© Rita Draper Frazão

Inner Tour is a blog about People, Arts and Traveling by Rita Draper Frazão.
If you want to use my work, presented here, please send me a message.

quarta-feira, 6 de julho de 2016

Art, life and love

MIA's Fields of Gold

My latest work was done at the MIA Festival, in Atouguia da Baleia, a lovely fishermen's village in the Portuguese West Coast.

I am someone who works in concerts, in the shower, before bedtime... pretty much everywhere. This also means that my world's personal lenses are influenced by that restless nature of mine. And not that I stopped drawing (none of that!), but, for several reasons, it was not possible to publish here new stuff.

For those who are not familiar with MIA, this is an improvised music encounter where musicians (and not only) from all over the world get together in order to experiment music as a mean of communication, if I may put it that way.

This year, the festival's organization, also asked me to write a few lines about MIA. I had fun picturing a story that could embrace my vision of it, as a Tower of Babel. You can read my testimony and others here.

So far, I never went to a festival like this, and I was longing for this moment, since last year's edition! The truth is, there is no other like it. It's Fields of gold for me: Participants became friends, friends became family and family smells like home. I mean a comfortable realm, not exactly a physical place. And, I wonder where else can you be  y-o-u-r-s-e-l-f,  than somewhere you feel like home. That sets the tone for sharing and inspiration. And here, following, are mine.


In St Joseph's Church


Mark Alban Lotz

This was the first drawing made in this festival, and it's the flutist Mark Alban Lotz

The concert took place in St Joseph's Church, a Baroque monument, from 1747. The background tones of the drawing were inspired by the stunning colors of the church's altar. You can see it here, and know a bit more about this place here

Refurbished in 2012, its plan is octagonal (8, the infinity number) and its vibe is simply beautiful. It is, nowadays, used for cultural and religious purposes. If you ever go to Atouguia da Baleia, this is a place you should definitely visit! 


Robert Worley, The Bones of Character

At the same church, took place the concert of the group Breathing Space. This is the portrait of one of its participants, the artist Robert Worley

The Bones of Character is my personal approach on how their story version, of the last Neanderthal, was performed. 

Our current pencils are made out of a mixture of graphite and argil, involved in wood. 
Those elements, linked me to trees, nature, planet earth, mines, ground, and stones, and stones had a metaphorical major role in this show. 
I consider graphite a primordial importance material, as far drawing is regarded. I'd call it, elementary, basic, or even primitive.
Therefore, in this drawing, graphite pencil seemed to me the adequate and natural material of choice.

Stacked, towards gradually more affirmative stones (gradual color), they, finally, shape into a Homo Sapiens. Where did we come from, what do we know and what are we made of? Those are the key issues in The Bones of Character


Ayis Kelpekis

This one is Ayis Kelpekis and was made in a concert also in St. Joseph Church. And, I'm glad we were in a religious place because, indeed, this was kind of a holy experience to me.

Here's the poem I wrote for this drawing, during the concert:

Esculpido de uma rocha
trazia uma temperatura do sol
no vento de areia
trânsito Africano
paisagem intermitente
na filigrana consequente.

Carved out of a rock
brought a temperature of the sun
in the wind of sand 
African transit
intermittent landscape
in the consequent filigree.

If I'd close my eyes, while he was playing, I'd travel far away, through distant landscapes, Eastern destinies or just some sort of a visual trance with sand, rocks, wind and heat in it. 

I did think of Mount Rushmore's sculptured faces, when I did this portrait. I thought of Ayis as a President - not of a government but of this event - now carved in a earthly color line in my sketch book. 

An alive Phidias sculpture, right in my front, who brought us moments of joy and poetry, full of colors and flavors. He rocked it. Literally.


The After-hours


After the official concerts, it was about time for the official jam sessions in Armazém dos tubos! It's to exclaim and not to simply affirm, because it was also here that happened really exciting things in the festival!

Francisco Andrade

And this was the first drawing I made in one of those jams. 
It is the saxophonist Francisco Andrade caught in a moment of an absolute frenzy. Unstoppable and unforgettable that session! The drawing was made to the music's speed and the colors chosen regard the intensity of the moment. 

Last year I did a completely different portrait of Francisco, take a look at it here!


友人への頌歌 / Ode to a friend - Ryoko Imai

友人への頌歌 / Ode to a friend is a drawing I made with Ryoko Imai's hand.
It was one of the first drawings I did in this festival, and one of the last to finish. I started it at the first Jam Session in Armazéns dos Tubos and finshed it at the MIA Post Jam, in Desterro.

Normally the title of a painting is the last thing I think about (if there is even a one) but, in this case, the whole drawing started by the title and her hand. The rest of the ideas unfolded while the festival went on. And, of course, she also helped me with the title spelling and translation in Japanese!

This process is not so common in my work, since, when I draw live, almost always I already know how I want to paint it and how my texts about them are going to be like, even though, recurrently, I do that afterwards. Ultimately, the concert is, itself, my zenith moment of inspiration.

Regardless, I was lucky my life crossed with this amazing Japanese percussionist and human being.
This drawing is not about the musician, it's about the person she is: lively, dynamic and sensitive to the others. Beyond her sometimes shy appearance (grey background) , there are so many colors I see in her (in her hand), proper to the force of nature that I think she is.

Here's a funny detail I found we have in common between my brushes and her sticks:


I had made other portraits of her, one of them as a musician, but this time I was mesmerized with the beauty and delicacy of her hands.

