Thursday, May 31, 2007

Spain - Part Dos: Granada and Madrid

Wow, almost an entire month without updating. By now, you guys must be tired of reading about Europe or at least want to see what I've been up to since I've been back. I promise I will do my best to bring you all to the present in the very near future!

My idealized version of Spain finally came true in Granada. Barcelona, as gorgeous as it was, was a big let down in terms of me wanting to enjoy sunny weather, flowing sangria, and that carefree vibe the Spanish call a certain "yo no se que." Ah, but Granada was all of those things and more. Even now, when looking back on the entire trip, Granada is just about the only place I felt completely relaxed, at home, yet able to enjoy being in a completely new and strange place.

The rooftop patio view from our Hostel

Apparently, it's a common feeling among backpackers who stop there. People who initially plan to stay a couple days, often times as a pit stop before taking a foray into neighboring Morocco, end up staying for weeks. Well, we already knew we'd love Granada, so we booked five days at a great hostel appropriately called the Oasis, settled in, and enjoyed ourselves.

Watercolor of our "next door neighbor", slightly higher above us.

On our first night, we went on a tapas tour with a group of people staying at our hostel. For a euro-fifty, you can order a drink and have a free tapas to go with it. Unbeatable, really, and it was a great way to meet our hostelmates.

After our first tapas tour, a few of us went to a flamenco show. I sketched in the dark, never looking down at my sketchbook and rarely lifting the pen, trying to follow the movement of the dancer furiously moving up and down the stage.

Every once in a while, she would slow down, or hold a moment briefly enough for me to memorize and quickly transfer onto paper. The right page shows her vocalist and guitarist. Obviously, they stayed still longer.

There was definitely a much milder "spring break" presence here, despite the mass consumption of sangria. Folks were generally more laid back and friendly, and Alex and I gained some great friends out of it. In particular, there were five of us who became inseparably banded together for three days. You guys already know by now how sentimental I can be, so rather than get sappy, I hope you'll enjoy a bouquet of snapshots instead.

(click image to enlarge)

The most wonderful thing about Granada was that there was basically one major site to see: The Alhambra.

The shot everyone takes, me included.

You could spend one morning there, then ease through the rest of your time in Granada in absolutely no hurry. Take a leisurely stroll through the narrow alleyways where shops display goods from Morocco, share a hookah in a Moorish tea house, sun on the rooftop patio of the Oasis, where white bedsheets dry in the breeze and Caroline plays Blackbird on guitar, eat the hands-down best kebabs in all of Europe, or do nothing at all without ever feeling like you're wasting precious vacation time.

Left: Friday nite jam session in the Oasis kitchen (i.e.- folk guitar songs by candlelight) .
Right: Archway in the Alhambra and Alex enjoying a rooftop "siesta" back at the hostel.

Julia writing/sketching in her Moleskine on the rooftop patio.

Typical Granada Alleyscape

Eventually, it was time to say goodbye, and one by one, members of our little band went our own separate ways. This is always the hardest part, but because Alex and I were about the last ones to leave, we felt we were ready to say goodbye to Granada. All the same, it was a rather moody bus ride up to Madrid, and if it wasn't for an 'in-flight' viewing of Counterforce, the cheesiest cinematic flop of all time, to grant levity to the situation, I would probably have been even sadder.


We basically had one full day in Madrid, and it was mostly dedicated to visiting the Prado.... really the only reason we went to Madrid at all. We certainly weren't interested in the bull fights, museos del jamón, or watching Wild Hogs in Spanish.

Un cerdo salvaje among cerdos salvajes

There was one great bit of news that I received while in Madrid. I had a piece accepted into the very prestigious Spectrum Annual, which is due out this Fall. This will be my first time in Spectrum after a few attempts over the years, so I'm very excited to see where this might lead me in illustration.

And that's it for Spain! The next update will kick off in the final country of our grand European tour: Italy.


Anonymous said...

Awesome sketches brotha.

Bruce said...

Awesome, Mike, Awesome, I say! As cool as everything that you wrote about Spain was (and I will comment on that later), my heart jumped a beat when I read that you got into Spectrum. A big, awesome congratulation to you! You deserve it, my friend. too cool.

Julien alday said...

Mike, I'm so happy to read a new post from you. Geez, sounds like you had a blast in Spain. Thank you so much for the drawings and photos, all lovely... A lot of Respect to the Flamenco's drawing. Excellent !
I apologies for the short comment, mon ami, but writting with a two months old kitty on my knees is not the most comfortable situation for. Specially when this little bastard decide to push the space key randomly. Hahaha ! ;)
Love and Respect to Alex and you.
I keep an eye on your blog ! ;)

singinghawk said...

Oh my GOD! You posted another great one! I will have to come back though, Mike, since I have fried brain syndrome at the moment!

