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 :
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.
“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.
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.
“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.
Many days we spent wandering the city, exploring neighborhoods, taking photos, sampling food, and of course drawing. The Plaza Civica has two churches that bookend the square. Kurt and I took opposite ends of the plaza, each portraying a different church. I chose the Templo de Nuestra Señora. My sketch captures the vibrant street life found throughout Mexico.
Here are a few more examples of the charm portrayed across Mexico, particularly in Mexican colonial cities.
San Miguel became an important military and commercial site by the mid 16th century when silver was discovered in Zacatecas. The town was a melting pot, first for Spanish and indigenous peoples, and later for other European settlers too. Major roads connected San Miguel with the mining communities, Mexico City, and the rest of the state of Guanajuato, serving travelers’ needs and providing supplies. In particular, the textile industry flourished. Locals claim San Miguel is the birthplace of the serape.
Wealth from San Miguel’s crossroads status brought a rise in Baroque and Neoclassical architecture, including many mansions, government buildings, churches, and cathedrals. The beauty and charm of the city still bring San Miguel many visitors.