Dolphin Dives

Dolphin Painting

… Animal Paintings Beyond Realism 03 …

In my last post I introduced my new series of “Animal Paintings beyond Realism”, inspired by a painting group recently created by Studio Tolere. The first of the series featured a dog, the second depicted owls. Today I present a new painting of the series, done in acrylics, gouache, China ink and pastel chalk. It is called

“Dolphin Dives”

Dolphin Dives S

My emotional connection to dolphins goes back almost 50 years (scary to think how long ago it is!) when the American TV show Flipper was broadcast. I guess just about any child in this world and of my generation, and perhaps of later generations too, knows and loves Flipper. I am no exception. I deeply enjoyed the show and since then have kept a very emotional connection to dolphins. A deep fascination too…

I had a few more experiences with dolphins in my life. When I was around 20 years old, I had a German boyfriend, who was a diving instructor on his holidays, in Spain and in Thailand. Where we spent our holidays in Spain, there was a Zoo not too far away, with a dolphin show. Once my friend was called to perform a special task in the pool where the dolphins swam. It was incredibly touching to see him swimming among them, and to witness how playful they were, and how they let him come closer and caress them. They seemed to enjoy it so much! It was again a very deep experience, confirming that Flipper did ‘exist’, that it was not only an American show.

Now I will make a jump of 20 more years. I was on a sailing boat, sailing with my brother from Gibraltar to the Canary Islands. I was on the deck, keeping an eye on everything while the captain -my brother- was reading in the cabin. In fact there was nothing to keep an eye on, as we were all alone on this immensity of water which is the Atlantic ocean. And suddenly HE appeared… he swam some seconds along with us, then dived into the water. I was in shock. To see dolphins on the TV is nice, to see them in a zoo is great, but to see them in the wild is  just… beyond words! I ran down to the cabin and told my brother that there was a dolphin outside. When I say “told”, it is wrong : in fact I was hysterically screaming. He looked through the porthole but he could not see anything. I had my eyes glued to the glass, but could not see anything, then ran up to the deck again, spent hours watching the sea, but my dolphin never appeared again… I was immensely sad, I had the feeling to have lost a very dear friend. I thought that my screams had probably scared him away…And to add to my sadness, my brother never believed that I had seen the dolphin..

Last but not least, about 15 years later again… In June 2013 my partner Kev Moore and me were on a little painting trip up the coast here, to a seaside town called “Aguilas”, not too far from our house. Just some days out to “restart the system” and find new inspiration. We went on a boat trip, on a boat called Don Pancho. And there HE was again… here is what Kevin is writing about the experience:

“… the whole crew were great, and clearly loved their job, or at least gave a superb impression of doing so. Smiles all round, and the guy tasked with the commentary on our jaunt up the wilder coastline to the north of Aguilas was passionate about his subject.  When the sleek dorsal fin of a dolphin broke the surface off our port bow, he was about as ecstatic as we were.  I can only say it was mesmerizing. Time after time it buzzed our vessel, playing with the wake, darting off, leaping out of the water to our cries of childish delight. Witnessing a dolphin in the wild makes one regress. It reduces life to a microcosm of simplicity, to something almost Utopian. It speaks to the very depth of your being, of freedom, innocence and sheer, unadulterated joy. I’ve swum with dolphins in Venezuela, but they were in captivity, more’s the pity. This is were they belong, and seeing one exuberant, dancing on the waves where it’s supposed to be, is a privilege, and something I’ll never forget…”

I could not say it better! The meeting with that dolphin was one of the deepest and most emotional experiences in my whole life! And this time, at least, I had witnesses…

The dolphin painting presented in this blog post and other animal paintings are available directly online as Giclee print in many different dimensions, on paper, canvas or metal, and also as greeting cards. Please click on the painting to access my Shopping Cart Online. 

The Giclee prints from the above mentioned Online shop are manufactured in the USA and sent directly to the client from there. For personal or financial reasons it might not be appropriate for everybody to order their prints in the USA. Also, you might prefer to purchase my Giclee prints hand-signed. If so, you can alternatively order directly from me. Simply contact me indicating which painting you are interested in and in which size. Go to Goodaboom Boutique to see a guideline of pricing for different dimensions.

