Our return to Marrakech by taxi was interrupted by a visit to a Berber horse fair. Our driver felt it would be interesting to see charging horsemen with rifles and sabers flashing past in a haze of dust and heat. However, the horses were in their stables and the riders praying in their tents. So we became the locals’ entertainment, which was a little unsettling. One of our numbers was in a poor shape and this detour was not best timed so we pleaded to the driver to take us to our new Riad.
The Riad was north west of the Medina in a much busier part of the city than our previous stay. We followed the baggage cart down ever narrowing and darker passageways, thinking ‘how are we going to remember to find this later’. The Riad was, again, in a traditional Marrakech building with rooms around a central courtyard and a pool below. Its terrace had potential but for some reason we rarely used it.
The food in Marrakech was great and we went to some of the best in town. How did we know where to go? Earlier we had met an Englishman who had been living in the City for 10 years and represented or owned 4 Riads. To mark them on the map he had created an app called Marrakech Riad Travel Guide. It was superb, with a geo locater that told you exactly where you were without the need for wifi. It offered guides for food, shopping, drink plus other helpful tips. Recommended.
Once again the art was tricky as we needed places to settle down and draw but in the busy streets and passageways this was not easy to do. The small museums in Marrakech are really good and they are often located in Riads, offering refreshments and roof terraces. But still not much art was being produced. So we went to the Majorelle Gardens, located close to our hotel we braved walking there. This was certainly an adventure. with cars added to the normal mix of people, donkey karts, bicycles, skooters and motorbikes. We walked past busy markets, fast roads, large confusing junctions, building sites and every type of shop under the hot Moroccan sky. Thanks to the app we found it efficiently but we needed a hot mint tea before touring the gardens. The cafe there is delightful and we had difficulty moving on. The gardens are beautiful, especially after the streets of Marrakech and we found places to paint from. I started well and sketched and painted until lunch. Lunch in the cafe was delicious and we returned to our painting. I must have lost the thread again because my painting went awry in this session. Painting just foliage is tricky so I’m OK with this painting but the palm foliage in the mid distance could have been thought through better and the foreground shadows deeper.
By now, with quite a lot of art under my belt, mostly in my small sketchbook I was happy to relax more and only draw when the opportuntiy arose. The guide told us of a good cafe on the edges of the Souk and by chance we were close. It was a little gem. There was a set menu and the staff just took over and made sure we were fed and watered with simple but tasty fare. Situated on a small but very busy junction, beside a mosque we had a great chance to sit and draw, talk to the locals and watch life go by. A Tuareg shop owner was interested in us and we got chatting, looked at our art and help chase the cats away. My sketch of the lunch time view is below. Later we bought leather belts and souvenirs from the shops around the cafe.
As in a previous sketch there are items in the picture that are typical of the Souk. Such as the lantern, the dark, busy alley, the scooter, shops and palm. This may turn into a painting later but I need to think about composition. It was Annies birthday and we had a great time, eating relaxing, shopping and sightseeing through the day.
Janet had taken a photo of a typical Moroccan doorway earlier in the trip and I had been working on it through the time we were there. I finished it at home.
The trip was great, there was a lot to see and do and we were never bored. Thanks to Janet for organizing and to Janet and Peter for the artistic direction.
Finally I’ve begun working on some of the photos taken during my stay from my desk at home. I’m still not getting composition right but I’ve taken some details from the painting and made mini snapshots.