Monday, March 29, 2010

The Red Stripe will be cold and the Guinness will be hot

As I mentioned in my last post, I will soon be putting up the photos of our wall art and color scheme of the upstairs rooms in our home, but I'm just not happy with the photos I took yet. I need better daylight to take some good pics and the weather didn't cooperate with my schedule this past, more painting instead.

I sat down this Sunday to add another painting to my series of Jamaican roadside shops. This one is an amalgam of several places -- it truly exists only on this page. Here's a look at the process: I began with the preliminary drawing, on Arches 140lb cold press paper, using a Rapidograph pen with black India ink. Next up, laying out my watercolors to begin painting the scene. You can see where I began to lay in some color -- the bananas, the sign base - before I realized I wanted to snap a pic of the progress.

I have an array of brushes and bamboo pens. Some are natural which
more pricey and some are synthetic which are more affordable.
It's not always the most expensive brush which becomes my favorite.
I have filberts, flats, rounds -- all sorts.

I work from several palettes - my triple set is comprised of
Rembrandt watercolors which give great saturated color -

Yes, my palettes are a wreck. I mix colors right on the brush most times,
dipping into several colors with the same brush. Here's my larger palette
(a "Frank Webb" style palette) with my pricier paints (Schminke).
The beauty of this palette is that I've got space around the outside edge to
label each pot with a sharpie on the outside. When the color inside each pot becomes virtually unrecognizable (which is quite often) I know which color it originally contained so I can replenish it.

I began by laying down pale, lighter washes of color all over the page,
knowing that I'd return and build up each area gradually,
from light to dark.

I moved around quite a bit, letting layers dry so I could go back and add
layers of shadow or deepen certain areas with several hues.
I worked on this for several hours (between loads of laundry and preparing breakfast and lunch for everybody, of course).

I'm pleased with the final result.

"Irie Vibes," 14" x 10.25" ink and watercolor on paper

Here's a look at some of the details -

The original painting is for sale here.

A print is available here.

Hope you enjoyed watching this painting come to life -- I can feel that cold Red Stripe in my hand and smell the ocean breeze, how about you?

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Wall to wall, friends and all. And yeah, my walls are blue.

From me to you.....

I've been fortunate to have an incredibly loyal following of readers since
I began putting this blog together in the late summer of 2006.
It took over my life, fi true.

My readers come from all over the globe, from Thailand to Tanzania
and Kuwait to Kazahkstan, from over 100 countries. You have
submitted comments here on the blog or emailed me privately to give
me feedback, ask questions, or share their own stories about art,
parenthood and family, Jamaica and NYC. Or just life in general.
Can you even put this experience into words? Seriously, no, I can't.
You, my readers, have made it worth every second. My heart skips a
beat when a "comment alert" lands in my inbox or when my tally of
daily views reaches a new peak. It's a thrill ride every day.

I can't stop The Night Shift.

But despite all the stories I've shared here, I've kept much of myself on
the sidelines.
It wasn't until a reader recently wrote to me and asked, "So,
Victoria, what do you have on YOUR walls?" that I realized I was still
pretty much of a cipher. Or as Churchill might say, "a riddle wrapped in
a mystery inside an enigma." Perhaps taking a look at what I like, what
I hang on our walls, would prove interesting.

So, I'll open up a bit more tonight -- here's a peek into our home. We live
in downtown Manhattan, in the East Village, the best neighborhood in
which to live and raise a multi-culti family like ours in NYC, and our home
base for over 20 years.

Our building with the red front door. We live in a duplex
apartment on the 2nd and 3rd floors

Once inside, the first thing you'll probably notice is that our home is
filled with color. That's probably not a surprise, is it?
For starters, the
entire downstairs living area is painted in a rich, deep teal blue.

Our living room with walls primarily filled with family photographs

The reverse view, more photos and some art...

At the far end of the previous photo you can just barely make out
column of 4 framed images. Here's a close up of one, entitled
"L'automne" or "Autumn".

Given my affinity for abstraction and expression,
these are an unlikely,
yet cherished, possession
. These are 4 tinted engravings (or prints/
lithographs, not sure exactly which) that I bought in Paris over 20 years
ago, in an outdoor book stall on the banks of The Seine. Each of the scenes
represents a different season ( Le Printemps, L'ete, L'automne, L'hiver).
They are precious and so unlike me. And I adore them.

And next to my precious French engravings I have my other cherished
piece of art, "Red Room", a monoprint by my dear
friend and teacher,
Beverly Brodsky -- a gift on my birthday.

Red Room

Now a detour to the Lion's Den.

Each of us is fortunate enough to have a "room of one's own" in our
Our girls each have their own bedroom and also share a "work
studio" of their own, where they can paint and spill glue or glitter and
just generally wreak havoc, creatively of course.
As for the King and myself,
in addition to our shared
master bedroom, I have a studio for my art and
husband has a den to seek shelter from a house full of female energy.

The bredren gather here daily, whether for a smoke or to take in a kung-fu
flick or swap tall tales from back home. The
patois, like the smoke,
grows heavy and thick.

And the decor is strictly ragamuffin styleee, straight outta yard. Although
we do have both Selassie and Bob Marley
representing in other rooms
of the house, I balked at
the notion of floor-to-ceiling rasta paraphernalia
in every room. A compromise was in order.

So the Lion's Den picks up the slack. I have absolutely no vote on
the decor in this room but am occasionally consulted or called upon to
contribute to the gallery of art and photographs. It's jam packed,
even the ceiling is covered in posters, banners or photos.