 

I also sell A3 posters (297mm x 420mm) as high quality digital prints on a Heavyweight White 350gsm paper, each packed in cello with card stiffner.

Poster Price: 50 euros.

They are a great alternative to the Giclee prints, to a more affordable price.

(the prices for the Giclee prints and posters are not including packing&shipping)

Hand-signed prints incur a surcharge of 30 euros.

Thinking of Tolere…

Animal Paintings Beyond Realism

… Dogs …

Inspired by a new group in Fine Art America, created by Studio Tolere, and called “Animals Paintings Beyond Realism”, I decided to give it a go and try to create a series of animal paintings satisfying to following description and requirements, defined by Tolere in the group description:

“…The animal world, on land, in water, and in the air, painted with feeling and imagination, is the focus for this group.Rather than getting every detail down realistically.,this is a place for paintings incorporating abstract and more expressive approaches to depictions of animals as well as the human – animal connection. Humorous, emotive, visionary, and mystical work are very welcome…”

I love dogs, so I have started with a fantasy dog painting. I dedicated it to Tolere, calling it

“Thinking of Tolere”.

The dog painting presented in this blog post and other animal paintings are available directly online as Giclee print in many different dimensions, on paper, canvas or metal, and also as greeting cards. Please click on the painting above to access my Shopping Cart Online.

The Giclee prints from the above mentioned Online shop are manufactured in the USA and sent directly to the client from there. For personal or financial reasons it might not be appropriate for everybody to order their prints in the USA. Also, you might prefer to purchase my Giclee prints hand-signed. If so, you can alternatively order directly from me. Simply contact me indicating which painting you are interested in and in which size. Go to Goodaboom Boutique to see a guideline of pricing for different dimensions.

I also sell A3 posters (297mm x 420mm) as high quality digital prints on a Heavyweight White 350gsm paper, each packed in cello with card stiffner.

Poster Price: 50 euros.

They are a great alternative to the Giclee prints, to a more affordable price.

(the prices for the Giclee prints and posters are not including packing&shipping)

Hand-signed prints incur a surcharge of 30 euros.

Happy New Year and Happy Valentine’s Day!

A Painting to celebrate Valentine’s Day


I had many people from around the world looking at my blog post, “Happy New Year 2013”, publishing funny New Year artworks. It became almost viral. Quite scary in fact: I had the feeling that my computer would explode and fireworks would whoooosh out of the screen into my face!…

It was comforting to see that so many people were searching for FUNNY images. We all need fun and a good laugh, especially in hard times, and I am glad to see that we are all still able to understand that, and search for it.

New Year festivities are finished now, the 1st of January 2013 has gone forever in every place of the world (a dreadful thought, isn’t it?), and it is time to think of the future. Soon will come the time to celebrate a feast which gives much warmth to my heart:

Valentine’s Day

I personally don’t care if it has become too commercial, at the end it depends on what you personally make out of it.

And to do it my way, with fun and love, today I publish a painting I did about 2 years ago: a still life featuring gifts which my rocking partner Kev Moore brought me back from Germany for Valentines, returning from a gig near Hamburg, just in time to celebrate love with me – something we do all the time anyway!

I think the theme makes a great transition between Christmas, New Year and Valentines, with all those chocolates, bubbles and hearts going on! It is drawn with China ink, and painted with watercolour. With a little bit of red pastel chalk on the chocolate hearts inside the box, simply for enhancement. I don’t know about you, but when I look at this painting, I feel like partying all the time!

This painting, and also other paintings to celebrate Valentine’s Day, are available directly online as Giclee print in many different dimensions, on paper, canvas and metal, and also as greeting cards. Please click on the button below to access my FAA store

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The Giclee prints from the above mentioned Online shop are manufactured in the USA and sent directly to the client from there. For personal or financial reasons it might not be appropriate for everybody to order their prints in the USA. Also, you might prefer to purchase my Giclee prints hand-signed. If so, you can alternatively order directly from me. Simply contact me indicating in which size. Go to

Goodaboom Boutique

to see a guideline of pricing for different dimensions.

I also sell A3 posters (297mm x 420mm) as high quality digital prints on a Heavyweight White 350gsm paper, each packed in cello with card stiffener.

Poster Price: 50 euros.

They are a great alternative to the Giclee prints, to a more affordable price.

