03 November 2007

Dia De Los Muertas

November 1st was Dia de los Muertas, or Day of the Dead. It's not supposed to be a morbid holiday, but a celebration and remembrance of your loved ones.

When we took some of Andrew's ashes to the family cemetery in Davao last year, my Tita Jean told me that the whole family would visit on All Saints' Day, as is the custom. I found that so reassuring--that he was being remembered.

I started thinking about the skulls or calveras, when I saw this fabric from Alexander Henry. I couldn't wait to paint my own interpretation. Coincidentally, it was around Dia de los Muertos, so I drew skulls in Andrew's memory.


I used some of his treasured belongings for inspiration. Old band shirts, his favorite stuffed animal, studded belt, and a rock he gave to my mom because it looked like a heart. What a mama's boy (wink).

Andrew's Shirts

I looked at a plastic skull of Mike's for reference, and just started drawing. I messed something up, and painted flowers in the skull's mouth to fix it. After that initial mistake, it was easy and somewhat cathartic to fill in the other parts with memories, words and symbols. It all spilled out, I hardly had to think at all.

Midway through the illustration, I realized that I was using the wrong damn ink! I couldn't paint over them with watercolor or everything would have bled. I decided to make prints with my gocco, and watercolor over some of them.

Calaveras for Andrew: Version 2

Click on the picture for notes on some of the symbols.

I was amazed at the details my gocco picked up. When you print, it's hard to stop. I want to print on every blank surface. Since that's toxic, I made extra prints for Drew's friends instead.

I made two versions of the painted illustration, and have a few more blank ones to paint. (Click here for the second version. Mom, pick which one you and Dad want).

Colored Prints

When I paint or draw, I feel close to my brother, since he loved to draw. The fact that he's gone completely sucks, that's without question. However, the fact that I have an encyclopedia of (mostly hilarious) memories to choose from, makes it a little easier to bear.

What symbolizes your loved ones to you? I'll pick crossword puzzles for my mom, the board game Monopoly for my dad, Macri's Deli for Tracy, and the great state of Indiana for Mike!


jen said...

i think your illustration looks really great. ANd what a great way to celebrate your brother (is it i'm sorry i'm new to your blog!)
makes me wish i could draw more than chicken scratches.

lisa s said...

crossword puzzles for my grandpa - definitely.... :)

great illustration
love the cranberry recipe

and thanks for the kind words on my blog!

Aimee said...

The illustration is beautiful and so well done. I continue to be impressed with your illustration skills!

sheree said...

Hi Mariss,

thank you for the well wishes on my monster mash win. :)

i love your Muertas drawing! all the great colors! I am truly sorry that you lost your brother. I have an older brother (who is an architect like you) that i am very close to.