Ajijic, Uncategorized

Centro Cultural Plaza in downtown Ajijic

AjijicPlaza copy-web.jpgThis 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.


When drawing freehand can be a strain

lady-oshkanwaska-thI have always drawn freehand.  This means no outside aides such as  projectors or outside electronic devices.  Now I’m on a venture to get bigger and bigger in my artworks and I need to at least make my photo and apply a grid to it so I can get my proportions correctly.  Yesterday I spent 3 hours drawing and erasing a medium sized layout on watercolor paper.  It was a nasty experience and I still don’t have it right, so I’m feeling frustrated.  The last time I used a projector was in 2004 when I painted a several big oil paintings.

This was a very large oil on linen that a good friend in Washington is holding for me.  It is rolled up in a tube with a few other big oils and someday I will arrange to get them back to me in Mexico.   At the time, I had an old projector and I remember that I hung the linen on the wall and did an outline of the composition in oil and the color I recall was burnt umber.  That’s all I can remember at the time.  But I think I worked on this painting a really long time…..maybe a few weeks.

lady ashkanazi

This original oil is for sale through Fine Art America.  Once again I am toying with the idea of going back to oils but right now I have a major focus on watercolor as I feel I need much more attention to getting better and better at the elusive water media.  Someday I will clarify what my major medium is.  I feel happy in a way that I have been lucky enough to try so many things: ceramics (15 years), watercolor (35 years), oils (2 years), scratchboard (20 years), pen and ink and pencil (50 years), digital art since 2001), and now I’m back to watercolor.  I have over a lifetime into art and drawing and still feel like I’m in my infancy.

I know it’s a well documented idea but it’s important to never compare yourself and your life to others.  Just focus on the here and now.  I need to heed my own advice.  One thing I am know is that I had classical artistic training that I am grateful for it every day. Sometimes when I see what kind of art people are doing now, I feel very out of touch.  It is not that I don’t understand digital art–I do but I always prefer the hands-on process. For today, I need to get pencil to paper and get my proportions correctly .  Tomorrow I can worry about the rest of the world and my life. Blogging is good for a rant and eases the pain of insecurity.




Painting Scissors: how-to-life-art lesson

scissors.jpgThere is a story to these scissors.  It is about how I love tools and figured out a way to keep them, in spite of letting them go.  Loving tools can be a good thing or a bad thing.  When I left my home in Washington, I was determined to get rid of everything that was not absolutely essential.  My new chapter in life had to be bare bones.  I was successful.  My wonderful friends helped me de-stash.  If you have never done it, it is hard.  They did a big 2 day garage sale for me while I left the premises for those days.  That was a good plan.  I did not want to mess things up.  I know I would have cried and acted weird so they took over.


Here are just a few of the things they sold for me.


So how does a painting evolve from this?  I took pictures before I left the house and even though they are not posted here, there were two photos that stood out.  One was where I laid out all my hammers, every kind of hammer you could think of.  The other was I laid out a shot of all the types of scissors that were in the sale.  I drew the hammers on my sketch pad with walnut ink. Then I drew the scissors with a black pen on white watercolor paper, thinking maybe it would be a good coloring book page.
So what I did was paint these 2 sketches: hammers and scissors became patterns for clothing. aka wall art.   I underpainted the scissors drawing  with inks and then painted several layers over that when it was very dry. First I used blues and purples for the background, (cobalt blue and violet) and then several layers of transparent yellows and golds for the scissors.  My favorite orange was the Maimeri “orange  lake” which is a gorgeous and very transparent color.  I layered a little Maimeri gouache white over the ribbon.
available scissors watercolor
hammers wash watercolor in Walnut ink  available: hammers

So here’s the point to this story. …You never lose things in life.  They are in your memory, your heart.  That’s what this making art stuff is all about.  You make an effort to try to enjoy what’s in front of you before it disappears because you know you will disappear too. If you leave a little art behind, maybe somebody will get a chance to enjoy what you did too.  amen



Wine Seller at the Plaza

If you are not having a great day, sitting at the Ajijic Cultural Plaza will cheer you up.  It’s fun to get a snack or cool drink and just watch what goes by.  There are the usual vendors who have a lot of exciting things and are always showing something new.  People strolling, singing, children playing, and flowers and great foods are a staple.

And then there are the very unique

This man makes a drink called “tuba”.  It’s a fermented coconut wine.  To start with, he climbs to the top of a tall coconut tree and with his machete in hand he slices off a piece of the center growth (the pure sap of the tree) and transfers the liquid into a container.   This liquid gold is  the ingredient he needs to make his drink.  He sets the stage for fermentation. He uses sugar,  yeast and I’m sure other secrets.  It is a short fermentation and is meant to be used quickly, compared to other wines.

