Go to our Website!

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

My Trip to Cuba - Day 2

Day Two in Cuba was again spent in Havana's downtown, asking tons of questions and learning about Cuban society from our tour guide. It is really hard to imagine how this works, where the government owns absolutely everything, where healthcare, rents and education are free yet so many live in what seems to be abject poverty in buildings that are crumbling around them. Our taxi driver had a degree in Engineering but could earn more in tourism with tips than working for the government making a very low wage. The people were all so warm and friendly and happy for those tourism dollars.

We saw many of the gorgeous colonial era buildings either already restored or in the process of renovation, among them the Hotel Inglaterra and we watched painters scaling the walls working on the exterior. And of course mixed in with the restored buildings were those in many states of what I like to call "Romantic Decay." 

We left the hotel after breakfast and set off to visit a few artist workshops, enjoyed a tasty lunch and had a lesson with Jane in front of the Cathedral. After more sightseeing, we returned to the hotel to rest a bit before heading out for dinner at the Cafe Laurent. (remember to click on the image to view in its entirety)

Hotel Nacional's beautiful lobby

Fidel Castro's likeness is ever present and this dynamic painting is in the hotel lobby

Colorful Havana

Hotel Inglaterra getting a fresh coat of paint

La Floridita, one of Hemingway's favorite bars

Initiates of the Santeria religion are required to wear all white for a year

Papermaking Workshop where we bought the most beautiful handmade papers

Mural on the wall of the papermaking workshop

Happy in Havana!

Restaurant signage: Cuccina Dona Teresa

Havana's colorful architecture

Street that led to the graphics workshop at the end

Artisan working on a design to be screenprinted

Litho stones used to print cigar wrappers, box labels and boxes

Restaurant walls were covered with writings of guests

Colorful wares in souvenir shop

Outdoor cafe

Cathedral square where Jane gave a lesson. One of the very few churches we saw

Romantic decay!

Cafe Laurent - where we enjoyed dinner together at the end of our busy day

Sunday, August 12, 2018

My Trip to Cuba! - Day 1

On February 12, 2018, I arrived in Havana with 11 other artists who had signed up for a week in Cuba on an Arts and Cultural Tour with Jane LaFazio, an artist whose work I have long admired. I've wanted to go to Cuba for some time so this trip seemed the perfect way to study with Jane and see the country!

We met at a hotel in Miami and the following day boarded a flight for the short flight to Havana. So much excitement! I don't normally travel with groups or share a room with a stranger but I have to honestly tell you that I couldn't have asked for better! We all got along so well that by the end of out time together we had become fast friends. 

Our days were filled to the brim with activities and there was time each day for sketching. We visited artists' studios and workshops, enjoyed delicious lunches and dinners in interesting locations and drank lots of mojitos! I filled the concertina sketchbook provided by Jane and another I brought from home, partly in Cuba, finishing up at home.

A big comfortable bus drove us to each day's destination, then parked and allowed us to explore, picking us up later for the ride back to our hotel, located a short distance from the center. The Hotel Nacional de Cuba was THE place for gangsters and Hollywood stars alike to stay during its heyday in the 30s and 40s. It sill feels glamorous and we often met for cocktails on the verandas after our excursions as palm trees swayed and the sea glistened in the fading light!

The first day we rode to the center where we wandered the streets, marveling at the beautifully restored buildings in some areas and the crumbling architecture in others.  We were thrilled with all the color, texture and urban life that abounds - a feast for our artist eyes and a joy to capture in our sketchbooks and photographs. 

Arrival at Jose Marti Aeroporto Internacional - we're not in Kansas anymore Toto!

Beautifully restored buildings and Classic cars

Former government building, now a school - resembles our Capitol
Couldn't resist taking photos of the candy colored classic cars

We were lucky to have the most beautiful weather all week long
Typical of the many streets in disrepair, some quite crumbly but with so much color and texture
as the following photos will show, hard to imagine, but people are living in many of these.

Street vendors and friends add even more color and life to the city

Photos of all the famous people who had stayed at our hotel graced the walls of the hotel bar

We visited the photo studio of Ramses H. Batista who showed us images of Hurricane Irma

That's our Cuban Tour guide waving at me on O'Reilly Street!

Friday, August 10, 2018

Return to Barcelona 2017! My Sketchbooks

I had a marvelous time sketching in Barcelona, going out with sketchbook and art supplies every day and trying to capture as much as I could of this beautiful city. By the end of my month-long trip, I had filled two 8x8 sketcbooks, and quite a few pages in the smaller 5x5. These are my souvenirs! I hope you enjoy looking at them and encourage you to click on the images to see whole thing and read my observations. They aren't in chronological order.