I whipped out my camera to catch the creative process, as Manuel Carriòn demonstrated how he creates his series of inky watercolors. With a wet brush, he spontaneously draws lines and swirls reminiscent of Chinese calligraphy. Before this water can dry, he uses a dropper to drip ink into these watery lines, letting it spread into channels and then mingle with the other colors he adds. He simultaneously created four such pieces as he elucidated his thoughts. You can see his process for yourself here.
One of the best things about being a writer has turned out to be the way it connects me to others. I never expected this. My writing and Manuel’s art, plus our shared interest in Casanova’s life, brought us together, though complementary life philosophies have made us friends. I especially liked his focus on seeing the positive in things, in how we can work towards what we want to manifest instead of thinking about what we lack.
Manuel lives in his gallery on the island of Giudecca. The front part along the fondamenta has big windows, a green marble shelf holding art pieces, and white spoon-shaped chairs just inviting you to sit and say something lofty or interesting. Art covers all the walls—art by Manuel as well as by others, including a series of portraits on the back wall and some of Manuel’s own watercolor calligraphy. He told me how he can open the floor-to-ceiling curtains that hide his bedroom at the back of the apartment and watch the sun rise across the Giudecca Canal. The one-way glass doesn’t allow others to see him in bed.
Manuel interviewed me on a live-stream Facebook post, which you can watch here. We chatted about how we met, my books, and our interest in Casanova. We spent some extra time on women’s history and its impact on men and women now—what lessons can history teach us?
Manuel has penned a chapter for the new book First Spritz Is Free: Confessions of Venice Addicts. In 2011 he moved to Venice from Ecuador and after studying in various parts of the world. In his piece he writes, “I love Venice with all my heart, and I feel that she is like a love that helps you grow and be yourself day after day. I often say that Venice is like a mirror of the soul that reflects beautiful things, even those that we want to hide. This makes us enter into a constant dialogue with the child inside us.” You can read the rest of his chapter by downloading the book for free here, or check out his work at his gallery.