The Cuba sketchbooks #2

Sometimes I find a position to draw from which allows me to capture all the information I'm looking for in one image and this can then be used very much as it is to scale up or begin some ideas for more finished work. Other times there just isn't a good vantage point, I run out of time or there are lots of little interesting details in a larger area so I will make numerous studies and then find a way of piecing them together at a later date. Here is an example...

I drew this building on the corner of Infanta and San Rafael on a sunday afternoon while the languid heat encouraged many people to pause and take a seat either on battered old chairs, front steps or pavements edges in the shade. Even the street vendors were taking a break to chat and maybe drink a coffee.

And below a different street but a similar structure on the ground floor and that same atmosphere of just sitting waiting for time to pass.

This man was sitting making fishing flies and hooks but I chose in the lithograph below to depict him holding a bunch of the paper wrapped cones of peanuts which are sold for a peso on practically every busy street corner in Havana. Details from the two buildings were incorporated and I used it as an opportunity to play around with some textures to try and bring movement into what is otherwise a very static scene.

The Cuba Sketchbooks

Here are a few pages from my sketchbooks, all in Havana Vieja. I used a combination of watercolour, gouache, various pencils and soft pastel and from all I remember the conversations with various curious onlookers, in particular a very kindly stall keeper at the Egido market (top right) who brought me a stool to perch on while I completed the drawing.

The sketch of a young woman sitting watching the world go by was directly translated into a stone lithography print (one of my first of this technique)...I forgot to reverse the image onto the stone in the excitement to get started so it appears here not exactly true to life but close enough.

I really enjoyed the mark-making process that lithography affords, it feels very free and liberating to draw directly onto the stone which has a wonderful fine texture to pick up the greasy crayon and painted marks. Once these were dry I was also able to scrape back into them to create highlights or further textures.