Wednesday, August 28, 2013


Dalmacija, called "Dalmatia" to those who speak English, is at the Southern extent of Croatia, and is filled with sun bleached islands and rocky beaches that line the salty Adriatic Sea. When my wife and I were spending time with her family there this summer, we wandered for a few days to the town of Komiza on the distant island of Vis. Each day we spent hours swimming in the calm salty waters. At night, while most people promenaded through the small town, we returned to the beach and swam at night, when all colors saturated into each other and the waves sound deeper as they rolled up and down the smooth rocky beach.

A Spanish tourist and her playful companion

A woman has a very gestural method of rinsing the salt from her body.
The mid-day sun bleaches a couple.

And later, they worship the suns pigment.

The Hajduk football team symbol is never far when traveling in Dalmacija.

Night on a Komiza beach, when all is moonlight abstraction.

A family dissolves into the salty night sea.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Bisko notes

I'm back in Geneva, and finally installed the blogger app on the iPad, from which I'm now speaking to you. Today, I'd like to share a fewf iPad drawings I did while vacationing in my father-in-laws home village of Bisko, Croatia. These were all done using the zen brush app.

This is Ana's father, on the right, talking to his best friend from childhood.

Underneath the shade of a chestnut tree, family gathers and talks every day. And late into the night.

Behind a couple cars waiting to be repaired, the fields and baked hills and mountains. 
The textures of the fields that Bisko rings.

Monday, August 5, 2013


The final, climactic day has arrived. The knights are clothed in historical uniforms, the horses draped in finery, stepping high and proud through an admiring crowd. The band plays. The trumpet blares. The crowd holds their breath as the knight thunders toward the alka. A roar through the crowd, a cannon blast— u sridu! — 3 points!

I was again standing toward the start of their run, this time because we would have needed tickets for the bleachers. That said, I really do prefer it there. I don't catch the dignitaries and the moment of pierced alka, but I do witness other aspects that are wonderful, such as those moments of tremendous potential energy before the horse sprints down the dirt path, or the knights in repose. It's the cheap seats, but rich in liveliness and earthy joy.

And, when it's all over, we then sprint down the path and into town, to sit at a cafė and toast the knights one last time.

The cannon blasts up above, on top of the hill, and in the distance the procession begins

With historical guns, swords and knives, the 'boys' - knights helpers - soldier past

The knights parade

His name called, the knight mounts his steed and confidently tests his skill

In between rounds, the knights relax and gossip while a young boy holds a horse
Through the crowd, a blast of speed and power

He is like a heartbeat, running through the crowd

"u sridu!!!" a cannon blast, the crowd thunders applause - 3 points!

Through the town center, the winner is celebrated one last time.  Bok Alka sijnska!

Sunday, August 4, 2013


Yesterday was day 2 of the 3 day Sinjska alka festival, called Čoja. It followed the same structure as the prior day - the same pageantry, processions, and colors except for a slightly larger monetary prize and 3.11 meter bolt of fine red cloth, rather than the shorter bolt of green cloth given to the prior days winner.
I stood in a different place as well, closer to the start of the run, rather than in the stands near the alka that is lanced. Where I stood today had revealed a different chapter of the story. There, I saw the knights as the waited for the trumpet to blare and their name announced. Children would hold the waiting horses, and then when the time approached for their run, some knights would ride in circles around the Sinjska alka statue at the head of the path, while others would sit and relax, only getting up at the last moment. There was no rhyme or reason as to which was the better method. The man who won was one of the guys relaxing, cool as a cucumber, until the last moment. It worked wonders for him - of three runs, twice hit lanced the alka right in the center.
In less than an hour I leave for the final final day of the festival, when the knights dress in the fanciest clothes, replicating the uniforms of the soldiers 298 years ago. It's 37 degrees celsius outside right now. I think it's a good guess that tonight a lot of beer will be drunk by the glorius Alka sinjska knights.

I shot these drawings on my ipad, so the quality is a bit weak. When I'm back in Geneva, I'll make some higher quality scans and create an album on my viewbook site. I have to go now - time to prepare  for Sinjska alka!

The knights assistants - called 'boys' -  parade
No parade is complete without a band

A boy holds a waiting horse

A horse bursts with expectant energy, ready to bold down the lane

2 knights pace around the statue while one begins his run

The horses quickly bolt past

Another knight begins his run toward glory

And the winner receives 3.11 meters of fine red cloth (and some money)

Afterwards, in Sijn, people relax and mingle into the evening

Friday, August 2, 2013


I'm right now vacationing with Ana in Croatia, in a little farming village where her father was raised. Not too far away, in the city of Sinj (pronounces 'seen'), is an amazing event called Alka. Commemorating a victory in battle over the Turks almost 300 years ago, they hold a 3-day 'tournament of knights' on the very place where the battle was fought. Only men who are born there and can can trace ancestry to a soldier who fought in the battle can be selected to participate. It's living history, and directly related to the origins of the carousel. Coming from America, and having enjoyed carousels since I was a small child, that link allows me a portal through which I can relate to this spectacle.
I drew it last year, and Ana's mother kindly drove us there today to view it again. Here is a link to what I did last year, where I also include some carousel drawings to display the connection.

And here are some samples of what I did today, from the first day of the festival, which is called Bara. I'll be returning tomorrow and Sunday capture even more.

The captured horse precedes the parade. 

The horse sprints down a path between filled stands.
The rider approaches with the lanced alka, to present it for scoring by the judges. 

The alka slides down the spear, onto the ground.

The score is announced.

Horse and man, in full flight.

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