This is a small scene in the downtown Plaza. It’s a relaxed and sometimes very busy place. Weekends find artisans selling their wares, musicians playing their instruments in festive songs. You can get and ice cream and sit on a bench and people watch or meet friends for lunch at nearby restaurants. Food carts await and taxis sit at their stations ready to bring you anywhere you want to go. The atmosphere is always friendly and there’s always the sound of laughter of happy children running in and out of the gazebo. It’s a wonderful place to share with friends. Flower are always blooming.
Turquoise blue umbrellas against a clear blue sky. This watercolor is available for sale.
Musicians is a work in progress. I started by posting the painting on Facebook. And now that I’m adding to it, I can’t figure out how to add photos from my phone to the work in progress album. So I’m redoing this project here on the blog. Something nice about doing a work in progress.
These musicians were wonderful and I loved their music. I have no idea what that harp was but they made a unique sound. When you are drawing freehand, it just comes out a certain way. Looking at this now, these guys look pretty shrunken, as though they have been put through a shrinking machine. But they all look the same way to “Honey I shrunk the kids” look is consistent. ha ha ha
This is turning out to be a very fun painting. I will publish this to Facebook because at least it will make some kind of sense.
So here’s the updated work in progress along with the original Facebook post.
My friend Liz Ozselcuk does beautiful digital photography. She challenged me to play with one of her photos. So this is the watercolor I came up with. This was so much fun. Here’s the step by step of how we are playing with this image.
Liz’ digital photo which was originally as the white flower looked with no changes, then she turned it into this.
I first met Cochita in August of 2017. I did not learn her name or who she was until I returned to Ajijic five months later. It was in a late August afternoon and the sun was getting very low in the sky. I was surprised to see her weaving at such a late hour and in such a remote place. She was near the lake but a little far from the malecon. I was just walking and sort of stumbled upon her. I didn’t expect to find such a treasure in such an isolated spot along the lake. She was far outside the malecon and that area does not get much traffic except for horses and old men.
I later learned from people that this is her work station because of the two big trees nearby. She uses them to hang her weavings from and she also uses one of the trees to mount her loom on. That way she can lean back a llittle and get tension on the work. You can’t pass the shuttle through the warp and the weft unless there is tension on the loom. At the time there was so many weavings displayed; not only hanging but in neat piles and piles or bags and purses and smaller weavings that I was puzzled at how she could store them at nightfall and not have to worry about theft. I remember looking around and seeing no place that could pass as a shelter, so I could not understand how she could possibly store her weavings there before going home. I think I just assumed some family member or friend would come to pick her up. How wrong I was. The truth is she packs everything up and wheels it home with a cart up a hill–without help.
I knew I wanted to know her and paint her. She has a tenacious spirit and she is probably the hardest working person I have met here. She is friendly, sweet, has a sense of humor and a humility that is unusual: all wrapped up in one remarkable person. She is tiny, has sparkling eyes and her hands are strong. I came back several times to see her. The last time I was able to buy one of her big woven bags that I did not have the money for last summer. It was still there and we were able to extricate it from the bottom of one of her piles. I remembered the bag and the pattern. I use it every day and it’s perfect for my Spanish books.
Here is a link a friend just found for me about her from Ajijic News Calendar. I was excited to know that I had painted her before I read about her. Apparently lots of people know and love her. Read more about her story. I hope to keep you posted on her from time to time.
I know it’s just not me, but I believe there are people here in Ajijic who definitely make a difference. They make an impact on our daily lives. Being a newbie here, I can only comment on some of the ones who have impressed me enough to photograph and paint them. I like to call them “people landmarks” because when you talk about them to friends, they respond with “Oh yeah, I know him, or I’ve seen her.” Usually they are vendors who have a following and a great variety of merchandise they collect and sell, or they are artisans themselves.
They usually claim a street corner or familiar area where they’ve built their reputation. I know that my “orange juice guy” can be found in front of Guadalajara Pharmacy on the Carretera.
Dave is an artist–a sculptor. He wears more than one hat which many of us have to do, I’ve bought juice from him before and it is really good juice. He’s one of several people I have enjoyed photographing and painting in watercolor. He has a very friendly nature. He always has a big smile and love for conversation and a little pleasant joking. He takes great pride in what he does. He is always cutting, cleaning, organizing his booth and presenting his beautiful juice with an air of confidence and generosity. How could you not buy juice from him?
