Kika

Kika




Check out Dalvero Academy on Instagram to see work of other artists, too!
#DalveroDrawingSocial &
#DalveroLifeDrawing


Life Drawing Weekend, Part 1

I had the best time this weekend during the 2-day life drawing workshop with Dalvero Academy, after Friday night's "aperitif" of a Drawing Social event that Veronica Lawlor and Margaret Hurst, founders of Dalvero, hosted at the Brooklyn studio.

Follow Dalvero Academy on Facebook to find out when the next month's Drawing Social is announced - everyone is invited to come and draw! 
 
Check out Dalvero Academy on Instagram to see work of other artists, too!
#DalveroDrawingSocial &
#DalveroLifeDrawing

Here are some selected drawings from Friday night and the weekend. We worked with 4 incredible models: Kendall on Friday, Patrick and Goldie on Saturday, and Kika on Sunday.

Kika
Goldie
Kika

Patrick
Goldie
2-handed drawing of Goldie

Goldie

Goldie

Kendall (Drawing Social evening)
Kendall (Drawing Social evening)
Goldie






Kendall (Drawing Social evening)

Kendall (Drawing Social evening)


Part 2 is in the next post >



Thursday, May 14, 2015

Mayflower II Restoration in Mystic Seaport


The Museum of America and the Sea at Mystic Seaport is restoring Mayflower II, the 57-year-old wooden ship, a faithful replica of the 17th century Mayflower that brought Pilgrims to the New World. The original didn't survive. Mayflower II was built in Great Britain and then gifted to the United States; it symbolizes collaboration of Great Britain and the United States during the WWII.


Mayflower II is expected to be fully restored in time for the 400th anniversary of the Pilgrims' arrival, in 2020.
Meeting the Wampanoag People. Without their help, the Pilgrims wouldn't have survived the first winter in the New World.
We visited Mayflower II this winter and early spring with Dalvero Academy, at the Henry B. duPont Preservation Shipyard. It is much smaller than the whaling ship Charles W. Morgan, and it has a cheerful personality. Presently, during restoration, there are only two masts on the ship. I look forward to seeing it fully rigged in Plymouth, where Mayflower II will spend the summer.