I’m doing a little catch-up here, I took a trip to Fez, Morocco in late December 2017. It was a place of amazing architecture, food and contrasts of religions. It felt like being in a different planet. Kind of like Santa Fe, but with a more Arabic flavor. But I later painted what became “Blue Gates of Fez”.
I’ll have the Medina Special please…
First, the city really didn’t feel like one. It’s quite old, perhaps over 1000 years old. I stayed in the old town part. With tons of medinas in an infinite maze of cultural possibilities, not knowing what’s around the corner, there were surprises everywhere. Most of the shop owners were friendly, but you couldn’t feel the tension of trying to earn a living there. You can feel it in the air, and the smell of spices and other aromas in the air as well.
I loved the food, there was some really good couscous and orange juice. Yes, even better than Florida! Lots of meats and vegetarian options. Being here in old town with all the narrow medinas (small alleys) and large amounts of people can raise your blood-pressure. I found some secluded spots in town to relax as well. But you have to go outside of the blue gates, which I painted from this scene.
I loved this scene because it represented a door into a special world that is as exotic, dangerous and profound as anyone could imagine. It’s difficult to describe this place in just a few words. The whole place is a work of art. You can see it on its walls, arches, medinas. The details are extraordinary. It’s a living, breathing museum that is meant for everyone to experience.
And to be here for just a few days, the pace was dizzying of visual stimulation that overloaded my own senses. I was scheduled for five days but felt three was enough and departed for Seville, Spain. Sometimes you have to adjust your own schedule to help your sanity. I wasn’t relaxing enough and felt too much nervous energy in my bones. But what I received from this trip was a taste of a different world I’ve always wanted to visit. I wanted to take a camel ride, but it was far too expensive for me at this time, and it was cold here during my stay. Yes, even here it gets cold.
Beyond the Blue Gates
So when I went home, I painted the iconic archway from the Blue Gate. And because it was dusk, there were lots of sunlight on the old walls. I wanted to include the details of the bricks and walkway. The opening was mysterious. I didn’t feel comfortable putting people in, I wanted to paint possibilities, and that meant abstracting the scene. It could be interpreted in many ways but it the end, it felt right to do. Perhaps later on, I’ll paint more from my Fez trip. But at least I ended up with a nice painting that took me a few months to complete in various stages.
And last, can’t forget the local music. Combined with mint tea it was a nice way to end my Fez adventure.