Thursday, August 25, 2011

wish you were here splotch monster medley

I always thought it would be an interesting challenge to use some Splotch Monsters as letters for words or phrases, like a type of font for an illustration.  So, I decided to do just that for a piece that will be in a show, in London, England, from October to November this year. The theme for the art exhibit is "Wish You Were Here", organized by illustrator/artist Mr. Gresty, for display at the George Orwell.  Each monster represents a letter, some more recognizable than others, and I didn't want them to be too obvious at first glance. The letters spell out the theme of the show, and the monsters are all supposed to be hanging out at a "Splotch Monster House Party" (which is also the name of the piece). It was fun seeing how I could not only make monsters out of letters, but also trying to create tiny interactions between some of them, as if they were all really in a room together. I tried photographing the work in several different lights (it was way too big for a scanner) but just couldn't really capture how it actually appears, which looks a whole lot better than the shot you see here. The show looks to be a good one and the place itself will be a fantastic space for art. I personally wish I could be there myself but unfortunately, London is a little too far and out of my budget at the moment. If you're in London and are reading this, please feel free to check out the show and perhaps even take and send me some shots. I'd really appreciate it!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

moleskine entities

Here are some drawings I did while on the ferry, returning to Trinidad from Tobago in my Moleskine sketchbook. It was roughly a three hour ride and the boat was pretty crowded.  Kris and I originally sat on the side where the evening sun was beaming in and blinding us. After moving from our seats to find a better place, without any luck we took shelter on the floor, in a more peaceful, shaded spot on the boat. Nobody seemed to mind as I drew and Kris knitted away, however one curious woman stopped by to look at what I was doing. She asked me if I was designing outfits for Carnival, which I thought was a pretty cool question, sparking some new ideas in my mind for these "entity" characters I've been drawing for a couple of years now. I told her that I was just doodling to pass the time. It turns out she actually designed masks for Carnival, so I took her words as a compliment. 

Sunday, August 7, 2011

trini pic roundup

I finally got around to posting more pics from Trinidad & Tobago, though from this post they're mostly from Trinidad.  Some of the best shots I got were on my wife's SLR, which I unfortunately didn't even upload yet. Still, I have enough photos to keep me occupied (still working on that T&T 2011 Flickr set), and hopefully enough eye-candy to keep folks who stop by this blog , visually engaged.  

Sometimes, the longer you stay somewhere, the more difficult it is to leave. That's how I felt with our stay this summer. On some trips, after so long, you start to look forward to returning home again. This was one rare instance where I didn't feel that way at all. Though I have many photos of places and things from our trip, most importantly it was the people - Kris' friends and family who made our stay special (especially her mom, who put up with us the whole time). 

I'm already thinking about next summer in T&T, if it's possible for us to visit again. Looking at these photos makes it hard getting used to the daily routine here in Northern Virginia, as nice as it is out here. 

Finally, I posted up one (from a few) videos Kris took of me attempting to drink from a coconut for the first time. There was so much good water in that thing, I swear it took me a half an hour to finish it. The vendor who cut the coconut like some kind of Trini Samurai even hacked out a spoon (in seconds) from the shell for me to eat the coconut jelly, which was as refreshing as the water. I wish we caught that on camera! One of the very best things about Trinidad and Tobago is the vendors on the street. Without them, these islands wouldn't be the same. They're the soul of T&T in my opinion. If you go to either or both islands, please, bypass the boring chain restaurants and support the street vendors, whose food is the real deal. In the meantime, this blog will return to its normal routine of artist features, music musings, and  my own art, which I've been sorely neglecting as of late. I'll also make sure to do a brief update post when I finally get around to finishing up all my photos from our visit.  Until next time T&T!

Friday, August 5, 2011

kariwak village, tobago

Probably the best time we had while visiting T&T was staying at Kariwak Village for two nights and three days in Tobago. Kris had gone years ago as a kid and suggested we look into it during our visit. Seeing the place was by no means your typical tourist trap, and the emphasis on holistic living sold me right away. That, as well as seeing the pictures online , reading the reviews and best of all, the excellent rates.  Since we had such a wonderful stay that far exceeded our expectations, I thought I'd dedicate an entire blog post to Kariwak.

Right outside our doorway was a nice little patio with chairs and a table, hidden by the surrounding trees and plant life.  We spent lots of time here reading and watching the various birds eating fruit and nectar from the trees. It was the best entertainment around.

From the patio was a secluded walkway leading to the main swimming pool.

The beds were very comfortable and the overall atmosphere of our room was quiet, cozy and peaceful.

There was no TV in ours, or any of the rooms, which was the whole idea of "getting away" in the first place. Perfect. However, they did have one located a short walk away in their library room.

Throughout the entire place, there's a walkway which takes you around the grounds.  The great variety of trees and plants were subtly tagged and numbered, and you can bring along a paper guide to assist in identifying them. 

Among other good things, Kariwak is known for its excellent food. Many of the recipes were designed by their longtime, dedicated staff, and they had something for everyone. The dining area really came alive at night, and lots of folks spent time there, enjoying the warm evening air over a good dinner.

We didn't neglect to spend some time at the bar sampling some of Kariwak's unique variety of alcoholic and nonalcoholic beverages

I made sure to spend some quality time in their main pool, especially early in the morning and late at night. They take good care to practice healthy, mindful standards with regards to both the pool's and their jacuzzi's water quality. 

Lots of beautiful birds native to Trinidad and Tobago can be found roaming the grounds, including the Cocrico (above photo), which looks like a prehistoric turkey, is very fast, and is Tobago's national bird. 

You don't have to be a plant enthusiast to appreciate the multitude of vividly-colored flowers all around Kariwak. Just the colors and forms alone were enough to elevate one's mood.

Hidden gem's like this little waterfall (above) can be found when exploring the grounds.

Their open air, thatched Ajoupas were located more towards the back of Kariwak's grounds, where they hold retreats, yoga sessions and a variety of events. With only a couple of nights there, we didn't find the time to take advantage of these things, though we got Kris' mom an hour massage session, which she claims to have been her best massage ever. Another thing to add to the list next time we stay.

Here's a peek at what it looks like under one of the Ajoupa's. 

The waterfall jacuzzi was quite possibly the highlight of our stay at Kariwak, though it's extremely difficult to pick any favorites.  I actually missed finding the jacuzzi the first time I went exploring, but luckily Kris stumbled upon it. Surrounded by beautiful trees, you can control the air jets in the pool as well as the falls themselves. We had nothing short of a marvelous time in this little area, and Kris' mom, who hasn't swam in a while, was an instant convert. 

One of the many things I love about this place is that they grow their own greens used in their meals. I talked with the gardener who has taken care of this garden for about eight years, since running her own shop, and I was impressed by the care, time and energy that went into everything.

There were lots of areas set up just for relaxing, both in an out of the shade.

I didn't hesitate to utilize the several comfortable hammocks at Kariwak, but feel I needed much more quality time with them. Again, until next time. I can't wait to go back, hopefully next summer, and for a longer stay. We had such a great time during our brief visit. The place was perfect - nothing overwhelming, obnoxious or touristy at all. We talked to some folks who shared our love for the place, including friends who had their honeymoon there, who said that staying there was a true Caribbean experience, like you really got to know a part of Tobago, which was so true. We even met one man from London, at the nearby Store Bay beach who was on his seventeenth visit and counting. It is also important to note that next year, Kariwak is celebrating it's thirty-year anniversary too. So, in a (coco)nutshell, Kariwak is absolutely a must, if you decide to visit Tobago, and is a short and inexpensive ferry or plane ride from Trinidad.