I went to the Citrus Bowl to sketch Holi Fest knowing full well that this Indian springtime celebration would touch and color my life. Last year I went to the event in a black suit and that was a mistake. Live and learn. I walked past the Police Mounted Unit Barn and the horses greeted me by walking up to the fence. Across the street the Indian music was playing loudly and I saw that some people were already multi pigmented. I seated myself with my back against a light pole and immediately got to work. A husband, wife and daughter settled in next to me. The little girl was maybe 5 years old and the supersoaker water pistol she carried was as big as she was. She aimed it at me once and I raised my sketchbook up to my face in a joking gesture of self defense. The dad told her, "No!" I was a little disappointed. A few minutes later I was shot in the right shoulder from behind with a bright purple stream. I wiped the stained pages of my sketchbook and kept working. A woman approached from behind and wiped my cheek with a bright blue pigment.
The field wasn't very crowded when I started the sketch but by the time I finished there had to be at least a thousand people all joyfully throwing pigments and chasing each other with pigmented water pistols. Melissa Kasper from DRlP Dance company came out to do research for Jessica Mariko, DRIP's founder who was unfortunately out of town. I hugged Melissa who was like a giddy school girl ready to play. I gave her a plastic bag to protect her camera and then she bounded away to put a few things back in her car. The next time I saw her she was covered in pigments and she had met some friends who were swing dancing to the Indian music. When my sketch was finished I introduced myself to her friends who were all brightly colored. They had a bag of pigment and they helped fully initiate me.
For my second sketch I decided to introduce myself to an Indian family that was sitting against a fence. There was constant activity. People tended to keep turning around always on the lookout for a brightly colored shower from behind. In the opening remarks from the stage it was announced that people came from as far away as North Carolina, New York and Nebraska. The word Holi came from Hola which means sacrifice. The festival celebrates the beginning of spring. It asks that we renew ourselves and move forward with love, understanding and compassion. There was no drinking at the event. The family I was sketching offered me several round fried dumplings dipped in a sweet yellow sauce. They were quite good. After finishing my second sketch I bumped into Hannah Miller and Jack Fields. They and their friends were vibrant and bright. When I left the event, I had to go to Loews on an errand. I turned a few heads as I wandered the aisles. The clerk checking me out said, "You must really get into your painting!" "Yes I do." I replied.