Monday, December 3, 2012


These were my first sketches in Morocco - here, I'm in Marrakesh.  This began a spectacular trip staying in incredibly beautiful Riads - large private homes built like fortresses.  From the narrow souk-lined, motor skooter, horses, donkeys, and bicycle-crowded streets, all you could see were tall walls and hunky front doors.  Enter the door to surprisingly lush oases with elaborate gardens of fountains, vines, trees, birds, feral cats who came & went.  Around the courtyard would be two or three stories of balconies, sleeping quarters, sitting rooms, studies.  This is in Dar Aloumond's courtyard & kitchen entrance.  I wanted to capture a sense of the tile work and carved plaster trim for which Morocco is famous. The pink apron belongs to our gracious chef & housekeeper, Fautima.

Now I'm in Taroudannt, a city circled by an 800-year-old wall, at the foothills of the Anti Atlas mountains,  south of Marrakesh.  This pool is in the courtyard of Riad Dar Louisa.  We were greeted in the entry way by Abdolelah's colorful art.  Fellow Whidbey Island Sketcher, Phyllis Ray, and I vowed to do a sketch a day and long story short, began exchanging sketches with Dar Louisa's owner, Louise, in England.  What fun!

  The tea service was part of our after-dinner routine, warmed by a big fire built by our dear Abdolelah - personal chef, tour guide, translator.  Louise, the owner of this Riad, has beautifully redone this ancient home, and filled it with various sculptures, furnishings, and wall hangings from all over Africa.  I wanted to capture TEXTURE.
 The dining room walls were covered with a traditional Berber tent.  Over the table, a beautiful traditional Moroccan lamp.  The ubiquitous ball of fruit ... a traditional Moroccan dessert.

Abdolelah modeled for us, first in his black traditional Jelaba.  I love the teal flip flops.  Then, he posed in a finely embroidered Jelaba used for special gatherings, such as the Camel Races, which sounds like an amazingly good time.

Fatima was our housekeeper, assistant Moroccan chef, Hammam-scrubber, and ultimately, model.  Sweet, attentive, Arabic speaking, she always wore a head scarf & woman's Jelaba for public, but unabashedly bathed with us in our hammam.  The hammam was quite the experience!  In preparation, a huge pile of firewood appeared outside our Riad door.  The morning of our bath, Fatima and Abdolela loaded the wood into the hammam's fire pit.  The room heated all day, built-in tubs of water steamed until the intimate hammam became a cozy steamy dreamy bath "womb."  Fatima scrubbed us 7 different ways, from mud to Argan oil.  Fatima's hair was always covered until bathing (and modeling), for which her thick black wavy tresses were unfurled.

These two sketches are of the cozy room waiting room for our massages and hammam.  The next is of Dar Louisa's media room ... where one could watch films lounging on deep cushions.  Moroccans know how to relax!

In return for our sketches of him, Abdolelah honored Phyllis and me with portraits he did of us.  Here's how he saw me.

Well, now I'm off to Barcelona.  Here's the view from our balcony.  I'd never been to Spain before, so this was a real treat.  I just had to sample Catalonian cuisine and put my feet in the Mediterranean.

I'd always heard of Antoni Gaudi, the unique innovative Modernisme Spanish architect who designed the famous cathedral, the Sagrada Familia.  I had no idea how inspired Gaudi was by the expressions of nature.  Apparently, his mother took young Gaudi for walks in nature, and instilled in him a fascination which wouldn't quit.  His works are dreamlike,  surreal.  I fell head over heels for his work.  Here's a sea monster he created for Park Guell.

As luck had it, I had trouble with my flights and was forced to spend an unexpected night in Madrid.  American Airlines found me a real deal in a beautiful hotel.  This Impala car art was in their lobby.  I sketched this fellow traveler as I ate Spanish food, drank Spanish wine, suffering over my delay.  Seattle would have to wait an extra day while I swam in their 25 meter pool, sauna'd, dined, sketched, and rested in splendor.  Thus ended my travels.

No comments:

Post a Comment