She has creativity bubbling on her veins, and an immense potential that can make a difference.
I remembered the Good Will Hunting movie, because I think her and Will Hunting (Matt Damon's character) share something in common: geniality and the lack of awareness of the importance and impact they can have on others and in the world.

One of our greatest Portuguese poets, Fernando Pessoa, once wrote:

"O valor das coisas não está no tempo que elas duram, mas na intensidade com que acontecem. Por isso existem momentos inesquecíveis, coisas inexplicáveis e pessoas incomparáveis"

“The value of things is not the time they last, but the intensity with which they occur. That is why there are unforgettable moments and incomparable people.” 

I think Ryoko is one of them.


In the Main Auditorium


Discordantly with other editions, this year the rain kept pouring down, most of the time. Although we had to bundle up in garments, I think none of that was keeping us from having a blast. Instead, the feeling I had, was that we were all so happy to be together. 

Noel Taylor

In the drawing above, one could think that the black stains could be rainy inspired. But they were not. This image is my portrait of the clarinetist Noel Taylor and the black stains started out to be an accident. On the previous page of my drawing book, I had done a painting with a loaded black ink, and a little bit passed through the paper.

I didn't consider it a drawback, on the contrary, it was the perfect metaphor for what I felt when I was listening to Noel: the blue sky, the birds, black stars and the clearness of thought of Taylor. Just beautiful. 

All this, established the mood for the present color palette: light blue, white, black and silver. 
A reminder that, in every dark cloud there is a silver lining. 


Sandra Giura Longo

The Italian Sandra Giura Longo stepped onto the stage, and a visual blotch came with her. 
I wanted this portrait to be pretty graphic.  
She was playing flute when I did this drawing and, along the festival, she sang too.

Besides the musical playing, this improviser, currently living in Paris, has done work in the areas of writing and performing arts. Actually, I wonder how isn't she doing painting or design too, since she seemed to me a person with such an esthetic sensitivity.

She once lived in Azores, and I was amazed with her Portuguese. A nice surprise!


Desmarte - João Desmarques

The portrait above, is the Portuguese guitar player João Desmarques - an active member of the band dUAS sEMIcOLCHEIAS iNVERTIDASATR (Associação Terapêutica do Ruído), and also of Zaratan.

Desmarques is a slangy word, that comes from the Portuguese verb Desmarcar. It means deselect, cancel, dismiss... In this case, signifies the several dismisses or no shows.
I think it's a rather original and funny nickname. João is, indeed, the only Desmarques I know!
The result of this moment (concert) to me, was the pun Desmarte. A mixture of Desmarque with the words, Marte (Mars, the action and battle planet in ancient mythology) and Arte (Art).

In the meantime, while listening and seeing him, Desmarques made me travel throughout Namek, and those lazy late mornings with the company of Dragon Ball Z's (DBZ) cartoons. A generation stopped to see those mighty Manga characters and so did I, to see, listen and draw him here.

It was his funny, intergalactic, no where-everywhere sense that made me tune in to this Japanese series.
I could feel his struggle (present in a different way in DBZ too), his dreamy and far away cloud (could it be like the Flying Nimbus), and his dashed trajectory in the noise of the earthly experience.

Between Namek's planet and Sun Ra's Space is the place, there is a subtleness and sensitiveness, a material absence, that was, at the same time, a beige, blue and black omnipresent spirit. All that was, ultimately, summed in the message of the art of the encounter through its medium, music.

It could be after a long travel by the planets and the stars, facing Adamastors and Titans, that one could find his true and valuable content. Or, in other words, here I present to you, The art of DesmarquesDesmarte.


Carlos Canão
Scanning drawings can sometimes be a little bit ungrateful, specially when metallic or fluorescent colors are involved. This is exactly the case, so I took some extra pictures for you guys, to see better these, golden and silvery colors. 


It's Carlos Canão, who was playing gong, while I did this drawing. He plays bass and tibetan bowls too.
Being a Yoga teacher and an Osteopath as well, Carlos is an outstanding healer. He's helped many persons and he's helped me too in a way I won't forget. The funny thing is, that you can feel his healing abilities through his music as well. Sweet!

In this MIA series, this was the one portrait that took me longer to finish.
As in music can sometimes be hard to find the right pitch, here finding the right shade of colors was the hardest part of this portrait. So, I buckled down making my own colors for it!


Firstly it was the gong that inspired me to use a metallic tone of gold. In here, you can easily perceive that this color is made of many different shades. I used 5 color layers until I reached the tone wanted. 


In here, a similar thing. The difference was that I mixed silver with other plain colors layers. In this case, I used white, black and blue.

This drawing contains very different colors (hot and cold) linked by the thin black drawing line that is Carlos. We talked about it, and I also felt he's got a flashy side (strong gold) and, at the same time, a more discreet side (light silver), both represented here. The image of a sunset at the beach crossed my mind too.

And by the way... While doing this one, and specifically regarding the landscape I envisioned here, I thought a lot about Anett Krase's master thesis. She's a German graphic designer and her work, as a researcher, is an aesthetics treaty! Philosophy in written painting, if I can call it that way. It was a big influence here, so inspiring, I couldn't finish this text without mentioning her.


Antoine Gilleron

Antoine Gilleron plays trumpet, sings and is involved with some projects such as Orchestra Elastique and Folie Ordinaire. This French musician has an electrifying and intense presence with a real exotic vibe.

