28 Enero 2018. … A Day in the Park

Cogimos un autobus al Mercado Hidalgo y caminamos hasta el Jardin del Cantador

We have been learning the bus routes and stops. On Sunday morning we took the bus from our neighborhood to Central Historico. We picked up the bus at the beautiful Escuela Normal, (the teacher’s college.). It is an old ornate sandstone building built in the Colonial style. This is the main bus stop for the Presa neighborhood. Because we went by bus, instead of walking, we took a tunnel route. Because it was Sunday, everyone was out- families, teenage couples, groups of college students, and a handful of tourists. Once we hit Zona Central, the crowded sidewalks overflowed into the streets. By the time we hit Hildalgo Market, the streets were so clogged, no traffic could move. We disembarked the bus and headed to a large park called Garden of the Singer.

Though some flowers are blooming and shrubs are still green, the trees are mostly dormant, creating a mass of neutral greys. I decided this journal entry would be made in toned inks. Above the garden, homes are built into the hillside providing a splash of color to the winter landscape. This area could be loosely rendered with watercolor wash. The thin paper of the my bus ticket added a layer of complexity to the composition.

We were confused about how to return by bus. Everyone told us to catch the return bus “abajo,” but we could not find where the bus stopped down below. Yesterday we tried again to figure out the bus route home. Finally a college student showed us that the main upper stop was about half a block away from the lower return route. We walked back to Hildalgo Mercado and after some wandering, we found the stone staircase that took us to the bus stop in the tunnel. Once down there, we learned the little buses, (cambios), stopped at the first stop, so we had to walk deeper into the tunnel to catch the Presa bus. It has been very cold, and everyone rides the bus when the weather is bad. Several full buses passed us by. Eventually our bus arrived. We traveled in tunnels for a long while before finally surfacing at the Plaza Embajadors, (Plaza of the Ambassadors.). It was just a few more stops until we reached our stop at the Escuela Normal.

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Guanajuato’s Panoramica

Subimos hasta la Panoramica y miramos abajo en la cuidad…..

Above its network of roads, alleys, and tunnels rings Guanajuato’s high road, La Panoramica. It seems most alleys that climb steeply skyward eventually come out on the Panoramica. The Panoramica affords amazing views of the city and takes you to historical sites above the city. For the faint of heart (or body), one can take the Funicular cog railway to the revolutionary monument, El Pepilar and the Panoramica. Just a block from our casita, we discovered an actual road that connects to the Panoramica. Though not as steep as the callejon escaleras , (alley staircases), the road is still a strenuous hike. The reward is the view!

We found a spot overlooking the city, “Zona Central,” where the big landmarks were easily identified. Here we sat and began a drawing. I was charmed by the house just across the street from where we sat. Built into the mountain hillside, it spreads organically with niches, patios, and additions built from angles that mirror its topography, and crowned with a cupola. A gang of ninos chattered almost constantly while we worked, peppering us with questions. Concentrating on the complex scene in front of me was a challenge! As my drawing began to take shape, the children were delighted to discover the house I was drawing belonged to their grandmother. “Es la casa de mi abuelita!” exclaimed Diego, the leader of this group of primos y amigos.

I am enjoying mixing media for artwork on this trip. For this drawing, I drew the house in ink, then added color with watercolor pencil. In my first drawing, (Jan. 26), I was not happy with the watercolor wash I tried. To deepen and saturate the color, I found I needed to dip the pencil tip directly in water. With that technique, I was able to add strong color in spots and dashes, but could not apply deep colors in large areas. This time, instead of adding water to the colored areas, I blended and toned the colored pigments with Copic markers- warm #1 & warm #4. The alcohol-based ink blended and deepened the color much better than water. I think clear alcohol would make a good blending wash for watercolor pencils where no tone is desired. Notice in the preview image, the main cathedral, Basilica de Nuestra Senora de Guanajuato, and the university, Universidad de Guanajuato were visible from our vantage point. In the full drawing, these features are bookended by the house focal points: the cupola and the large patio light.

Paseo de San Renovato

Habia varios murales ceramicos historical…….

Our casita in Guanajuato is in the Paseo de la Presa neighborhood. Literally this means, “walk of the dam.” Just up the street from us is el Palacio del Gobierno, the Governor’s Palace. As you walk up this street toward the dams, you will see several graceful government buildings from the Diaz era, (around the turn of the last century), in Classical Revival style, adorned with pink and/or green sandstone columns, friezes, pediments, etc. In the mid-1800’s Guanajuato began constructing dams for flood control. Paseo de Olla is the original dam built just above the Governor’s Palace, constructed in Colonial style with a large park just below the dam, beginning steps from the Governor’s Palace.

