As I revealed my next destination to you all, dear readers, at the end of my last post, I actually left out a slight detail. What I didn’t explain was how I was staying another three days in Fez before my departure to Seville.
The reason I didn’t mention this, was due to the fact that I didn’t expect to have much more to write about regarding Fez. It turned out I did.
Therefore most of this blog post will be dedicated to my last days in Fez – but fear not, I’m staying a whole week in Seville so I’ll be able to tell you more about it next week!
Before Leaving Fez
Portrait of the Guesthouse Owner
As you might remember, I had switch from my hostel to a single room in a guesthouse. The price difference, however, between a single room and a dormitory was significant, so for the last days before my flight I decided to go back to my first hostel and save some money.
The owner of the guesthouse, a charismatic slim tall man who was the one that had sprinkled orange blossom essential oil in me and my newly found Turkish friends palms, had been very interested in the fact I was an artist and he wished for a portrait.
On the evening of my last night at there, I stumbled upon him in the lounge area close to my room and we embarked on attempting the portrait. He positioned himself in the corner of the sofa area and I started sketching first with pencil, then with colored brush pens.
We chatted while I sketched and I found it hard to really make the sketch resemble him. I kept making his face to wide, making him look larger than he was. Getting self-conscious and frustrated about it didn’t exactly make me suddenly sketch him more realistically. While doing my best I was explaining how the sketch was more a representation of what I saw and felt at that moment, than realism, and I hoped he would appreciate it no matter what.
In the end he didn’t really feel it resembled him, but maybe with time, as he grew older it would, she added. In any case he found it beautiful anyway and he thanked me.
At the end of the sketching process we had gained an audience. I young man who resembled the owner quite a bit, just younger, and his two friends. The day before I had met him by the reception where he asked me a sea of questions with great enthusiasm.
During our exchange I had asked if he was the owner’s brother, since they looked alike. He confirmed this and asked eagerly about my art, I guess someone had told him about me. His intensity honestly made me I feel overwhelmed. After a few moments I just tried to politely excuse myself and went to my room.
While sketching the portrait of the owner I nodded towards the ‘brother’ who sat a bit further away chatting with his friends while observing us, and asked if this was indeed his brother. ‘Brother? No, it’s my son. I have given him a good education’, the owner said, while keeping his pose in the corner of the sofas.
His son/brother & Friends
After the sketch was done the owner was called away, and I was left with his possibly son, but earlier declared brother. However, when I asked him, he insisted he was the brother. Whoever he was to the owner, he seemed very determined to impress me and act cool in front of his friends, as he sat down where his father/brother had sat and told me to sketch him next.
Why not. I started sketching him, jumping directly to the brush pens and drawing as fast as possible aiming for a loose cartoon style. While I worked he was joking to his friends in his rather bad mix of French and English, about how he had had too much cheese.
Later he continued going on about how I had promised to give him cheese later. I still have no idea what he was on about with the cheese, but judging by the way his friends giggled, it must have been some sexual reference or something. When my sketch was done soon after, he turned out looking slightly thinner and older than he was.
When presented with his portrait he became very theatrically disappointed and started complaining about how I had made him look like a 100 year old hash smoker. Which might be true, but to be honest it still rather resembled him if you ask me. One of his other friends asked to be drawn too and so I did a more flattering sketch of him.
This made the friend very pleased but the owner’s brother/son was even more agitated and started pacing around the lounge area spurting words in his French/English of which I hardly understood half. It’s not very mature of me, but I must admit, after him making somehow fun of me earlier with the random ‘cheese jokes’, I was entertained by how things didn’t seems to go the way he wished.
After having sketched everyone else, I found it only suiting to sketch the last friend, who seemed to be the quiet one. From the very beginning he was sitting a meter away from everyone else; looking like a young Moroccan Freud with his round glasses and grey tweed blazer. I asked him if he would like a portrait sketch too, and he hesitantly but with a crooked smile came closer and thanked yes as he sat opposite of me.
I sketched him fast but carefully, motivated to make the sketch as flattering as possible, in order to rattle the son/brother. I guess I was in a childish mood. In my opinion the sketch of the quiet friend turned out to be the best out of all the sketches.
And it sure lit a new fire under the son/brother, who first ripped my first sketch of him in half and then demanded a new portrait. Why not. I started the new one with the intention to make it flattering, but I found it genuinely hard to do. In the end It I think it turned out better than the first. Even the son/brother agreed it was an improvement from the 100 year old hash smoker portrait, even though I had still made him look older than he was.
After they had all been sketched, they started sketching me, which I found very intriguing. Although the son/brother made me look like a ghost or a zombie but I didn’t really expect him to try and make a flattering portrait of me, even if he had been a skilled sketcher. This way I ended my visit at the guest house with a rather productive evening sketch wise.
Practice with Watercolors
Motivated by my previous attempts with watercolor, since I felt an improvement, I continued practicing. Sketching after the postcards with the Moroccan photographs:
After the view of the rooftop from the terrace at Café Smile:
After some photographs I had taken of an old lady in the street I had given some money and an old salesman on a bench:
Lastly one of the roof at the public Hamman I decided to treat myself too once again before I left Morocco:
One Last New Friend – C
Even though I had somehow expected, after having made so many new friends while in Fez, that now I would probably not meet any more people I connected with, I was proven wrong.
One night, as I arrived back at the dormitory, I saw a big bag with an easel strapped to it and canvasses had been spread across the common sofa in the room. Another artist? Yes indeed, an English man named C. who had studied an art Bachelor in London and painted oil paintings.
The next day I showed him around the medina and the Jardin Jnan Sbil, where he got so inspired that he wanted to paint a view from one of the bridges onto the main fountain. While he painted I sketched him.
Portrait of the Hostel Owner
Before leaving the hostel that I was staying at for the second time, I had promised the owner a portrait. I sketched him with blue brush pens on blue paper in order to make the style expressive from the beginning, not attempting realism at all. He was very pleased with it and thanked me sincerely.
This way I left Fez feeling simultaneously ready and a little nostalgic. The city, although overwhelming and full of aggressive males I had to fend of everyday, it had also been generous to me in inspirational places, nice local people and letting me meet an impressive number ofs interesting people whom I hope to stay in touch with!
Thank you Fez, for all you have been to me, I hope to revisit you one day!
During my flight to Spain the sky was cloudless and we had a beautiful view of the Moroccan mountains and later Spanish fields. My camera couldn’t quite catch the splendor but the pictures might give a hint at least.
Some of my first major impressions of Seville are that the city is simply stunning! There is so much history and the atmosphere seems relaxed and joyful, although there are a lot more tourist than I anticipated at this point since it is not exactly the main holiday season.
The architecture is breathtaking and there are so many lovely parks and restaurants, cafés and bars. It’s not as warm as in Fez but very close and it’s sunny until late in the evening. People sit out chatting until around midnight. I have already found a book café that I feel completely at home in that I plan to come back to often.
Before I flew here a few people wrote me via Couch surfing about meeting up for coffee, so I might meet with some of them during the next week. For now I’m excited to experience more and get to drawing more and hopefully continue my practice with the watercolors. So far I’ve only done one sketch in Seville near the cathedral:
That’s all for now!
I will tell you much more about Seville and share more art with you next week – as well as reveal my next destination to you!