This drawing was made in one of the most theatrical moments of the festival. It was the last concert of MIA, and Antoine was playing along with the MIA Ensemble, conducted by Fernando Simões. As the concert went on, things started to get exciting when he started to send - one by one - the musicians out of the stage. Unexpected by all, and with a surprising end, all the musicians answered back in unison. A real hoopla!

The drawing was exactly in the middle, when Fernando sent Antoine out of the stage. In this case, that is the reason why his body is not there. Afterwards, I painted it with Antoine's t-shirt color, and, I'm actually happy the course of events influenced my drawing. It makes all this more true!


Paulo Galão - The time is now

The drawing above, is the Portuguese clarinetist Paulo Galão. This portrait started off with the light blue and the greens. The black drawing was the last thing I did here. There was a rapid movement sensation that I wanted to pass on, and I also wanted to invert, a little bit, my natural order of doing things, which would be to leave colors for last.

I thought about that inversion, also because, firstly, I focused my eyes on his watch that, unconsciously, reminded me of space and time equations, or of a motto as the time is now.

Which, by the way, fit here as well, since rhythm and pause (visual kinesthesia and white), presence and silence (figure and blank background), noise and listening (scribble and observation) are notions that made part of my construction here. 


In the verge of the Vortex - Marialuisa Capurso

The following text, is a tale I wrote, to In the Verge of the vortex portrait and for the Italian singer Marialuisa Capurso.

Once upon a time there was a princess called Bellona. She lived by night, wore feathers, and lived high in the hill, to reach the clouds, and avoid the asphalt. 

From her most pinnacled castle tower, there was a foggy bridge: a link to the unknown, with unusual flowers, delicate perfumes, and sugar traps. 

Once, she went there for a stroll, and picked a flower to smell it. 
It was a reality bubble. At the same time she smelled, the bubble bursted. 
She shook, and felt the verge of the vortex. 

The parrots were never the same, the waves never crashed again to the same side, and bees learned that the intangible dimension of a peel's color, isn't the same as the letters used to describe the flavor of the fruit.

After a terrible stormy night, a magnanimous sun arrived in the morning.


But, to my great surprise, I not only did portraits from the musicians, as I was portrayed by a participant of the MIA Festival, as well. 

In the middle of the event, sitting in the public, Marialuisa asked me my drawing book, closed her eyes, and, in 5 minutes drew me. The result is above! 

(*Rita la dulce meninha : Rita the sweet girl)
The drawing is, here, used with the permission of the authoress.


The city of Carmine And White - Jesus Asenjo

This portrait tells the story of the mordant Carmine, who wanders in curves, angles and lines, drawing two blue trees on the floor, reflecting the water around. 
Thereafter, a pair of sandy streets, united to walk, formed a thought - which road to take? 
It was, only, in the next morning, afterwards a glorious coffee, that Carmine met White, shaping its inhabitant and his place in space: an inner city, su ciutat (his city).

Shapes and colors are the main theme here and, this is about the Spanish accordionist, Jesus Asenjo. Brown, beige and Yves Klein blue were, indeed, there. I added the white and carmine red, which added a higher color contrast, and inspired me to write a story about it.
His feet are trees, his legs streets, and his upper body, coffee. The surroundings (carmine) and his instrument (white) and how they both met in the person of Jesus. 

Afterwords I finished it, I thought about Nikias Skapinakis' amazing paintings. He's one of my heroes and, a big reference in Portuguese painting. If you're not familiar with his work, you can read more about him here and see some of his work here.


Playing a wave, surfing a guitar - Paulo Leal Duarte

It's been a while since I wanted to portray Paulo Leal Duarte. This Portuguese guitar player, plays with projects like P.R.E.C., and also paints.

Perhaps because I grew up with Surf, I always loved the sport and the culture around it: its rituals, dreamy feelsymbol, typography and magazines graphic designmovies, looks, jargonmusic, and guitarists too!!

And the trigger for this drawing above, were his fresh and observant Surf pictures, that never ceased to amaze me.

While playing, there is some kind of a hypnotic state he enters in, that I wanted to be symbolically present here too (closed eyes). The bluish strokes and lines movement were sea wave inspired. They involve his figure, almost as if he'd be playing a wave and surfing a guitar.

But his mind-blowing photos have wider themes than just Surf. You can navigate through some of them, here.


André Tasso

I witnessed two significant debuts of this Portuguese guitarist. One was André Tasso's first concert (with Luís Lopes) a while ago, and the other one, was this first time in which he participated in MIA Festival. I kind of feel a special relation towards him, regarding his evolution as a musician, perhaps because I saw it unfolding, from the very start.

There is always something extremely visual when I hear him. He plays and, two seconds after, I already have my mind invaded with images.

This drawing was made when André was playing with one of the raffled MIA groups. It seemed he was cooking a color! I started to draw his head and, the next thing I know, I could see André melting with the music, blending with the environment as watercolors in water.

My process of realizing this, followed the velocity of my drawing. This, became increasingly deconstructed, through a flexible outline of his body, passing through a musical instrument that became an ink blot, until, only pencil strokes were there.

Even though he seemed pretty shy, and was hidden on stage (I could barely see him)
 I really liked what I listened.
I'm looking forward to see what's next!


An extra boost


It was sleepy hard working morning in Mia Festival, while these next four drawings were done live, during an extra session at Armazém dos tubos.

Nuno Ribeiro
Here's is my sketch of the Portuguese guitar player, Nuno Ribeiro.

There's a certain subtleness about him, I particularly like. 
The portrait colors were inspired by his guitar and outfit combination. Sensitive and discreet, this drawing is about Nuno slowly puffing his music into thin air.