(the price does not include packing&shipping)

 

Christmas in Lanzarote

I have just come back (December 2012) from a painting trip to Lanzarote, the easternmost of the autonomous Canary Islands, in the Atlantic Ocean, approximately 125 km off the coast of Africa and 1000 km from the Iberian Peninsula. I had already visited there a long time ago, but at that time my holiday interests were more focussed on partying than painting, and consequently my memories of the island itself were rather blurred!

Lanzarote - Google Map

These last 3 weeks spent in Lanzarote have been a wonderful experience, in many senses. Landscapes, people, towns, little harbours, boats, cafés, shops and even toys have delighted me and made of my daily live painting sessions a deep pleasure. I hope with this new series of sketches, to have succeeded in capturing the soul and the heart of that place, and to transmit the fun and joy of living I felt all the time.

I will make diverse blogs about my painting time in Lanzarote, publishing sketches from many different places there. But as it is Christmas soon, I will start with a series of funny sketches related to Christmas and mostly inspired by toys and shop windows decorations seen on the island.

I don’t know if the people from Lanzarote have ever seen snow on their island, but I did find it funny how snowballs and snowmen were a repetitive element in their Christmas decorations. Especially funny when an elephant is also involved… not an happy elephant though: you might have noticed, some love story is going on between the smart little boy and the snowman, and I do sense a bit of jealousy on the part of the elephant…

The Christmas balls on this sketch were directly inspired by wonderful real ones I saw in a local market in Teguise. They were representing scenes and landscapes from Lanzarote. I loved them so much that I would have adored to bring some back, but I thought they were too fragile to survive a plane journey. On one of them you can see a red demon: he is the emblem of Lanzarote. Why a demon, you might as? Simply, because the early settlers interpreted their first experience of a volcanic eruption as the work of the devil. In fact I also wanted to bring back a big sign with it for our entrance door – you know, exactly how people have “dangerous dogs” signs, to warn prospective thieves… – a way to say: careful, in this house lives a demon, and even two – me and my English rocker, — but unfortunately I could not find an adequate one to sufficiently convey our fearsomeness!

Nothing really special to mention about this one, except that I was attracted by the juxtaposition of Santa Claus and chicken. Who knows why? I seem to remember having seen many wooden or ceramic chicken in window decorations, and wondered why. Because the fact is that we have travelled through the whole island and never seen a real chicken! What we did see though, in the volcano park of Timanfaya, were real chicken parts being cooked by the heat of the volcano!

And now, last but not least, comes the masterpiece of my Christmas in Lanzarote sketches series:

The Troll

I saw him in Playa Blanca (meaning “White Beach”), the southernmost town of Lanzarote. He was standing all alone in his high child chair on the sea promenade, and in the background, a ferry was leaving… It was a ferry from “Fred Olsen”, the Oslo based Norwegian shipping company. The ferry was probably only on its return trip to Fuerteventura, the Canary island closest to Lanzarote, but in my little romantic head, I was imagining a heartbreaking story of the little troll coming directly from Norway with his troll parents and them having abandoned him in Lanzarote, a long way away from home, never to come back…

These paintings, as well as many others of Lanzarote, are available directly online as Giclee print in many different dimensions, on paper, canvas and metal, and also as greeting cards. Please click on the button below to access my FAA store

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The Giclee prints from the above mentioned Online shop are manufactured in the USA and sent directly to the client from there. For personal or financial reasons it might not be appropriate for everybody to order their prints in the USA. Also, you might prefer to purchase my Giclee prints hand-signed. If so, you can alternatively order directly from me. Simply contact me indicating in which size. Go to Goodaboom Boutique to see a guideline of pricing for different dimensions.

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I also sell A3 posters (297mm x 420mm) as high quality digital prints on a Heavyweight White 350gsm paper, each packed in cello with card stiffener.

Poster Price: 50 euros.

They are a great alternative to the Giclee prints, to a more affordable price.

(the price does not include packing&shipping)

Please click on the widgets below to directly access my shop online.

