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Happy La Vijanera!

What a better way to spend the New Year than by dressing up in your own hand made creative costume! On the first Sunday of every January, thousands of people are drawn to the first carnival of the year in the town of Silio, Cantabria, Spain.

Photo by Ana Aldea

Photo by Ana Aldea

La Vijanera, the title of this celebration, is one of the earliest winter masquerades of pre-Roman origin. This celebration originally took place throughout northeastern Spain and became very popular throughout the years. Not only are these participants celebrating the start of the New Year, but also the end of winter in Spain.  La Vijanera is a celebration of the cycle of change!

More than 130 people come to participate in the actual dressing up and walking of the parade. About a few years ago there was an estimate of only 50 participants. The number steadily grows each year as the tradition continues to increase and become more popular. The natives design their very own costumes based on the theme of La Vijanera, which is the celebration of festive nature. The most eminent costume is Los Zarramacos. These are known as the warriors of the good. They include a cowbell with their costume.

Los Zarramacos. Photo by Esther Hidalgo.

Los Zarramacos. Photo by Esther Hidalgo.

Another very prominent costume is El Oso of La Vijanera. This character takes on the role of the protagonist. He is the embodiment of evil. El Oso, which translates as The Bear, is a young man dressed in sheepskins that symbolize winter. As winter comes to an end, it symbolizes the death of the bear. The spring then arrives with the beautiful growth of nature, symbolizing the other characters.

El Oso of La Vijanera. photo by Ana Aldea

El Oso of La Vijanera. Photo by Ana Aldea.

Other costumes involved include Danzarines Blancos y Negros. This translates as black and white dancers. Participants also create scavenger and rag picker costumes, which are known as Trapajeros and Trapajones. Some young men even dress as women, known as La Preñá, which means The Child-bearer.

Danzarines blancos. Photo by Esther Hidalgo.

Thousands of tourists join in every year to observe these fascinating characters masquerade the streets. I don’t know about you guys, but all of these interesting photos make me want to hop on a plane over to Spain next year for this spectacular celebration! Every country has it’s own way of celebrating the New Year and getting creative in the process of it. For Spain natives, designing your own costume and mask play a big role in rejoicing the end the year festivity.

La Vijanera is a beautiful Spanish tradition with the artwork to show for it.



Posted by Andi Thea, on January 22nd, 2015 at 4:04 pm. No Comments

Category: Arts & Crafts,Featured,holiday,Past Events,Uncategorized Labels: , , , ,

Scribble Artist Interview with Laia Riera Sanjaume!

Picture of Laia Riera Sanjaume painting

Photograph of Laia Riera Sanjaume painting

ST: The bursts of colors in Laia Riera Sanjaume’s artwork matches her warm and open personality.  She’s an explorer of all sorts and you can see that in the various talents she has and from the many places she has lived.  From painting to textiles to being an art workshop leader, Laia shares her joy for art with the world!

Laia Riera Sanjaume (LRS): Hi Scribble Town! I’m Laia Riera Sanjaume, I live in Helsinki, Finland. Originally I am from Barcelona, which is very close to the Mediterranean Sea.  Ever since I was a small child I loved drawing stories.  I consider myself very lucky because my parents always encouraged me to develop my creative skills and they have been very supportive.  They are both linguistics and writers so you can imagine as a kid, it was fantastic to read as many books as I wanted to from their library and get inspired!  When I am not drawing I paint on canvas, or simply I make sketches for prints.  I also enjoy reading, doing Yoga and just chatting with friends around food.

ST: You move between Barcelona and Helsinki. What brought you from place to place and how have the different environments affected your artwork?

LRS: Some time ago, while in Barcelona, I met Jere and we fell in love.  He is from Finland and we decided to work together as independent designers.  Finland inspires me through Nature especially with silence from the woods that I am not used to.  It reminds me of the summers when I went traveling with my parents.  It’s an open door to new dimensions.

13 shamans by Laia Riera Sanjaume

13 shamans by Laia Riera Sanjaume

Yes, Barcelona is “home”.  Although, funnily, I realized it only after having lived in Winchester, Antwerp, Madrid and now in Helsinki.
Actually, each of these cities have been a bit of a home for me.  Home is our comfort zone.  Therefore, we tend to get relaxed and less observant to what surrounds us and to ourselves.  In order to draw, to imagine new scenarios, it’s necessary a good dose of investigating.

In my case this can be through reading,  traveling, being a foreigner in a new land…getting excited when meeting friends, being fascinated by the colours of the sky, trees, and hearing for the first time another language other than your very own.  Whenever I move away from my country I feel like I am suddenly awake.  And at the same time, whenever I return I see my city through renovated “lenses”.  It is very motivating, indeed!

