Saturday, August 11, 2012

Recharging my Batteries

A view of the west coast of the Azores, with the fishing village where we stay, Mosteiros, in the distance. It is built on  a lava plain that extends out into the sea, and the large rocks off shore, thought to look like a monastery, give the village its name.
We just got back from two weeks in one of the world's most beautiful corners, the Azores. Birthplace of my partner Esperança Melo, these volcanic islands located on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge were discovered in the early 1400's by the Portuguese and are still an automonous region of that country.
This was my reward for finally finishing the art for Big Top Otto and sending it off to my publisher.
We have been doing this bi-annual trip to the Azores for the past decade, and it is, like all of our annual trips abroad, an opportunity to recharge my visual batteries. This trip especially I was able to get out with my sketchbook almost every morning and capture some of the bits and pieces of the small fishing village of Mosteiros at the far western end of Sao Miguel Island where we rent a seaside home. There is always a sweet familiarity to coming back to this place where time seems to stay still, where we sit and watch from our front porch the fishermen going and returning each day from the port, as they have for centuries .
 My sketches here were all fairly quick forays of an hour or so, and, new for me, I was trying to capture the scene directly with pen without going to a quick pencil sketch first. Usually I would take my much loved pen and ink with me on these trips, but this time I simply took a pack of various width Staedtler Fineliners, which facilitated the quick sketching that I wanted to do.
Here are a few of my more successful attempts.

This is a sketch of a ruin of one of the typical Azorean houses - stone walls and a huge chimney and oven.

A fisherman's boat stored in the yard of the abandoned house.

The narrow street that was our daily walk to and from the lava pools where we swam (not pools of lava, rather pools that formed when the lava cooled and that are refreshed daily with sea water).
Another fishing boat, shortly after it had returned to port. Note the bamboo fishing poles, still being used in the Azorean inshore fishery.
Our alternate swimming place at Mosteiros was the beach at the foot of this road, with the remarkable headlands that surround the village in the background.