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:
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.
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.
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 :
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.
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
To get to Puerto Vallarta to catch our flight back to the States, we broke our journey into two days. We took the ETN bus to Guadalajara and spent another night at the Hotel Dali, then took our final bus ride to Puerto Vallarta, again staying at the quaint Hotel Bellmar. We like to stay on the top floor, which is a huge grunt with luggage, but the view is worth the climb. We stay in Viejo Vallarta Centro, so no beach views. Instead one looks out on the busy, colorful street life.
Our flight was scheduled to leave at 4:30, so that gave us time to make one last drawing before leaving Mexico. I took many photos of street life, charmed by the papeles banners, the shiny piñata-like sculpture banners, and other handicrafts Mexicans create to celebrate life. I captured Calle Iturbide, an appropriate ending to my Mexico sketch journal. (Iturbide was another revolutionary independence hero.) The view is looking toward the ocean. The street ends in a plaza on the beach where many artists display their work. I wanted the emphasis of this drawing to be on the banners, so I eliminated the ocean view. I chose to add paint only to the banners to further emphasize the celebratory theme of this ink drawing.
photo collage left to right/ top to bottom: Tlaquepaque street view with shiny miller piñatas, Puerto Vallarta papeles, Ajijíc papeles & street vendor, door knocker San Miguel de Allende, door knocker Pátzcuaro, veterinary clinic Ajijíc, antique bicicletas at the tire shop in San Miguel de Allende, street musicians Pátzcuaro, street view San Miguel Deb Allende.
From Pázcuaro, we took an ETN first class bus to Morelia, capital city of Michoacán. We learned that the ETN fares were just a bit higher than Primo Plus, but were far more comfortable. There are only 36 seats on ETN, the air conditioners always work, (despite the gas crisis), and the bathrooms are pristine.
From my journal, “2/6/17 2:00PM MORELIA, capital city of Michoacán… Lined with well preserved 17th & 18th century Baroque and classical buildings, including MORELIA CATHEDRAL, presiding over the city’s main square, Plaza De Armas. Morelia was named after Mexico’s revolutionary hero, Morelo.”
This sketch was made from the Hotel Viray, overlooking the beautiful architecture that characterizes this city. Morelia is perhaps the most beautiful city in all of Mexico. Morelians are proud of their city; evidence of recently restored buildings and buildings under restoration are found throughout the city. Most of these historic buildings are open to visitors. Note the second beautiful cathedral just down the street from Morelia Cathedral. The building with the large overhanging entrance near the second cathedral is the theatre. Many Mexican cities boast lovely old theatres, as the performance arts have been well regarded in Mexico for centuries. I hope to return soon to Morelia and stay at the Hotel Viray.
Pátzcuaro is known for it red-banded buildings and red tile roofs. Coming back from Tzintzuntzán, the taxi driver took us along a route with steep streets that paralleled the House of Eleven Patios. Built into the hillside, this side of the city gives the best views of Pátzcuaro’s picturesque, unique character. We knew this would be our destination for sketching the following day.
To get there, walk southeast of the Plaza Vasco de Quiroga to an entrance with two high arches. The entrance is marked, “La Casa de los Once Patios.” Built around 1743 for the Convent of Santa Catarina, this is the only place regionally with Dominican influence. The Dominicans founded Santa Marta Hospital here.
The House of Eleven Patios features the highest quality craft artisans in the region. Many also work onsite. The range of local crafts is broad from musical instruments, textiles, copper, and ceramics. The shops rise eleven levels up the hillside. The alleyway continues to climb to the top of a steep slope, where Mexican families and tourists come to enjoy the vista and take photos. Both Kurt and I were inspired by the view and captured our impressions.
Tzintzuntzán: musical, magical name for the former Tarascan capital on the shores of Lake Pátzcuaro. Tzintzuntzán means “place of the hummingbirds.”
Outside the biblioteca in Pátzcuaro, we boarded the colectivo to Tzintzuntzán, which takes passengers to villages around the Lake. We were able to use our broken Spanish to visit with a mother and her charming daughter along the way, who gave us the lowdown on the archeological ruins.
Before the Spanish conquest, the village of Tzintzuntzán was the capital city of Tarasca, on the shores of Lake Pátzcuaro, with a population of 30,000. Tarasca was strong, able to repell repeated Aztec attacks. In 1520, the Tarascans could not fend off the Spanish. Today Tzintzuntzán is a sleepy village that boasts an important archeological site. Called Taríaran, “House of the Wind,” it is located above the town on a large platform excavated into the side of the hill, overlooking the lake. The ceremonial center contains a large plaza, several buildings which housed priests and nobility, and five yácatas. These semi-circular pyramids were wooden temples where important rites were performed. As I sketched, I noticed architectural slits in the stonework, much like at Chaco Canyon, New Mexico, which make the whole site function as a large stone astronomical calendar.
In my sketch, I included a bit of the village landscape, the lake, and the volcano, all important elements in the history of Taríaran.
“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.
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.
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 Spanish 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.
The perfect cup of coffee, Lake Chapalla, & closeup of the vet clinic sign