At the present, I like to see Helsinki as a temporary place where I get to know myself better and where I explore new tools to express my inner world.  For instance, as a result of this, I changed from watercolor to oil painting, a technique I haven’t been using for years.  Right now I am working on a series of prints for the clothes Jere is designing and we will make together.

Hands in Hands by Laia Riera Sanjaume

Hands in Hands by Laia Riera Sanjaume

ST: It’s true, each environment brings out something special in us.  It seems like your Finnish winter is welcoming you to get more acquainted with more of your inner self.  Even in the darkness of winter, your paintings are so vibrant and imaginative!  What medium do you paint in?  How did you discover this medium that suits your imagery so well?

LRS: Thanks a lot!  Yes, in fact, the oil painting enables to create vibrant colours , bring texture to emotions and the expressions of the faces.  Usually, I am a bit chaotic when using the medium.  When I work on paper I treat it with tea and coffee because it gives it a yellowish and warm base colour.  I guess I discover mediums when trying to capture the right emotion when I start drawing  and I am working my best to register it accurately.  Actually, it happens through the work itself.  Work brings inspiration and more discoveries.  For instance, in my studies in Fine Arts in Barcelona University, or as Fashion student of the Fine Arts Academy of Antwerp I did research a lot!

Let me orget about today by Laia Riera Sanjaume

Let me orget about today by Laia Riera Sanjaume

On the other hand, every single day is a new beginning so you can always get surprised by a new twist in your own working process.

My favourites are Écolines, a never ending number of inks, water colours, oil painting, golden lacquers, glitter, bitumen judaicum paint…just to mention a few.  During my short stay in Winchester School of Art, I mainly did etching. Since then I use the hard point tools just to scratch the paint off, or just to add details.  Finally, to mention Collage or Mood Board as ways to get build up a new project.

ST: You are a true explorer!  You experiment and are inquisitive with mediums and textures.  Now I’m so curious about your ideas.  How do you come up with the themes for your series?

LRS: Normally, I start because of a feeling that later on will evolve into a story. A short story if you want, or an open story.  Sometimes it takes a month before I finalize a painting with which I am more or less satisfied. Sometimes it takes me only one day.  It can also be that I feel so happy when I finally come up with the exact idea of the painting that I need to paint it not to forget it. Other times, it can be as well, that by drawing I shake away negative moods that will bring on new topics to explore.

Painting by Laia Riera Sanjaume

Painting by Laia Riera Sanjaume

When I was a little girl I had a lot of imagination. In fact, my teachers throughout the years almost assumed I’d be a writer. My first years of life were a bit uneasy for my mother, because of a sad event.  Since then, the act of drawing is perhaps like going to an invisible shelter where I instantly get immersed.  I can be there for hours and hours and hours.  Drawing is a very powerful tool for me.  In truth, there are many times that first I write down the stories and slowly I begin to “see them” in colours, shapes, and volume.

I couldn’t say what it comes first as, haha.  Indeed, I am fascinated by the power of emotions and how these change our bodies and minds. How, as well, we change thanks to the effect of communicating to the ones we share our life, our present, the earth , ultimately. These are the essential themes I care about mostly.

Years ago I started focusing on memory, identity and transition. Since then folk culture, beliefs, myths ,storytelling are also my main themes of research. I love borrowing books on these topics from the public libraries to build up an atmosphere. Then, when the atmosphere is ready the working hours just flow.  As well, I am very interested in women dress and how did the fashion history changed because of the historic events and how these affected womanhood.

All of them witches by Laia Riera Sanjaume

All of them witches by Laia Riera Sanjaume

ST: Congratulations on joining Armuseli’s “made by artists” group! When you make your scarves for Armuseli do you keep in mind the size and shape?

LRS: Yes, I do have to be very careful with the size and the shape of the scarves.  Since the print adapts to the shape of the scarf.  And it had been a challenge for me, a very positive one! I did struggle a little to fit the original painting into the required size.  Itxaso Torrontegui is a textile designer and a graphic artist. I admire her colourful prints.  One day, my friend asked me to collaborate for her new project.We worked together in Madrid as designers for a clothes company.  We met as colleagues at work and we are now very good friends.  Armuseli “made by artists” is Itxaso’s initiative which brings together art, textile and fashion designers.  The result is a variety of small and unique collections of silks printed scarves. I am so happy to belong to Armuseli.

In this case, each artist has assigned a theme to be inspired by. It helps a lot, specially if there is a deadline. The print had to be inspired in Winter flowers and Frida Kahlo figure. Personally, I love Frida Kahlo art, so it was a lot easier to get started! Moreover, I had been truly inspired by the winterish forests from Finland. Actually, I took the chance to research a lot  the tradition in graphic printing and textile design in Finland.  Soon Armuseli will launch the website so you can give it a look; and the scarves are already on sale. It is wonderful to see your painting in a scarf in the streets.

