Sunday, July 28, 2013

Florentine Memories

Panorama of Florence from the terrace of Boboli Gardens

Ah, 3 days in Florence is just not enough! This romantic city left me dreaming about it...  Here are a few drawings I brought back.

Boboli Gardens At the southern end of Boboli gardens, I found Limonaia, or The Lemon House. A collection of potted citrus plants was originally started by the Medici, who held citrus in high regard for it's medicinal and therapeutic qualities, as well as beauty and uniqueness of plants. Limonaia is not open to visitors, but anyone can admire it from the other side of iron gates.
View of Duomo (The Dome) from Boboli Gardens
Piazza del Duomo with the Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore
View of Arno river from Ponte Vecchio.
Via de' Tornabuoni, right outside the hotel
Rooftops, through one of the Uffizi gallery windows.
Street on the bank of Arno river
Watching the sunset from Piazzale Michelangelo (Michelangelo Square) A magnificent panorama of Florence.

Watching the sunset from Piazzale Michelangelo (Michelangelo Square). The Duomo.
Watching the sunset from Piazzale Michelangelo (Michelangelo Square).
Ponte Vecchio bridge at night.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Cinque Terre, Part 2: The Shoreline And The Beach

One full day by the sea…the luxury! Nowhere to rush, just bask in the sun with an occasional gelato…and draw.

Large rock formations frame the shoreline of Riomaggiore
Waiter, taking a smoking break at a seaside cafe.

People-watching. The locals come out for gelato and linger to gawk at the tourists. Everybody is watching everybody.
Right below the cafe terrace, a man is putting lacquer on a boat. He exchanges jokes with the waiters on the terrace and laughs a hearty laugh.

Riomaggiore's shoreline is framed by massive rock formations. People crawl narrow pathways along the rocky walls to reach a good diving and sunbathing spot. It's dangerous, but there are no warning signs in sight…climb and dive at your own risk!

It's hot. Boats rock gently in calm Mediterranean waters. I go for a cooling dip every 20 minutes or so, because the mid-day heat is intense. The sunlight is blinding. My oil pastels are melting, and so is awareness. It's too hot to concentrate.

Man after a swim by the boats.

Pebble beach is hard to walk upon. People crawl on all fours. The stones are hot and unstable.

View of Riomaggiore village up the hill from the shoreline.

I return at sundown to toss a coin into the sea, because I want to be back here again. One day, one day...

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Cinque Terre, Part 1: Streets of Riomaggiore

Views from the train window, en route to Cinque Terre

I guess I'll start somewhere in the middle...During my 2-week summer vacation in Europe, I took a 3-hour train-hopping ride from Florence to Cinque Terre.

Views from the train window, en route to Cinque Terre

The hotel was in the village of Riomaggiore. Every which way I turned, I saw expanses of green mountainous ranges cradling tiny colorful houses. And somewhere down there - the sea.

View of Riomaggiore from the balcony of the hotel

The main street on a steep slope connects the train station and the beach at its heel to the tip of a mountain, overlooking the entire village and the sea. These views are breathtaking.

Looking down the main street of Riomaggiore that leads to the train station and the beach, all the way down there.
Kids playing soccer in front of the church.

View of Riomaggiore from the highest point in the village

Sheets swirling off the never-ending clothes lines in the salty breeze. Swallows chirping, church bells counting the hours, one bell tower after another, asynchronously, as if time is approximate in these lands. Only sunsets and sunrises are definite. Hours in between are not, and that's the way of life.

Old ladies, gossiping on the stoop in the cool of the evening, fanning themselves and greeting neighbors returning from work. As I draw, I get nostalgic for my own childhood, when my grandmother would sit with her friends outside our building in Moscow, just like this, waiting for my parents to come home from work.
Via Del Santuario, Riomaggiore

View of Riomaggiore form the highest point in the village

Tomorrow is Part 2: the sea shore and the beach. Please come back to see it...

Monday, July 15, 2013

Ciao from Firenze

A breathtaking view of Florence from Piazzale Michelangiolo.
Look forward to sharing more drawings once I return to New York.

(Not the best scan quality. This blogging-on-the-go-via-iPhone situation is yet to be figured out!)

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Barcelona, 6 years later...

2007 stamp design for Spain

I'm very excited to be on my way to Barcelona, Spain, this year. Yes. Butterflies and all. It's been 6 years since my first solo reportage trip to this gorgeous Catalan province. You can check out the 2007 reportage drawings here. This time around, I'm attending the 4th International Urban Sketching Symposium. Stay tuned for more on that and my other European summer travels. Adéu for now!

Monday, July 1, 2013

Chekhov's "The Seagull" by New York Classical Theater

Masha and the audience in Central Park.

New York Classical Theater's 14th season is in full swing. I loved their performance of The Seagull by Anton Chekhov in Central Park, and later attended the Brooklyn premiere in Prospect Park. As a Brooklynite who lives close to the Park, I'm beyond thrilled that they came to Brooklyn. Welcome!

Panoramic nature of New York Classical stagings means the audience gets up every 10-15 minutes and moves to a new location, as actors change scenes. I've been following this theater for a few years now. One noticeable trend from year to year is that the audiences grow in numbers. It's no wonder, really: these actors put on masterful performances of some of the best classics out there (Shakespeare, Moliere, Chekhov.) The plays are brilliantly directed by Stephen Burdman with plenty of humour and dynamism. He baffles me with his ability to deliver most convoluted storylines with grace and simplicity, The Seagull being his latest feat. Plus, the actors exert super-powerful energy. Clearly, they love what they do. And there's beautiful costumes. Did I mention it's free to the public? Seems like New York's best kept secret is finally leaking out...

Wonderful NYTimes reviews help spread the word, too...

Don't miss their next set of stagings. This time, it's Shakespeare's The Tempest (Directed by Sean Hagerty) in Battery Park, July-August. See you there!

Masha & Semyon Semyonovich

Pyotr Nikolayevich Sorin
Nina and Trigorin
Trigorin and Nina
Pyotr Nikolayevich Sorin
Kostya & Pyotr Nikolayevich Sorin
Irina Nikolayevna & Trigorin

Trigorin & Irina Nikolayevna 

Nina & Trigorin
Yevgeny Sergeyevich Dorn
Masha, Paulina Andreyevna & Yevgeny Sergeyevich Dorn

Pyotr Nikolayevich & Polina Andreyevna
Kostya, Irina Nikolayevna & Pyotr Nikolayevich