Flags from Around The World 02

As I told you in my last post, I started a new contest in FineArtAmerica  about “flags”, and I announced a second post showing some more of my artworks where flags play an important role. So far, artists and photographers are participating very well to the contest, and I am very thankful about it. I  just wish there would be some more other flags than the “The Stars and Stripes” exhibited! If you wish to see the 370 images which have been submitted so far, have a look here: believe me, it is worth it!

So here are some of my other paintings featuring flags. To start with, my own interpretation of the American flag, in the background as well as on a tie:

“A Turkey for President”, a “just for fun” image I created some years ago to celebrate “Thanksgiving”.

A Turkey for President New S

Let us stay in the USA and go to New Orleans. It was in 2010 and it was Mardi Gras, but I don’t know what the flags had to do with it, and which significance they had. Anyway, here is a happy street in the French quarter

French Quarter in New Orleans 01 New S

Lets get all sporty again and go back to “The Golden Night of Gold”, that very special evening in the London Olympics Games 2012 when 3 UK athletes – Jessica Ennis, Mo Farrah and Greg Rutherford) won a  gold medal…

Olympic Night of Gold S

Back to Italy now. The following painting does not show a flag as such, but something more interesting I find:

 Italian shoes in the colours of the flag! This is really Italian elegance, isn’t it?

Italian Shoes 02 New S

Let us go to Germany and have some coffee, out of that wonderful mug with the German flag colours, a present of a very kind German fan of the famous chart-topping ‘Yellow River’ hitmakers “Christie” in which my partner Kev Moore plays the bass.

2009 German Mugs S

And finally I will go back to my roots, my dear France. A  sketch done with pastel chalk in the Perigord in 2007, as we were on our way up to Scotland.

Perigord 13 S

So, if you are interested in taking part to the contest and get a special feature in this blog if you wish, please hurry up.  Submission deadline is Friday, June 14th, at the following place:

Flags Contest

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Market Places from Around The World

I love to travel, and more than anything, I love to paint what I see when I travel. One subject which I especially enjoy painting are the market places, with all their colours, activities and great characters wandering around. Markets places say so much about a country, their culture, their food, etc…

Wine Vendor in a Provence Market S

Wine Seller in The Provence

Anyway, I have recently been a little more active in my artists community “Fine Art America”, having found some more time and above all pleasure and comfort in participating in the social life there. I have to overcome some immensely deep sadness because of the sudden death of my brother, and the best way to do it, for me, apart from travelling, is to meet people… without really meeting them! I am more of a lonely wolf, but I love communication and exchange, so interaction on the internet and especially in a nice artists community such as FAA is, is very appropriate.

Vegetables Seller in a Provence Market S

Vegetables Seller in The Provence

So, I have started a contest there about the market places of this world. All media are accepted, painting, drawing and photographs. The winner will be featured in this blog, perhaps even interviewed if I get inspired by the winning work. You have to belong to FAA to be able to take part, and if you are, and fancy a go, you are very much welcome.  Here is the contest link, where you can submit your work.

“Markets from Around The World”

but hurry up,  the contest ends on June the 5th.

In this post I publish some examples of market paintings done in Arles, in the Provence region of France.

Oranges Vendor in a Provence Market S

Oranges Seller in The Provence

Painting Tenerife: San Cristobal de La Laguna 01

Painting Tenerife: San Cristobal de La Laguna 01


In February 2013, I spent 3 weeks painting the Canary Island Tenerife. My first two posts about that island were referring to places called “Los Gigantes” and “Garachico”. Today I will present here some watercolour and ink sketches from San Cristobal de la Laguna, a town in the Northern part of the island.

We had visited the capital, Santa Cruz de Tenerife, the day before and were a little bit disappointed by most of the town. Then I had read that San Cristobal was the former capital and that La Laguna’s historical centre was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1999. Consequently, I thought that there might be some interesting motifs for me.

Unfortunately it was quite a grey and even rainy day and the light cast on the town really wasn’t motivating me to paint. As we began meandering through the town, I became worried that in fact it wasn’t going to present me with anything interesting at all, but as we happened upon the bustling Sunday market, I quickly found a number of motifs, the first ones being quite funny. I did the ink drawings on the site, adding the colours later at home. The first one represents a fish stand.