He certainly loves this juicer. I do too. It’s one of those tools that is really well built and functions without electricity or batteries. It’s durable, honest and trustworthy. It’s like his good oranges and clean knives and counter. I have never seen such a super sized juicer and watching him operate it is a pleasure. I can only imagine how excited he must have been when he bought it.
He plays it like a violinist plays his violin. Buen provecho.
I thought I would try one of these exercises to see if people are interested. I would appreciate input. I am considering doing more of these so let me know if you like it and want more.
Sometimes we can get stuck or bored or get cold feet in how to start a painting. Here is a really fun way to jump in from another angle. These are some underpaintings I did last week,
The one with the red splash in the corner is the one I chose this time. What you need to do for these underpaintings is some kind of a permanent color medium. Watercolor will not work because when you go over this first layer, it can lift or blend with your top layer. Lacquer based inks, liquid acrylic or Intense inks are great. For liquid acrylic I like Golden and/or Holbein. They are very rich in color and a tiny amount goes a long way. I happen to have some inks and some Intense colors so I used a little of each. I mixed a dash or two of Intense inks (this is the name brand) with a little water in a small bowl.
Make 3 small bowls–one red, one yellow, one blue. You can use a big brush, a sponge, an eyedropper, or the pour and splash technique. One color splashing for each sheet of paper. Drain, drip or brush off what you don’t want.
I had Arches 130# paper so that’s what I used. The paper needs to be a watercolor paper that is heavy duty enough to withstand getting pretty wet without curling. That’s why I like blocks because all the sheets are glued together and the paper can withstand a beating. Just jump in and have fun and don’t try to control the underpainting too much. Then I just threw the wet blocks on the bathroom floor and waited until the next day to paint.
First off, here is the photo I took of this giant split leaf philodendron while walking to class last week.
This photo is the color shot right from the camera. You can see here the darks are prominent in the splits of the leaves and in the shadows. The color is drab and very muted. Mostly you get the size of the plant and the basic growing structure. I like the folded leaves because when they fold over, you can see through to the other underneath side. Most of the time you are not sure if it’s the same leaf. That makes it interesting and poses questions. Yes. There’s the storytelling element here.
Here is the line art of the plant done with a soft, dark pencil. As you can see, it’s just a sketch that captures (I hope) the simple outlines of the leaves, the splits, and the basic shape of the plant. I thought some details were important, like the tendril type grow on the long stem of one of the shoots. Wherever the reds and yellows landed did not matter to me. There isn’t too much control at this point. But so far, I like it.
The next step is to ink the pencil lines with my green Higgins ink and my Speedball pen. I have been using the Speedball nibs for 30 years and the most I’ve bought aside from inks are special handles. This is my favorite pen with a cork handle I bought in Portland years and years ago when Utrecht still had a store there. I have a great collection of fine drawing nibs and handles for delicate pen and ink work too, It’s amazing how much ink a Speedball pen can hold and what an even smooth line you can get.
When the ink is dry, I erase the graphite lines with a good white eraser…aka Magic Rub.
I like Maimeri Blu watercolors, but I also like Holbein and W&N too. I think I like it all. I am anxious to try new ones whenever I can.
I always use a test sheet on a small pad to choose which colors I might use.
So here is my final painting. It’s first and foremost a design with emphasis on color, shapes and negative spaces. Each color was applied a very small amount at a time with one full and soft brush (see above) the yellows in particular were blended in with the greens. The darks and purples came last. The background turned out to be a mixure of lights and darks.
Very little may be compared with the original photo but that does not matter. Once this was completed with both lights and darks in the background and the basic leaf established, I think the best part of this painting is the dancing back and forth of colors and shapes. Primarily, it was lots of fun. But the fun is not really done because…..
I take it another step and can turn it into clothing, or products. I know lots of people shun this. But not everything needs to hang on a wall. Sometimes I like to wear what I draw.
This young girl loves her little burro. She’s proud of him. She carries him along with a bunch of Asian Lilies in the marketplace. She could have been me or I could have been her a long time ago. Silly thought I know, but a fun animal and colorful flowers make for a feel-good sketch in watercolor.