Above Paseo de Olla, a second dam and park was built to reinforce the lower dam, Paseo de San Renovato, C. 1852. Rather than excavate, the engineers used the natural topography of the ravines for this dam. The walls of San Renovato lead you through a lovely walk. The middle section features beautiful tile murals depicting reproductions of paintings showing daily life of Guanajuato artisans & workers of the day by the artist, Manuel Lael. The upper walk, accessed by two flights of stairs and topped by a pergola, gives a good view of the dam. At the base of the lower wall is a small garden containing two monumental stone figures, a snake and a crocodile. According to local legend, two deceitful, mean-spirited neighbors were turned into animals as punishment. Even that punishment could not keep them from arguing, as you can see when you visit this appealing sculpture.

Watercolor & Ink, 24 enero 2018

This garden with the “grumpy neighbors,” (los vecinos grunones), is found at the base of the dam structure.)

Notice the huge scale of the sculptures, actually an installation sculpture garden. The snake’s head peeks up over the higher terrace level to shout down to his neighbor.

And one more shot of the crocodile in all his toothy glory.

Colorful Staircase: Escalera Colorida en Plazuela de San Roque

Wandering around the city of Guanajuato, we passed this charming casa. On a faded ceramic plaque, we were barely able to discern that this was the home of “Los Juglares,” the jugglers en la Calle Cantaritos. La casa faces the small plaza, Plazuela de San Roque. (Saint Roch is a French Catholic saint, who is invoked to guard against plague.). My Spanish dictionary does not define, “cantaritos,” though an internet search gives many entries. Cantaritos is a tequila drink, close cousin to a margarita.

Red geraniums in bright blue pots shout, “bienvenido!” Watercolor & Ink

As best as I can see, the jugglers were honored by the city of Guanajuato for 35 years of artistic performance and presented the plaque in August by the municipal “president,” Dr. Eduardo Romero Hicks.

A Winter’s Visit to Guanajuato, Mexico

Subimos un callejon y encontramos una panaderia anticuada…

On Sunday, January 14, 2018 we landed in Guadalajara airport, found a taxi to Ajijic, and met friends from Colorado. Our reservation for our casita in Guanajuato would begin on Tuesday, so we had a full day to explore some of the villages along Lake Chapalla. Lake Chapalla is the largest lake in Mexico; along its shores are many small villages- each specializing in an industry: berries, woodwork, etc. Ajijic is a popular destination for expats from the US, particularly retirees living on a fixed income.

Tuesday morning, after much map studying, we set off in our friend’s rented car to Guanajuato. Despite all our map studying, we still needed the phone GPS to navigate the roads whose ancient origins create confusion for foreign drivers. We arrived safely, unpacked, and headed out to explore our new neighborhood.

Guanajuato is a beautiful Baroque city, with a population of three quarters of a million people. It is know for its beautiful architecture, winding pedestrian-friendly streets, and a wealth of cultural offerings: museums, art, rich traditions of handicrafts, three theaters, (including the international Cervantes festival), music, & dance. Though many people visit Guanajuato each year, it does not cater to tourists. There are few panhandlers & aggressive vendors selling tourist trinkets. Living here, one gets a true sense of Mexican life. Not much English is spoken here; is is fun to test my Spanish skills. (I have been studying every day since visiting Guanajuato last year. After spending just 5 days here last year, having 6 weeks and my own casita is heaven!)

With our friends from Ajijic in the casita next door, we spent a few days wandering, sightseeing, visiting museums, sampling restaurants, and shopping. When they left, it was time to truly settle in. We did laundry, stocked up on sundries at the Mega, scoped out the local markets, and did lots of exploring. We rearranged our casita, made room for our art supplies and groceries, and I cooked my first meal in Mexico.

We are learning how to navigate a city that has no grid- just a spider web of streets and callejones- narrow alleys that quickly become staircases- they are everywhere!  We’ve been brave, taking lots of narrow streets & callejones- even did a few tunnels!  We’ve discovered that the Panoramica is a road that circles above the city. When you think you are lost, wandering the callejons, and find yourself out of breath above the city, find the Panoramica to navigate a way to the zone you wish to go. Besides walking/climbing, there are 3 ways to get around in Guanajuato. Take a bus or taxi, or walk to Zona Central, take the Funicular to the Panoramica, & navigate from above the city. The third option involves walking, but not so much climbing.

