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Internet in Cuba? Meh…

Etesca Card
Internet usage is fairly new in Cuba, so forget the ease and freedom of wifi in the rest of the world. There are wifi hot spots near big hotels and a few other places. Look for Cubans crouched around the perimeter of a building on their phones and you have it. In all cases, you need to buy a wifi card to use the wifi. This is not an easy task. The Etesca office on Obispo in Havana has a long queue all day long – and you need to bring your passport. Much like an old bank teller window deal, you stand outside and are slowly let in, waiting to buy one hour internet access cards ($2/HR.). Internet cards look like lottery cards, with scratch off passwords or tear off tabs. They will register your passport number when you are issued the cards. A Cuban buddy told me that Cubans can only buy 2 hours at a time and need to stand in line again. (1 hr. +) I’m not sure if the passport registration is to ensure more control over the internet or what, but the Cubans I talked to are sure their usage is monitored and controlled and seemed to think ours might as well. Hard to say – but I certainly kept any outgoing messages on the happy channel. You can also buy them at the upscale hotels much easier, but at probably double the price. 

 

Cuba Musicians

Cuban Street Musicians

Cuban street musicians are in nearly every barrio playing a variety of instruments from guitars to bongos – even playing the jawbone of a donkey, complete with teeth! Actually, it made a great acoustic sound when they ran a drumstick up and down the rows of teeth. All groups have CDs and the price is gov´t controlled, of course – $10. So buy one for a fabulous souvenir and support local live music!

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Cuba has Issues

Great article. by Cubana actress and writer Natalie Morales.
I greatly miss my new friends there and am disgruntled by the difficulty in reaching them now –
the internet, the mail service, everything there is difficult. Much love to Cuba!

Please Stop Saying You Want to Go to Cuba Before It’s Ruined

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Havana Motor Club

I just returned from a month long people-to-people mission in Cuba, and will be blogging about it and posting many of my own stories and photos right here, entitled Cuba for Mama: A Daughter´s Journey.
This trailer for Havana Motor Club is a wonderful celebration of the amazing classic cars I saw in Cuba last month. They are iconic and amazing but its important to remember that they are there because they have nothing else. Communism is still alive and its effects are quite apparent in Cuba. I commend these Cubanos for their “MacGuyver style” ingenuity in keeping them running.

Love is all around us!

The Heart Cave

The Heart Cave

I must remember to go down to the Heart Cave
and sweep it clean; make it warm with a fire on the hearth,
and candles in their niches.
The pictures on the walls glowing with a quiet light.

I must remember to go down to the Heart Cave
and make the bed with the quilt from home,
strew rushes on the floor and hang lavendar and sage from the corners.

I must remember to go down to the Heart Cave
and be there when you come.

                                            — Geoffrey Brown
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Notes & Tips

Finding Others to be Creative With
First of all, if you live in a city or town of any size – check on www.meetup.com, and see if they have any groups forming or meeting in your area. If you keyword search paint, or sketch, or art – you should get something. Also, I’d look or post a message on www.craigslist.com. Look for the Craigslist in your state or city – there is a forum listing on the left side of the page. Another idea – see if there is a SketchCrawl group in your area. They usually meet monthly as a group and descend on a place for a group sketchathon! Also, if you have any art stores – check their bulletin boards! Most artists offering workshops put a flier up occasionally.

It’s all about…PRACTICE
Well, I’d like to say I sketch daily – but I don’t. Sometimes there are weeks when I just don’t make the time for the practice – but I’ve tried to schedule mini-art retreats or creativity days when I can! Reading the book “Mastery” by George Leonard is always a good kick in the pants, as is The Creative License by Danny Gregory. Look on my Resources page for these books and others.
Also, I have a list of local (within a few hours) galleries and workshops that I periodically check for classes that I’m interested in to fuel my creativity. At least when I commit to attend a workshop, I come away with something creative, and often a few new friends and connections out of the deal, too. One good place to start looking for workshops is Shaw Guides. They have classes all over, and their search page is pretty good. www.shawguides.com

Protecting Your work
I carry my sketchbooks in my backpack, in a large Ziploc bag to protect them from dirt and moisture. While sketching, I’ll often put the bag around the back pages of my sketchbook, which keeps it cleaner. If you seal it when traveling in humid or potentially wet situations, it’ll often be enough to keep your work safe. I’ve not dropped my books in the ocean or the canals of Venice yet, but I sure hope I have the Ziploc sealed if that happens!

