April 13, 2017

A Lemony Turner in Havana

I’d be warned before, and never quite believed it. But it’s true: when you make your hobby into your job, something… shifts. Don’t get me wrong, I still LOVE sewing! And I do it all the time. But it’s not longer my “ahhhhh now I can turn off my brain from work” activity, because whether I’m making one of my own patterns or someone else’s I’m always full of thoughts about what to do for you guys next! And while it’s still very much fun, it’s also different.

So, I decided last year that I needed to aggressively try out new creative hobbies to find something else that would get me into “non-work” flow mind-mode. The one that’s stuck? Watercolour painting. And that’s how I recently found myself in Havana.

Cashmerette Turner Dress

I’ve been part of a watercolour class in Harvard Square for a while, and the instructor, Laura Quincy Jones, now lives part of the year in Havana. When she suggested a sketching and painting holiday, I jumped at the opportunity – Cuba’s been on my list for a while (as a Brit it’s always been accessible, although even Americans can now pretty much go without restrictions, in practice) and I’ve also fancied an art holiday for a while. (By the way, if you’re interested in painting in Havana, Laura’s organizing regular trips – you can learn about them here).

Cashmerette Turner Dress

When I wasn’t posing in front of adorably colour-blocked walls in my new lemony Turner Dress, I was sketching and painting my heart out. Havana is an artist’s paradise: full of bright pastel colours, crumbling facades and beautiful people.

Cashmerette Turner Dress

What to say about this Turner? Not much – it’s sewn straight from the packet, using a lovely lemon print from Art Gallery Fabrics that’s been popping up on tons of sewing blogs lately. It’s not surprising: it’s suuuuper soft, opaque and lots of fun.

Cashmerette Turner Dress

The weather was pleasantly warm while we were there, which made for fantastic painting and expedition weather. One day we went out to the rural area of Vinales, where we had an amazing lunch at an organic eco-farm and drew the distinctive hills:

But I was most entranced by the old city of Havana. There’s so much to see, from astounding graffiti, to beautiful architecture and the ever-present 1950s cars (they truly are everywhere):

Do you have a secondary artistic hobby to sewing, or is sewing your main squeeze? I had so much fun immersing myself in watercolours for a week – I may not be super good at painting, but I enjoy it so much and I felt like my brain calmed down for the first time in months. Let me know if you have any questions about Havana!

14 thoughts on “A Lemony Turner in Havana

  1. WOW. Okay. I expected sewing. But your art and photography too!!! Girl, this is amazing! I love the shot of the umbrella’d lady– and your POVs of your art against the subject matter are so freaking cool. I need more coffee to fully express my love for this post. Just gonna go scroll back and drool now.

  2. Marianne says:

    Lovely art work!

  3. Ira says:

    WOW!! Your paintings are beautiful as well as the photography. I understand your post. I love to sew because it releases my creative juices. But knitting calms/soothes
    me. When I need to unwind or distress, I knit.

  4. Frau Leo says:

    Your drawings are really beautiful! I’m always impressed when I see them on Instagram.
    I’m not a big fan of pastels, I prefer bright colours, all year round, but really like these walls. And that drawing of the face is just stunning!
    LG, Andrea

  5. Your watercolor illustrations are incredible Jenny! Holy cow you’ve got some talent!! And I love the Lemony Turner. Fabulous choice of fabric and that color against the beautiful pastel backdrops are to die for. You are beautiful!

  6. PsychicSewerKathleen says:

    Such a talented woman you are and of course like so many artists I’ve met modest as well – your creations (photos, drawings, and paintings) are divine! Sewing is my first but writing stories is something else I love to do 🙂

  7. I understand what you mean about sewing as your pleasure and as work. When I had my fabric business (Timmel Fabrics), I was always thinking about work. And sewing for myself took a back place for sure, something that customers don’t really realise. Now that I am retired, sewing has become my ‘happy place’ once again. And the second hobby is gardening. You are right, you have to find another outlet.

  8. deloresann says:

    Oh, yeah! You have extended your creativity into painting and you do it so well. I love painting too and after a lot of years I needed a new outlet. Sewing has been my joy for about 18 months but I still love to paint. Same creativity, different expression of it. You have a great eye and considerable talent!

  9. Mary_in_AZ says:

    WOW! Who said you are not super good at painting??? Your drawings are great and full of wonderful detail. The water colors really portray the character of Havana. You might want to put them in a book someday (soon) and sell it on your website or amazon.com. You can call it, “How I spent my summer vacation in Havana.” Just kidding. You can call it anything you want. I do think it would make a great collectible showing Havana before the yanks change it. Not to mention, a good coffee table book.

  10. OH my goodness! Your art is amazing! The sketch with the antennas on the rooftop…OH, I just love it’s charm so much!

    I paint too. In fact, I put sewing aside for years while I painted watercolours. Then the sewing bug hit and my painting has been sidelined. Recently, I’ve been buying online painting classes…I’m feeling the pull again. I’m hoping to find balance and do both…HA!

    Cat’s outta the bag…please continue to show us your beautiful art!

    Happy dress, by the way!

  11. Janet says:

    I have been really into gardening in the past.

  12. maryaliceduff says:

    Lovely post! I also have that fabric, and also made a cashmerette pattern out of it, the Appleton 🙂
    Cuba is most certainly on my short list. Love the images you posted. And your paintings are beautiful!
    Sewing is making its way towards becoming my job but I also garden, sketch with markers, and refinish furniture all to keep the creativity flowing. Will definitely check out Laura’s painting trips because that just sounds perfect!

  13. Belinda Darr says:

    Your artwork has its own signature feel just like your patterns do. Ive been told the same, don’t turn your hobby into a way to make a living, you will worry and stress about it the way you do your FT job now, but Im ready and like you, I will need a new release. Good luck with your new hobby, I love your work, whether its for fun on play

  14. Sara A. says:

    I’m so impressed by your sketching and paintings! Beautiful work! I knit, crochet, and embroider as well as sew, switching between them whenever I feel the urge. Embroidery is probably the most effortless for me, I get into the zone much easier than with the rest and mold thread to my will. To be honest, nothing beats cooking with no distractions or time constraints.

Let me know what you think!