To be honest, I hate fish. I mean, I hate dead fish, and wherever dead fishes are, I run away, unable to stand the smell and the sight of them. It might be because I was a passionate diver in the past and spent many hours playing with lovely, living fishes in the depths of the seas, that I firmly believe that is where they belong! Anyway, that day I found that motif so funny that I had to draw it. But believe me, I did it very fast, as I gradually started to feel very sick in my tummy. But I understand that true art demands its sacrifices…

You might think that I exaggerated the size of the big fish in the foreground.. perhaps I did… but really, not that much, as it was exactly that which drew my gaze, the contrast between him and the hundreds of little fishes laying in rows behind him. That guy, although dead, really looked for all the world as if he was thinking: “How did I land here?” Which is what I am often thinking about myself on this Earth… that painting could well be a self-portrait!

You might also believe that I invented the next motif… I swear I did not!

So hilarious… and I would have given the world to know what was going on inside the head of the nun… and of the pig! The chickens had lost their heads, so at least they hadn’t any thoughts, presumed chicken usually think with their heads…

What attracted me in the flower stand above, besides the many flowers which I anyway love to paint, was the woman herself. She stood there for a long time, totally immobile. I myself stood quite a while there, sketching and observing, and I could not find out who that woman was. I first thought she was the shop owner, but would she have a bag in her hand if she was? Was she a client? But where was the shop owner then? And why didn’t she move at all? I am not even sure if she was alive!

Later that day, I painted some more motifs from the town itself, as it finally stopped raining and the sun came out, coinciding with our discovery of a pretty part of the town, and I will present these sketches in my next post. But for now let us end with a well-deserved “Churros and Chocolate” treat!

Now, for those who don’t know what Churros are, and still don’t understand it after looking at my sketch, here is what Wikipedia has to say:

“…A churro, sometimes referred to as a Spanish doughnut, is a fried-dough pastry—predominantly choux—based snack. Churros are popular in Spain, France, the Philippines, Portugal, Latin America (including Spanish-speaking Caribbean islands) and the United States. There are two types of churros in Spain, one which is thin (and sometimes knotted) and the other which is long and thick (porra). They are both normally eaten for breakfast dipped in hot chocolate or café con leche….”

Well, these churros from San Cristobal were a killer.. not only in quality but also in quantity!

The paintings of San Cristobal de La Laguna presented in this gallery are available directly online as Giclee print in many different dimensions, on paper or canvas, and also as greeting cards, in my FAA Gallery. Please press the link below to access it.

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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 which painting you are interested in and in which size. Go to Goodaboom Boutique to see a guideline of pricing for different dimensions.

 

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)

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Cats and Tourists in Paphos

As I said in a previous post “Living among Gods in Paphos”, where I published some artworks inspired by the wall paintings in our hotel, we stayed only 2 days in Paphos. A pity, as I loved the place, there was so much great stuff to see there. But well, we still managed to have a very interesting time, starting  with a lovely walk along the seaside promenade and to the castle, followed by an intensive visit to the fabulous open air archaeology museum and, the next day, to “The Tombs of The Kings”.

Unfortunate the castle by the harbour was closed at that time and we couldn’t go inside. Instead I sat on the top of the little amphitheatre in front of it and made a quick sketch of the 4 English tourists sitting there and enjoying the beautiful view, the sun and obviously the togetherness! I must say that I understood very well all these old English people spending the winter or even their whole retirement time in Paphos: it is surely a place where it is fun to live!

Together Old in Cyprus 06 – watercolour and ink travel sketch by Miki

A wonderful motif for my series “My dear Old People”!

We were told by a musician friend of Kevin that there is a wonderful pelican by the harbour, earning his living by gigging for the tourists on the street. We searched for it, but could not find it… I did regret it a lot, as I would have loved to paint it, it would have made a fabulous motif for my “Street Musicians” series!

But well, it must not always be pelicans… cats do the job too!

Romance in Paphos  – watercolour and ink travel sketch by Miki

As I had mentioned in a former post, cats are omni- present in Cyprus. One day I even saw a T-Shirt featuring “All The Cats of Cyprus”: .

big mouth cats, stoned cats, seriously pissed-off cats, horny cats, romantic cats, wicked cats, shy cats, confused cats

Well, the two cats on my sketch belong obviously to the romantic sort! One might argue that tombs are not the best place to start a romance, but on the other side, these places do have a kind of romanticism, I find. A romanticism full of gravity and dramatic of course… like love itself!  🙂 I don’t know for certain though if these two cats were having a true romance or if they were playing an act for the tourists!

