Flipping through my sketchbooks a little while after the travelling is over is always educational. I often wish I had stopped more frequently to capture a landscape, activity, detail. But my feet have a tendency to wander, wanting to cram in more and more of the new and wondrous, overriding my hands’ desires to sketch and paint what I am passing by. Those bits that do end up on paper are extra special, they are bits of moments which were stronger than my forward momentum.
Here is a collection of the bits of Cuba which found a home in my travel journals.
A view worth the climb.
My first Casa Particular in Old Havana was a the top of a long trudge up a dark, winding staircase. I refused to let myself stop and gasp for breath or ease my sore muscles, in denial that my cardio and leg strength had slipped so much in the past couple of years. It was hard to hate that climb, tho. The view was spectacular. One of my favourite scenes was to the west – The Santa Clara Convent. Abandoned, empty except for pigeons and cats roaming the orange roof tops, I let my mind wander and fantasized about turning the building into a cooperative of artist studios with gardens filling the inner courtyards. Who knows? Maybe someone with the right connections will actually make it happen!
Of fruit and architecture.
One of my absolutely favourite details from Cuba is the fruit. The abundance, the flavours, the colours. While sketching my breakfast one morning I realized the colours I was mixing were the same as those I used for the Convent a handful of days earlier. Wandering around Old Havana that day I saw how so much of the architecture was covered in the colours of the local fruit. The rose of ripe watermelons, terracotta orange roof tiles matching papaya chunks, sunshine yellow pineapple walls, and banana cream window trimming. The yummiest architectural palette I have seen to date.
Colour, light, and shadow – a recipe to pause my feet.
I had hoped to get a detailed street scene sketch done. But, as soon as I found a section deemed enchanting enough to capture, my feet refused to stop. My toes tingled to explore the scene, to wander the length and peek around corners, impatient with the idea of standing idle and staring from just one perspective. I did however convince my feet to pause for a very quick moment when I spied this contrast of green and red with dappled afternoon light along the border of Park Cervantes. I told them, ‘I need to work on gestural sketching. Quick lines and accurate perspective without rulers and vanishing points. I’ll be quick, I promise.’
Lilies and sandwiches.
It was the green wine bottle and white lilies which drew me closer and made me poke my nose into the entrance of this cafe – and I am glad I did. The grilled vegetable sandwich on homemade bread was divine! Of course I had to pay homage to the detail that made this discovery possible.
It was hot, so incredibly hot. I did not even want to look at a thermometer to find out just how hot it was. I believe I had already taken 2 showers that day, and refused to spend any more time hiding from the heat in my casa particular. I made it 10 minutes before the shade under the trees of Park Alejandro de Humboldt drew me to a bench and this sketch. Trees, I love trees, and that afternoon I worshipped them.
A quiet morning capturing a moment.
I rejoined the Fairwinds at the end of my time in Cuba. The same sailboat I crewed from the Norwegian arctic to the southern tip of Ireland. We spent a few days in the Keys – a string of uninhabited islands on the southwest coast covered in low trees, white sand, and lots of hungry mosquitoes. Being one of only 2 morning people on the boat, I took advantage of a couple of precious hours to myself to try and convey the lonely yet peaceful watery landscape surrounding me.
This also happens to be my May contribution for the Moment Catchers group. To see more pieces created by a collection of international artists lead by one of my favourite travelling illustrators – Candace Rose Rardon – head over to Instagram and check out the #momentcatchers hashtag. Maybe even join us for the next round of moment catching, we gather and share online every first weekend of the month.
Do you know about my Etsy shop, Atelier Art Postal? I have recently launched the store as a space to sell my handmade postcards. Today’s post’s title image is also my shop’s first print available for sale! Be sure to sign up to my newsletter (scroll down to the bottom of the page to find the sign up form) for a special discount reserved for Regenevieve membership.
Tell me, have you been to Cuba? What details stand out most in you mind from your time there?
Wishing you all the best in your travels!