Thursday, June 27, 2013

Motorcycles and Madonnas: Back from Barcelona!

I'm back: from my Internet holiday and 2 weeks in Barcelona! I'm jet lagged, recovering from a head cold, and surrounded by so many bits and pieces of Barcelona ephemera (ticket stubs, receipts, postcards, museum brochures, postage stamps) that it seems I will be art journaling on the city for the rest of my life. And that's fine with me--I love having a theme that can extend into my pottery, my watercolors, and who knows--maybe even a short story or two.

Our choice of Barcelona started with my husband's wish to see a Moto GP race live, and the Catalunya circuit seemed like a good venue. Put that with my desire of many years to see the Black Madonna of Montserrat, and we thought, hey, let's go!

Our first day was spent settling into our apartment converted from an old palace straight out of a fairy tale. (I still don't know how I got my suitcase up these stairs.)

The view from our living room: 

From the bedroom:

From both rooms:

The original (and very high) ceiling in the bedroom:

Next stop was afternoon coffee:

I loved all the architecture of the city, from Gothic to Art Nouveau, and for some reason became obsessed with this particular building we seemed to pass just about every day. This picture doesn't do it justice, but it was so full of carving and plants and romantic stonework . . . I wanted to move in and live there forever.

Old world undies (no, I did not shop here): 

Seeing Montserrat at last was every bit as thrilling and meaningful as I thought it would be--maybe even more so. Ever since reading China Galland's book, Longing for Darkness, Tara and the Black Madonna I've been intrigued by the history and spirituality connected to the various Black Madonnas throughout the world. Add that to my love for the work of New Mexico artist and writer, Elaine Soto and her own versions of these beautiful icons, there was no way I could go to Barcelona without making the (somewhat scary) ascent up the mountainside to this sacred site.

Montserrat wasn't the only place with a view, however. This picture was taken right from the heart of the city on Montjuic and the steps of the Catalonia art museum: 

After several more days of nonstop museums (Picasso, Roman ruins, the Cathedral . . . ) it was great to get out onto the water with a boat trip:

And visit Gaudi's Sagrada Familia: 

As well as the Maritime Museum (uh-oh, more museums!):

Here's me at the Aquarium. Husband's instructions: "Smile--there's a shark right over your head!"

Before we left Albuquerque, someone asked me if it wasn't a little unusual to mix motorcycles and Madonnas into one trip. But for me, it seemed the most natural combination in the world--two extremes blended into one perfect whole. It's what I aspire to in my writing, my painting, and well, even my life, I guess!

So on that thought, I'll leave you with another shot of the race (as you can see we were smack in the middle of the Rossi fan club. Good thing they were so focused on their guy they couldn't hear us cheering for Pedrosa.). Yay, Barcelona!

Tip of the Day: Where's your dream vacation? Try starting a "vision board" and special art journal to help get you there. Collect pictures, create your own artwork of the place, and write about the sights you want to see. Not only will you have an excellent source of daily writing and drawing prompts, you might even surprise yourself with a plane ticket.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

It's Summer: Take a Break!

Happy Summer, everyone! If your schedule is anything like mine right now, I bet you're having a difficult time fitting everything there is to do into a short 7-day week. Where does the time go? I want to write, paint, blog, visit friends... But the days just seem to whoosh away. Which makes me think we all need a break--an Internet break!

Don't get me wrong--I'm a big fan of the Internet, probably too much so. And that's precisely why I'm going to pull the plug for a couple of weeks. Starting on Friday I'm going to try: no web surfing, no tweeting, no looking up vegetarian crockpot recipes. Instead, I'm going back to old-school basics: my journal and Inktense pencils; print magazines and books; and lots of daydreaming while staring at cloud formations. Want to join me?

Here's my top 12 list of fun things to do while offline:
  1. READ. Glorious reading. I plan to peruse as many used bookstores as possible and bring home some great additions to the TBR pile.
  2. WRITE. Yes, I do write every day. But for the next few weeks I won't be using any kind of technology other than pen and paper.
  3. DRAW. Oh, do I have some fun art projects lined up.
  4. SHOP. Artist's dates--every day. All those little odd and fun things (i.e., art supplies) I would normally be too busy to find.
  5. PARTY. With real live people.
  6. MEDITATE. I want to visit some special and sacred sites. Looking forward to the silence of some genuine retreat hours.
  7. AFTERNOON TEA. A long-lost ritual that also involves visiting with real, live people, not just staring at lovely scenes on Pinterest.
  8. COOK. I want to experiment with fun and foreign ingredients I would not normally use. Bon apetit!
  9. MOVIES. In theaters. With popcorn. Maybe even take in some matinees.
  10. PLAN. Halfway through the year I like to take a fresh look at my goal list, the one I made in January. It's nice to see where I am with it, and where I still need to go. Working on the list in an unhurried atmosphere helps to put it all into perspective for me.
  11. DREAM. What would I like to add to my goal list before the year is over? Maybe there are items I would prefer to discard and replace with something more fulfilling. This is the perfect opportunity to dream big.
  12. SLEEP. Ah, yes. Afternoon siestas. Early to bed, late to rise. I need this. Added benefit: more dreams and inspiration for all the wonderful things listed above. Just give me a pillow and a blankie and I'll be on my way.
Treating myself to some vacation time away from the web wasn't a decision I made lightly. I enjoy social networking and having a constant source of research material at my fingertips. The most important thing I'll be doing to make sure I don't fall into temptation and "just look up what's on TV" or "check my email--just this once..." is to pack away my computer and to stay far away from any libraries or Internet cafes with their banks of blinking screens. Wish me luck!

Tip of the Day: My goal of 2-3 weeks of radio silence may be too extreme or impractical for you at this exact moment, so you might want to start slow. How about setting aside one day a week or weekend to go Internet-free? Use the extra time to relax, regroup, and rewind. See you in a few weeks! (And yes, I will miss you.)