Besides playing guitar, he is a really nice photographer, very graphic, with an attentive sense of composition. I need to mention that, because - in the back of my mind - it was a source of inspiration, while listening to him too.


Cortez Lamont

This one is the Portuguese guitar player, Cortez Lamont, here posing with a black leather jacket.
I chose charcoal to draw, and this portrait has one particularity - it was started in the opposite paper direction. Until, I decided that what I've done so far, was good to be flipped upside down, like in a gambling card game

From that referred start, remains what you can see on the left side of the composition. It kind of reminded me some Prehistorical rock engravings, like this one

And, in the end, a flipped drawing, a playing card, leather, charcoal, black and white, rock engravings, and his music, all seemed to match.


Laura Marques

Laura is a name of glory, a person of colors, a flower blooming.  

What you see above, is a work in progress, my current portrait of Laura Marques

I wonder how many Laura's have enchanted the world...surely plenty... in my mind some, like Ella's, Ashley's, or Preminger's... all unique and none alike this one. I really enjoy this free singing bird, pure, natural and beautiful.

It was the second time I drew Laura (you can see the other portrait here), and hopefully will not be the last one!


Pedro Santo

It was through colorful scribbles and a charcoal drawing that I portrayed the Portuguese drummer, Pedro Santo.

I had portrayed him before, as the Wind Sheriff, but this time, I was more focused on the wide range of colors and textures he offered me. One can actually get that feeling if you hear the music of some of the projects that he was involved in. He is the drummer of the band Peixe Frito and played with groups such as Inner SpacewaysThe Lost ParkBä Mbo and Farra Fanfarra, just to name a few.
Note his astuteness and observation skills. His groovy and fast pace makes me bounce, and pay attention whenever I hear him. He's such a natural.

Along with his distracting and respectful dreadlocks, there is here a sensibility to be further explored and shown.


Another look 


But, not only from musicians is a festival made. Curators, technicians, producers, cooks, designers, photographers, the public, and many others make it possible. This year, I drew two of those persons, that I feel the public should know about, too.

José Felix da Costa

One of them is José Félix da Costa, the official MIA Festival photographer, that has made so many unforgettable shoots and videos of so many of us. Therefore, I guess it's more than fair to say, that he is a fundamental piece in this event.

One of the visual moments that, I think over time, has became a ritual, is the wall of his pictures, shown at the entrance of the festival. If you don't know what I'm talking about, see here.

But he not only documented, as he also created an archive of images with a sense of art. I really like his image framing, and the way he plays with light and colors. Plus, he's someone with a really fun and corrosive sense of humor.

We always need an exterior element, such as a painting, a camera, a mirror, a glass or a water reflexion to get an idea on how we look. And that's why I envisioned this portrait of José Félix da Costa, as being a reflection of his face in a camera lens, and not what, actually, one could see through it. This relates to the intent of the portrait itself - how we percept people, how we transmit that, and how one person sees her or himself.


Pat Lugo

The other person who didn't play at the festival, and of whom I did make a drawing of, was the Italian Patrizia Lugo. She sat next to me in almost every concert and, without ever bothering me and in first hand, she witnessed the birth of many of the portraits presented here.

Based in Belgium, she's one of the persons involved in Ex-i-t and a brilliant photographer too. Pat's pictures have lively colors, and a plastic approach, as if things, places and people were her canvas. So inspiring to me.
Her sensitiveness is very visual and the results are incredibly appealing photos that stir one's senses, to say the least! You can see what I'm talking about, here.

Her creativity ruled her fashion too, and I was mesmerized by her blue shoes. They made me dream. When the stage was pink and red, I looked at her and she was tapping her feet to the sound of music.

All I can say is that, it made a difference to me and to my work, to see all these concerts, with someone like her, by my side. And, for future memory, here remains the visual register of that fact.


The Post-Jam

Two days after the official festival ended, took place the Post Mia Jam in Desterro.
The vast majority of the musicians participating in this Jam, played in MIA Festival too.
And, therefore, and as a MIA extension, this year, I decided to join hither three drawings I did there.

Manuel Guimarães
From where I was, I could only see Manuel Guimarães' back, cropped in the middle of the other musicians. On the left side of his cropped figure, one can see, partially, the shape of a double bass. 

Manuel is this amazing pianist (who also plays guitar), of exquisite intensity. 
Murk is there, and his language spins deep, and that is what the black background full of lines is about. 

Different line thicknesses for unexpected and sudden mood changes - very high (thinner lines) and very deep (thicker lines). Both, exhaled with great steam - as if it was no big deal (or como se não fosse nada com ele, as we say here) - under the leafy shades (discreet green) of a hidden forest (the inner one). Profound and fresh!

This is a one-of-a-kind artist. 
Worth the time to dive in his work and pay him the deserved attention. 
See, also, my last year's version of him, here.


Luiz Rocha

Part of us stayed at the Villa Hostel, a nice place with a really helpful hostess, Sofia Tavares. She cooked every morning for us, and always made sure everything was fine. Loved it!

It was Luiz Rocha's birthday and, as our breakfasts, there, turned out to be a really nice moment of conviviality; I woke up, went to the kitchen and we sang happy birthday to him.

