Floral cord

Paper hummingbird with flower spinal cord

This piece took several months because I was finding a way to make flowers look like a spinal cord. I drew the background first and then I mounted the paper flowers and the little hummingbird.

There is a lot of similarities in nature and I want to say we’re all very much alike: flowers, plants, non-human animals, humans, and the patterns in nature.

I’m also doing what I should have done a while ago- making something about my father. Yes, he made a lot of big mistakes and I was too little to understand, but I held the resentment in my heart until it was maybe too late. He was a doctor working in emergency medicine and he lived miles away from me. One day he just suddenly died of an AAA (abdominal aortic aneurysm) rupture and I never got the chance to say: “dad, we’re okay”.

Sadly, I understood too late that having him close, and forgiving, would have been good for both of us. Sure, what happened was ugly and I still have issues about it, but people can change for the better. Many things could have healed the wounds besides time – it took so long for me to understand… and now, at this moment in my life, I would have liked to be able to talk to him as a friend and ask for advice… something I never had from him.

We all make big mistakes and the lesson is to forgive and understand, because our lives are short and we never know when will be the last time we see the people who are important to us.

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A heart around your neck

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`God save thee, ancient Mariner,
From the fiends that plague thee thus! –
Why look’st thou so?’ -“With my crossbow
I shot the Albatross.”

I wasn’t familiar with the albatross metaphor. A mariner shots an albatross with an arrow from his bow and, since an albatross was considered a bird of good luck, the ship is now cursed and the mariner is forced to bear the dead albatross around his neck as a reminder of his mistake.

Nor dim nor red, like God’s own head,
The glorious sun uprist:
Then all averred, I had killed the bird
That brought the fog and mist.
‘Twas right, said they, such birds to slay,
That bring the fog and mist.

Thinking about the world today, I see this metaphor as a depiction of humankind in general. We are the mariners shooting the albatross. To me they represent nature as a whole, they are rulers of the skies and the oceans, and they grace the lands when it’s time to breed. But we are killing them with our recklessness and our greed. We pollute the oceans and they end up killing their offspring not knowing they feed their chicks with our trash.

An orphan’s curse would drag to hell
A spirit from on high;
But oh! more horrible than that
Is the curse in a dead man’s eye!
Seven days, seven nights, I saw that curse,
And yet I could not die

They are devoted and loving parents, and they fly thousands of miles to forage for their chicks. How terrible it must be for them to find one day that their chick is dead when they have done all it takes for it to survive and thrive. How horrible it must be for an albatross to come back to land to find their chick is dead of starvation because the other parent was killed in a fishing line made by humans that don’t care about other living beings needing to feed on what the ocean gives.

Both parents are needed for a chick to survive and fledge. An albatross now mourns a chick and a partner at the same time. They mate for life, so they now have to start all over to find a new partner, and that doesn’t happen immediately. So many albatross species are now threatened or endangered.

But I think we can’t carry the dead albatross around our necks for too long before we die too. I’m sorry if this sounds too fatalistic- it saddens me to find that many people aren’t even aware of the environmental problem that threatens us all – every living creature. And I don’t mean that people are intentionally doing harm. It’s that we are not even aware of the consequences of our actions (or lack of)

Water, water, every where,
And all the boards did shrink;
Water, water, every where,
Nor any drop to drink.

But I like to think Nature is so noble and forgiving that if we woke up and started healing what we’ve done, our world could improve soon. It has been said so many times yet it doesn’t seem to come true: We need to stop fighting between us and come together to take care of our home. Why do we want to flee to another planet that wouldn’t be as beautiful as our own? If there isn’t an ocean, the flowers, plants and animals that live here, then I’m not interested, thank you…

He prayeth best, who loveth best
All things both great and small;
For the dear God who loveth us,
He made and loveth all

Extracts from The Rime of the Ancient Mariner by Samuel Taylor Coleridge

Time and art as cycles

 

It’s been a while since I updated this blog. Many crazy things happened to me during this time and, in general, the person who wrote the previous post is someone different from the person who writes today.

At this moment I am still in a steep learning curve. I have identified that the main lesson now is to develop my self-esteem and faith in myself.
A component of this self-love is that you should not forget who you are and where you come from, that you should know and accept yourself in order to know what are you going to to do with your life and what your priorities are. In other words, you have to choose which battles you will fight and which ones you won’t.

