City of Frogs, part 2

Inspired by the city with a plaza celebrating frogs and another plaza celebrating singers, and a street named “Singing Frog.”

Mixed media: ink, watercolor, collage

2017 drawings on Calle Cantarranas

Read the post: Calle Cantarrana #1

Read the post: Calle Canterranas #2

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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.

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.

Materials List for Watercolor Workshops

In response to the request to post a materials list for my workshops, here it is:

MATERIALS & SUPPLIES FOR WATERCOLOR WORKSHOP:

  • pencils, erasers, & sketchbook (or white printer paper for sketching ideas and doing practice studies)
  • 1/2 sheet of watercolor paper- 140# cold press cut to measure 15” x 22” (I recommend Arches brand because it has superior sizing which allows water and paint to flow on the surface without the paper fibers swelling)
  • metal yardstick (for tearing paper into smaller sizes. I will be discussing how different formats change the focus of a composition.)
  • tube watercolors in basic triad- (At the very minimum, you will need a red, a yellow, & a blue. Transparent colors will yield better results than opaque colors for this workshop. I would suggest at least 6 colors, a cool and a warm of each primary. Colors I use: Permanent Rose- cool red; Windsor Red- warm red; Cobalt Blue- almost pure blue, leans cool, good for skies; Windsor Blue Green Shade- warmish blue, mixes well with yellow for pure greens; Hansa Yellow- almost pure yellow, mixes well for oranges and greens; Raw Sienna- transparent earth yellow, somewhat neutralized, warmish. I also like to have Burnt Sienna on my palette.)
  • palette (for holding pigments and mixing paint;you could use a ceramic or plastic white plate from the dollar store.)
  • variety of paintbrushes (At the very minimum, you will need a small round brush for details; 1/2” flat brush for drawing, blocking, lifting, and dry-brush techniques; & large round brush for washes- at least #10 size. I use these 6 brushes: round brushes- #2, #6, #12; flat brushes- 1/2”, 1” 2” size chart: link for watercolor brush size chart You can find inexpensive watercolor brush sets at JoAnn’s craft stores.)
  • water containers (at least two- one for washing brushes, and one for pure water which you will use for washes and color mixing. Minimum size for the washing container is 2 quarts; anything smaller gets too polluted too quickly, & you will be constantly stopping to change water. Good size for the pure water container is at least 1 pint.)
  • spray bottle for water (handy, but not critical. I like to spritz my palette to keep the pigments fresh. You can also get effects with a spray bottle, so feel free to explore this option.)
  • sponges (at least two- I can’t paint without 3. I also like to have a few rags close at hand made from old towels about 6” x 8”. Some people like to use paper towels, but I find the clutter of used paper towels too messy, as well as not environmentally sustainable.)
  • backing board and mounting materials (I use plywood pieces that have been varnished. For smaller compositions, I don’t bother to stretch and staple my paper. Instead, I use masking tape to mount dry watercolor paper to the board. Other options- MDF or other composition board from Home Depot, a thick grade of foam core, or in a pinch- very heavy cardboard.
  • Besides staples and masking tape, you can also mount paper to your board with spring clips.)
  • easel (or you can paint flat on a table.)
  •  liquid mask (At the very minimum, get liquid mask and a small round cheap brush. I prefer to use a mask pen for most of my work. Daniel Smith is my preference because it come with 5 nibs, and they are easiest to clean. http://www.dickblick.com/products/daniel-smith- masking-fluid/ I also use Grafix masking fluid for for applying mask with a brush and to refill the Daniel Smith pen. http://www.dickblick.com/products/grafix-incredible-white- mask-liquid-frisket/ Also look for a rubber cement pickup for removing mask, available through Blick.)
  • masking tools- you need dedicated tools that you will use only for masking, (including a separate water container, rags, and a cheap, small brush. Never mix your masking tools with your painting tools. For applying mask with a brush, you will also need liquid soap. Lately I have been using a small bar of hotel soap, which I reapply often to keep my application brush free of mask.)

Anatomy of a Portrait

“Redheads Have More Fun”  portrait of Willy

I have been working on a commissioned portrait of a beautiful 8 year old chestnut warmblood gelding.  Commissions require extra care, because we all have unique perspectives based on our experiences.  I wanted my vision to capture the horse’s sweet generous nature and the owner’s expectations.