It was on one of these early exploring expeditions that we found a delightful baker- el panadora Pedro. As we were descending a callejon from the Panoramica, I began to smell the delicious aroma of baking bread. I thought it was a housewife. Much to our surprise, we discovered a tiny shop tucked into the alley with an authentic large clay oven. As we peeked in, the baker bid us enter. We remarked on the old oven- “horno viejo,” and he said proudly that it wasn’t so old- only 20 years. He allowed me to photograph him with his oven, which became the inspiration for my first sketchbook entry.

The first drawing shows the callejon that leads to the Pedro’s bakery. It shows the entry of the callejon, where you turn off Paseo de Presa, (where we live for these 6 weeks in Guanajuato), and head to Pedro’s. In this first drawing I wanted to emphasize the color of the city, particularly this location. Some homeowners paint their houses in bright tropical colors, many walls are bordered with red paint, and bright flowers, mostly poinsettias and bougainvillea bloom profusely throughout the winter. To this end, I used ink to depict the masonry, and experimented with watercolor pencils to add the colorful accents. To get the deep colors I was after, I found the need to dip them directly into water and paint with the tips. Applying them like pencil and using water to blend the pigment did not allow the rich effect I was after. Pedro’s portrait was done with 4 values of ink. He stands beside his traditional domed clay oven. An undecorated cake sits on the counter, and collection of rolls are bagged for sale. The rolls are called “bolitos”- taken from “bole,” a large round loaf.

“A Sense of Place” workshop at Gunnison Arts Center

“A Sense of Place; perspective through urban sketch journals” begins at the GAC Monday, October 30.  Registration is still open  REGISTER HERE

Understanding and using perspective has never been simpler.  During each session, I will present a basic perspective concept, breaking it into simple steps.  Over the course of 4 weeks, we will build our understanding of perspective by adding new steps from previous lessons.  You will have a week between lessons to absorb and practice each concept.  (No class during Thanksgiving Week.)

Travel sketching, sometimes called “urban sketching” has become a very popular worldwide movement.  Along with capturing cities, the skills of urban sketching allow you to record the charm of mountain towns, the unique character of remote villages, and the defining themes of historic neighborhoods.  Rather than focusing on the landscape, the travel sketcher records human-built environments.  This course will give you a range of drawing strategies, taking the pain out of perspective, so you can confidently record your experiences.  No art experience necessary.

We begin our course with elevation view sketches, focusing on proportion and detail.  This is the view architects take when drawing a building.elevation chap

Along with presenting strategies for making drawings in elevation view, I will show you how to use watercolor to express textures and architectural details.elevationview

 

Building on elevation view, we will begin to work with two-point perspective, the most common type of approach to drawing buildings.  Part One of two-point perspective is what I call “elevation view plus one.”elevation+1

 

Once you have worked with drawing elevation views with one side in perspective, we will add the second perspective point during week three.

2 pt
Nicaragua (study for watercolor painting)

 

With a week off for Thanksgiving, we return the final week of November to pursue classical one point perspective: (think of Leonardo De Vinci’s The Last Supper.)1 pt

This strategy is useful when the viewpoint is high, such as this sketch from a rooftop bar in Lo de Marcos, Nayarit.1 point LDM

Once you have practiced these concepts and strategies, plan to hit the road and record your travels in a sketchbook.  I guarantee these places will become more memorable that all the snapshots you may also take.  And then try your hand at multi-point perspective drawings!multi.jpeg

Time to Register “A Sense of Place” Sketch Journal Class in Montrose

I will be teaching part II of the sketch journal series, “A Sense of Place.”  Learn how perspective works, how to simplify perspective principles, and how to use this understanding to capture a sense of place in your drawings.  We will meet at the Montrose Plaza downtown under the covered pavilion on Tuesday, July 11, 4-6 PM.  The image above is a winding street in San Miguel DeAllende, Mex.  It simplifies a very complex street scene with multiple vanishing points.  You do not need to be concerned with the complexities of winding streets, hills, vanishing points, etc.  to capture a sense of  the place you are drawing.  Use this link to register:         sketch workshop registration

Please bring a sketch book, pencil, eraser, and fine line ink pen.

If you wish to add color, bring a small portable watercolor set.  For those without a professional pleine air travel kit, make a paint kit with the following items:

TRAVEL KIT

  • box of Prang watercolors found in the school supply section.  Do not buy Crayola washable watercolors; the paint has no color saturation.  They also come in a plastic box which breaks over time.  The Prang set comes in a metal box with a palette for mixing in the lid.  This can be refilled with your choice of tube watercolors as the original set is used.
  • watercolor brushes- at the minimum get a very thin round brush to complement the bigger brush that comes with the Prang set.  A 1″ flat brush is also handy to have.
  • a small container for holding water- go to a camping store and purchase a collapsible drinking cup.  They are plastic and come in bright colors.  They also come with a lid.
  • sponge- cut the sponge into small pieces that will fit inside your collapsible water cup.
  • old wash cloth- cut this in half- wrap your paint brushes inside the 1 of the washcloth pieces.
  • large ziplock baggie or zippered pencil case; small ziplock baggie; paper towel- use the paper towel to blot your paint set when you are ready to put it away.  Zip it into the small baggie.  Put the whole paint kit into the large baggie: sketchbook, pen, pencil, eraser, watercolor materials.

