My Brother Jo and his family recently invited Julia and I to join them, and my Dad and his wife Wendy, for a holiday in Mexico. We’ve had a rocky time of things the past few years, and this was a wonderful opportunity to relax. Despite feeling ill the entire time, I did some sketching, and broke in a beautiful new sketchbook that Julia got me for Christmas a few years ago.
A few days before we were due to fly to Mexico, I came down with an asthmatic chest cold, and it was touch and go whether we would fly at all. The morning of our departure, I felt a little better and so off we went.. only to arrive in a Puerto Vallarta that was astonishingly hot and humid. Wow. I felt immediately drained by the brutal heat and felt sicker almost as soon as we checked in to our hotel. The next morning, a doctor came to visit me in my hotel room, diagnosed me with Bronchitis, and pumped me full of antibiotics. This certainly helped, but didn’t heal me 100%. In fact, a few days ago I was put on another round of antibiotics here in the USA.
Unfortunately, being sick, my sightseeing was confined to the hotel itself, but I was very happy to spend time with my family, who I do not often see. While the others would go off on tours, I would draw in the hotel or try to sleep off my chest-bug, and it was lovely to see my family each evening for dinner. On about the 3rd day, there was an absolutely spectacular lightening storm and the torrential rain on that and a few subsequent afternoons thankfully cooled the temperature a great deal, making the trip much more pleasant. Just as I started to feel a bit more human, Julia got the bad news that her division is to be closed and she will soon be out of a job. I’m not sure why it is so, but all of our attempts at holidays in the past few years have been fraught with illness and bad luck, and I’m afraid of what this Holiday Curse will escalate to next.
I had visited Puerto Vallarta once before, in 1989, and I remember a quaint little seaside town of cobblestone streets, but sadly this time around I only got to see the grounds of the hotel, and the nearby beach, because of my illness. The nexus of the hotel was a huge network of swimming pools, some with a bar right inside the pool itself, blasting Euro-beat rave music around the clock. We favoured the much quiter family pool, which was a new concept for me; I’m used to the kids area being rowdy, but at this hotel it was the grownups who were the boisterous ones. (Must’ve been the Magaritas).
When we finally found a spot to sit poolside (where chairs are jealously guarded) we met one of the pool regulars; the POOL IGUANA. I’ve exaggerated his size here, making him look as big as a crocodile, but although he was not that big, he was surprisingly large; at least as big as a medium sized dog. It was quite a surprise when we finally nabbed a poolside spot to have this guy dive into the pool, and make a beeline for us through the water, crawl out of the pool and panhandle us for snacks. (For the record, he liked guacamole and salsa but declined our offer of “Fruit Loops”).
The Iguanas were not the only colouful wildlife. There were many racous screeching birds, most notably the PEACOCKS. I did not think to sketch them, but they kept up an almost constant squawking, day and night, reaching a frenzied pitch during the thunderstorms, when I think they lost their tiny feathered minds. They had the run of the place, and their favourite trick was to walk up and snatch the BUTTER off your breadroll right under your nose. BRAWK! After that first night, we always chose a table inside the restaurant.
On one of her visits to town, Julia found a pretty little figurine. When she bought it, she found out that it was the MOTHER MARY figure of this Nativity SET. We didn’t have room for this many dolls, either in our luggage or our flat, so we gave the set (minus Mother Mary) to my Dad and Wendy (they planned to have one of the other female figurines stand in for Mary). I decided to sketch the nativity group before they were bundled up for their journey to Australia.
Christmas 2012, Julia got me these two beautiful leather-bound and monogrammed sketchbooks, but I didn’t feel capable of doing them justice until recently, as I lost my drawing ability the day after I was given the sketchbooks, when my right hand became paralysed. Although my drawing skill is still not where I would like it to be, after filling a big sketchook with left-handed doodles and drawings from life, I now feel ready to crack open these handmade beauties and do some drawing in them. The pages are about half the dimension of my previous sketchbook, and therefore the drawings in these will probably be more gestural, and hopefully looser, more stylised and ‘cartoony’ than the painstaking drawing I’ve been doing lately.
I look forward to filling them both up.
54 thoughts on “Mexican Hotel Holiday”
I’m sorry to hear about the bad luck and bronchitis, but at least you have some very nice paintings to share!
Great sketches Jamie! Sorry about you getting sick, but it looks like you made great use of your time! These are really nice!