 I started to write this poem for him, as a gift. I stamped the text that same morning, and that was the kick start for this portrait - finished afterwards at the Post MIA Jam. The poem says:

Poema de Luiz
Do que luz
E do que traduz
Círculo absoluto
Em porta resoluta,
Cor no caminho,
Sopro de mansinho,
Suspiro de liberdade,
Vida de curiosidade.
Largueza na dança,
Canção da esperança.

Poem of Luiz
Whereof sparkles
And whereof translates
Absolute circle
On resolute door,
Color on the way,
Gently blow,
Sigh of freedom,
Life of curiosity.
Wideness in the dance,
Song of the hope.

It is a birthday present, so I wanted the colors to be light, and the life theme to be present! 
Some time ago, Luiz Rocha thankfully reminded me and some other persons, of Eric Dolphy's Jitterbug Waltz. Since then, every time I listen to this tune, I think of this bass clarinetist. I am referring it, because I think this would be a perfect soundtrack for this text, drawing, and most of all, for this luminous person (and hence the yellow). 

The man behind Carahiba blog, Luiz comes from Brazil, lives and Barcelona, plays with several groups and is a frequent name in the Discordian Records.


Lorenzo Lustri
This one is the Italian artist Lorenzo Lustri and, was the last drawing I have made in this series.
Lorenzo's work is extended to several areas such as musicperformance, cinema and theatre. Particularly in music, he expresses himself through several instruments - flute, harmonica, guitar and others.

I was sitting right next to the small stage. And while listening to the bare, dysmorphic sounds; in a certain moment, I caught a glimpse of Lorenzo, drew him, and immediatly wrote this text, on the back of the portrait.

Qualcosa di mauve,
qualcosa argillosa
persa, cercando
nera, brillante
scompassata, affetivamente atenta
stridentemente silenziosa.
Lorenzo.

Something mauve,
something clayey
lost, searching
black, bright
out of rhythm, affectively attempt
stridently silent.
Lorenzo.

 Afterwards, I came up with the exact typography I wanted the text to have, and wrote it down as you can see it now. I wanted it to look poetic, spontaneous and a bit chaotic, too. A character with contrast (different thickness of the line) and visual flow. Furthermore, black and white gave here the extra drama I pursued.

Wondering about the several meanings of character and drama, I figure they are keywords here. In this specific case, character in the sense of personality and alphabet letters; and drama, comprising the theatre scope and intense circumstances.
This leads me to the matter of the language as a sound and of the plasticity of the expression through writing, acting and music. And, in the end, all of that sums up the theatrical dimension I think Lorenzo has.

After more than 25 paintings in four days, I called it a day.

Fields of Gold


Always with sound around us, these days were, definitely, very intense and full of strong emotions!

 I have to thank both curators, Fernando Simões and Paulo Chagas, that changed their calendar so I could participate in this event, this year, and, and most of all, to thank them for organizing something much greater than just a music festival.

As a matter of fact, I kind of feel, all this is about Art, Life and Love (my Fields of Gold). And what better inspiration could I ever ask for?

I thank the Universe, for allowing me to meet such incredible people, apprehend different personalities, learn with them and witness so much talent around me.

It's a privilege.


This article is dedicated to Ana Maria Lopes e Manuela Sousa Cardoso.








quarta-feira, 17 de fevereiro de 2016

From chaos to a dancing star

The colors, the type, the places, the flavors, the sounds but most of all, the persons. 
All you're about to read and see, summed up here: vISual impro.

Welcome to my first post of the year!

Yes, I know it's already February, but I have been "cooking" stuff in January, to present you guys this, now.

I was invited to draw an event at the Bimhuis in Amsterdam, in The Netherlands. This event was their Carte Blanche series, where the referred venue, invites a musician to host and chose the line up of that night. This time, the musician given Carte Blanche was the American drummer and percussionist Hamid Drake, whom I have drawn live 2 years ago, in Jazz em Agosto Festival. That was, to me, one of those inspiring moments in life I won't forget. 


The Beginning of Chaos 


The stakes were high, and I couldn't be more excited about this trip.

While packing (what a chaos!), my suitcase had two thirds of overcoats and sweaters and a third of painting material. I wanted to have my colors ready for whatever situation popped in. Turns out, that as a matter of space, I just had my black pen with me during the flight (the rest was in the airplane cargo hold). I need to mention this so you can get into the story I am about to share.


It was midday, the sun was shinning, the light was incredible, and we were floating. 
That was my thought. 

I immediatly remembered PJ Harvey's song We float, and had the urge to draw it. Wanted the typography to convey the float flow, and that was what took me longer to draw. Blinking in my mind was the we float, take life as it goes verse part of the song.

But I didn't have my colors, so I asked the TAP stewardess for color crayons, that they usually have for kids. 

The Cloud Carer
I sure must've seemed a kiddo when she brought them to me, as I smiiiiiiiiiled...!
She inspired me to do a portrait of her and, in my drawing, she is The Cloud Carer - my color and dreams provider :)

I felt so comfortable on this flight. Lucky me who had my friend Júlio helping me out with a special seat!


Lib(e)ri
This was my first drawing in Amsterdam. 
I did it before sleeping. Or rather, I could not sleep! 
All was so visually inspiring, I wanted to draw everything! 
In front of me, there was a shelf full of books. The book's spine colors and the book's placing order are both real and accurate.

I thought about the colors that books set free. how books might set a person free, and then was wondering about a word in a language that could possibly mean both free and books, and remembered that Libri (books) and Liberi (free), in Italian, sound and are written almost the same way, and hence the title Lib(e)ri.

 I no longer was interested in the shelf. Since its content molded its form, I felt no need to draw it and books prevailed. I could go to sleep now.