He sells his drink from the “bule”.  This one is colored red, most are yellow or tan.


I loved painting him because of his jolly personality.  I don’t know if I captured his sweetness and joy but here he is if you would like to purchase a print.




Friendly Dogs of Mexico

big dog
This big guy is on my “to do” list and I can’t wait to paint him.

Dogs can melt your heart.  There are a lot of dogs here–of all breeds and sizes.  Most of the time it’s easy to spot the dogs that are well cared for and have homes.  They are groomed, look healthy and well fed.  Most of these are usually found around their caretakers’ homes or businesses, as in the big dog in the photo above.  If my memory serves me, he belongs to a carpenter and hangs out in the front doorway of the shop every day.

I’ve never run into a dog that has been super hungry or dangerous.  They all sort of hang out in theirO given area with their designated people.  Some make their scheduled rounds to plazas and restaurants and visit the Malecon every day, just in case somebody did not finish their helado or ice cream.

When a dog is hanging around without a home you can tell because they look like they are seekers.   Often kind people temporarily adopt them and make sure they eventually get a permanent home.   Lots of x-pats make it their mission to do this.  They pay for their shots and neutering and move on.  I am impressed.  This kind of work is usually done by  retired couples who may have the property or the means  and the big hearts to do it.  Sometimes single old women  (watch out,  I’m in that bracket) share their time, dollars and compassion. They have clubs and groups and cafes that they go to just to keep the word going.  It’s a system that works.  They connect with public agencies that help.  Sometimes they find adoptees who take the dogs back to the states and keep them there. Their communication networking is astounding.

A local doggie phenomenon here seems to be two-fold:  Midnight wailing of dogs downtown and roof dogs joining in the chorus.  Roof dogs live on the roofs of the brick buildings behind the Ajijic walls.  Just look up and you will see them peering down at you.  This keeps them off the streets and in a friendly family culture.  They guard, sing, and watch from up above.  I’ve never seen anything like it and I’ve grown to really love the “dog” culture here.  So far I’ve never seen a bad event.. That doesn’t mean it does not exist, I have just never witnessed one.

Somewhere in my “to do” list, I have a chihuahua roof dog looking down and me and growling fearlessly.  I need to find that photo as he is painting #2 to do.  So many dogs, so little time.


Painting is saving my life, as it always has.

Now that I am pretty settled in my little house and I am getting around pretty well by my daily walks, buses and lucky to have a great cabbie,  I thought I was in good shape.  Oops, I had a bad fall on the Caratera a few weeks ago (the main drag) and damaged my knee.  I now have a few weeks of pain under my belt: a leg brace, a walker and general all around disability that I am ready to leave behind.  I want this to go away but it’s not happening yet.

In the meantime I am still working on my Spanish, I go to class when I am up to it and I try to fumble through as much speaking as I can.  It’s getting better.  Painting makes everything fell better.  It’s my comfort zone.  If I am not feeling any pain I can paint– if I have enough energy.  If I can speak a few words to my friends and neighbors en espanol,  it makes me feel like I’m getting something done.  I have amazing friends and family.  That makes all the difference in the world.

pink flowers-web

I am posting to POD sites online pretty regularly.  I’ve got three major sites I’m working with and my almost daily Facebook postings keep me in touch with my friends here in Mexico and also in the states.  I am corresponding with the art community here and online.  This is fun because I love people and they are holding me up almost on a daily basis.

The fall has been very hard on my psyche and the recovery is very slow.  Cracked bones don’t heal quickly and it’s tough being temporarily disabled.  Mostly it’s the trauma of the event.  I try to not think about it because it’s so scary.   I am grateful for my internal time table that pushes me to produce so much art.  It’s not every day in  life  you can be motivated to paint and draw.  I want to do 2 or 3 more working people, women preparing food, paint some white Mexican lilies seen so often in Diego Rivera’s murals and some local children, because they are so beautiful.  When these are done, hopefully I can put a portfolio book together that will be interesting and tell my little story.  It will also have illustrations of designs and flowers that I have been doing between my concept watercolors.

So until the next watercolors happen, Hasta Luega.


4 Musicians in Mexico

This watercolor is now complete.  It is framed and ready to go here in Mexico.  It may go to an upcoming show.  I’m not sure right now but I am happy with it as I feel it captures these cool personalities.

Prints and clothing and home decor options are available for this artwork, too.