Parting Shot

Museo_historico_nacional_santiago_chileWednesday was my last day in Santiago, and so after the morning Plenary talks I checked out of my hotel, stored my bag, and, boarding the subway, melted into the city for a few hours. I was not on the lookout for anything in particular, besides a sense (even a little) of the city’s life and flow. I also had in mind to spend a few hours at some galleries/museums (I’d already seen the Museum of Pre-Columbian Art (Museo Chileno de Arte Precolombino) on Monday night, and had a tour, as that’s where the conference reception was). I wanted to check out the Museum of Contemporary Art (Museo de Contemporaneo Artes) and Museum of Fine Arts (Museo de Bellas Artes), as well as the Museum of National History (Museo de Histórico Nacional), back in Plaza de Armaz, where I’d done that cafe and Post office sketch on Sunday. I also wanted to wander the streets and squares and just look at the people and buildings and goings on. And then I had to get back to the hotel at 6:45pm to grab my bag and jump into the taxi I’d ordered and head to the airport for my flight back to LA.

Well, I did pretty much all of those things, with no hiccups to speak of. I was a little annoyed that 95% of the Museum of Contemporary Art was taken up by a massive David LaChappelle retrospective – not because there isn’t something in his work one can find to like or at least be amused by (I had a good look around since I was there), but because it seemed ridiculous to have flown almost 1/3 the way around the planet to see an American artist’s work when what I wanted to see was work that was more local – but all turned out ok when in the Museum of Fine Art (the adjoining building in fact) I found a great deal of interesting contemporary (and other) art that was locally sourced. The buildings themselves were interesting to look at too, so that was a bonus.

On a nearby street (Monjitas), I found a great spot for lunch and people-watching, and the woman who I took to be the proprietor of the cafe (who took my order) decided to engage me in conversation for while. Since she had little
English and I have only fragmemnts of Spanish, we found that we could converse using a patchwork of Spanish, French, English, and Mime.

After another stop for coffee as I walked along Monjitas, I was back at Plaza de Armas, which I explored on foot for a bit before exploring the Museo de Histórico Nacional, taking in a few rooms at a time, before stepping outside to rest in the sun or just admire the building.

Some more exploration of the square followed (checking out all the random dogs that I see in a lot of Latin American cities, which always fascinate me), watching the various goings on. I of course had to go into the central post office building (Correros de Chile) I’d sketched at a distance on Sunday, and conveniently there was a fellow selling postcards and stamps, so I dutifully bought a few and, after writing them on one of the benches in the square, posted them. Another walk took me past the nearby former National Congress Building (Edificio ex Congreso Nacional), and then noting the dwindling time I turned around and returned to Plaza de Armaz. I wanted to do a bit of drawing to close the day’s touring, and was seeking a good vantage point of something or other.

Well, the lovely spire of the Museo de Historico Nacional, fully lit by the late afternoon Winter sun, was the obvious subject, but there was nowhere to sit that gave me the view I wanted, and so I decided to just stand in the square, in front of the cathedral, and sketch what I could for a while with a pencil. (I had my watercolour pencils and waterbrush with me, but there’d be no time, and they are better used sitting anyway.)

In 20 minutes or so I had a passable representation of the thing… sketch_in_progress_museum_chileThere’s an elegant simplicity to the architecture, and you can feel and understand just how it all fits together when you draw a chunk of it (as opposed to just taking a snap with a camera) and try to solve the puzzle of how to represent it reasonably accurately. (You can see the stage I got it to in the accompanying snap to the right (click for larger), but know that the colours here are not very representative. The main drawing is actually more representative in that regard – the yellow was really stunning in the sun.)

I then dived back into the subway to head back to my hotel, getting a good sense of what the rush hour in the city is like (very long lines to get tickets and to get in through the turnstiles).

Since returning, I found a little bit of time to ink some of the lines I liked in the drawing (with a 01 micron pen), and add some watercolour (pencils and then water brush) to give a sense of that lovely rich colour the building has. I scanned it in (digitally corrected an slight mistake I made while inking), and the result is the main image at the top of this post. (I left in the fold of the sketchbook to show off my slightly poor planning of the drawing’s development on the page… 🙂 )

A satisfying end to an excellent (if short) trip!


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