Rotterdam


I had some busy days ahead, and still wanted to visit my friends Constança, Mariana and Louise in Rotterdam, where I had been before so many times, and I love it there.


I got lost in public transports and Dutch language and was late enough to catch a train that just allowed me to have a quick tea with them. But it was worth it! And speaking of tea, it is funny because I have learned this new word for me in German: Muckefuck. No, it's not motherf*****, it's a barley drink! 


During my train trip to Rotterdam, I met Ameneh ( آمنه) Deljoo. 
Ameneh is an Iranian citizen doing her Phd in the Netherlands. It was funny, because we just had a one hour conversation, but it was so powerful, I wanted to draw her straight away, in the train. 

From the very moment she told me her name, I loved the sound of it, and wanted to know its meaning. Ameneh comes from the word Amen, and means safety, trust, devotion, guardianship and loyalty. Uau! I wish I'd have such a meaningful name!! Inspiration knocked my door right away! 

That led us to a really interesting conversation about Languages, Traveling, Arts, Music, Psychology, Computer Science, Cuisine, and Portuguese Pastry. Santo pastelinho de nata! (Holy custard tarts!)

I felt Ameneh as a person full of life, and I wanted to register that. This portrait is about what she had brought within her soul and the thrilling things she is looking up to reach now.
I wanted to have a visual metaphor for that, so I chose the brown to represent her soil, her roots and the yellow represents the light she wants to attain in life. 

This last color was made with Saffron. Using a bright and meaningful color with taste (and a delicious Persian rice with that spice made part of our talk too!) made, here, all the sense to me.

These two concepts, were the starting points for the poem I wrote about her.
I asked Ameneh to help me out translating it to Farsi, so I could include it in the drawing too.
So, here it is:

آمنه
 آمنه از عشق تو به اين سرزمين 
كه به تو معناي معنوي اسمت را داده است
آمنه و تو با خود عطرِخورشيدِ شرقي را داري 
از روياهايي كه تو را دور كرده است از ان خورشيد
  زندگي از نزديك تو را حفظ خواهد كرد آمنه

Ameneh 
Ameneh, from your love for this land,
that gave you the grace of your name, 
Ameneh, it is with you the East flavor of the Sun 
From the dreams that made you far,
May life bless you closely, Ameneh.


It took me many hours to finish this image. Of this series done in The Netherlands, no doubt that, this drawing, was the most laborious one.


Back in Amsterdam



That same night, I met my dear friend Ryoko Imai
I will talk a bit more about her later in this article, because she was very important during this trip. Ryoko plays percussion and comes from Kawasaki (川崎市), in Japan. She currently lives in Amsterdam. 

Usually when I'm doing a portrait of someone, I need time to do it (to feel, to perceive, to think, to draw, to paint...). Very rarely happens such a thing, as finishing a whole portrait in 5 minutes, which was this case. Her brightness, beauty and inspirational attitude were immediate triggers for a "must draw now" urge! 


Carte Blanche to my imagination


The next day was the big day. 

The scooter ride
The day where the 3 concerts included in the Carte Blanche to Hamid Drake initiative would take place at the Bimhuis. I had a very special scooter ride, on my way to the venue. 

I had so many layers of coats, I felt like a Panda! It was windy, and the city crossed my eyes in frames with a beautiful speed, as in a movie. 

The canals, the water, the trees, the clouds, the boats, the ducks, the typography, the flowers, the people, the bridges, the bikes, the windmills, the markets, the old houses and buildings mixed up with De Stijl, Art Deco and Modern Architecture; the diamond factories business, the delicious restaurants, the arty cafes, the great painting, the stunning graphic design, the hip fashion brands, the great improvisers, the great punk scene, the different cultures melting pot - all, of Amsterdam's busy life was music to my ears. 

This little tour, with the (almost) full moon ripping a blue-grayish sky had the taste of freedom - alike a butterfly coming out of a rock



Already at the Bimhuis (and therefore I drew its logo), I wasn't expecting to come across with a live incarnation of one of Pompeii's Female figures on Villa of the Mysteries
Good to remember, these frescos were done around 60-50 years b.C.!! 
(If you don't know what I'm talking about, take a look at this video here

Yes, it could've been her, Ludmilla Faccenda, posing in another life. Reincarnation believers or not, on this life, she sure seemed to me, the perfect sample of the Italian Beauty (La Bellezza Italiana), worth making a portrait of. 

She was, definitely, my muse that night. Ludmilla's a sensitive woman, a force of nature with an intense presence. Yeah, things might not be perfect, but she is a fighter, a believer that will work hard to make things done, the best way. So, it made sense to me, that red was present in this portrait. 
This is the color of energy, of battle, of work in progress and of confrontation. Red is also the background color of the Villa dei Misteri's Frescos (Unesco's World Heritage), recently restored.  

Ludmilla is Hamid Drake's manager and was one of the responsible for making possible all this event, including having me drawing there. 

Indigenous Dragon
This one above, is Hamid Drake's portrait. The main reason to be of this whole trip!
I made it live, during the first concert of the night, while him and Pasquale Mirra were playing.

His long dreadlocks are, in my drawing, a poem I wrote on the spot. I called it Sol, the 5th musical note, but also in Portuguese, the Sun.

Sol

The channel of all the above
all you got, shines still
all you give, sees through
the spirits are high 
and thank you back,
and so do we
it's life and love
The entrancing joy
of Life
Life!
Life!