Composing Your Pages
Just because you’re drawing an old building or a house, you don’t have to do it all! I often just sketch portions of buildings – perhaps the cupola or trimwork around a section of a home. Details of particularly cool elements can be added to the page. Sometimes signs or lettering attracts my eye, and I’ll find ways to make it a part of the page, as well. When traveling in our National Parks, the Visitor’s Centers usually have a stamp for the date & park for people’s passports. I stamped a page in the top corner, and added elements from my park visit to the page later.

Plein Air Sketching vs. Using Photos
I usually sketch in pencil onsite, however – there are times when I have insufficient time to do more than catch a quick digital photo and sketch and paint it later. Even if you do have the luxury of time to sketch, ink or paint onsite, it’s a good idea to catch a photo anyway. The photo can be used to refresh your memory for colors, perspective, etc. Photos are also fun to use in presentations, to “morph” a photo into a sketch, or visa versa.

Catalogs & Materials Recommendations

I recommend all of these highly! 

DanielSmithLogo

Daniel Smith Artists Materials
Their color selection is fabulous, and they have some great combination sets to choose from. I bought a cheap travel set once locally, popped out all the paint blobs and replaced them with squeezed blobs from all my favorite colors from DS, so now I have a “custom” color palette for the road. They have some vibrant colors in the Quinachrodine series and some fun shimmering duochrome paints to add a little zip to your fishy paintings! Stop by their store when in the Seattle area, I guarantee that you won’t leave empty handed – I certainly never do… They also have an interesting list of workshops and demos in both their Seattle area locations, so check out their catalog at:  www.danielsmith.com

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Cheap Joe’s Art Stuff
Great selection of artist materials at good prices. They give you a nifty color card with orders, too. (great to slip into your travel palette) Also, their Kilamanjaro sketchbooks are awesome! They have them spiralbound in various sizes, with 140# paper, and also in 300# paper, interspersed with lightweight pages in between for adding your journaling notes, value sketches, etc. I just wish they’d make the cover plain, so I could add my own artwork on the cover!  www.cheapjoes.com

SunEdenLogo
Sun-Eden Artist’s Gear
This small local Colorado company has a wonderful travel easel which breaks down into a decent sized package. They also have a backpack that’ll carry the whole works. The easel has accessories that attach to the tripod including a handy paint shelf, box which slips on rods under the shelf, hook for a water bucket, brush holder, and even an umbrella. They also have the nicest lightweight sketching stool I’ve seen. It has a back! It folds down and has a carrying strap, and is made of durable nylon with aluminum legs. Please tell them you saw them on Pen2Paint!  www.sun-eden.com

Paper Ink Arts
Paper & Pen fanatics will drool over the goodies here! Loads of pens, inks, papers, calligraphy tools, even some instructional DVDs for those who are geographically challenged. There is even a bone paper folding tool for all you paper nerds out there.
www.paperinkarts.com

Martin Luther King, Jr. Readaloud Fun!

Quotes about the Internet

National borders aren’t even speed bumps on the information superhighway.
~Tim May

The Internet is becoming the town square for the global village of tomorrow.
~Bill Gates

Give a person a fish and you feed them for a day; teach that person to use the Internet and they won’t bother you for weeks.
~Author Unknown

What then?

That I feel hungry, forgive an insult, and love my enemy –
these are great virtues.
But what if I should discover that the poorest of beggars
and the most impudent of offenders are all within me,
and that I stand in need of the alms of my own kindness;
That I myself am the enemy that must be loved – What then?
~ C.G. Jung

Buy your copy today! Cuba for Mama: A Daughter’s Journey 2016

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