Whether you've reached this blog willingly or by force I'm happy to have you here.
ersi marina's workroom is always open to the public, even when I am not in. Sometimes I need to sleep.
And to paint.
And to play with my four cats.
My name is Ersi Marina and I live in Spain though I was born and grew up in Athens, Greece. I kept it all very Mediterranean.
This blog is a means to share my work and snippets of my life, as well as to be in contact with you all. I hope you'll enjoy your visit.

Thursday, 31 January 2013

paper homes

Yesterday I bought 40 sheets of handmade paper online and they arrived by courier early this afternoon. That was quick!

Thirty sheets measuring 38 x 50 cms (15.2" x 20") and ten 28 x 36 cms (11.2" x 14.4"). They are 350 gs/m2 deckled-edge papers, 70% cotton fibre and 30% linen fibre. Fine-grained and beautifully textured. They are multi-technique papers, suitable for all wet and dry media techniques.

These are the papers I will use for my solo exhibition in May, titled 'paper homes'. It will be about the fragility of 'home', the precariousness of those walls that are supposed to protect us always, the instability that life can bring, the break-up of families, the ever-hovering void.

It has to do with my own experiences in life, the fact that I left my country and moved to Spain and the feeling, after all these years, that my home, the place where I belong, is still there, on the other side of the Mediterranean, where the sun is brighter, the vegetables are sweeter and the people are merrier.

Or not.

Is Greece still my home? Does the country I remember still exist or is it an entirely different reality, one that I cannot perceive from the distance? Do I still have a home? Where is it? Our home is inside us, I think, as much as we are inside it. A safe place, a place to go back to, come rain or come shine. In a way, our relationship with our home is a love story. As in the lyrics of the song:

I'm gonna love you,
Like nobody's loved you,
Come rain or come shine.
Happy together,
Unhappy together,
And won't it be fine?

Days may be cloudy or sunny.
We're in or we're out of money.
But I'm with you always.
I'm with you rain or shine.

Because no home can be home if we don't love it and if we don't feel loved back in there. It is the continent of our happiness and our sorrows, our dreams and nightmares, our hopes and frustrations. But it is. It has to be, to call it home.

And yet. So many times it's not. About 250 families are being evicted from their homes every day in Spain, because they can't pay their mortgages, given the economic crisis. Some housewives go to the market in the morning, only to come back and find the lock to their home has changed and they can't get in anymore. Others are being physically dragged out the door and thrown on the pavement when the police and the bank take over. I am not exaggerating, they are on the news every day.

They are also on my mind and they live in my paper homes.

Writing this entry is helping me clear my ideas. My feelings, really. The mystery of 'home'. The absence of 'home'. The frailty, the void.

However, the works in themselves will not be dramatic at all. On the contrary, they will be toned-down and humble. In a Wabi-Sabi way. At least that's my intention. Whispers can be so much more effective than shouts. I'll start posting photos of my work as soon as it has 'a face and eyes', as they say in Spain.

Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Miró's Little Toe

This is not a drawing of Joan Miró's little toe, my friends. I never got the chance to see it but I imagine it didn't look at all like an a. This is, in fact, my letter a for the a letter a week 2013 alphabet. To be more precise, these are my letters a and A, since each one of them appears in lower-case and capital form.

I am starting out with the free-style alphabet, that is inspired in my drawings for the Sketchbook Project 2013. After discovering the artistically liberating qualities of painkillers and the soothing effects of random doodling, it only seemed fit that I should use it to design my first twenty six letters.

Miró's work must have been strolling around in my subconscious for ages and its influence surfaced when I least expected it, as self-respecting Surrealist influences do. They just jump out of your head and onto your work surface without permission.

So I took out my watercolours, my graphite pencil and my china ink and started doodling again on a large sheet of fine-grain watercolour paper. I drew lines and dots haphazardly, paying no attention to the letters-to-be. Then I cut the paper in 26 7 x 7 cm squares and shuffled them like an expert poker player.

My dots and lines lost all initial connection and gave way to random marks and traces. Only then did I start looking for those forms that were willing to become letters. I reinforced them a bit when necessary and added colour. Everything here has been drawn and painted by hand and the colours are haphazard too, in line with the doodles.

I wanted my first alphabet to be dedicated to Peace but changed my mind in the process. Peace is not an easy task, either in real life or in art. Too many ideas, too many options, no time to think them out. I am very busy working for my solo exhibition in May, so I decided to start my alphabets with Miró's fun and subversive little toe. With a red-polished nail.

Sunday, 20 January 2013

whale in the sky [without diamonds]

Picture yourself in bed with a toothache, with heavy, dark skies and painkiller highs.
Somebody calls you, you answer quite numbly, a whale that incredibly flies.

 Sketchbook Project 2013

I sincerely hope that you won't mind my playing with the lyrics of 'Lucy in the sky with diamonds'. I just couldn't resist the temptation. I had my Sketchbook for months and always one thing or another kept me from starting work on it. When I finally did it was 7 January 2013.