There's something about Hamid that redirects me to the generosity of the being, the group consciousness, and its power to built or destroy, as dragons can do, as drakes do. This has a relation to this dragon I have made some time ago, and to the story I told there, too.

And well, I called this Dragon Indigenous, because Hamid's chants reminded me of some American Indian Chants. Tribal, spiritual, brutal, deep, he's got a sort of childish creative power in the present now, that might pretty much change your life in a blink, while seeing one of his concerts. Or, I felt it so. 
Moving, to say the least.


The second concert gathered members of ICP Orchestra (Wolter Wierbos, Ab Baars, Michael Moore and Ernst Glerum) and had Kaja Draksler, as a guest on piano. 


The image above is the Dutch trombonist, Wolter Wierbos.
I was amused with his performance and his shoe laces were key to the concept of this portrait.

There was some roughness and stiffness with movements stuck to the ground of what he knew best (portrayed by the all brown safe outfit) and at the same time, there was some fun element within him (the red laces).

From his feet there was the connection to where he treaded, and to this unexpected element - his red shoe laces. I also didn't mark the horizon line on purpose, I wanted to keep the feeling that his figure might've just arrived!

And I didn't come up with the red and brown, they were indeed real. They just happened to be the perfect visual metaphor to what I was feeling.



This one is the pianist and composer Kaja Draksler, while performing with the referred ICP Orchestra members.
She showed great talent and sensibility, and I was very very pleased to hear what she was playing. It was really beautiful.

She definitely stood out, though I felt, as well, almost as if there was an invisible wall one needed to break to come across to the rough diamond she is.
Kaja comes from Kranj, in Slovenia, so I wanted to write about her (Poetický = Poetic) in the drawing, in her language, Slovene.

The typography I drew, was inspired by Slovenian type design (like this, for example). Its color is just a little darker than the paper's color shade: a color still to become bolder and a drawing that can look like a draft. Both, are signs of the flower to blossom, Kaja is. 


Also noteworthy, that this whole event was happening according to the Norwegian Punkt Festival's central concept, which is the live Remix. 
I regard the remix as a way to relate, to answer back, in a perspective of narrative with continuity.

This concept made sense, also because the third concert of the night, reunited key figures of the referred event in Norway, namely, Erik HonoréJan Bang and Eivind Aarset, who played along with Hamid Drake in this last musical moment of the night.

Bang Bang

Here's is my Jan Bang's first portrait (yes, I did other drawings related to him).
There were moments in this concert so thrilling, that I felt like jumping and dancing along, as Jan did.  His energy was contagious and he seemed to me, by far, the most excited of the group. Although, the most incredible thing about it, was that he never overshadowed the other elements of the group, by the contrary, he was at all times, sensitive to the environment, helpful and an important piece of the puzzle.
I envisioned his electronic paraphernalia as a city silhouette, his lego, his playground dividing the lower half of the drawing, of a constant moving Jan and a the higher half of the portrait of an attentive and still Jan. Double Jan, Bang Bang.


Too cool for school
Too cool for school is my Eivind Aarset portrait. This time I have done something different from my regular process: I painted before having drawn him and not the opposite. This was not about the structure and contour - the drawing - but about its expressive content - the paint. 

Since the moment he entered on stage, Eivind sure seemed to me the coolest thing on earth. His gestures, his pose, and his sonic-grungy playing, looked too good to be true. Everything kind of seemed so ethereal, so surreal, non-human, unbelievable, even.



An alpha being, with a double aa surname calls for a b side portrait.

He had such a strong impact on me, I drew harder on the paper (and the paint was still wet when I drew him), and this image is the result. It's his portrait's reverse.

Adding to all this, then - and in my musical awareness and unconsciousness - I found out he is the guitar player of one of my all time favorite records (will talk about it further below).
He's just too cool for school, in its best sense.


Another thing I have to mention about this event, is that sometimes happens that, the end of a concert catches me in the middle of a drawing, leaving it forever unfinished.
That was what happened with Erik Honoré. Hopefully, I'll have the chance to see him playing live some other time soon :) Anyways, I really liked his Heliographs, and I think they are worth checking out.

Post Concert


After the concert, nice conversations, at the Bimhuis cafe, followed.


Somehow, I often feel inspired with stuff others might consider rubbish, as napkins, like this one, above. It actually made part of a talk with Jan Bang.
I loved the colors and the drawing of it, also because I thought about the Dutch flag colors (I even used the exact cobalt blue and the bright vermilion), their amazing tiles, and the great inspiring flowers I saw everywhere there (not only Tulips).
Could link it to The Scooter Ride drawing because, much of what I drew here, was stuff I saw during that ride as well. Everything seemed like being in the landscape metamorphic process of turning things into free butterflies.

Tri Bang

The night ended up with me challenging Jan bang to make a drawing with me. He looked at me and said: "but I can't draw!"
In fact, there are many different modes of "making a drawing together", and at least in my concept, that doesn't necessarily mean that both persons involved need to draw. In this case, he was just being himself, inspiring me, posing and lending me his hands for the composition,  which was quite a big deal already. The result is what you see above.

Color wise, I wanted to portray, here, his vivid and energetic side (light green), along with a more caring, sensitive and watery mood side (blue) with parallel clear support, a structure, a ground (black and white). Regarding the drawing itself, I was sought to convey, in its technique and process making, the idea of multiplicity, that he's someone able to manage several things with precision and detail (and hence the number of layers and overlaps, producing new visual elements). It's my Tri Bang.


