I'm in someone else's flat: my sister's. Visiting.
She's gone to work, and she's left me alone with her cats, who have me surrounded in a room while they roam around the flat like it's theirs. Who would tell...!
It's time to take the train back.
Since I found an excellent deal, and I travelled First Class, I could access the first class waiting room, or "Sala club".
On the train I remember travelling to Barcelona when I was "young".
It's a long time since I travelled on an Euromed train; I had forgotten how much I liked to have a look at the LCD panel to the right of the door that informs passengers of the train's actual speed. Even if an LCD panel feels anticuated nowadays, what it reads sounds so much as a scientific innovation, so modern, that I indulge myself in imagining the train cutting across provinces, like a bullet on rails.
I am going to make more on location drawings. And I decide to start well early in the morning, in the commuter train.
At the same time, I stand instead of sitting. I was starting to get some back pain due to sitting during the whole journey. If I stand, it's easier to draw, without anyone sticking their elbow on my right hand, I can also look better at the people, and I don't sit in a bad posture.
A drawing inside a drawing inside a drawing.
And because there wasn't any more space left...
I think I'm starting to get the hang of drawing on the train. Today I sketched both in the morning and in the evening. I'm breaking my own records!
I feel specially proud of the fragment on top right, the one with a chap taking a free newspaper out of the bin, and another chap sitting and reading with his backpack and the huge skateboard. It's not perfect, but I think it's quite recognisable, specially taking into account the fact that the moment in which the first chap took the newspaper out, was exactly that: momentary, and I managed to depict it quite well.
There's a drunk lame walking along the train, annoying whoever he pleases to annoy.
I just hope I don't get his attention, and I'm lucky: he passes by and instead decides to stay at the next car, where he starts to step up and down a couple of steps to call attention upon himself. Someone begs him to stop, as he's dead annoying. He starts shouting nonsense, jumping and hitting the floor with his crotch. Someone threatens him with calling the security guys.
After I spent the entirety of past week attempting to get out of the office soon enough to visit the hairdressers' and failing miserably at it, I decide that this Monday it's going to happen, whatever it takes.
Besides, it has become a urgent need: I spend more time untangling the hair than really combing it. Not to speak about the pain and the foul mood I get in too, of course.
Instead of sketching train passengers, I decide I'll sketch what I see from the train instead today.
It is even more complicated than drawing passengers. One has to draw at more than full speed. It gets a little easier on the stops, but they hardly have interesting things to draw, because they are so uniformly similar. So I opt to draw things that catch my eye, and whatever I can't finish drawing, I complete it as best as I can.
Train passengers on a Saturday at midday are just so different from passengers on the mornings of week days.
Today the train is full of groups of French girls that get crazy each time the train passes over a cove open to the sea, and many grandfathers with their grandsons, telling them war time stories.
The smile of a good-natured old woman stands out of the stern, sleepy faces.
Her husband is reading the newspaper with a sleepy face, while she gazes, smiling, at the sea through the window. A group of foreigners which appear to come from Eastern Europe are passing a pipe or I-don't-know-what-it-is thing from where they suck, or absorb. I don't know. Whatever it is, it certainly doesn't emit any smoke.
I've added a new tool to my artistic weaponry: a set of pens in gray tones.
To the left, my first test with them. I thought they would spread more, that the nib would be more flexible. I must learn to use them.
The twin sister of my portrait model was sitting in front of me. She was hardly moving as she enjoyed the gentle afternoon sun: it was an excellent subject.
After I sketched her, I continued with sketching her partner, in the opposite page.
After-lunch conversations, with a full stomach and an empty mouth, free to debate.
The woman in the middle remained sceptical.
My first model wasn't happy at all with the result, so I attempted to draw her again.
I think it was even worse, so we agreed to leave it as it was for the time being.
On the 28th, we had lunch too late, in a bad way, and too quickly. Then I got dragged with crap stuff until late in the evening.
The 29th, my body decided to manifest its dissatisfaction with the whole situation. The only thing I could ate was light stuff, such as soft boiled eggs, yoghourts... And by night, I dared having a very light vegetal stew, "el bollit" as we call it in Valencia--and which basically translates as "boiled"!
I was super excited about being able to take part --at last!-- in the worldwide sketchcrawl, with the sketchers from Barcelona.
What a bummer when I found that they had decided to travel to Vic instead (some 69 km away from Barcelona).
Since there was no way I could draw on the main road, I decided to get out of it and walk uphill.
A midly mannered, sweet sun was shining, so I just sat down in one of the benches, surrounded by old ladies doing the same. One of them sat so close to me, that it seemed like she wanted to appear on my drawing, so I followed suit. Though she never learnt about it.
And with this drawing I ended my own Sketchcrawl.
This house is pretty much a ruin, but there's still people living in it.
On the 27th they told me we were going to travel on the 28th, just like that, to my surprise!
To my surprise... and because it was my birthday, too.
Although the night before it had been raining and maybe the track was frozen, the day was getting sunnier by the minute, so we dared to walk all the way down to the next village. That's how brave we are!
Two hours and a bit later, we arrived to Queralbs, the last village that is road accessible (Núria is only accessible with the rack railway or by foot).
I had heard about this villa for the first time just a few days earlier.
Dani Cortijo's blog, "Altres Barcelones", focused on Barcelona's history, mentioned the villa and warned about the possibility that the town council was about to demolish it.
Once I sketched the front, on the Saragossa street, I wanted to see the back of this pretty villa.