After Hour by Laia Riera Sanjaume

After Hour by Laia Riera Sanjaume

ST: Oh how exciting that we’ll get to wear your beautiful designs!  Another congratulations on your recent exhibition in Spain!  What is this series of work about?  Hope I can see them in real life one day.

LRS: Thanks! The paintings that are exhibited in the art gallery Espai [b] of Barcelona are a series I did prior leaving Barcelona including some painting from a new series I started in Finland.

The gallery Espai [b] has been showing my works since 2011 and I am very happy to be chosen as one of their artists.  This group show revolves around the small format edition concept. For instance, the previous show was focusing on the idea of the face and the portrait.

Faces by Laia Riera Sanjaume

Faces by Laia Riera Sanjaume

In my works, faces are one of my strongest points, and as I said women’s dresses from different ages throughout history. I did a series on this topic for the gallery.

ST: In some ways it seems like you are a social historian in the way that you document people in context to time.  It’s really fascinating!

You are a textile artist, fashion designer, painter and illustrator.  Wow!  How do these industries support each other in your artwork.  Is there one field that you feel more comfortable in?  Adventures all around!

LRS: Haha, wow, said like this…The best thing, for me, in this is precisely that drawing and painting are the common denominator of these fields.  In addition, they can merge perfectly well and blend into each other. There is a very little separation from these disciplines, to my eyes honestly.  The fact that an illustration can be on paper, and can be converted to a beautiful print on a dress, jacket… it just gives me only more freedom as a creative.

When I design prints I rely on the imagery which fuels my painting, illustrations, and vice versa. So, it’s like just different chapters of the same novel.  The adventures had been and are very enriching.  I have been a former product designer for a clothes and accessories brand in Madrid.  There I used my skills to sketch and develop embroideries, prints and garments. It was my first real job after my long studies.  It was lots of fun!

When traveling to India or Hong Kong for field work, I always had with me a very small sketchbook and a mini water-colour box.  My bosses and co-workers taught me how to be myself as a creative at the same time I was a designer inside of a team.  On the other hand, I also had the opportunity to teach graphic techniques to young students. And I feel very grateful to transmit to them this knowledge and share with them.

Header by Laia Riera Sanjaume

Header by Laia Riera Sanjaume

When I worked for Inditex as a graphic  designer I drew on paper or on the computer all day long.  Although, I would say that the permanent adventure is to work as an independent freelance artist. It’s an incredible one and I hope it will be until I am very old.  And to be able to collaborate for projects like Dear You / Kära Du, Armuseli and so on.

Nevertheless, I am fortunate I could apply my knowledge and real vocation in a so called “office” job.  To answer to your question, the field I feel more at ease, is painting. Wait a second, drawing. Uhm I can´t simply divide these two!  🙂

ST: Indeed, drawing and painting for you are inseparable.  Your vibrant nature seems like it could be easily excited in the best possible way.  Is there a place you find yourself feeling especially inspired to create?  If you’re feeling stuck, what do you do to get yourself in the mood to create?

LRS: One of the best places for me is the living room table, instead of the one in the studio…ahem. I know it sounds strange, but it is where I quite usually start to sketch or write ideas.  You’ll find me there because it is a very lively place with strong energy from many different people that have lived in the house or passed by there. I like to feel surrounded by the sounds of people.

After a cup of coffee I automatically put the radio on the background, or long tracks of Jazz music, or anything from Ane Brun, Bob Dylan, Radiohead, Patti Smith, The Knife and many others; depending on the mood.  Then I move to the studio room and I prepare the big table to paint with all my tools.  I like to create a big mess first.  Although in the end I need to see nothing else than the table and the paper or the canvas.  Definitely with a never ending list of music!

Laia Riera Sanjaume's working table

Laia Riera Sanjaume’s working table

Nowadays I am designing together with my partner our first clothes collection and parallel to this I am painting new series. In order to combine these two tasks, I separate the table by imaginary lines. Then I also like to pin all the images I had been collecting, from postcards, to sweets wrapping papers, to a simple found object like a fabric tape…I pin them into a board. If not I tape them on the wall itself. Every now and then  I separate myself from the current painting. It is important to take distances. I look upon this map of images on the wall and I try to match them with my mental map. As I said before, the right atmosphere to create is crucial!
When I get stuck I go for walking, running or seeing friends. It usually works wonders.

ST: Sounds like you know how to take advantage of space and appreciate all the corners of your home.  Creativity needs air to grow!  Just wondering what are the 5 most important things in your life right now?

1) Love
2) Family
3) To achieve goals, from the tiny ones to the huge ones.
4)  Happiness
5) To continue learning

ST: Thank you Laia for sharing with us!  Your stories, feelings, and beautiful depiction of faces give me a lot of inspiration!  Scribblers, please have a look at Laia’s website and keep up with her adventures on her blog

The fox, myself II by Laia Riera Sanjaume

The fox, myself II by Laia Riera Sanjaume

Scribble Artist Interview with Xavi Carbonell!