I have more to write...

Mike Dutton said...

David - Thanks bro. :)

Julien - Ahhh, I was wondering how you and your new kitty were doing. I need to see pictures. Send them over! .... maybe when your new housemate isn't trying to type emails, since we know how difficult french keyboards can be, after all. ;)

Ana - Oh no, Ana, get that brain fixed asap! Ice cream helps.

Hey Bruce, thanks! The news came very unexpectedly. To be honest, I had almost completely forgotten about my submission since we had been travelling for nearly a month at that point. Still, it was very welcome news!

singinghawk said...

HI mike! I'm back and I have enough brain now to read your post in entirety. And it seems as if Granada was a blast! Although I was hoping for some more of your lovely sentimentality...oh well. But your photo's of all are really cute! Love to see you there with Alex and your friends. Sketches of course are wonderful. Particularly love the one on top -- the caricature, and the others are beautiful, too -- even the sketch of the Flaminco dancers! And congratulations on getting into Spectrum! That's wonderful! Cheers to you, Mike.


Mike Dutton said...

Hehe Ana, I had a feeling you'd be disappointed in the sentimentality department, but I'm glad you enjoyed the post anyway! Also glad you like the sketches-- the Granada batch is one of my favorites for the sake of variety and being utterly lazy (or slightly tipsy on Sangria) while doing them. ;) Cheers.

DINTOONS said...

oh, the sun drenched sepia ink drawings are brilliant! it never ceases to amaze me how a simple b&w drawing, er drawr-ing, can be so profound and powerful and moving!
the rapid line drawings of the dancers are dynamic and full of (nervous?)energy! in contrast, the vocalist and the guitarist appear serene and composed and very charming... LOVE the bold, confident and no-nonsense strokes on these! :o) were these done in pen and ink? or pencils?

thanx! and all the best for your travel adventures!

Mike Dutton said...

Hey Dintoons, thanks for getting the "drawr-ing" part right. ;) The flamenco sketches along with all other line-art shown up to this point was done in pen, or pen and ink.

"Nervous" energy might be the right way to describe how I felt that evening at the flamenco show. But I was having too good of a time to really care about the outcome. I was more nervous of trying to follow, so to speak, as the dancer led me during her performance.

Thanks for stopping by. :)

Tom Scholes said...

WOO! This is what I'm talking about, good to see some art from you - such life in these!

Mike Dutton said...

Thanks Tom. :)

Rich Pellegrino said...

Hey Mike! I have to say it has been a joy reading about your trip through Europe. When I go there myself I will check back here to refresh my memory of where to go. It seems like you just go to the coolest places. :)

This sketch is just damn beautiful.

I really like the shape you created with the guitar player on the bottom. I'd love to see a painting of that. Hell, I'd buy it too! ;)
take care,

Andy Murray said...

Goodness, where do I start? Congrats on the excellent Eurotour. Some of those photos were amazing, and I can only imagine how great it was to experience it. I loved the claustrophic London street scene photo, and I wish I was at Alhambra!

Also, extreme congrats for busting into Spectrum! It seems like everyone from invaded that book this year: Jumbo Palumbo, Arkady, Robin Chyo, and dozens of others. Maybe I should've submitted. Oh well, I didn't have anything notable by then that I hadn't submitted the year before. Watch out next year, though!

Speaking of my stuff, I'm finally active on my blog! check 'er out!

You going to the San Diego Comic Con this year? If so, let's meet up. You could meet the infamous JoshuatheJames, as well as some other fun artists I know. Hope you can make it, and once again great job on enjoying Europe!

Mike Dutton said...

Hey Rich, funny you mentioned wanting to see the guitarist on that page being painted; I actually started the refined sketch a couple days after we left Granada. It's still pinned up on my to-do board, but yeah, it's definitely going to be a painting at some point. :)

Hey Andy, I'll be at Comic Con this year. There's gonna be quite a few of us down there. Looking forward to meeting some new faces to put to familiar names.
Good to see that you've restarted the blog. I'll be sure to drop some comments later on. And thanks for the congrats on Spectrum!

Catalina Alvarez said...

Hello Mike:
Today I discover your blog!
Your art is amazing.
Un saludo,

Unknown said...

Mike- I really enjoyed going through your journal entries. It makes me feel like I am too "all business" in my blog. Your willlingness to open up a bit is refreshing and makes your art (and you :) ) more personal to others.

You are going to the San Deigo Comic Con ? Awesome!

sylv1K said...

superbe blog..varié et très agréable!!bonne continuation

JorisDR said...

I do really,really like the two sketches on the yellowish paper.

The simplicity line and shade.
also good composition..
Not to chaotic
Not to boring

just the way i like it.

Justin said...

Those landscapes are just breathtaking, you definitely captured Spain on paper :D