So I went round the corner and sat on a bench in front of the fence, where the menacing poster of the company in charge of the "deconstruction" of the building was hanging.
Since I wasn't commuting with the train every day, and the metro doesn't allow for enough time, and besides, it's easier to give oneself away (because the sketchbook reflects in the dark windows, like a mirror), I was sort of missing drawing random people.
So I sat on a bench, right behind a bus stop, and sketched people. People waiting for the bus, people walking, people chatting, people in a motorbike, people.
I bring the sketchbook with me and with the firm goal of finally finishing it. And I open its pages to draw way before I expected: on the plane.
I fill this page while passengers board the plane and the luggage gets loaded, and then, as we taxi around the airport until we arrive to the runway for taking off. Plus a corner --left, down-- depicting a view of somewhere over France, from my window.
Each time I flight to London by night comes to my mind this image of flying just over the Channel, and the captain announcing we are about to land, and then, all of a sudden, we're surrounded by clouds, and position lights paint everything white each time they light entire clouds, and we can hear huge drops hitting the windows. And then you know you're just about to land.
If you flight by day, maybe once you get out of the layer of clouds you'll see a green and idyllic field, just like the one I saw and sketched this time.
When we finished our visit to the Cabinet War Rooms we were exhausted.
My proposal of a Japanese restaurant was immediately accepted, so we went to Tokyo Diner, in Chinatown (ironic as it might sound). There they kindly welcomed us and gave us a table on the first floor. We could watch people strolling around the area from up there. It was great.
I had an appointment with the hygienist. This is like car brands: once you find one that works for you, you don't change (although I don't own a car, but you know what I mean).
I had tea with creamy milk from Jersey for breakfast. We have to try new things. It's a kind of milk which is not homogenised, so it's got cream blots and everything. It's a little bit rough, but it's interesting.
From the Prince Charles Cinema we walked to the café on the crypt of St. Martin-on-the-fields.
We had tea and after an interesting conversation to get each other up to date, we went to our other favourite place: Icco, for cheap and cheerful pizza.
Today I visit the Tate Modern, which I hadn't visited in a very long time. But this time I'll also sketch whatever fancies my eye.
As soon as I start drawing, I realise that it's a great way to really appreciate the exhibited works, and also, enjoy them a lot more. Other visitors, disorientatingly hurrying across the rooms, look at me suspiciously, as if I was evaluating them. But the only thing that I want most of the time, in fact, is that they move over, or at least, stop pushing me!
I stop at the Espresso bar, on the fourth floor, half way of my visit, to make a break and have lunch.
St. Paul's has a special place in my heart. My mum has a an old plate depicting St. Paul's façade; a friend gave it to her back when she was living in London. And when I was a child I always looked at the plate in amazement and said to myself: "one day, I'd like to draw that well!". I don't think I've reached that level yet, but it's not like I'm not trying!
Resuming the museum's visit...
These last works cause such an impression on me because of the movement --or the equilibrium-- they represent.
I conclude the visit with an interesting installation based on a tape player, to which visitors could listen by means of a pair of headphones.
The best of this is to see small children look at the machine just as if it was something out of Mars. They don't understand what the purpose of it is, neither how it works. They put the headphones on while the tape is being rewinded, and since nothing can be heard at that moment, they immediately desist and leave.
And since I was pretty close, and the National Gallery is open until late on Friday, I went in, to see Turner's works.
Only this time I also "copy" them, as well as one can copy oil painting using just paper and pen. More than colour, what I'm interested about is understanding proportions and composition, although I slightly ignore them and end up with the part of the painting that catches my eye.
There was still time to make another sketch before walking to Leicester Square, where I would met another friend to have dinner and get up to date.
This time the painter is Van Dyck, but to be honest my copy didn't quite work out too nicely, even if a small girl sitting on my side congratulates me for the drawing, out of the blue: "That's a very nice drawing", she says. Maybe she's right? I'll give her the benefit of the doubt.
Drawing sculptures is maybe the best way to understand them.
I specially like how the drawing of "Cyclops" from Paolozzi, looks. I tried to let the hand flow, and to spend more time looking at the sculpture than at the paper; I think that the result manages to transmit the mechanical / organical sensation from the original sculpture quite well.
Since the sun is daring to shine this morning, I sit in front of the garden exposition organised by Kew Gardens, and sketch the views from there.
Curiously, we also used to come for lunch here for a while, when I worked in the area. Although back then Kew Gardens didn't organise anything in the garden, and it was allowed to sit in the entrace steps, unlike now.
The exhibition not only includes drawings from classic China, but also illustrations from contemporary authors.
They might be more abstract, but equally fascinating.
I've fallen in love with the owls from Huang Yongyu.
Then I understand it: even the museum is using them as images for postcards, bookmarks and exhibition posters.
It was just natural that close to the China drawings exhibition I would find the Japanese wing.
But once I reach this point I am already a bit tired and I'm unable to pay attention too well. I choose to sketch less about the whole and more about very specific details.
The martyrdom started with that toddler of hell, and it ended with an emergency landing in Reus.
I want to think that both facts were totally unconnected: I mean, that the fact that the toddler was crying his lungs out, just as if he was being killed, didn't have anything to do with the tornado that sudddenly developed as we flew in front of Barcelona, and prevented us to land without dying.
I thought that it could be interesting to show the last page, where I generally test pens and patterns.
In this case I was trying to unblock --in vain-- a pen, and thus those methodical patterns.