Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Catch- Up Post, But Not So Big

It was a wonderful trip in every possible way.  Being part of the fantastic ILDE artist's book festival meant getting to know people  and working alongside them as well as playing with them, going to dinner together in restaurants that opened at 9 PM and that expected diners to linger until past  midnight.  Living in our little apartment meant feeling like we were part of a neighborhood-- shopping for food in tiny stores that were in the little alleys that made up our area as well as in astonishing Catarina Market and Bouqueria Market, putting out the garbage, walking everywhere, getting to know on some level the neighbor who seemed to never be able to dry her duvet cover and also the cat who climbed out onto the roof garden next door.

I drew so much, mostly in museums, but also in restaurants and along the street.  By Sunday evening I had amassed 100 new drawings.  And then, while we were sitting at dinner in a small restaurant with two friends, someone slipped into the nearly-empty room (while we were distracted by the waiter arriving at the table with a paella made with black squid-ink rice) and deftly removing my handbag without any of us noticing.  In that bag was my sketchbook.  In fact, I had just shown it to one of our friends at the table and had slipped it back into my bag shortly before the waiter arrived.  An hour later I noticed the bag was gone, along with my sketchbook, phone, passport, credit cards, cash, a map, and my prescription sunglasses.

So this first drawing shows the cashier window at the American embassy in Barcelona, where I spent Monday morning getting a replacement passport.  (I had brought along a second empty sketchbook in case I used up the first one.)
On Monday afternoon, after a trip to the local police station where I filed an accident report,  I sketched the alley/street near our apartment where one of our favorite restaurants-- El Bitxo-- is located.  This was such a typical back street.  On the right is an arrangement of fruit and candies from a counter top at El Bitxo. 
I had always intended to sketch the rooftops visible from our apartment window but never had gotten around to it.  On Monday afternoon I sat down on the floor in the living room and drew both the rooftops and then a detail of a neighbor's clothesline and back balcony.
Along the streets of Barcelona there are occasional enormous woven plastic refuse bags filled with construction debris-- old bricks and plaster, broken lath, etc.  They have four webbing loops, one at each corner, and can be lifted up into a truck for hauling off.  I really coveted one because they have text printed on them saying that they are for use by the city ONLY and telling the manufacturer of the bags.  I could easily imagine a market bag made out of part of one.  The things are strong enough to hold cement blocks so they should be perfect for upcycling into market and carry-on bags.  I was asking around at the festival on 23 April.  No one knew how to get ahold of one, but a woman named Annie told me she had something like that at home.  The next day she brought me a beautiful woven plastic Ikea shopping bag.  It's big enough to hold the carry-on bag I brought along.  I ended up using it to haul all my extra carry on baggage home in.  And it's a nice turquoise color with two sizes of handles/straps on each side.

On the right are a bunch of ideas for a pick-pocket-proof bag!  I learned a lot after losing all my essentials.  Mainly I realized how dumb I was to carry everything in one place.  I loved my little sheep bag, but next time I'll keep my money and cards and passport in different pockets of my clothing and use the handbag for sketchbook and pens and maps and phone.  I won't carry all my cards or my passport, but will leave passport and all but one of the cards at home/hotel/apartment. And I'll shorten the bag strap so it's easy to keep in my lap when I'm sitting down.
Monday night dinner was at Catarina Market, which serves dinner in the evenings.  This drawing was in honor of all the lost food drawings.  At the top is a vegetable tempura and below it a gorgeous bowl of mussels.  On the right is a memory drawing of us in the little warmly-lit restaurant on the seashore in the huge dark night-- while the thief watched for the perfect moment to slip in and out.
A nice amenity of the Barcelona airport is the view of the Mediterranean from some of the gates.  From our gate we could see the sea as well as a house on top of a hill overlooking the sea, with umbrella pines at the base of the hill.  I then drew airport faces in honor of the many face drawings that got away.


  1. wow! how rotten. but i'm reminded, by reading this, how a good attitude cures much. lemons to lemonade, etc. but what a bummer, anyway. glad you're home safe and sound, though.

  2. Oh, Gwen! So sorry about your nasty experience! But how wonderful that you brought along an extra sketchbook & had the gumption to keep going! Never letting the turkeys get you down! Whoot! Love these sketches!

  3. Big lot of trouble today, having to rebuild a phone contact list! But definitely the trip was wonderful and I would go back to Barcelona in a heartbeat.

  4. Gwen, so sorry to hear about this unfortunate incident! :( I know how it feels to lose a journal, never mind the documents...Glad to hear that apart from that, you enjoyed the rest of your days in the city. Talk soon, best wishes from Madrid! :D

    1. Thanks, Lisa! Everything is sorted out now, phone is replaced with a much better one, all the cards replaced, and insurance claim has been filed that might actually replace the cash and cost of the new phone and fee to duplicate the passport and driver's license. Many lessons learned, too!

  5. Dang! I'm such a dweeb! I went and checked for the Sketchcrawl sketch even tho' I knew your stuff had been stolen! Ack! Excuse my brain! ;)

  6. Dang! I'm such a dweeb! I went and checked for the Sketchcrawl sketch even tho' I knew your stuff had been stolen! Ack! Excuse my brain! ;)