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Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Fado Singers of Portugal

Fado singers are a bonus takeaway experience from my trip to Portugal. The troubadours sang their music in operatic style in public squares. I don't know anything about Fado so I had to rely on wikipedia to inform me. 
In popular belief, fado is a form of music characterized by mournful tunes and lyrics, often about the sea or the life of the poor, and infused with a sentiment of resignation, fatefulness and melancholia.  - Wikipedia
Wikipedia also connects fado with the Portuguese word saudade. The word t has no direct translation in English but. the closest I found was that it expresses a deep emotion of missing something that you loved that is now gone. And historically speaking, apparently fado originated in Lisbon and Coimbra. 

My first encounter with fado was at the Cathedral in Porto - Sé as it is commonly called. There on the steps was a trio of young men. Their garb makes them stand out - black suits and ties, each with a dramatic cape flung around their shoulders and across their torsos. 

After drawing this trio, they asked to see my sketch. I had them sign it, but they hid their signatures in the black of their clothes. Later they contacted me to ask if they could use their sketch on their next cd cover. Again urban sketching leads to the most unexpected events. 

When I got to Coimbra about a week later I ran across a group of girls singing outside the 800 year old University of Coimbra. They were delighted as I was the second sketcher that day who chose to sketch them, Tina Koyama had been there before me. 

That evening I happened upon a square in the old section of Coimbra, just below the University. I could hear music so I followed the groups of people through an old stone arch over a very cobbled street.

The narrow cobblestone road opened up into a small trianglular plaza lined with small restaurants and even smaller bars, a few giftshops and bookstore. Two musicians played at one edge. I'm not sure it was fado but it was magical. 

On my last night in Portugal and only evening in Lisbon, I was determined to see a bit of the city. I walked from my hotel at the top of the hill down to the Alfama district. This is the oldest section of Lisbon and I knew it would have a depth of history and culture. It took me about two hours including a stop for dinner, walking on cobbled and stone streets - some very slippery.  I walked down very narrow streets finding breathtaking peek-a-boo views of slanted light bouncing off painted buildings. the bottom ...the winding streets opened up to large square. At least 12 young men in their black suits and capes strummed and sang their meloncholic tunes. At one point they picked out some women from the crowd, draped them in shawls and serenaded them with a wistful tune. I grabbed my blackwing and furiously sketched the group. No time for paint. 

Just as I was noticing the twilight darkening signaling the time to return to my hotel, I looked to my left where an older woman had set up a card table. On it was a bucket of ice and a bottle with a sign that said "Ginja". " I flipped out Google Translate. Cherry! Indeed it was. Cherry liqueur served in a chocolate cup. I sipped the liqueur and the cup melted in my mouth. The end to a perfect evening and an amazing trip. 

Ginja (cherry liqueur) chilling on the square

Here's the short video of the Fado Singers in Lisbon

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

30x30 Direct Watercolor - June 2018

I did these works using direct watercolor - no pen or pencil set up. It's a bit daunting to hold the loaded paintbrush above the white paper. But I just have to dive in with beginners mind and what feels a lot like being back in 4th grade.

I started at our farmer's market.

We have a flat fountain in downtown Olympia. Ironically, in this waterfront town, it's one of the few public places to access water in warm weather. 

Back to the farmer's market where this mother shared lunch with her children.

Watching people at Seattle Center.

The State Capitol. 

I did a preliminare sketch for this one to determine values. 

From a photo of New Mexican.

Golden wheat fields in the hills above Walla Walla. From a photo. 

On location the spring green hills outside of Walla Walla.

Quick sketch in the garden at Chandler Reach Winery outside Richland WA. Vivalia colors. 

Six-stroke people. Thanks to Michele Cooper. 

After Paul Klee. An easy out for the day.

Garden on Cascadia Street, Mt Baker, Seattle, WA.

More six-stroke people.

I love Wolf Kahn's vibrant colors in his pastels and oil paintings. Thought I'd try out a bit of vibrant, complimentary colors. From imagination. 

Mioposto Restaurant from Mt. Baker Park, Seattle. 

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Poor People's Campaign 2018

I went down to Capitol Campus today to catch the tail end of the Vietnam Vets / Legacy Vets Memorial Day Ride but I was too late. Instead I happened upon the beginning of the weekly rally for the Poor People's Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival, a 50 year renewal of the campaign started by Martin Luther King before he was assassinated. Monday's rally is the third of six weekly demonstrations at the State Capitol. The theme was The War Economy: Militarism and the Proliferation of Gun Violence.

Veterans for Peace were out in full force, wearing peace dove helmets on t-shirts and flags. Representatives from several groups spoke including clergy from various faiths.  

People waited in the wings for their turn to speak or just to listen and support. The Raging Grannies sat waiting patiently for their turn to speak their minds in song. 


The Raging Grannies promoting social justice

Since I was prepared for a totally different scenario of veterans and motorcycles, I was surprised and intrigued at the demonstration. It was deja vu back to the height of the Civil Rights Movement in the late 60's when the campaign was first started.
This excerpt of one King's last Sunday sermon sums up the yet to be fulfilled cause: 
"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain inalienable rights. That among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. But if a man doesn’t have a job or an income, he has neither life nor liberty nor the possibility for the pursuit of happiness. He merely exists … We are coming to ask America to be true to the huge promissory note that is signed years ago. And we are coming to engage in dramatic non-violent action, to call attention to the gulf between promise and fulfillment; to make the invisible visible." - Martin Luther King

The Poor People's Campaign will continue for four more weeks with the following themes: 

Week 4 (June 3-9): The Right to Health and a Healthy Planet: Ecological Devastation and Health Care

Week 5 (June 10-16): Everybody’s Got the Right To Live: Education, Living Wages, Jobs, Income, Housing

Week 6 (June 17-23): A New and Unsettling Force: Confronting the Distorted Moral Narrative

Saturday, June 23, 10:00 a.m. EDT10am: Global Day of Solidarity and Sending Forth Call to Action Mass Rally in Washington, D.C.

Now that I know the rallies are happening I'll be watching more closely and hope to get down to a few more.