As some of you may know, I recently returned home from the 3rd Annual Urban Sketchers Symposium, held in Santo Domingo, the Dominican Republic. Orling Dominguez, a native of DR, was greatly instrumental in organizing this event – thank you Orling! It’s always so gratifying to meet other artists who love to draw on location, from all over the world. The input and ideas from the other instructors and the participants has a way of charging you up to go out and draw! Besides seeing Orling, I had a chance to catch up with a few other old friends from DR: Nathalie Ramirez, and Jonathan Schmidt. Jonathan and I taught a few workshops together, plus he and his girl Bettina invited me to draw at their martial arts class, which I’ll post later. Nice time!
The thing that struck me the most about Santo Domingo was the people who live there. I hate to generalize, even if it is a positive generalization, but my overall impression of the Dominican people was absolutely wonderful. Spending some time in Parque Colon, drawing people, talking to them in my pigeon Spanish (I’m working on it, really!) and just hanging out and picking up the vibe of the place was a great experience. The people are really open and friendly, and it’s obvious how FAMILY is the MOST important part of life in DR. How wonderful. The drawing at the top of this post is of a mother and daughter, just hanging out enjoying the day. For many reasons, I think, hanging out seemed to be a full-time occupation, and doorways were a prime hangout spot, as evidenced by the drawing of the man below:
There was absolutely a lot of that going on…also important to the hangout culture were the big shady trees in the park. I hung out near one myself for a while, and caught a few drawings of the man I dubbed, ‘the mayor.’ He definitely held some position of importance in the local area, as he seemed to be engaged in arguing with every man who would stop to talk with him – - and many of them did. I think wearing a suit in the super-heat conferred some kind of special powers upon him…
This man below was selling rosaries, but felt strongly about whatever he and the mayor were arguing about to stop and get into it for quite a while. My Spanish is not that great (I know, I said I’m working on it!) but from what I could gather, the mayor was upset about something going on on the television. Seemed political in some way.
That’s them, arguing to the left of the drawing (above.) To the right in the drawing above is Ricardo, a young man who posed for the ubiquitous portrait drawer Lapin. (Is ‘drawer’ a word??) I admire Lapin’s tenacity and also his fearless way of asking people to pose for him and then drawing them on the spot. I took advantage of Ricardo’s pose for Lapin to make a drawing of him myself. What a beautiful young man – shy and yet friendly at the same time. He loved being drawn by two artists. And we loved drawing him.
The drawing above depicts more hanging out. The older woman was at the park every day that I was there – sometimes she manned the cart for the candy man (see below.) This particular afternoon she was babysitting a young child, and was completely unfazed by his continuous crying, as were the half-sleeping men on the benches around her. I think the child wanted a lollipop, later in the afternoon he did get it, which stopped his crying only long enough for him to eat it. Ha! A young man with a plan for sure.
The old lady was a tough nut with the candy and toy cart – I saw her shoo several children without money away from it while I was making the drawing above. By contrast, the man who also manned the cart – I dubbed him the ‘candy man’ – had a soft spot for the little kids. There was some kind of toy, like a helicopter, that had a plastic disc that popped into the air. The candy man would send it flying, and all the children would race to pick it up and bring it back to him. He did this for hours, and never made a sale. What a sweet man.
Watching the proceedings of the candy man, and the rest of the goings on, was a group of women I called ‘the matriarchs.’ I recognized the scenario from my own family: a grandmother, a few aunts, a mom, and her teenaged daughter. (I won’t say which role I play in my family…) Even though my Spanish is not good, I got a sense of what these ladies were discussing. I was drawing with Jonathan when we encountered this group – I managed to put my drawing away before they noticed, but Jonathan got caught. They came over to be sure he didn’t draw any of them to look ugly or fat…of course he didn’t. Jonathan the romantic. ;)
Speaking of romance, I loved drawing the woman above. ‘La dominicana’ – so beautiful! How could you not draw her?
One last drawing, below, of the wonderful hangout culture of Santo Domingo – sleeping, daydreaming, and aimlessly checking a phone. Such a different pace of life – time for friends, time for family. A perfect spot to hang out and draw with the international urban sketchers family! What a great time I had – will be posting more drawings from the trip over the next few weeks. Next stop – DisneyWorld with the Dalvero Academy!
All drawings are copyright 2012 by Veronica Lawlor. Please do not reprint without permission.