I learned that it’s never too late to finish the things that you have in the back burner and never too late to improve things and situations, even if you started a long time ago and it all seems so deteriorated to the point of thinking that it’s not worth it anymore. There’s always hope!

This piece, a dragon in its castle was first made in 1996. I put a lot of effort in it… but maybe because I did not think it was something worth it, I put it away without framing or protection. 22 years later it was obviously falling to pieces but I finally decided to rescue it: I disassembled the whole thing, painted the darkened paper with white gouache, and cut out new pieces to reassemble it again. The whole process felt quite right! New life to an old piece.

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And Moana the albatross chick, who had been left without being mounted on a definitive base, also needed more elements and composition, so I started making her a nest and the constellation of the Southern Cross in the sky. It is a piece made with lots of love and dedication. I hope I can visit New Zealand to see them with my own eyes someday…

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Getting abstract, talking nonsense

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Calligraphy, type and color

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Calligraphy, type and color 2

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Calligraphy, type and color 3

 

I was trained as a graphic designer right during The Transition. I had to make countless exercises by hand, with traditional instruments, with ancient techniques, with state-of-the-art technology available at that time, which was not yet digital.

My frustration at not achieving perfection was equally state-of-the-art.

I had to design posters using transferable type. There was no transferable type available in the color or the size I wanted, so the final result never looked like the design I had in my mind. And somehow my (now gone) hoarder ways allowed those transfer sheets to survive almost intact for over twenty years. I decided I should use them for what I wanted to do now, now they would be a graphic element like any other. Far from trying to achieve a similar effect with a computer (which I try to use as little as possible) I transferred all the letters I could with all the anger of my accumulated frustration at not achieving a decently aligned text line in 1995.

And now I had inks and watercolors, and enamel plates, and a scanner. And eh, yes, a computer. But it does not dictate what I want to do. It only helps me to make images like the ones I have in my mind.

I like being able to mix it all up and make something more expressive and above all, pretty much like what I had in my mind. Something spontaneous and very colorful. I always wear black clothes, but I like color. I LOVE color. The more saturated and contrasting, the better. I think of all the colors that come in flowers, fruits, fish and birds. Color is a powerful force. Keep that in mind.

 

Gestural calligraphy series

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Rooster

frigatebird

Frigatebird

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Abstract calligraphy

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Abstract calligraphy

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Abstract calligraphy

AfricanCrane

Grey crowned crane

lettercrow

calligraphic crow

head

portrait of a girl

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heart of letters

tulips

pot of tulips

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baby birds in a nest

 

This series was made between 2013 and 2015 to experiment with calligraphic textures that occupy more or less defined areas. They also proved to be a relaxing therapy by not having to think too hard about what to write with a pen. It is related to automatic writing exercises where you shouldn’t think before writing and the hand is not controlled by the conscious mind.

Probably a good way of telling what you do not want to tell anyone, putting it on paper but also hiding it to make it unreadable. Or, you can simply write what people say around you. And then you give the shape and composition you want.


One of my professors in grad school liked the abstract ones especially
. I guess the gestural and abstract elements are what caught his attention. I like gestural calligraphy because the hand flows without having to express a coherent language, but must also retain control so the strokes are aesthetically pleasing. And it could mean anything.

For someone introverted like me, it can be a way of express yourself without having to say anything.

 

Unknown Papers

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I lost count of how many waves of paper I had to cut!

One day it just clicked. I had to make it with paper.  This is one of the most famous album covers from a great band. Personally my discover route was through Depeche Mode. Their image maker, Anton Corbijn directed a movie called Control, which I watched when it came out in my country in 2008. I love New Order, too, but I had been oblivious to Joy Division. I know… that’s kind of unforgivable, but better late than never, right? I’ve discovered so many legendary bands way later than I should have, but I did.

The story of the cover of Unknown Pleasures relates to astronomy, a favorite subject of mine when I was in high school. Radio waves from a pulsar. It’s also quite interesting how our graphic representations of abstract things can carry beauty as well. White on white paper was the choice because this way, light plays a big part in the appeal of this piece. Depending on the light, the waves look different every time you look at them.