I took extra care with the pencil study, being careful with Willy’s anatomy, his stunning drop-dead-gorgeous-good-looks and conformation, as well as his sunny personality.  I took extra time drawing his face, as the face and especially the eyes are the window to the spirit.

willy 1
pencil study

When the pencil study was complete, I did a value map.  I would recommend this step to anyone who wants to ensure success with a studied composition.  This process is not suitable for alla prima quick painting, but it works out many of the compositional problems that could crop up in a larger studio work.  My process is to find 3 values- dark, medium, and light.  I combine close values from the pencil study into larger connected shapes.  When I get to the painting stage, I keep the values accurate, and add a variety of color within the value shapes.  This variety of color enlivens the painting’s surface and the subject of the painting.  I also like to create lost-and-found edges at this point.  Where the sunlight touches the edge of the horse’s body, I have allowed the shapes to merge with the background- (horse’s left front leg and hoof.)

willy #2
Value map

The next step is the underpainting.  The underpainting sets the tone/temperature for the completed work, as this glaze will glow from within.  I have a warm golden wash in a variety of tones and tints- (hansa yellow, gamboge, raw sienna, burnt sienna).  I masked the areas of white- blaze and socks, and left those white areas in shadow blank- no underpainting.  For this portrait, I want a warm painting with distinct blue shadows on the horse’s socks and nose, so I saved those shapes for later painting.

willy #3.JPG
underpainting

After the underpainting was dry, I painted the background.  I wanted a very soft, light background that wouldn’t compete with the horse.  I used both blues for contrast and yellows for harmony.  When the background was dry, I built up shapes, added color, and worked from light to dark, using my value map.  As the body was taking shape, I switched to a smaller brush to complete the face.  The face slowed the process down, as stated before, an artist must capture the soul here.  When the horse was complete, I added energy in the foreground with lively brushstroke and splattered color.  I wanted to convey the energy of a joyful gallop and the impression of a flowery meadow.

willy

This work will be previewed at my Open House Sept 29, 2017 5-7 PM at Backstreet Street Bagels & Gallery.    To purchase a painting or commission a work, use this link:     purchase painting

INTRODUCING THE BACKSTREET GALS — AN EVERYTHING BAGEL, WITH ART!

an article from Navigator Editor, Janine Rusnak

An award-winning, colorful square quilt hides twenty gems; a collection of four watercolor dream horses takes you to exotic places; a delicate, yet heavy handwoven copper piece boasts the title “Asian Study #6.”

 

These spectacular art pieces are now on display at Backstreet Bagel Company in Montrose and capture true, local talent in mixed
visual arts.

With a grand reception Friday, September 29, the Backstreet Gals exhibition features three local artists.  Each artist comes to this exhibition with a background in fiber art.  Though the artists create in diverse media, this common influence of fiber art is referenced in the collected works on display: including strong underlying composition and design, the ability to bring harmony to bright color schemes, and the use of geometry within a pictorial subject.

All That Glitters

Prior to her weaving career, Lynn Vogel made doll cloth- es as a child. She discover- ed the world of hand weav- ing in her early 20’s.  “The hand weaving process was natural for me.  It was like a puzzle— intricate, complex, beautiful —one that would take me a complete,” Vogel said.  She received a large, handmade loom as a birthday gift one year which  led to her and her sister making and selling clothing for several years in small boutiques and galleries throughout Denver.  A decade later, she found herself sitting on the library floor in the art section and became drawn to a new medium—copper. She said someone once told her it couldn’t be woven on a loom. She proved them wrong, and for the last 20 years has been weaving copper as her primary medium. The end result? Beautiful, one-of-a-kind works of art consisting of embossed copper and semi-precious stones. Vogel will have one of her looms present at the open house with the intention of offering a brief, yet in- formative, demonstration of how she creates her masterpieces.

One Stitch At A Time

Debbie Watkins has been designing her own quilts since 2014 after joining a small group of local quilters. Their encouragement and feedback helped her to achieve her goals of creating unique quilt designs as well as incorporating unfamiliar techniques and non-traditional media in each quilted piece.

Watkins began quilting in 1980 and since she moved to Montrose she has been a member of two of the Montrose quilt guilds and is also heavily involved with the annual Black Canyon Quilt Show.  Labels displayed with her work indicate what prize those pieces have won, including this year’s first place winner in the Mixed Media category at the Black Canyon Quilt Show titled, “Dragon Fly By.” This is a vertical piece that came to fruition by way of another piece Watkins ended up not liking.  “Mistakes are creative opportunities!” Watkins exclaimed.

In this show, Watkins’ quilts combine crystals, fabric paints and dyes, photos, painted and heat-stressed Tyvek, as well as buttons, beads, organza and more, all resulting in dynamic, one- of-a-kind pieces.  Also displayed at the Backstreet Gals exhibition are an assortment of “quilted” greeting cards, handmade by Watkins, and a 79” x 92” quilt.