En Catimini  – watercolour and ink travel sketch by Miki

I can’t find in the list above any category for that red and blue cat lurking behind my back. Well, humans and animals are not that different in many points: people always try to look behind my shoulder when I sketch on the site, and like that cat, they always think that I can’t see them. But I have very sharp eyes in the back of my head, you know… and when they have seen what I do, they often go some steps further away to take a photo of me, still thinking that they are invisible to me. I understand them of course. Not that I look especially great, but an artist painting on the site is always a favourite photo motif for tourists. When they are back home and show the holidays photos to family and friends,  these photos  somehow send the message

” look everybody, we were in such a great place that artists painted it!

Window to Life – aquarelle and ink travel sketch by Miki

It was interesting to see that many tourists, who, judging by their appearances, probably hardly move at home, were ready to make much more efforts here to visit the places. But it was indeed fun to jump and climb all over and around these old stones. And concerning the woman above:  I don’t know if the people buried in the Tombs of the Kings ever reached the sky after their death, but that little woman up there was apparently trying to do it in her life time!

Old and Lonely in Paphos – aquarelle and ink travel sketch by Miki

Funny, when I look at all these sketches, they are all in a kind of cartoonish caricatural style, and in fact totally the contrary of the ones I painted the evening before in the hotel. I didn’t choose this style on purpose. I just seem to change my sketching and painting style everyday, according to my moods and the motifs. Well, in Paphos that day I must have been in a light superficial mood, weird, considering the serious ancient backdrop.  Although I must say that I didn’t find these places sad, not even the tombs. Perhaps was death not that sad in the old days?

I also need to say again that these frequent changes of style are NOT a sign of me not having found my style., as most of the art critics so wisely pretend. They are just a sign that I don’t want a style!!!! The BBC’s Sherlock Holmes would understand me so well: one style is SOOOOO BOOOORING!

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My Dear Old People in Cyprus 02

I’ve already published some paintings from old people in Cyprus, about 10 days ago, all the motifs featuring old people from the Turkish-occupied part of the capital Nicosia.

Today you will see here old people from the other part of Nicosia, but also from other places in Cyprus.

Let us start with that lonely old man that I saw in the Starbucks Café in Nicosia.

Old and Lonely in Cyprus 04 – Watercolour and ink travel sketch by Miki

The walls were decorated in a very original, happy and funny way, strongly contrasting with the the loneliness and sadness of the old man sitting there. I don’t want to make bad advertising for the Starbucks company here, so I have to mention that the Café was far from as empty as it seems on my painting. I just needed the empty space and chairs around the old man to emphasize the impression of loneliness.It was in fact a great atmosphere in the Starbucks Café in Nicosia, full of young people with laptops, iphones, ipads, etc… obviously not suffering under the economic crisis! It always amazes me how all these people can buy these expensive electronic devices, and can even treat themselves to a coffee at Starbucks: they are really not cheap! Anyway,  As I arrived there I was exhausted and freezing, we had walked a long way in the cold. A big mug of hot chocolate and a fantastic cheese pie totally gave me my energy back. In that instant I really loved Starbucks and was happy to pay their prices!!! We were tempted to buy the City collection mugs from Cyprus, but somehow I found it too expensive and above all, we had not much room to take mugs back and with still 5 weeks holidays to go, I wanted to buy only the  best… but Kevin could not resist and bought another Starbucks mug, which I would paint later on… and also sometime later, In Limassol, we could not resist and decided to buy the Cyprus Starbucks mug anyway! Which is when I decided that I would make paintings of all our Starbucks mugs… one never knows, the company might be interested! They’d better be, because Kevin always want to have a coffee there, and he always chooses the most expensive one full of fancy stuff, and normally something sophisticated to eat too.  I do want to get our money back from them somehow!  🙂

Anyway, let us leave Starbucks for now and try to go for a coke!

