During my two month stay in Europe, I drew nothing but flowers.
It all started in Munich, Germany.
Across the street from the hotel was a farmer's market. At the corner of the crosswalk the first shop you come across was a flower shop. I had never seen any bouquets like it in the states. The likes of them only appeared in magazines, and old paintings featured in our art history books. My heart fluttered, eyes wide, and head exploded. I would keep circling back to the flower shop every chance I got, uncertain I would come across these types of bouquets again during the trip.
I kept thinking back to the vibrant colors, and the cool crisp Munich morning when I first saw the the bouquets. I was determined to track down some "European bouquets" in Amsterdam where I would be staying a month and a half in the same live/work hotel, Zoku. Surely there would be at least some tulips. It was hard to know for sure since this was in October.
Amsterdam did not disappoint. Aside from the beautifully eclectic historical architecture and gracious people, they had it.
They had the bouquets.
I happened across the farmer's market on my way to an art store nearby. I had to purchase my art supplies first, before getting the bouquet. I practically dashed out of the art store, which never ever happens, circling around towards market, before heading back to the hotel. The inhalation was something I haven't felt since I use to wonder the early morning streets of Seattle to pick up my latte, then stopping by the art store. It became a habit after five years.
I knew that moment, it was going to be a memory burned into my heart's mind.
During my stay at Zoku Amsterdam, I draw pages and pages of flowers that were in the hotel lobby, restaurants, bars, and the ones I bought at the farmer's market.
As the bouquet started to wither, I grew a bit sad, but there was a beauty to the way the leaves curled, and retained an aged color. It was something worth capturing with watercolors.
It was November 20, 2019, my eyes will forever see through a different lens. I was obsessed with the expensive art history books that showcased all the great masters. The idea of seeing any of their works in person, was a pipe dream for someone like me.
For years, I chased a different form of art. More commercial, more pop culture. The dreams of being a painter, faded with the reality of devoting time to make money off my work. After all, one must pick a path and stick to it long enough to see any substantial results. Pick it, I did.
I became a comic book creator. Writing, coloring, and drawing comics was all I really wanted for as long as I could remember. I don't regret devoting ten whole years to doing it professionally. In fact, it has gotten me, here.
The Rijksmuseum. Filled with creations I never imagined gazing eyes upon. There were works from Hans Gillisz. Bollongier, Jan Van Huysum, Abraham Mignon, and so many more. I tried not to get too emotional while I was there. The over excitement, made me breeze through the museum, assuming I'd be back to see it another day, since I'd be in Amsterdam for two more weeks.
The trip was coming to an end. I didn't know if I would have time to go back to the Rijksmuseum after the trip to Haarlem, but it would be there, and wasn't far from the hotel.
Aside from seeing great art, one thing remained on my bucket list of "Things to do next time I go to Europe" goals.
HOT SPICED WINE. I had to be there during a certain time of the year for the Christmas markets to open, and with it, was the mulled wine. Oh, my heart was content, and again, picking up a bouquet of roses from the Christmas market. I only had two days in Haarlem, so I brought the roses back with me to Amsterdam for the final stretch of the trip.
I never made it back to the Rijksmuseum. Somehow, I was at piece with it. The trip blossomed into something. Even with prior intent for a life changing experience, it became more than I could've imagined. I needed the experience to push me through what eventually happened to my family after Christmas.
My Mom was diagnosed with cancer for the second time. It was stage three. She had beaten it five years ago, and here it is again. Before I left on for this trip, I wasn't quite sure what would happen while I was away. Each day I called my Mom, I had the accumulated so much anxiety about what was wrong with her health. She insisted I live my life, and not worry about her.
Dearest Mom, is the reason I love flowers. She tends to her garden and plants more than she tends to herself. A very selfless person, always putting her family before herself. The passion I have for flowers coincides with my Mom's passion for flowers, and our love for each other. It's the one thing I share with her constantly. I find excuses to buy her plants and flowers. To the point where she says..."Again?" hahaha!
It wasn't long before the rest of the world would face a looming once in a lifetime changing event, that would change the modern world for years to come. The pandemic hit, right when my Mom's chemo therapy was to start up and would not end until mid June. It was an uphill battle.
We took everything one day at a time, a moment at a time. Being thoughtful about everything we did, the time we used, and what we used it for.
My Mom is a very strong Lady. So much so, that at the time of this writing. She's doing much better, almost to back her normal self, minus a bit of hair loss here and there. Nothing she wasn't willing to sacrifice to beat this thing again.
It is almost June. Her chemo should be done next week. Wouldn't you believe it, she's kicking arse again. The social distancing has been tough, but chatting with her and the family via FaceTime has been rewarding. Seeing her actively pruning that garden, is the best thing that has happened in 2020.
The pandemic has shaken the comic book industry to it's core. I was halfway done with my final issue of "Lola XOXO" volume 3 issue 6 when things took a turn for the worse. Distribution has halted, shops closed, and many of the professionals were out of work. I was so close to finishing up the whole series. There's no telling when it will be in shops again. For the time being, I focused on what would make my family and friends, happy and safe. For me, it's flowers. It calms me. Luckily, there are still grocery stores that carry bouquets, so I would buy them once every couple of weeks.
THE COLORING BOOK.
Here we are. Four weeks after the global shutdown. With passion and love, Serene Flowers: Botanicolour has blossomed. Special thanks to John T. for his art direction and guidance. I am excited to share this with you.
WHAT A JOURNEY.
I hope it will help calm everything that seems chaotic in your life.
I hope it helps press the pause button, while you formulate your days.
I hope it reminds you of all the natural beauty out there. A little slice of this world that has never faded in it's meaning.
Flowers and plants will forever be the symbol of life.
My best to you, your family, in health and in happiness.
SERENE FLOWERS: BOTANICOLOUR ADULT COLORING BOOK