Living In A Colorful World

Artist and painter Cheri Isgreen is fascinated by the relationship between light and shadow on natural forms.  “If you get the values and shapes correct, any beautiful color will look compelling, even a purple horse,” she said.  NobleIsgreen seeks fresh, unexpected color mixtures through the spontaneity of wet paint mixing on the paper. She strives for a sense of mystery and narration in each painting. As a former art educator, she taught the gamut of media, styles, and subjects, giving her the strong range she draws upon today when creating her watercolor compositions. Currently Isgreen’s work reflects her passion for horses, flowers, and travel, with each piece conveying personal meaning.

Isgreen maintains an active studio schedule, winning awards in juried exhibitions, showing in four Colo- rado galleries, accepting commissions through her galleries and website, and teaching art workshops through regional art centers and Western State Colorado University. Isgreen’s work has been showcased in museums, galleries, and publications both in the United States and abroad.

Isgreen’s colorful, contemporary watercolor paintings complement Vogel’s Bouquetcopper compositions and Watson’s art quilts. And with Isgreen’s elements of mystery and narrative, viewers will discover personal meaning in each painting for themselves.

All three artists will be available for questions and discussion at the public open house. Special exhibition pieces will be on display only during Friday’s open house. These women will transform the entire restaurant into a colorful gallery that embraces different media in a comfortable space.

The works displayed in Backstreet Gals is modern but not abstract. “It fits in all décor styles,” Vogel said.  There will be over 30 pieces displayed and are all for purchase.

Backstreet Bagel Company is owned by Scott and Debbie Cassidy. They offer an array of breakfast and lunch items as well as gourmet coffee drinks. Backstreet Bagel is located at 127 North Townsend Avenue in Montrose.

The public is invited to the Backstreet Gals Open House Friday, September 29, from 5-7 p.m. There will be music, complimentary wine, and gourmet appetizers available.

First Friday Gunnison Arts Center

The Colorado Watercolor Society first show on the Western Slope opens at the Gunnison Center for the Arts Friday, Aug 4, 2017.  I will show three works; two florals, “Orchids,” “Cosmos,” and an equine themed work, “No Hoof, No Horse.”  The two florals celebrate the glory of light on natural forms.  “Orchids” is backlit, providing for a dramatic composition, while “Cosmos” shows reflected light of flowers in full sun.  “No Hoof, No Horse” explores lost and found edges and the fading of form through the phenomenon of smoke.

both paintings image 7.5″ x 22″  (frame size 13.5″ x 28″)  copyright C Isgreen          $350 each

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award winning painting:  “No Hoof, No Horse” copyright C Isgreen                                                     22″ x 15″  (frame size 28″ x 21″) $500

In the upstairs gallery, the Arts Center is showing its annual fundraising exhibition, “Tiny Treasures.”  I have submitted two watercolor paintings of birds inspired by Japanese scrolls.  These “tiny treasures” were painted in a diamond format to give them a dynamic composition.  Both watercolor on paper and oil/acrylic on canvas will be offered.

from  GAC website:                 IMG_0357

Upper Gallery: Tiny Treasures “Fortune Cookie Quotes”
Celebrate the little things in life! For the third year in a row, the GAC’s fundraiser, Tiny Treasures, really is proof that good things DO come in small packages. Featuring a plethora of tiny treasures on canvas, all created by local artists. Treasures will be on sale at affordable prices all month where 100% of the profit goes to the GAC. A theme has been added this year; artists will pick a fortune cookie quote to use for inspiration. Enjoy tiny appetizers, a live tiny gallery concert with tiny instruments and more at the First Friday ArtWalk & Music!

New works at GAC:

In keeping with this month of tiny treasures, I am offering framed prints from my travels ($25) and small framed floral watercolors, all affordably price below $200.  I also completed an aspen series, where I fractured the light.  (see featured image preview above) These charming small works will complement the small niches in your home.

“Poured Watercolor” Workshop in beautiful Telluride Colorado

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The wildflowers are blooming, the mountains shine, and rainbows appear in the evening light.  Summertime in Telluride!  It’s time for a weekend mountain getaway.  Relax in beautiful Telluride while exploring some new watercolor techniques.  I will teach “Poured Watercolor” through the Ah Haa School of the Arts, Friday – Sunday, July 28 – 30, 2017. 

Break in the Clouds (1)

Forgo the brush and experiment with the process of pouring watercolor to produce paintings with unique results. Learn the pigment rules, color theory, and pouring techniques to give your watercolor paintings glowing results.  By pouring paint in a series of glazes,  underlying layers are preserved while developing a depth of color and enhancing luminosity.  Experience how this technique fosters a wide range of spontaneous colors while maintaining the harmony of a limited palette. Poured watercolor lends itself to a variety of subject matter.  All levels of painters are welcome, including first-time watercolorists.

To register, visit the Ah Haa School of the Arts registration page: POURED WATERCOLOR REGISTRATION