“A Sense of Place”

We met today at Centennial Plaza, Montrose, Colorado for the first session in improving on site architectural sketching. Beginning with pencil, we practiced getting correct proportions in an elevation view of City Hall. After recording big shapes, we added smaller shapes, and finished with architectural details and foundation plantings.  Using a fine tip waterproof marker, we refined shapes.  Then students were introduced to techniques for adding watercolor to enhance their sketches.

place

Students learned new skills and gained confidence in their drawings.  Said one participant, “I wish I had known this when I went to Durango last month.”  We will continue these ideas next month, again focusing on elevation view and proportions.  Drawing is a learned skill.   With instruction, support, practice, tips, and techniques, you will learn to capture a sense of place in your sketch book.

Join us for the next “A Sense of Place” sketch journal workshop.  There is always review of concepts and techniques, so don’t be intimidated if you miss a class.  You can catch up in no time!  Sign up using this link: WORKSHOP REGISTRATION

We meet monthly on the second Tuesday or Saturday of each month :

  • July 11- Centennial Plaza  4:30-6:30 Tuesday
  • August 12- Backstreet Bagels  2:30-4:30  Saturday
  • September 9- Backstreet Bagels  2:30-4:30  Saturday
  • October 14- Backstreet Bagels  2:30-4:30  Saturday
  • November 14- Centennial Plaza  4:30-6:30 Tuesday
  • December 9- Backstreet Bagels  2:30-4:30  Saturday

NEW 2017 SKETCH JOURNAL WORKSHOPS

I am offering two approaches to sketch journaling this summer.  In Montrose we will focus on capturing a sense of place through the study of onsite perspective.  In Gunnison we will express our thoughts, ideas, and feelings through visual journaling.

goliad
Goliad, Texas, February 2016, Part I: elevation view and proportion 

The Montrose Class is designed for those

who want to use journals to record their travels, but have found perspective difficult.  If you have struggled with perspective, I will present an easy system to convey accuracy in your drawings with perspective.  Drawing is a skill, and it can be learned.  Drawing is not just for “natural artists.”  If you love to travel and want to make your trips more meaningful, join us at Centennial Plaza at Tuesday, June 13 from 4:30-6:30  PM.  Bring  a small sketch book, pencils, eraser, straight edge or drafting  square, fine line black pen, small watercolor kit with a brush, (like Prang student watercolors), small cup for cleaning the brush, and a sponge.  REGISTER HERE    $25  We meet either the second Tuesday (4:30-6:30) at Centennial Plaza or Saturday (2:30-4:30) at Backstreet Bagels each month.  Dates: TUESDAY- June 13; July 11; November 14;  SATURDAY- August 12; September 9; October 14; December 9

The Gunnison Class is designed for those

who have kept journals or want to start keeping a journal with more pizzazz than simply writing about the day.  We will use a variety of visual strategies to bring your journals alive with drawings, color, pattern, and text.  Classes are held at the Gunnison Arts Center through a partnership with Western State Colorado University.  Optional university credit is available for these classes.  Classes begin Wednesday June 14, 2017 and run every other Wednesday through August 9th.  To register, contact Gunnison Center for the Arts 970-641-4029 or use this link: GAC EDUCATION

IMG_1672
“Why sometimes I’ve imagined as many as six impossible things before breakfast.”  Alice  Sketch Journals with Cheri Isgreen, Wednesdays at Western through the Gunnison Arts Center

 

 

 

 

Sketch Journaling at Backstreet 2017

Sketch classes will resume at Backstreet Bagel on the Second Saturday, beginning May 13th, 2017.  Classes are held 2-4 PM in the courtyard weather permitting.  After an inspiring trip this winter to Mexico, more emphasis will be placed on travel journals.

Please use this link to preregister.  WORKSHOP REGISTRATION     Classes are $25, due at the beginning of class.  Bring your sketch materials:

  • sketchbook
  • pencils/erasers
  • fine line ink pens
  • small watercolor & brush sets
  • colored pencils
  • any water-soluble paint sticks or pencils