29 April 2008

Hometown and brushes

On my last trip to Madrid a couple of weeks ago, apart from shooting some of my old and almost forgotten works (they are shown on the previous 2 posts), I found some opportunities to take some sketches.
I made this at the boarding gate of the airport before the depart from Bologna. I used my new Niji brush, India ink and watercolors over a rough made with a ballpoint pen.

I made 2 sketches of my mother: she's alone on the first one...

...and with my son Fabio on the second one. Both were made with the same ballpoint pen and watercolors, but I used the ink brush just on the last one.

This is the Plaza de Toros de Las Ventas which is supposed to mean for bullfighting the same as the Teatro alla Scala means for opera. I've never been too interested in bullfighting so I've never payed too much attention to this building when I used to live in Madrid, but when I passed by the other day I couldn't not to draw it.

Drawing directly with brushes is something like riding a roller coaster: there's some fear before but so much satisfaction after. The problem for me is that the comparison would be better with parachutes than with roller coasters: the fear often blocks me and I need some rough or guidelines under before I take the brush. It's because of this that I admire so much artists like Gabi Campanario or Enrique Flores.
After almost one year of comments and messages, I met Enrique for the first time on this trip (we had a fantastic lunch that lasted... over midnight!). As a result of this long and funny conversation... I finally jumped for the first time. Thank you, Enrique!
These were my first straight-with-the-brush sketches, made on the plane turning back home. From then on I haven't stopped "jumping", soon I'll let you see.

26 April 2008

Hanging-on bathroom art #1

More from my last trip to Madrid: a couple of years ago my mother talked me about some pictures she was looking for to put in some wall on the bathroom.
–"I still haven't found what I'm looking for" she said. Even if she don't speak a word of english I thought about an improbable interest of my mother in U2 and told her I should try to draw something.
For a bathroom... bath scenes, of course. And better if made with washes of liquid watercolor.
I framed the drawings, made a pack with a pretty colored paper and took it to Madrid for Christmas. She was really pleased and the pictures still hang on in her bathroom.

2nd issue is here.

19 April 2008

Father, son, writing, handwriting

On my last visit to Madrid I made some pics of this pieces at my parent's house. I often make this kind of gifts and forget that even if I'm not the owner, they are always a work of mine.
I couldn't say how many of them I've absoultely forgotten through the years.

I did and gave this to my father on Christmas 1988. It's a handwriting transcription of "Arte Poética", a poem Jorge Luis Borges wrote in 1960 about time and changes, and passages and all those trivialities.
It's a particular poem since its rhymes are not made with similar words but with just identical words that subtly change their meaning.
For all you barbarian language speakers, I've found this english version on Matt Salomon's blog (really interesting). Thanks Matt and William S. Mervin for the translation.

Ars Poetica by J. L. Borges
To look at the river made of time and water
And remember that time is another river,
To know that we are lost like the river
And that faces dissolve like water.

To be aware that waking dreams it is not asleep
While it is another dream, and that the death
That our flesh goes in fear of is that death
Which comes every night and is called sleep.

To see in the day or in the year a symbol
Of the days of man and of his years,
To transmute the outrage of the years
Into a music, a murmur of voices, and a symbol,

To see in death sleep, and in the sunset
A sad gold—such is poetry,
Which is immortal and poor. Poetry
returns like the dawn and the sunset.

At times in the evenings a face
Looks at us out of the depths of a mirror;
Art should be like that mirror
Which reveals to us our own face.

They say that Ulysses, sated with marvels,
Wept tears of love at the sight of his Ithaca,
Green and humble. Art is that Ithaca
Of green eternity, not of marvels.

It is also like the river with no end
That flows and remains and is the mirror of one same
Inconstant Heraclitus, who is the same
And is another, like the river with no end.

Time after on 1995, when me and Roberta where waiting Fabio's birth, my father wrote this sonnet to his first grandson then yet to come. In 1996 I transcribed it as a cover for an album with photos of Fabio's first year and gave it to my parents. Since black letter is beautiful but not the maximum of legibility (it was not a fortunate choice I think now), I transcribe it:

Del recóndito desván de mi memoria
voy a desempolvar los viejos sones
para alegrar tu infancia con canciones,
con fábulas, con cuentos, con historias...