My drawing interview with Henning Bolte to All About Jazz 


The first initiative of inviting me to all this, was Henning Bolte's idea. So, none of this would've happened without him, and he was a key person throughout this process.
Along with Ludmilla Faccenda and the Bimhuis, a bridge between the Bimhuis and the musicians, the musicians among themselves, and me was made.

Henning presented the Carte Blanche to Hamid Drake event, and you can hear everything it happened that night, through the Bimhuis radio, here.

Henning is most known for being a writer and a critic (you can take a closer look on his work and read his review from Carte Blanche to Hamid Drake, here). But I think he's some other things too - he's an open spirit, a creative person and a provider.


This drawing was done in very special circumstances, since Henning interviewed me for All About Jazz magazine, and his portrait was done during the interview (the first part, you can read here and the second part here). 
His interview was inspiring, and made me think of many things in a way, I haven't done before.

Both, my portrait of Henning and Doris Day's Que Sera Sera share the same subject. This portrait of Henning, is about the things that get stuck in the way - the past; about looking at the present in the eye, and believing in the future - what will be, will be. It's about the snake in Henning, a skin shed, where one's standing and the metamorphosis in life. It's about what holds and what propels Henning.

His eyes gave me the blue color motto. As Theo Parrish once embraced, I wish that you never give up on finding new things and feel your journey - life - as if you're Walking through the sky.


Meet the Dancing Star


The next day was full moon night, and also my last night in Amsterdam.  The festivities program could've not been more auspicious, since me and my friend Ryoko Imai were about to meet again.
But this wasn't just a regular friends meeting. We had in mind drawing and playing together.
But I just could not imagine how deep and how amazingly important this encounter would turn to me.

From chaos to a dancing star

After a delicious dinner, Ryoko and I started our session. I had brought my painting stuff and we were at her studio, so we had everything we needed to start.

When Ryoko first improvised, I was observing and making her silhouette. When she played the Fuga from Violin Partita II in D minor by J.S. Bach, I was painting her silhouette, and when she finally ended up playing María Cervantes by Noro Morales, I was painting the background.

I just realized this, afterwards. We never spoke about any rule whatsoever before, during or after this session. The synchronized timing was natural.

In the end of the session, she mentioned the sounds I was making while painting and drawing (I used this special silver pen, that has a little moving ball inside). You can actually hear what she was talking about, since we recorded the session, and Ryoko edited a short sample you guys can listen to here:



The way Ryoko was playing, her commitment and the music she played made me feel really privileged to witness such a bright talent. 
I looked to her feet and to the floor of the studio, looked back at her and thought: 
Where you'd come from, what you might've lived and what you've become now: a shinning star, right before me. 

The connection in my mind to that One must still have chaos in oneself to be able to give birth to a dancing star quote, from Friedrich Nietzsche, was immediate. 

In the microseconds these decisions take place in my mind, the next thing I know, 
I was painting her portrait background, with Ryoko's studio floor color, that beige.

While I was painting her figure, I made sure I didn't paint the whole surface, making her a plain silver figure.  On the contrary, I wanted the silver lines to be perceived, as if some effort (the chaos) was required to fulfill the whole space.

When our session ended, the studio lit. Colors and fireworks bursted. We were so happy!

I was already delirious with the bunch of emotions I was feeling, but it would get even better, when Ryoko gave me two very special presents.

One was a Taiko stick, Ryoko made herself.


During a concert, she hit too hard with it and broke it. As soon as she showed it to me she said something like: "this is for you to make something out of it". 
I knew right away this would be the tridimensional extension of our meeting.


Painting the broken parts with silver color, was my intervention.


It was the ultimate metaphor for the whole concept of the drawing and this session.


It was from a chaotic moment where the stick broke, that urged the shiniest part. And that was just possible because we did it together, Ryoko and me.


I wanted to find a special scenery to take these pictures too, since I wanted to find a place where the floor, or ground matched the color of the drawing, as the Taiko stick does, as well!


The other present she gave me was this:


It is a 紅白豆 (Kouhaku-mame) hand painted box from Mameya Bankyu. Kouhaku-mame is a traditional Japanese snack made out of soya beans. In this case, inside the box, there were two bean flavors: plum (red one) and a salt-honey one (white).

The hand painted monkey portrays the Earthly Branch sign for 2016. He is wearing a traditional Japanese vest. Also red and white are the national Japanese colors, and the ones used for celebrations.

I loved the box, and the snacks as well, so bad, that they inspired me to do a drawing about what I felt while eating them.


Eating these 紅白豆  made my imagination travel far. 
It was snow flakes gently landing in my stomach, as cotton balls. Suddenly, my 2016 seemed as golden as the monkey vests. I felt blessed.


Leaving with a colossus 



On my way back, I had the same airplane window, with a different view and another song in my mind. My pen exploded due to the atmospheric pressure, and that's how this drawing started. Black ink explosions? Sounded like Khmer!

It was just now, that I am writing this down, that I first saw there is a video clip of the song of Sand I had in my mind during that flight. And it's got airplanes too, Nils Peter Molvaer and all those great musicians, including Eivind Aarset.

The rest was done while having in mind this colossus, that this album is to me.


...And life was never the same, afterwards this album, and this trip. 


When I went to the Netherlands, my luggage was, basically, overcoats and painting material, but I came back with a suitcase full of life, art, music and love.

Feels like having made the journey from chaos to a dancing star.


________


A special acknowledgment to Henning Bolte & Ryoko Imai