Thanks Anson. I was so bummed to be sick that I felt EXTRA pressure to do some sketches!
Love the drawings!
Beautiful sketches! I think I’m starting to prefer chill vacations with lots of hanging out and drawing.
Ikumi> I didn’t have much choice this time, but to be honest I preferred sitting and doodling to all the Action Hero rappelling and so forth anyway.
those left handers are looking damn excellent
Robert> Thanks, I think i am going to try and run with the SPAZZY style that being a lefty gives me for free.
you can see the inner working with either hand I reckon, (of your mind I mean)
With the last sketchbook, I was trying to be as accurate as I could. But now I’m going to let the drawings be as ‘off’ as they want to be.
I’m always trying to do that
You are the undisputed master of free drawing Rob.
we don’t get to choose what our life’s path or purpose might be, Jamie, eh? You are a sweet man with powerful talents. Love you and your work.
JOE> Thanks, Joe!
I’m so happy you are finally using these sketchbooks!
Had to get up to speed first. These are leather-bound. And Monogramed. Sheesh!
I understand :)
You were bringing the PRESSURE there.. ;)
Sorry about that, but glad you are finally finding them usable!
..and they are HANDMADE.
With a stamped monogram :)
As always these are amazing. I am sorry to hear that you were unwell, just get better and fill those beautiful leather books.
Thanks for the support, Narelle. It was a bummer to get sick but I’m glad I went and had a family get together. That part was beaut.
Love these!!! They are way better than the photos I took! So great to spend time with you guys!
It was great seeing you all too! Julia has now caught my cooties. I sure hope that none of the Virginia crew get it too!
Ah…the joy of seeing your continued recovery. Amazing and I hope you start feeling better.
Nice sketches! Love the loose style.
These are really great sketches! Do they FEEL as natural as they look?
That sounded x-rated. Is the left-handed sketching feeling as natural to do now? They certainly look that way!
I think you are getting a lot faster actually. I watched you paint these and it seemed to me they took at least half the time they used to.
I know what you meant! They still FEEL very awkward and take a long time to do. But it is getting a little better
Beautiful work! Lovely sketches to take you right there! Love the story!
Killer stuff. Glad you had such an adventure, you guys deserve it.
We join the chorus of admiration for the “lefties” and can vouch for the fact that they’re just like being there – apart from your not being in them. It was great being there with you both; see you again in September. love, Dad and Wendy
Yes, it was s super fun get together despite the bad luck. See you again in a few weeks!
I love you two making beautiful things out of all the bad luck that’s plagued you. These drawings are gorgeous, Jamie! And Julia picks gorgeous sketchbooks!
I look forward to filling them both up.
Just as we look forward to seeing more of what they get filled with!
Sorry to hear you were ill and didn’t get to enjoy your holiday as much as you would have liked. I hope you’re well and truly on the mend now?
And yeah, that Holiday Curse can be a real biatch sometimes… at one stage there it seemed like every time I took holidays something disastrous happened… might be why I haven’t had a decent holiday in years! lol
Hey Peter! I’m seriously afraid of what might happen next time! Think I’ll be staying at home for a while..
Your left handed sketches are way better than any thing I could do with my dominant hand… stop being so amazing Oh and let’s figure out how to break the holiday curse. I think I know a good shaman for that.
Ha ha! I think you are right Esther; rather than antibiotics I need an exorcist!
Your drawings blow my tiny feathered mind :0)
Thanks, Lianne! I aim to get faster in this new sketchbook by just running with the wonkiness.
Your drawings are beautiful Jamie.
Thank you, Margot. It is a bit of a struggle, but i get some satisfaction out of it along with the grimaces!
You are the Django Reinhardt of artists. You rock!
I’ve got a special CATEGORY that has ALL my LEFTIES here:
you are amazing. xo
Sorry to say this sketchbook is now no more. My shoulder bag, which contained the sketchbook and my art supplies, was taken when we all relaxed at a cafe. The thief was probably hoping for a laptop, but though this sketchbook was worthless to him, and probably quickly thrown away, this loving gift from Julia was priceless to me.
man o man, o man… powerful on site sketching.
I must make the effort to do this — as all my teachers have told me.
Thanks Ed. I go between sketching from my brain, sketching from life, and there have been long periods where I didn’t even sketch at all