Mexico Travel Journal Winter 2017 p21

“Dia de Marcado Viernes; 2:00 2/3/2017  Patzcuaro, Michoacán”

In the Plaza Gertrudis Boca Negra, just a few doors from our hotel, every day is Market Day.  On the day of this drawing, it was the official Market Day.  Capturing all the activity: color, sounds, smells, hustle & bustle……was a challenge.  It was particularly so because the people were very friendly and curious.  Usually people left us alone as we drew, but here the people liked to look over our shoulders and ask us about our drawings.  Having so much attention, in addition to expressing the mood/atmosphere of the square was a bit daunting.  When I could finally immerse myself into the scene and my drawing, I was able to record my experience.

Mexico Travel Journal Winter 2017 p20

From Ajijíc, we traveled with friends to the state of Michoacán.  Our first stop was to El Rosario Sanctuario de las Mariposas Monarca.  The experience of seeing thousands of Monarch butterflies was magical- un milagro!  (My beloved horse was born in Florida in a field of Monarch butterflies; hence he was named Monarch.  To watch a small clip of the Monarchs at Rosario, visit my Instagram account- see link to the right.)

After visiting the Monarchs, our next destination was Pátzcuaro, the picturesque city of red tiled roofs and blocks of red-banded adobe buildings.  Pàtzcuaro was  founded in the 1320s as the capital seat of the Tarascan state, which included Michoacán, Jalisco, and Guanajuato, rivaling the Aztecs in power and influence.  Even today, native peoples retain their colorful dress, food, and traditions.

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Mexico Travel Journal Winter 2017 p19

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The center of social life in Ajijíc is the Plaza.  Along one side is the Cultural Center; along another side is the old stone church, Capilla Nuestra Señora del Rosario.  The church was started in 1550 and dedicated in 1600.   Its unique masonry features small stones outlining the larger building rock.  Just down the street is the larger San Andrés church.

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wedding at San Andrés

“After School”

This painting was inspired by our winter trip to Mexico and my travel sketch journal.  Notice the strong connection between the mother and daughter.  Even with her back turned from the viewer, you can feel the strong attraction the daughter feels for her mother after a day at school.  It appears that this reunion occurs at this alcove daily.

Preliminary study in ink

guanajuato

Preliminary study in ink
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Work in progress
After School
“After School”  watercolor, 15″ x 11″  $400

New Work: Watercolor Florals

orchidsOrchids is my newest painting.  After blocking in the basic composition, (two flowers on the upper and mid left and a long vertical for the stem), I created most of this work through negative painting.  I painted a series of dark saturated colors in a “blocky” wash, grading from very dark and cool at the top to warmer and lighter on the bottom.   I dropped a line of permanent rose from the top orchid, through the  bottom orchid , which creates movement through the background, as it also ties the two flowers together visually.  My goal was to create an abstract painting behind the flowers, which makes a more dynamic background.  Use of negative painting and lots of white highlights give the flowers drama.

I wanted the orchid stem to flow into the background at the bottom of the painting.  The background wash drips onto a light warm field of  raw sienna.  The orchid stem grades from dark blues-green into red and finally becomes part of the background drips.

Orchids was painted on 1/4 sheet of Arches 140# cold press paper.  Image size: 7.5″ x 22″  Matted size 12.5″ X 27″  $350

I will be teaching several watercolor workshops in 2017.  Each session will focus on different techniques, concepts, and effects.  Please visit my workshop link to find a class near you: watercolor workshop schedule

 

more new floral watercolors below:

 

Mexico Travel Journal Winter 2017 p18

Our next stop was Ajijíc on the shores of Lake Chapalla, back in the state of Jalisco.  The easiest way to get to Ajijíc from San Miguel de Allende is to board a first class bus to Guadalajara.  At the bus station, engage a taxi to Ajijic.  Sometimes it is best to agree on the fare before you enter the taxi.  Some drivers are very honest and friendly, while others are tempted to take advantage of Gringos.  Our driver was quite friendly, and like many of our taxi trips, we had the opportunity to practice our conversational Spgringos.jpganish with our driver.  Most drivers know a bit of English, and it is fairly easy to communicate with our “un poco de español.”

Ajijíc lies at an altitude of  5,000 feet along a tropical latitude that moderates the climate year-round to an average temperature of 72 °F.  With the perfect climate, colorful quaint streets,  and a strong dollar, Ajijíc is a popular haven for retirees, particularly from North America.  If you are looking for an authentic immersion experience into Mexico, this is not a destination for you.  Many Americans live here year round, and that influence has changed  Ajijíc from a sleepy Mexican village to a tourist-catering destination.

My first sketchbook entry for Ajijíc was another “window” view from our bungalow.  Enrique, our landlord, is an artist with carpentry skills.  He is creating a lush tropical sanctuary in his backyard, complete with four bungalows.  He has many contacts throughout Mexico, where he acquires antique furniture in a state of disrepair and building refuse, which he repurposes into charming features, niches, and furniture for his bungalows and courtyard garden.

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Dogs repose in along the sidewalk of a charming veterinary clinic

The perfect cup of coffee, Lake Chapalla, & closeup of the vet clinic sign

Mexico Travel Journal Winter 2017 p17

Hidalgo 50, un sabor con tradition

“Huevos con calaca; desayuno en San Miguel de Allende  1-26-2017”

Hidalgo 50 was our favorite breakfast spot in San Miguel.  Fried eggs over easy is hard to order in Mexico; it seems that individual restaurants call it different things.  The proper name is huevos estrellado, but that confused many of our waiters.  Hidalgo 50 made our eggs perfectly!  Most likely because San Miguel is a cosmopolitan city with many travelers and residents from around the world.  While waiting for breakfast, I made this sketch.

Día Del Muertos, observed throughout Mexico, has become a 3-day celebration, Oct 31-Nov 2.  The Mexican government made it a holiday in the 1960s, as a unifying national tradition based on indigenous tradition.  It seemed to me that the Day of the Dead is one of the most beloved Mexican celebrations because one sees calacas, (skeletons) throughout the year.

My drawing was inspired by the skeletal Catrina figures.  In 1910, the Mexican lithographer, José Guadalupe Posada created a famous zinc etching of a figure he called, “La Calavera Catrina,”  also known as “Dapper Skeleton” or “Elegant Skull.”  Catrina is Posada’s parody of a Mexican upper-class female wearing a hat befitting the upper class European of her time.  Through this satirical portrait, Posado pokes fun at Mexican natives who aspired to European aristocratic traditions, abandoning their pre-revolutionary indigenous culture.  Today, Catrina figures are a prominent part of modern Día de Muertos observances, used in Mexican decor throughout the seasons, and commonly offered in craft and souvenir shops.

Mexican art, design, and crafts are charming and whimsical.  I was delighted to encounter the following examples.

These antique toys were hung in a tire shop.
well preserved doorknocker