Sunday, February 15, 2015

Grandma's Bootcamp: The Bardo, 4

A few last thoughts on the campers' visit to the Bardo Museum: the sophisticated portraits must be mentioned and can only be admired.
This famous mosaic of Virgil and his Muses demonstrates the idea of Antiquity that creative inspiration exists outside of oneself as a sort of separate being. A comforting thought. The artist is not then solely responsible for his or her artwork, but connects to something beyond.

Lavish attention was given to the gods...                                  

Especially to Poseidon, god of the seas.

    And this beautiful statue had to be included. 

I would like to go back and sketch in the Bardo because there are so many possibilities. 
However, it is cold and the place is unheated.
I'll go back when the weather warms up...

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Grandma's Bootcamp: The Bardo, 3

Bootcamp now seems a long time ago, however, I hope showing some of the wonders in the Bardo museum will bring back memories of warm days on this cold and rainy day (well, at least we're not blanketed in snow). The mosaic still lifes drew my attention. Stunning.
These bottles are complete with shading and shadows, and note the leaf and rose borders.

The hare eating grapes may not qualify as a still life, but I'm including him anyway...note the gradated borders.

And my favourites: the grapes are perfection.

The artist even got in the reflections and highlights on the cup.

So with such inspiration, we sat down on the floor to sketch.

While GD2 (2nd Granddaughter, 7) tackled a huge carved snake, which looked deceptively simple, GD1 (12) sketched a beautiful lion-goddess statue.

Grandma managed a quick sketch and later added the pretty ticket and a commentary.

Yes, these are warm memories on a cold, wintry day.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

January 14

Today is January 14, which is not just any day. It marks the 4th anniversary of the Tunisian Revolution and the departure of the dictator--who now parties in Saudi Arabia with the millions he stole from the Tunisian people. 

The Sketchbook Skool Bootcamp homework assignment this week coincides well with January 14. The subject is about money as an object, a still life to draw--crumpled, wadded, folded, flattened. So I wadded a 20-dinar bill into as small a ball as I could and sketched it in ballpoint pen in my daily journal. 15 minutes. 40 minutes to add color with pencils.

This wad represents well the mess that Tunisia has been going through for the last four years, with severe economic and financial problems developing due to government mismanagement and increasing corruption.

With the new, democratically-elected parliament and president, things may be straightening themselves out slowly. We await the announcement of the new government in the hopes that electoral promises will be respected to some degree. 

And so, I flattened out the 20-dinar bill, which shows Kheireddine Et-Tounsi (1822-1889) on a magnificent horse. He was a Prime Minister before the French decided to colonise Tunisia. He later went to Istanbul and became a Prime Minister for the Ottoman Empire. He is indeed a historical symbol that Tunisians may remember with pride. Not some dictator.
I drew the bill. However, who could resist such a beautiful Arabian horse? I had to have Kheireddine's horse in my sketchbook. The star and crescent on the  horse's harness makes this a patriotic symbol as well. Tunisia had it's own flag long before the French invaded. 

Another symbol for pride on a day of which we can be proud.

Wednesday, December 31, 2014


Today the newly elected Tunisian Parliament, the first democratically-elected parliament this small country has ever seen, gathered along with a number of guests-of-honor at the Bardo Palace. 

Today Béji Caïd-Sebsi was sworn in as the President of Tunisia, the first democratically-elected president this small country has ever seen. 

Today Mr. Caïd-Sebsi honoured the three victims of political assassination during the reign of the religious party: Lotfi Nagdh, Chokri Belaïd, and Mohamed Brahmi.

Today Béji Caïd-Sebsi went to the Presidential Palace to take over his official functions there (although he plans on living in his own home).

Today Tunisians have achieved what seemed impossible 5 years ago--a democracy. They have thrown off dictatorship and extremisms. They have persisted despite corruption, chaos, filth, and the possibility of civil war. 

Today, finally, I would like to introduce myself, for I have maintained a relative anonymity in this blog because I have lived under dictatorship and with uncertainty. 

I am Nadia Mamelouk, PhD., 
aka MulticoloredPieces, 
aka MulticoloredSnippets.

I am an ex-pat American artist from Oregon living on a small citrus farm with my family. In addition, I have made a commitment to teaching English in a Tunisian university because, like the whole country, the educational system has been in free-fall since the 2011 Revolution...I hope I can help in some small way. 

Today I can see myself better.

Today I have very short hair for "Bootcamp" over at the Sketchbook Skool. 

Today I might be regretting the short haircut as it is snowing all over northern Tunisia and within 5 miles of my house.  

Today is a new day full of Hope 
and so we begin the New Year full of Hope.