The following painting is a little piece of artistic cheating though…

Old and Lonely in Cyprus 03 – Watercolour and ink travel sketch by Miki

We were walking from our hotel in Nicosia to the centre of the town where the Starbucks Café mentioned above was. On our way, I saw this closed Coca-Cola place with the arrow pointing to a kiosk, and I found it quite inspiring as such. Some metres farther away I saw a statue of an old man, I forget who he was. But he did look quite bored and fed-up. He was sitting in an armchair next to an abandoned desolate place advertised as “The Garden Cafe – In The Heart of the City”… obviously that heart was not beating there anymore! Anyway it did not take long for my brain to have the old man sitting in the empty Coca ColaCafé and being fed-up at not getting his Coca-Cola there, too tired to walk to the open kiosk…

I saw the following scene the next day, when we crossed back over the border from the other part of Nicosia.

Together old in Cyprus 02 – Watercolour and ink travel sketch by Miki

the scene was exactly like that, this time I didn’t cheat.. or not much at least! The ram was in fact… a statue! But both man and ram seemed as if they had been sitting together there all their life. And even the animal being “only” a statue, the motif was very touching for me.

I think that’s about it for old people from Nicosia. I regret not having seen more old women though… I don’t know if it was me, or if they were indeed not out in the street. There are some countries where old women stay at home, Cyprus might be one of them. I always get the feeling they stay hidden, kind of ashamed of being old… an extremely sad thing to me.

Together old in Cyprus 07 – Watercolour painting by Miki

I saw these two old men inside a private farmhouse yard in a small village not too far from Nicosia, but I don’t remember where exactly. The gate to the street was open and I had a glance inside, only curious to see how in Cyprus a farmhouse looks like from inside. What I saw was so striking… I don’t know what had happened, but these two men were obviously distressed. At least they were together to share their pain… I probably shouldn’t have painted this motif, it is quite indiscreet. And yet, I could not resist, there is such a depth and inner beauty in their suffering.

Together old in Cyprus 08 – Watercolour and ink travel sketch by Miki

Nice to share a cup of coffee with your old mate, isn’t it?  🙂

And to finish, along a road somewhere on our way from Nicosia to Paphos, I saw these two old people walking “together”. Together in some countries means: the man in front, the woman behind!

A motif for the gods!

Together Old in Cyprus 04 – Mixed technique by Miki

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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Living among Gods in Paphos

The Three Muses from Paphos – watercolour painting by Miki

From the capital Nicosia (you can see many paintings of it in previous posts in this blog) our journey through Cyprus brought us to Paphos, after a whole day’s drive through the mountains and the visiting of many exciting places.

I had booked a crazy hotel for 2 nights in Paphos. I had initially thought that the photos I had seen on their website were lying, that the hotel could not really be like they showed it. And yet, it was exactly like that, and in fact even crazier! Built on a beautifully preserved archaeological site, with millions of statues and wall paintings featuring scenes from Greek mythology everywhere, it was feast for the eyes. Really the ideal place where to stay when you visit Paphos, giving you the feeling to live among the ancient Gods! To live… and to die, as we visited many tombs not far from the hotel!

 I did some paintings in very impressionist and antique style, while we were staying there, more or less directly inspired by the hotel wall paintings..

The Three Strangers from Pathos –  watercolour painting by Miki

No much to tell about all these paintings though, as there is no story to them, they just appeared on the paper in memory of what I had seen in the hotel. The most exciting story I could tell about them is that they were all painted on an amazing table made out of out of lacquered wood and richly decorated with antique motifs. It was quite scary  to paint directly on that piece of art, as my style is wild and impatient and much colour always land everywhere… well, luckily the table surface was washable.

Child with Dog in Paphos – watercolour painting by Miki

Woman and Warrior in Paphos – watercolour painting by Miki

Bull and Man in Paphos – watercolour painting by Miki

Lovers in Paphos – watercolour painting by Miki

This last painting was not inspired by a wall painting in Paphos, but by a statue I saw somewhere on the top of a mountain high above a monastery. And the statue didn’t even feature lovers and birds, but… Just Kevin had lay down on the statue, for a joke, and this is where the painting comes from. In fact, the complete work was a huge statue of what looked like a bird on the mountain-top but I suspect was meant to represent the angel Gabriel, and the prone statue some 30 feet below, perhaps a reclining woman, but we weren’t sure! Far fetched you would say, but this is just how my creative brain works!

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