I had a quite painful tooth infection and was taking antibiotics and painkillers. Many painkillers. I didn't feel like doing much and resting my head on the pillows helped but being in bed was boring. I read on and off, I made some telephone calls but was still restless. Wondering what I could do to pass the time, the Sketchbook hit me on the head. Ouch!

I got up to fetch it, took it to bed with me and started drawing. No plan, no preconceived ideas. I just drew lines and dots, and insisted a bit more on some forms that seemed fun to me.

I was thinking how weird everything was turning out and almost decided that I wouldn't send it. I would just keep on drawing, because it made me feel better.

When I reached the middle spread that large ovalish form on the upper right wanted to be a whale. It was so sure about its identity that I took its word for it. It was a whale in the sky. And since I was under the influence of drugs, legal as they may be, I thought the whole thing was surreal enough to deserve a psychedelic title.

No diamonds though.

Once finished and flipped through again and again, I thought I saw some Miro influences there and even distant reminiscences of André Masson. Oooh! Reconsidering, I decided to send it to the Sketchbook Project anyway. If you click on the link, you'll be taken to my project page, where you can see the entire book.

If I had more time, I would have added some text on some pages. No time though. I posted my sketchbook on the very last day of the deadline, 15 January. My tooth didn't hurt any more and the infection was gone.

Still no diamonds.

Thursday, 17 January 2013

Roy G Biv goes Black and White

Hello everybody. I've been offline for more than a week and barely started catching up yesterday. I do remember today is the Roy G Biv challenge Thursday though and I don't want to miss the fun. So here go my entries:

my bed, January, slanting afternoon sunlight

a closer view

a broken glass and a crystal ball

my mother's gloves back from the 1950s

two gloves and two pins

a hammock net and a pin

a scarf and a pair of scissors

And a black and white fractal:

of roses and stones

Julie B Booth and Jennifer Coyne Qudeen run the challenge together every third Thursday of the month and through their blogs you can find links to the entries of many other participants. Both of them submit some beautiful and surprising photographs, and Julie holds a draw every time and gives away to the winner one of her wonderful hand-printed fabrics. Just hop over and delight yourselves.

Notes for future entries:

1. I am working on my first a letter a week 2013 alphabet. What a muddle of papers and sketches! I hope I can make up my mind before the end of January. Oh, dear.

2. On 15 January I posted my little book to the Sketchbook Project. On the very deadline! I probably should have titled it 'High on Antibiotics', since I had a tooth infection -ouch!- and was on medication for more than a week. The crazy results? Soon on your screens.

Thanks for dropping in, it's great to see you again!

Sunday, 6 January 2013

did you know... [Spain 1]

I thought I'd write a series of posts about facts and customs in Spain that may not be well known in other countries. I'll try to post a different fact or peculiarity once a month though not necessarily on the same date. Knowing how busy my schedule will be till June, it's the best I can do to keep the series alive.

Today is 6 January, the day of Epiphany in the Christian calendar. But in Spain (as in Argentina, Paraguay, Uruguay and Mexico) it is traditionally the day when children receive their Christmas gifts. The Three Wise Men (or Reyes Magos in Spanish) bring the gifts on the night of 5 January, just as they brought gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh to baby Jesus from the East.

image from Wikipedia

On the 5th children line up in shopping centres and other public spaces to meet the Three Wise Men and tell them what presents they want. They give them a letter with their list, so the super-busy Kings will not forget. In the evening of the same day the Three Wise Men parade through every city, town and village and, aided by their pages, they shower the expectant crowds with sweets and candy.

image source: Televisionando

image source: TurismoMadrid

The parades are really spectacular and a feast for the exhilarated children. 

photo by Sonia Tercero - LaRioja.com

The catch is that on 7 January they have to go back to school, so they hardly have time to enjoy their presents and play with their new toys.


The Santa Claus tradition came to stay about 30 years ago, as Spain gradually abandoned its unfortunate political and cultural isolation and became part of the world. Santa Claus brought with him dazzling Christmas trees and presents for Christmas day. So now the children in Spain receive presents twice: first from Santa and then from the Three Wise Men.

Anyone wants to become a Spanish child?

Tuesday, 1 January 2013

two thousand and thirteen joys

Are two thousand and thirteen joys enough for a year? I hope so. Doing the math, we get over 5.5 joys per day and that's not bad at all. I'd sign up any time. Also now I think that the calculi of joy may seem foolish or maybe whimsical and a bit surrealist. Like a rabbit carrying a watch or a hat that looks like a shoe. It could be the title of a curious short story.

Ok, this is really the reason for my entry today. Some of you may be following Alisa Golden's blog: Making Handmade Books. It's one of those sites that give me joy and where we can Explore the Crossroads of Art, Craft, Reading, and Creative Writing as stated in the blog header.

Only yesterday Alisa announced a new project, Star 82 Review, and is calling out to artists and writers to submit their works to this quarterly publication. There are several categories to submit to. I think it's a beautiful and interesting project, as her works always are, and I wanted to share the idea with you.

Maybe you'll find a source of quarterly joy there!
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