May your New Year be filled with Hope as well.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Finally the Holidays

The run-off presidential elections, scheduled for the 21st of December, have had everyone in Tunisia concerned and on edge. The borders to Libya were closed. A voting center was attacked in Hafouz (central Tunisia) when someone started shooting at soldiers, resulting in the death of the assailant. There was an assassination attempt on Beji Caid-Sebsi, one of the candidates, on the eve of the elections. All leaves and holidays were cancelled for soldiers, national guard, and the police who were at every voting center. 

A family member volunteered to be an observer as thousands of observers were required to help the voting process run smoothly. Tunisia's elections under dictatorship have always been falsified, consequently the role of the observers was even more important in order to break a very bad habit. I drew an observer's badge into my small sketchbook to commemorate this historic event.

And historic it is. Tunisia has never had truly democratic and free elections for either Parliament or President. It is now official: with 55.6% of the vote, Beji Caid-Sebsi of the 'Nida Tunis' Party will be the first democratically elected president of Tunisia. 

The need for vigilance remains. Certain Western powers and their satellites are unhappy with the development of a true democracy in the Arab world. Certain Gulf countries do not want to see women sharing equality with men in a Muslim country (nearly half the Parliament is women). And certain thugs associated with dictatorship would like to grab back power and bring back the dictator. This budding democracy must be defended, tooth and nail.

Although much work remains to be done, a festive mood is in the air and it is the holidays. The Transition Period has come to an end and Tunisians can celebrate the New Year with hope.

May you have a peaceful and joyous Holiday Season.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Holding Things Together

Basically, things are holding together. We're trying to get to the end of the semester and the beginning of school vacation and to the last round of the presidential elections, which coincide, interestingly enough. Thankfully, the first truly democratically elected Parliament in Tunisia has begun to function. As soon as a president is elected, a government will be formed by the majority party, "Nida Tunis." There is, of course, some urgency, as it feels like we're adrift on a rudderless boat for the moment.

Consequently, in the spirit of things holding together and holding things together, I stitched up a sketchbook/journal. The idea of a sketchbook as a holding place, a Memory project, pleases me. I could complain about the limited availability of good art supplies, however, I did manage to find rather heavy (224g/m2) Canson paper in packets (24x32cm/9.5"x12.5") at the beginning of the school year. I unabashedly admit that I bought ten packets. And that felt like luxury. 

Apart from the paper, I made do with materials I found at home. I made two covers by gluing 3 pieces of recycled lightweight cardboard together for each cover. Then I painted 4 sheets of Canson paper with watercolors, which I glued onto the covers. 

I folded my Canson paper in half to make the pages and stitched it all up. 
For sewing, I used a thin cotton string that I waxed by running over a piece of bee's wax. Fortunately, there are some good instructions on Youtube. The inside covers gave me a chance to play with the bits and pieces of leftover painted paper.

I LUV my new sketchbook/journal. 
It satisfies my soul in every way.
Yes, I'd say that we're holding things together with style! 

NB: Blogger has insisted upon inserting the annoying word verification despite the fact that my "Show word verification?" setting says "NO". I suppose I'll have to shoot off an email to Blogger. My apologies for the inconvenience of the word verification--the technology is wonderful when it works, but, when there's a glitch, what a pain in the neck....

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Further Entanglements

Happily, parliamentary elections in Tunisia (October 26th) went smoothly and the outcome was not disastrous. "Nida Tunis" (the Call for Tunisia), which groups the major center and leftist parties, won 86 seats out of 217, while the religious part won 69. Although "Nida Tunis" does not have a majority, it appears that they will be able to work with other small parties to form a government.

The first round for the presidential elections on November 23rd went relatively smoothly as well. However, the results were rather surprising. While the "Nida Tunis" candidate, Beji Caïd-Sebsi, garnered slightly over 39%, the current president, Moncef Marzouki, managed to get 33% of the votes. As the pre-election polls had shown him at less than 2%, one can only conclude that the religious party threw their weight behind him since they did not have a candidate in the running. 

The run-off elections would be December 14th, if nobody contested the results of the first round. However, Marzouki registered 7 complaints at the last minute of the 3-day filing limit in a bid to buy time (sore looser). This now has to go to court. Elections will be no later than December 28th.

In the meantime, the country sinks into limbo as there is no real governmental authority in this transition period. The school where I teach reflects the state of the country--it feels like we're on the edge of chaos. I can't remember having such a difficult teaching job. And yet, students and teachers keep plugging along with a certain amount of courage...

Sometimes I wonder if my work isn't a direct reflection of my distressed environment. I have coveted a jeans bag for a long time and so made one from a tall stack of old jeans that I can't bear to throw out. I love working on the soft blue and white of the old fabric. I stitch from the top and only catch the upper threads, so the denim is not tedious to work.
It's looking like Tunisia's future--entangled.