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Oly, The Olympics Turtle

After I paid homage to the victory of the Ferrari team at the Formula 1 German Grand Prix from  Hockenheim this weekend by giving birth to The Ferrari Turtle,  I thought it was time to do the same with the Olympics. Shame on me really, me who loves sport so much and has a big body of sport artworks, I didn’t even make one painting celebrating the games in London so far! Ah well, probably because everybody else has, and I don’t like to go with the stream…

So here we go. Tonight I could not sleep any more after awakening from a weird dream. I was in a giant castle, with hundred of rooms, and in each room were sitting giant people in Renaissance theatre costumes awaiting me to paint their portraits. But before that I had to paint first the portraits on their own faces, and when they were finished, they had to look at themselves in the mirror, and say if they liked it. Then I would have to reproduce it on big canvasses.  I had only a short time to paint all these portraits and I was running from room to room, trying to optimize the process. Hundred people were following me everywhere, eager to see me painting these portraits, and my stress increased accordingly, a real nightmare! Anyway I woke up when the tension became too strong, happy to have escaped but totally awake. It was 4 AM. My brain was again in turbo mode, thinking about all kinds of things and projects. And among them, a new turtle started to haunt my brain, until I could not think of anything else and had to get up to paint her

Let me introduce you to:

“Oly”, the Olympics Turtle!

Oly, The Olympics Turtle – By Miki

The little beast could not wait until the morning, she had to come out in the middle of the night! She said she was a little bit late already and was not sure if she was going to make it for the Games Opening ceremony on Friday!

She should probably have put the Ferrari gear on, but I guess the rules don’t allow you to carry the Olympics torch on wheels…

The Devil’s AdvoCAT

I have spent the last 4 weeks since we came back from the extended 6 week painting trip through Cyprus and Crete,  publishing  paintings and travel sketches from Cyprus in this blog. From there we flew directly to Crete for 3 further weeks, but before I go over to Crete, I want to make a last post here about the Cats from Cyprus. I know I have written quite a lot about them already, but I have today an important message to deliver concerning EVOLUTION.

So here we go. The most extraordinary experience we had with cats in Cyprus was in a place called Agios Nikolaos Ton Gaton. Here is some background info:

Agios Nikolaos Ton Gaton in Cyprus – Google Map

“… Situated on Cape Gata south east of Akrotiri Salt Lake near Lemesos (Limassol), Agios Nikolaos ton Gaton (St Nicholas of the Cats) is perhaps the first monastery in Cyprus. The present church probably dates to the late 14th century. Abandoned in the late 16th century, it was re-occupied by Orthodox nuns in the early 1980s. According to tradition, the monastery was founded in the 4th century by Agia Eleni, mother of Constantine the Great, who left a piece of wood from the Holy Cross there. At the time, the island was experiencing a severed rought, forcing many people to leave the island. Snakes multiplied and life in Cyprus, particularly at Akrotiri peninsula was unbearable. According to the medieval historian Stephen Lusignan, after Agia Eleni’s departure, Constantine the Great sent governor Kalokeros to Cyprus who brought thousands of cats to the island to exterminate the snakes…”

There are still thousands of cats in that place, probably direct descendants from the snakes’ exterminators. And judging by the look of some, there must have been some wild cross-breeding between cats, snakes and perhaps even nuns involved…

Anyway, the Main Cat Dude there was the Archbishop, full of the inner peace and wisdom necessary for the job.

Arch Bishop of CATerbury – Watercolour and ink travel sketch by Miki

As you see, I could not resist the multiple wordplay there, one more of Kev Moore‘s famous CATchy titles for my CATalogue

We spent a lot of time in that monastery, even though we weren’t quite sure if we were allowed. Kevin had to go through a barbed wire fence to get in there, and I had to climb a big iron gate…. so the sketches I did there were very fast and certainly with a fearful undertone, like for example this one (I apologise for the poor quality…)

The Cats of Agios Nikolaos – by Miki

The person in black in the background sitting on a bench and reading was a very tall and very old Lady. She is the only person we saw there and we have no idea if there was somebody else. She had at some point come to an inner gate as she has heard us laughing, and gone away again, without telling us to eff off. So I guess we were not unwelcome…

We were fascinated by the diversity of cats, the hundreds of different looks and behaviours. And this is the message I was speaking about at the beginning. Think about it: that convent was a really closed place, and even if cats can climb and go through all kinds of holes, there is, in that remoteness, hardly communication and interchange with the exterior world. The convent is isolated, no houses  or farms miles away, so anyway the probability of other cats wandering around is very low. I was really plunged into some evolutionary thoughts as I was watching these cats. I really had not the feeling that their behaviour and look came uniquely from their genes and was not the result of some educational and environment process, as they obviously had all the same. The behaviour ranged from extremely shy to extremely open, from aggressive to friendly, from adventurous to fearsome, etc. In fact, we could recognise in them the whole myriad of human behaviour. I must say, if I was a researcher into animal (or even human) behaviour and evolution, I would spend much time there and observe, I don’t think there are many places like that in the world which allow such kind of research.