Abriré todas las puertas a la euforia
echando a volar mi fantasía,
y llevando tu mano de la mía
de tu mundo infantil haré las glorias.

Espero tu llegada y mientras tanto
suavizaré la arista de mis brazos,
mi tosca mano asedará su tacto.

Calentaré mi pecho en tierno abrazo
para arrullar tu sueño con mi canto
cuando duermas dulcemente en mi regazo.

This is my –barbarian, I know– translation into english.

From the remote attic of my memory
I will dust the ancient sounds
To brighten up your childhood with songs,
with fables, with tales, with stories...

I'll open all the doors to euphoria
Letting my fantasy fly off
And with your hand in my hand
I'll make glory of your children's world.

I wait for your arrival and meanwhile
I'll make soft the edge of my arms
My rough hand will silk its touch

I'll warm up my chest in a tender hug
To lull asleep your dream with my chant
When you sweetly sleep over my lap.

10 April 2008


"Garabatos" (in english it sounds more or less like gah-rah-báh-tohs) is a wonderful spanish word that corresponds to doodles in english, scarabocchi in italian, gargots in catalan, rabiscos in portuguese, griffonages or gribouillis in french, gekritzel in german, rabbel in norwegian, and каляки-маляки (kalyaki-malyaki) or каракули (karakuli) in russian. (New languages are welcome).Some weeks ago I decided to open a sketchbook just for garabatos. After deep reflection and using all my originality, creativity and fantasy, I entitled it "Garabatos". It is the 5th sketchbook I have in this moment. The others are the Big Partner and the Little Partner that suply most of my posts and are the only that I carry with me, Skeched Memories and DOACK.
Here are the first entries.

08 April 2008


Some weeks ago, Marty Harris invited me to join his flickr group called International Moleskine Exchange (moly_X for friends). He told me I should invite some people to draw together on a japanese Moleskine. The first thing I did was to take a look at the existing groups, and there I saw so many great artists I din't knew... but no one of my dream team! I wrote immediately all them (Andrea Joseph, France Belleville, Gabi Campanario, Juj and Suzanne Buchanan) to ask if they were interested, and they all said yes!! Marty opened a blog for us (we are the 12th group, now there are 17 throughout the world in this project).
After some fears, doubts, warming-up and planning, we finally started, and seems the first jump has been made by this bamboo frog, from me to Suzanne. She now must draw 2-3 pages and sent the sketchbook to Andrea (while Ill receive Juj's one) and so on till moly's are completed.

04 April 2008

My first Sketchcrawl

Last saturday I went to the first Bologna Sketchcrawl (18th in the rest of the world), organized by my friend Christian Cornia following the great idea of Enrico Casarosa. It was a sunny day and I sketched from 10:00 to 16:00 and crawled till 19:00 with about 10 people, most of them art students. I was the older one (this happens usually on the last times). It was really funny, and Bologna is a really beautifull town to crawl and to skecth.
I used Fabriano 180g watercolor paper, HB 0'7 and 1'4 leads, Pigma brush pen, Copic drawing pen, and watercolors applied with a Niji water brush.
My hand was quite stiff on the first moments but, as the day went by I felt much looser.

10:15 Torre degli Asinelli from Piazza della Mercanzia.

10:45 Angolo in Via Castiglione from Piazza della Mercanzia.
I was on the same place of the first drawing but looking backwards.

11:15 Piazza della Mercanzia from Via Caprarie.

11:45 Via degli Orefici from Palazzo Re Enzo.

12:15 Piazza Maggiore, Duomo

12:45 Piazza Maggiore, Mayor's Office from Palazzo Re Enzo.
(sitting on the same stairs, now lookin on the right side).

14:00 Corner in Via Rolandino from Piazza San Domenico

14:45 San Giovanni in Monte's Church.
I drew this with my sketchbook leant against the roof of an old Fiat 500.

15:30 Santo Stefano's Church.

16:00 Santo Stefano's Square.
I drew the previous sketch sitting under the first arch on the left.