Happy Valentines Day

As I progress with my rehab, I was able to begin making art again.  My stamina and focus are not back to normal yet, so I planned a simple project: series of graphic Valentines based on grid design.  All except the final design were built from the center to outside border.  The black checkerboard patterns were designed with an eye for a pleasing balance of “white space,” figure/ground.  Then the red accents were added.  For the final design, I knew I wanted a graphic border with a heart inside, so that final Valentine was designed from the outside border inward towards the center heart.

Yesterday was Galentines Day, celebrating the friendship of women.  I made a card for each of my Book Buddies and brought them to my book group last night.  The feature image I saved for my husband.  He has been a blessing in my care and rehab.

Though I’m not 100%, I look forward to returning to the process of making art.


Mas Color

Raining down the hillsides of Guanajuato is a riot of color, as depicted in the painting posted yesterday. The joyful colors permeate city life and culture. Everywhere it is expressed in art and song by los ciudadanos de Guanajuato. Valentine’s Day inspired the posted collage. (Mixed media: watercolor, ink, ephemera, old-style cinco centavo)

What a big surprise to learn that Valentine’s Day is celebrated en masse with colored lights and/or balloon displays throughout the barrios. The whole city turns out to celebrate with padres giving ninos small gifts of heart-shaped candies, balloons, and toys; sweethearts exchanging flowers and huge stuffed animals; families receiving blessings of small crosses on foreheads given by the parish priests; restaurants and bars hosting special dinners and live music; and plazas filled with families eating al fresco at the numerous pop up eateries.

The centerpiece of my collage features an invitation to El Midi Bistro. We enjoyed a three course meal with champagne while serenaded to the sounds of French cafe music in the style of Edith Piaffe.

The preview showcases la Virgen de San Juan de Los Lagos. After witnessing the pilgrimage from San Miguel de Allende, I became interested and did some research into the Candlemas Festival and pilgrimage of San Juan de los Lagos. The town is visited by over two million pilgrims each Candlemas. While in San Miguel, we were awakened at 6AM by 1,000 or more of the faithful, singing, and carrying banners and a statue on their way to San Juan de Los Lagos. From my research, I learned the statue is a representation of the Virgin de Los Lagos. The original statue is just 2′ tall, wears elegant gold trimmed clothing, a gold Byzantine crown, and stands on a crescent moon. With a new awareness, I began to see the Virgin in many places. While walking in the Pastita Barrio, I noticed her image in ceramic tiles on a modest house. (See Pastita Barrio). According to legend, in 1623 a young acrobat, a girl of seven, fell and impaled herself on daggers. The bereft family brought her to the chapel in preparation for burial. The church caretaker, Ana Lucia Antes placed an old statue of the Virgin of the Immaculate Conception with the body, instructing the family to keep their faith and pray with her. Within an hour, the lifeless body began to stir. Her father unwrapped the shroud to discover his daughter alive and unscathed. News of the miracle spread, and the 90-year old tattered statue, made of plastered cornmeal and orchid juice was sent to Guadalajara to be restored. Miraculously the statue arrived fully restored and has remained in pristine condition to this day. Today, the faithful make pilgrimages to the Virgin throughout the year, with thousands walking, even crawling or being pushed in wheelchairs, throughout Mexico to San Juan de los Lagos during the Candlemas celebrations. (Read the whole story here: Virgin de Los Lagos)

Many walls and casas are adorned with ceramic plaques telling their histories. My favorite is the plaque from the Prussian Consulate of 1864. I used two motifs from different plaques in my collage.

Colorful cut paper banners, called “papel picado,” are hung during celebrations, (also see Papel picado). Walking through a papel picado strewn street, one can’t help but feel festive.

Flowers abound in Mexico. The flowers in my collage came from a mural in one of the small family restaurants where we shared breakfast with friends. Last night for Valentines Day, flower vendors were set up on every plaza. I bought mine from the florist on Plaza de Embajadores. I made a new friend, as we discussed the joys of working in a flower shop, a job I held many years ago. I left with a hug, a kiss, and a exquisite bouquet. As I arranged them in water, I marveled at their exotic beauty and ready availability.

From murals to street art; graphic design to folk arts; indigenous clothing to painted houses; music to theater; food to flowers, Guanajuato abounds with “de colores.”

Art for Valentine’s Day

I found a special rock in Lo de Marcos last winter when I walked up the street from the beach to my casita.  It was shaped like a heart.  I give my husband hearts once in a while for special occasions.  I thought this would make a good gift, but I thought it needed a little something before it became a gift.  

rock from Lo de Marcos, Mexico
rock from Lo de Marcos, Mexico

I was inspired to develop this rock into a work of art by a demo at the Montrose Visual Arts Guild monthly meeting.  The woman who gave the demo used a variety of sticks to get different size dots.  I quickly realized how tedious this could become, but I was motivated by the vision I saw in my mind’s eye upon completion.

I developed the cover design for the box based on Australian Aboriginal paintings.  I felt this piece was an homage to their work, as it did not copy any of their animal images or designs.  It only borrowed from their way of working and the rhythm of the dots.

Acrylic on enamel wooden box in the style of Australian Aboriginal paintings
Acrylic on enamel wooden box in the style of Australian Aboriginal paintings

As I developed the cover design, I simultaneously gave the rock two coats of red paint and worked on the paper lining for the inside of the box.  As you can see these designs complement, but do not mirror each other.

inside box design
inside box design

After the red coat was dry, I was able to finish by painting the rock itself and placing it inside the box.  This gift needed no wrapping.

box with rock
box with rock