Anyway the most incredible cat we saw there was this one

The Devils AdvoCAT – Watercolour and ink travel sketch by Miki

And I swear I haven’t exaggerated! One really wonders which kind of cross this one was… certainly between a cat and snake incorporating the devil!

The fantastic title this time comes from me… you see, I am learning!

I will finish this post with two cats which I saw in a different place, just one hour before we took the plane to Crete. We found this place quite by accident, it was a fabulous sculpture park by Larnaca. The sculptor himself was a fascinating personality, and such an intelligent guy, and we would have loved to spend much more time with him. We just had time to chat a little bit, and to make some photos. That place was very inspiring to me and I even made a painting yesterday inspired by one of his sculptures, The Sphinx, the artist’s first sculpture in large scale,

The Sphinx Of Petraion – Aquarelle painting by Miki

The little cat was really sitting there next to the Sphinx, a picture for the Gods! Unfortunately the little bastard bit me, and it bit me hard, even if the sculptor said that it didn’t. At least that one didn’t really bite, he said, but his other cat did.. I would have probably ended up in 2 pieces had I met it!

I do hope I will find time at some point to make more paintings inspired by these sculptures. But before I do that I need to be sure that the sculptor agrees with me doing that. I am not sure how the copyright laws are in this matter, and anyway, it is a question of respect of intellectual and artistic property. I have contacted him and I am waiting for his answer.

These cats, and many others,  are available directly online as Giclee print in many different dimensions, on paper or canvas, and also as greeting cards. And I promise, my cats really don’t bite. Just click on the widget below to access my FAA Gallery

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My Dear Old People in Cyprus 01

As I was travelling through Portugal some years ago I had started sketching old people, together or lonely. And last year when I was in Italy I got the idea to make a series about old people from around the world, meaning, wherever I go, I try to capture them in their special loneliness or togetherness. A theme very dear to my heart, as I am generally very fond of our senior citizens, loving to see them still enjoying life, and hating to see them lonely. I called the series:

“My Dear Old People”

I have painted so far old people from Portugal, Spain, Italy, Republic Czech and Morocco. And now from Cyprus.

I had hardly a chance to catch sight of old people in Ayia Napa, it being more oriented towards fun and youth I would say.  It was certainly better  in our next port of call, in Nicosia, the “last divided” capital in the world, apparently – and especially in the Turkish part of it. We had entered it on foot, via the “No Borders Street”, and got a three month visa at the end of it. A very weird feeling by the way. I meant to do a painting of that street full of poignant graffiti and political slogans, but somehow I felt that it would be some kind of inappropriate voyeurism and I let the motif go… It hurt though!

Most of the tourists who had crossed seemed to stay close to the border, not daring to venture further, probably scared of what would befall them. Much blood had been spilled in the  Turkish/Greek conflict in Cyprus, so perhaps it was better to be careful. But Kevin and me, we are two daredevils and we walked a long way away. In fact I wanted to have a better look at the mountain on which an enormous  Turkish flag was painted. But after many kilometres the mountain still hadn’t appeared, as if it vanished once one was in Turkey!

Instead I saw these two old men walking the street together… just wonderful!

Together Old in Cyprus 02 - Watercolour and ink painting, by Miki

I don’t really like to photograph old people, too scared to offend them. So if I want to paint them, I have to be quick, or have a good photographic memory. In fact, no, scratch that, I haven’t got such a memory, it does not work with me, my brain is a machine which transforms everything my eyes see into a mathematical form, and there is hardly any way for me to transform it back into a picture when I need it. So, I have normally to make a sketch on the site, or take a quick photo when they don’t look. Neither of these 2 alternatives is easy. Sometimes the sketches are good enough, other times I have to redo them at home.