Scribble Town (ST): Stories come alive in your imagination when you look at the paintings of Xavi Carbonell, an artist from Spain.  Let’s meet Xavi and learn how he creates these beautiful story builders!

Untitled, 2012 Mixed media on paper 26 x 40 in (70 x 100 cm) XC1361

Untitled, 2012
Mixed media on paper
26 x 40 in (70 x 100 cm)

Xavi Carbonell (XC): Hi my name is Xavi Carbonell, I am 42 years old, live in Alcoi, Spain with my wife and two daughters.  I am a full time artist. have exhibited in various countries in Europe, Africa and the United States and my work is in many international collections.   I am often described as an Abstract Expressionist, and infantile painter.  Infantile is a genre not well known in the US, but it means my work reminds the viewer of a child’s work, but remember making something look simple is usually the most complicated task!

ST: Where are you and what are you up to these days?

XC: I am currently in New York City, painting and preparing for an art fair with my gallerist later this summer.

Untitled, 2012 Mixed media on paper 26 x 40 in (70 x 100 cm) XC1404

Untitled, 2012
Mixed media on paper
26 x 40 in (70 x 100 cm)

ST: That’s exciting!  Your days are spent with filling canvases with color.  Sounds like a wonderful summer, but I’m sure it’s quite a lot of work too.  When did you start painting?

XC: I started painting when I was 20 and was inspired after seeing works by the Spanish Artist, Antonio Saura in a museum exhibition.  At that moment I realized I wanted to paint and create my own path.

ST: It’s pretty remarkable how those unforeseen moments in life realize the paths we take.  Similar to you stumbling upon Antonio Saura, is there a way that you run into inspiration?  Where do you find your spirit to create?

XC: I am most inspired to create in NYC, the city has such a powerful energy.  The process of creativity is difficult to describe, but I find it’s often a result of new experiences, travel, meeting new people, but at the same time when I am in front of a blank canvas it just guides me.

Untitled, 2013 Mixed media on canvas 48x 48 in (120 x 120 cm) XC2403

Untitled, 2013
Mixed media on canvas
48x 48 in (120 x 120 cm)

ST: Since your paintings are so narrative for me- I start to hear a soundtrack that goes along with the picture.  Do you ever listen to music when you paint?

XC: There was a period when I exclusively listened to classical music, then it was Jazz, and lately I don’t listen to much music while painting.

ST: Your paintings are so vibrant and strong from your choice of shapes and colors that I make up my own story when I see them.  My imagination just takes off!  Is there a story you are building in your head as you paint?  Is that why you title your pieces Untitled- as to keep the mystery and openness available for all viewers?

XC: Yes, there’s a story in my head and that’s exactly why all my pieces are untitled.  If I use a title, the viewer is pre-conditioned to see something.  I prefer the viewer to create their own story, as I think that’s more fun and I want each person to see what they want to see in my work.

ST: It’d be interesting if you had a book next to your paintings and you could have the viewer write down the story that comes to mind when they see your paintings.  You’ll get loads of different responses!  That leads me to other mediums- what are some other forms of art you practice? Do you ever mix other mediums with your oil pastels?

XC: I have worked in the performance genre, and I love to cook which is a creative outlet.  My concept of mixed media is based on oils but I also include, magic markers, chalk, colored pencils, oil sticks and charcoal.

Untitled, 2012 Mixed media on paper 19.75 x 27.5 in (50 x 70 cm) XC1441

Untitled, 2012
Mixed media on paper
19.75 x 27.5 in (50 x 70 cm)

ST: Painter Joel Garten mentioned to me that you had once said your work is influenced by childrens art.  I am interested to know more about his comment.

XC: I am very inspired by the imagination of children and how they execute the concept on paper.  I am always fascinated by how you can have a conversation with a child on paper with out actually using words.  The innocence of children is the most exciting as adults unfortunately rarely preserve that quality.  It’s something most of us sadly just lose along the way.

Kids, never lose your innocence.  Adults, if you feel like you have lost it, try hard to find it in yourself as it’s the best part of each of us.

ST: With that said let’s try Xavi’s drawing exercise.

XC: One exercise is to draw with your eyes closed.  For instance draw a landscape from memory, but remember to keep your eyes closed!  You’ll be amazed with what you can create.

ST: Scribblers, send in your drawings to and we can post them on the Scribble Blog.  Thanks Xavi for sharing so much with us!  To see more of Xavi’s work you can go to

Untitled, 2012 Mixed media on paper 19.75 x 27.5 in (50 x 70 cm) XC1463

Untitled, 2012
Mixed media on paper
19.75 x 27.5 in (50 x 70 cm)

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