By special request, I painted the red,gold & green rasta star (seen in
the photo below) in the center of the wall. Likewise, I
painted the
portrait (far left) of my mother-in-law. You can't
see it in this photo but
my husband has painted all the
radiators and closet doors in broad stripes
red, gold & green as well. I guess you could say that we prefer
slightly different
color palettes, but both enjoy surrounding ourselves
with artwork and photographs of family and friends.

On the reverse wall, more dreadlocks -- including one of my pen and ink
drawings and my
"Pirate of the Caribbean" collage.

And the requisite Scarface poster, of course............

Whew -- that's enough for today.

Next time we'll travel upstairs -- where the bedroom walls are a deep
indigo-violet. We'll also take a look at our daughter's
work room where
I've re-created a Matisse painting on
one entire wall. My youngest
daughter's room is "Tequila Lime"
and even the bathroom is
bathed in a deep rich hue.

But today is my birthday and I'm told that my King is taking me
out for a fine evening of sushi and sake to celebrate - the
grand tour of our home will continue later this week.

Hope you've enjoyed the backstage tour -- please let me know.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Snow on the roof.........

8.5" x 10.5", black and white ink on 100% recycled brown paper


This drawing is available for purchase here.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Mi dun wid dis dread

I used to think he had my back. But when my back was turned
his demons made other plans.

A long-time friend of my husband, he went by many names - I can
think of at least 3 - but we called one another Catalina.
Cat-a-LEEEEE-na! Or just Cat.Our personal password to one
another, fren fi lang time. He was an on-again-off-again visitor
to our verandah, never too much hanging on but never just a
fair-weather friend. Catalina's visits were always welcome.

Until they weren't.

The first indication that something was amiss, was an offer to
watch the kids at the swimming pool at the resort next door.
Great, thanks, I wanted a little break to do some painting.
Within 15 minutes, Catalina sauntered back to where I was sitting
and casually asked me for $500 Jays. Said the bartender
demanded the girls pay a likkle munny fi swim in the pool.
Hmm. I often did just buy a drink at the bar while the girls swam,
just as a courtesy "thank you" for letting them take a swim.
But $500 Jays (about $8-9 US dollars at the time) seemed
a little steep. But ok, Cat, thanks - here's the Nanny.

A few days later, after the King had run out early on another whacky
bredren mission, leaving me at The Bird with the girls,
Catalina strolled into our yard. He was carrying what appeared to be
the tailpipe from his car. He was looking miserable,
asked for my husband, kissing teeth, rae rae rae. Sad story.
He MUST repair the tailpipe or his car won't pass inspek-shun
and he'll get a big tikket and (kiss teeeeth),
he have no munny fi get it done. He HATES to ask, but could he
borrow $1800 Jays to fix it quick? He will pay me back tomorrow
after he drives back to Sav and picks up some money at home and
rae rae rae. Just a loan, Cat, if you can manage it.

Sure. That's about $25 US, I could spare it. He seemed so
convincing in his promise to pay me back. He'd never asked
for cash before. I figured the fact that he even owned and operated
a car in the first place meant that he had some source of
steady income, even if I wasn't exactly clear on what it might be.
I went inside and fished a handful of Nannies out of my purse.
Out of the corner of my eye, I saw the stack of soccer jerseys I'd
brought down from New York -- some Brazilian, some Jamaican,
some Italian - and scooped them up, bringing them out to the verandah.
I told Catalina that he should pick one. I'd brought
them down for the bredren and he could have first pick.
His eyes narrowed as he inspected the lot. He slipped the
green and yellow Brazilian shirt out of the middle of the pile
and smiled. Tenks, Cat. Your welcome, Cat.

He tucked the shiny tailpipe under his arm, folded the jersey neatly
and slipped it into a lada bag, then smiled and headed out to the road.
"Mi soon come, Cat!" he shouted as he waved from the gate. Yeah, sure,
I know what soon come means. See ya tomorrow, Catalina.

It was a week before I saw him again.

He came by one morning with another bredren so I didn't mention the
outstanding debt. No need to embarrass him in front of a friend. But I
asked him for some help with a problem of my own. Nothing serious, but
our own car was in the shop, my husband was working on it out in Sav,
and I needed something picked up in Mobay. "No problem, Cat,
mi haff one bredren in Mobay who can can tek care of
dat, seen? Jess gimmee a likkle bit a change fi
him gas and mi gwan set him up fi yuh."

Sigh. The bredren in Mobay wanted $2500 Jays "fi gas and him
chobble". I had no choice. Catalina's debt to me couldn't be traded for
the efforts of a stranger in Mobay so I dug up the next $40 US and
handed it over. This unseen "bredren in Mobay" was doing me a huge
favor and I was grateful for the link up. Catalina smiled and patted me on
the shoulder. "No problem, Cat, we soon tek care of dis bizness,"
he drawled. He turned and slowly headed out to the car park.

And then I sat back and waited. And waited. And never heard
from him again.

The mission never took place. The "bredren in Mobay" never
materialized with my delivery. Catalina was AWOL for the next two weeks,
leaving only susu in his wake - gossipy tales of bad vibes, struggles with
"the rock" and one made-up storyfor anyone who would listen.

You think you know someone after nearly 20 years of kindness
and laughter, road trips and cooked food, pickney and dreams of farrin.
But things change, people change. Jamaica changes everything.........

A print of this painting is available here.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Another croton for your consideration.....

I sketched this plan in charcoal and then added the watercolor
washes. Gives it a rich, velvety feeling, no?

The original is for sale here. A print of the same is for sale here.

Still have Jamdung on the brain.....................