Old and Lonely in Cyprus 01 – Watercolour and ink painting, by Miki

I saw the old woman knitting in an old open-air building, with interesting multiple arch architecture, and a kind of inside patio. Through the combination of the warm old stones and the blue sunny sky above  the light inside there was simply divine. The place was vibrant, full of people sitting around, most of them were men though.  And there were also plenty of great motifs for my old people series

That woman did look immersed in her activity, so I thought I could perhaps risk a photo. I observed her for a while first, and came to the conclusion that she didn’t lose one detail of everything which was going on around her! One might think that old people are often absent-minded … no way! They rarely miss a thing, and considering their wisdom -which is not a myth…-  and their life experience, they don’t need long to understand what is going on.

So I went away and made a fast sketch from a distance, drawing only the main lines. The painting is based on that sketch.

Together Old in Cyprus 01 - Watercolour and ink painting, by Miki

I adored that motif of these 4 old guys sitting together around a table and intensely chatting behind a book stand. I don’t believe they were discussing any of the books, as there were no books on the table. Curious as I am, I would have loved to know what they were talking about!

A difficult theme though, but I did my best… One will notice that James Patterson is also read in Turkish Nicosia!

Old and Lonely in Cyprus 02 - Watercolour and ink painting, by Miki

This old guy and the whole stuff around was certainly a delight for my artist’s eyes!

I think every scene I saw in that building was a potential painting as such and I wished I had had time to paint some more. But we had to head back to the other part of Nicosia,  not before having a well-deserved  “occupied latte” which I will publish in this blog later when I start presenting my new ‘travel mugs’ series…

There will be more paintings from my dear old people in Cyprus, but it is enough for now. The walk through the Turkish part of Nicosia was really like a trip to another continent, and the paintings done there should be treated separately, I feel. I would like to add that these four have been done on a very simple sketching paper, usually used for pencil and certainly not adequate for watercolour painting. But I had nothing else with me. It is interesting though to see that this paper is taking the watercolour in a very weird way, it sucks it inside instantaneously, and the colour vanishes slightly from the surface, giving the paintings some kind of  old fashioned, ancient look and consequently  historic depth. And somehow, I feel, it suits very well the motifs and the place. So, ultimately, I am quite happy about it.

Oh yes, for those who don’t know where is Nicosia, or Cyprus, here it is (according to Google Map):

Nicosia, Cyprus

These paintings are available directly online as Giclee print in many different dimensions, on paper or canvas, and also as greeting cards. Just click on the widget below to access my FAA Gallery

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Sleep Tight in The Travelodge

So, here I am. Back from a 6 week painting and sightseeing trip through unknown territory, that is to say: 3 weeks Cyprus, 3 weeks Crete, 1 day London. And although the weather was great almost all the time on these Mediterranean islands, it can never be as warm as at home, at least psychologically not. So, not a trace of vacation withdrawal, simply happiness to be back home after a fantastic time in which I did loads of sketches. Because in fact, what I call here vacation, is not really vacation for me, it is work too.. a dream job though!

And now it ‘s time to gradually complete and publish all this work.

Well, I have a very weird habit: when I read a magazine, I cannot help starting with the last page and browse my way back to the cover. No idea where this comes from -I have researched, I have definitely no Arabian ancestors!-, have often tried to fight it, but I cant: I have to start with the end. The reason might be my impatient nature, I perhaps cannot face that amount of pages until the end? Whatever:  for some obscure reason, I will now start my publishing work with the very last sketch I did, yesterday evening in London.

London Gatwick

We had to come back from Crete through the UK, Kevin having a BCSweet gig  in Great Yarmouth  and I had to wait for him in London. For all kinds of reasons we had booked a room for me in a Travelodge at Gatwick airport. Now, I didn’t know exactly what a travel lodge is, but I imagined some very cheap, cold, impersonal and unpleasant place. But let me tell you: I have been in many hotels in my life, some very posh and some very fancy, in any case much more expensive than the Travelodge… and much worse! I know I am running the risk of being judged as a tasteless and common person – truly a bad reputation for an artist! – but I do love well-thought-out and functional things. This hotel is one of them:  the shower is hot, the shower curtain is not too short, there is enough room around the sink for 2 persons toiletries, the towels are immense, the bed is double and big, the pillows are soft enough to not break my neck and long enough to be cuddled in case of the loved one’s absence, the TV is not microscopic and does not offer hundreds of useless channels, there is a long table-top to display all my painting stuff and start painting without having to move everything else, there is a big wardrobe area set apart, the heating works fine, and the most important thing in the world: there is a water kettle and a tray with instant coffee and milk!!!!! And outside the rooms, there is a vibrant cafeteria/restaurant area with loads of nice stuff to drink and eat, and free speedy internet. Now this is much more than what I got in some 500 euros a night hotels in my luxurious past!!!!!