And of course, like every paper sculpture project, it always challenges my patience. It may take a lot of time to complete one of these pieces because of the amount of attention to detail they need. I end up exhausted and never wanting to make the same piece again. But it’s always worth it, at least in the sense of accomplishment!

You can buy the original piece which was made in 2014 here (Etsy)

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The Raven

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This Corvid comes from a literary inspiration (Nevermore, of course). It started as a doodle, I ended up liking it so much that I kept working on it, adding the literary element (calligraphy) as a texture in the background. It could mean thought, it could mean blood, it could mean pain, it could mean a tortured soul, it could mean disorderly intelligence. The raven’s mission is to untangle the confusing thoughts and come up with an answer to the eternal question- what is this life all about?

Buy this smarty-pants bird print on Etsy: The Raven

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Series: The Rumi Birds

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The poems from Rumi are so simple and powerful, maybe because they are about the deepest emotions and true beauty. They go hand in hand with the imagery of birds because to me they represent the highest ideals and a connection to the whole Earth. These three short poems also resonate with me. I’ve struggled with depression and anxiety for many years and these words help, and drawing helps too.

The King Vulture is my favorite. With time I’ve come to realize no animal is ugly. Humans have associated human qualities with certain animals, which then carry a bad reputation and face real danger because of human misconceptions. Animals play a very important role in this world and they shouldn’t be associated with negative traits.

These drawings started as linear drawings with a calligraphy nib, but then color was necessary (watercolor and gouache).

But listen to me:
For one moment quit being sad
Hear blessings dropping their blossoms
around you.

Out beyond ideas of
wrong doing and right doing
there is a field:
I’ll meet you there


Forget safety.
Live where you fear to live.
Destroy your reputation.
Be notorious.

 

Moana the Albatross

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They say you can’t love what you don’t know. Ever since I discovered a webcam dedicated to albatrosses, I  was completely fascinated. I’ve loved birds since I was a little girl, and I also took care of three duck friends that I still miss dearly since they passed away. Ducks started my love for water birds. And now the albatrosses are the most magnificent creatures in my opinion! They are sleek, elegant, goofy, loving, affectionate. I watched the Royal Albatross cam this year, starring Moana (hatched on January 18th and fledged on September 6th). It was a delight to watch her grow and her parents taking care of their precious chick, in a very beautiful place, Taiaroa Head in Dunedin, New Zealand -which I now have to visit-. I can only wish her safe travels and a healthy and long life.

That’s why I made this paper sculpture, to honor the adorable Moana. It turned out to be a big piece (70 x 90 cm) and the amount of cuts and slices of paper required lots of care and patience. The process itself is also an exercise of consciousness and even discipline.

 

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Series: London Dreams

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The first time I had the privilege of traveling abroad was to the land of my dreams: London. I come from a developing country and the chances to do that are rather scarce for most people, so I consider myself very lucky. Then was when I did realize life is about experiences and not collecting things. Even if it’s only a short trip to a place you haven’t been that is only a couple of hours away, it’s something worth it.

I love to pay attention to the differences, the good and the bad, and the travel experience makes you value the place you are from. Not everything in my city is as horrible as I thought when it was all I know. In fact, Mexico City is a pretty rad place. It’s huge, but that also means it has plenty of cool places to satisfy every interest.

But back to London, it is majestic. So many of the things I grew up loving have a bit of British character. Most of the bands I love are from there. When I was a child, the stories of kings and queens, princes and knights, castles and woods were my favorite. And the language! I tried to study English very hard, with the hope I’d travel to the UK someday.

I took almost two thousand pictures. Everything was new and extraordinary. I developed a keen interest on the vintage stuff, now that it’s so in fashion. Monuments, buildings, street signs, old artifacts in the HMS Belfast, the indescribable feeling of gazing at the beauty of the Kew Gardens, every single thing on the Tube… nothing was uninteresting.

These digital manipulations made in 2012 aimed to recreate the dream-like experience of being in such a place, and remember.

 

Buy these prints on Etsy: Royal Albert Hall, Cromwell Road, Piccadilly Cupid, Albert Memorial, Memories of War (HMS Belfast Instrument), St Anne’s Court Sign