So, there, I was, Friday evening, ready to pack again for our flight to Alicante next morning, when I noticed one of the leaflets pricing the services of the Travelodge. There were some very cute photos on it, featuring 2 bears having a ball at the Travelodge, drinking coffee, looking at TV and surfing the net. Having started a series of coffee mugs sketches  on this holiday capturing our coffee adventures in Cyprus and Crete, I decided to make a sketch of these bears, strongly inspired by one of these photos. And here it is:

Sleep Tight in The Travelodge - Watercolour and ink sketch, by Miki

By the way: If you really think now that I have a cheap taste, then I must tell you that I am not the only one. Among the bears and also all sorts of people there, of all ages and nationalities who seemed to enjoyed their stay there, I discovered a celebrity of the rock scene, obviously trying to stay incognito behind his sunglasses, probably not to admit publicly that he too loves the Travelodge at Gatwick Airport! He couldn’t fool me though, but well, to respect his wishes,  I won’t tell his name and and considering his aristocratic look, I decided to baptise him

“The Count of  Gatwick Travelodge”

Any similarity with a living person is purely intentional…   🙂

The Count of London Gatwick Travelodge - Watercolour and ink sketch, by Miki

PS: I haven’t been paid for this article, but if the Travelodge company wants to give me  a free life pass for all Travelodges of the world (do they exist outside the UK?), I won’t say no!!!!

As usual, these artworks are available directly online as Giclee print in many different dimensions, on paper or canvas, and also as greeting cards. Just click on the widget below to access my FAA Gallery

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A Dog Called Pushkin

I have a dog. His name is Pushkin. A strange name for a dog, one would think. Alexander Pushkin was a Russian author of the romantic era and is considered by many to be the greatest Russian poet. Now, my dog has some Russian ancestry, and when he was drunk, he got really poetic and romantic. I use the past tense here, because Pushkin is old now, he does not drink so much any more and his poetry has become very solid again, hard to get it out …he is still a romantic bugger though, and tells me very often how much he loves me when I hold him in my arms. Pushkin has learned English and Spanish in the meantime, but when it comes to such deep feelings, he goes back to his native language… and blushes much, as you can see on his portrait! The green thing around his waist, in case you wonder, is a kick boxing green belt. I’ll tell you about it later.

Anyway, a wonderful Russian lady called Ludmilla gave me that dog many years ago. She was the mother of a Russian painter with whom I had an art Studio in my previous life. I felt lonely quite often and had thought to buy a dog. Now, some Russian friends of Ludmilla wanted to get rid of one, not being able to deal with him any more especially because of his alcohol problems. This is how Pushkin became mine!

Now, I love to have a drink from time to time, red wine, champagne, beer, but I really don’t like alcoholism, it does change the people in a very bad way. So I decided to try to cure Pushkin. I could not face sending him to a detoxification home though, so I tried with him the only way I knew: sport! At that time I was learning kick boxing, and I simply took Pushkin with me. He really got into it, and we gradually made our belts together. And as soon as he got his yellow belt, I gave him the most wanted job in the world:

Miki’s Body Guard!

Rude Boy Pushkin - by Miki

He took his job very seriously, especially when I was sleeping. He sat by the side of my bed, the whole night long, without closing one eye -at least I think-, holding a big banner, and written on it:

“Careful!

Rude Boy

Miki’s Body Guard”

“Rude Boy” is by the way the  label of a Spanish company selling stuff for kick boxers. It is an incredibly cute name and label, I love it! On the painting above you can see Pushkin proudly taking care of Miki (at the bottom of the sketch is written is Spanish: “Miki duerme aqui…”,  Miki is sleeping here..  I obviously had no room left on the page to draw myself sleeping!)

In the meanwhile Pushkin is much more advanced in kick boxing, and is a green belt now, like me. But we both stopped our kick boxing career as I met Kevin, thinking I didn’t need to learn self-defence any more, and even less employ a body guard! So, green belt it is, and green belt it will stay!

As I said at the beginning, Pushkin does not drink so much any more. But it was a long process to get him clean, alcoholism is not really easy to cure, especially not when you are a Russian dog. Sometimes Pushkin fell back again, and instead of guarding my body in the night, he drank a whole bottle of champagne. In the morning I found him there, holding with a shaky hand a banner stating that he was sorry, that Rude Boy was drunk…  poor thing, he looked so tired, and so guilty, I always had to forgive him!

Drunk Pushkin - by Miki

I have many more stories and sketches of Pushkin from that time. I was focussing on learning drawing, especially portraits. Having no children, I often took him as a model…

His glorious days of body guard and model are finished now, but I still love him loads and he still spends his nights by the side of my bed… both eyes closed now!

Cafe Filou and Cappuccino

1999 in “Cafe Filou” in Reute – By Miki

I explained in my last post “Back To My German Past” that I had recently found some sketches from one of my many previous lives… more exactly from the one in Reute, a municipality  about 10 kilometres away from the wonderful town of Freiburg, in Baden-Wuertenberg and on the edge of the famous Black Forest. And I promised some insight into the cafe life in and around Reute, based on some of these sketches done on site… some of them probably drawn while drinking one of those fabulous big Weizenbeers! I certainly was having one as I painted the above sketch! “Cafe Filou” was the main Gasthaus in Reute, a very cool place, where the whole town, young and not-so-young people gathered most every evening, to have some drinks or a meal. Or to have a date. This was THE place where to find a new girl or boyfriend if you had inadvertently lost one. A typically German place, with loads of wood and beer and solid tasty food… and allowing intimacy as well as social interaction if you needed to… I just loved it! And of course I loved the name, “Filou”, a French word, which my dictionary inelegantly translates into “crook, cheat”. Well, I suppose you don’t have any filous in English speaking countries, as a filou is nothing of that. It must be something typically French. I don’t know if you have heard from Arsene Lupin, the gentleman thief, but he was a typical filou. In fact, a guy doing very naughty stuff, but doing it with such a charm that one can’t help forgiving him, and even loving him! Normally used for a guy, but my mother sometimes calls me that, when I am especially “cheeky”… and honestly, I am, deep inside, a filou… but so deep that only my mother can know… and Kevin of course – who just told me that ‘rascal’ is perhaps the closest approximation to filou! But this, to my French ears, is far less delightful!

I Am Only Here For My Beer – by Miki

The above sketch was drawn in Cafe Conditorei Cappuccino, in Hochdorf-Freiburg. This also was a great place, but more for the morning or the afternoon. The Milch Café were served in immense bowls with much foam on top, gargantuan mueslies and fruit-salad yoghurts in huge crystal dishes .The cakes you could get with them were just soooo tasty, lecker as they say there! Most people indeed went there for breakfast, especially business men when they had their morning break like the guy with the tie in the background. I do miss sometimes the food from Germany, there was something quite gemütlich in it. Gemütlich, a word I could never find an appropriate translation for in French. In English I would say something like “cosy”… well, I guess the French don’t like it cosy, they just like it filou!

But even though it was more of a breakfast or afternoon cafe, you could also see people drinking beer there, at any time of the day… and when it happened to be in the morning, it was usually a lonely person and a very sad view indeed…

And now a last sketch from that time in Germany. I believe though that the subject is universal!

You drink too much! – by Miki

I am wondering though if times have changed since 2000, the date when that drawing was done … is it perhaps more the men nowadays moaning after their women that they drink and smoke too much? Possible, isn’t it? The world has changed so much these last 10 years…  🙂

So, this was my trip back to my past in Reute. It was fun to relive this time through these sketches. As I always notice, sketches and paintings have a much deeper and much more emotional memory value than photographs. Probably because when one does them, one generally goes much deeper into the subject, and stays much longer on it, even if the sketches are quickly done, like mine normally are.

These artworks are available directly online as Giclee print in many different dimensions, on paper or canvas, and also as greeting cards. Just click on the widget below to access my FAA Gallery

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