Mariachis sing Feliz Navidad

Having fun designing holiday cards and merch. These mariachis are having fun too. In real life they are pretty wonderful and their dress is specific to their state. Their suits are elaborately embroidered with beautiful flowers and designs. Here is how I sketch them. You can find them here. Thanks for looking.

Holidays, Illustrations

Christmas wreath in reds

I wanted to design a wreath in reds. There is a category in quilt making and embroidery called “redwork” where only red of many shades are used. Here’s a twist on that idea. I came up with these words as we are in such a horrible time of negativity. I hope this might make somebody have a better day.

You can find this design on products here


Wheelbarrow breakfast

Americans associate a wheelbarrow with country living. It was a necessity for most people living in the country and often in suburbs for many years. The modern wheelbarrow now often has 2 wheels and a frame so it doesn’t tip over as easily as the old fashioned type. I have had lots of experience with wheelbarrows tipping over and that was not fun as they were either filled with horse manure, trash or heavy weed cutting. Here in Mexico, the wheelbarrow or carretilla is a very common and useful tool to but it is used it for curbside businesses. It is often used to cook food on and serves as a portable oven. You will see them on street corners where vendors roast fresh corn cobs, and meats. It hosts as a holder for a tomal, or the big iron or clay flat disc used to make fresh tortlllas.

Where I live we have a wonderful small carretilla which is open from early morning to somewhere around noon. They serve breakfast to many workers who pile in steadily until they close. It’s a small family business of course and their meals are very delicious. I am fond of their potatoes and sausage and of course their Mexican coffee. They make fresh corn tortillas, sausage with potatoes, eggs, chilaquiles and fresh jicama juice

Here we see the great grandmother heating up her tomal with wood cuttings and throwing cardboard on the flames. She has her own tamal cooker for her tortillas. She has prepared her masa and is almost ready to shape and cook the tortillas. I looked in her eyes which were wise and tolerant. She agreed it was ok to take her picture. She has some kind of injury on her right arm which was wrapped in a long jersey sleeve of some kind. She moved slowly and with some difficulty but she managed to give me an “almost smile”. Their business has suffered a lot in the pandemic because now there are not too many workers with jobs, so no need to have breakfast on the way to work…what work? Also money is short and of course, this little place may be too much money for some so they are staying home. I always love coming here. Lately we see more and more Americans and less and less locals. I wish them well and hope they will survive these hard times.


Olive Oyle goes to COOKING SCHOOL in Italy

Olive Oyle goes to Italy, 9″x12

This is a pen and ink wash drawing from a long time ago. Done with walnut ink and simple dip pen nib. I’m posting this to put a smile on somebody’s face if possible. Aren’t you just sick and tired of this sad world some days? Anyway, here she is in all her glory going to a famous cooking school in Tuscany. She believes she can turn a new leaf. What do you think?

abstract imagination, thoughts behind the work

Wild maxi-color abstract watercolor

I personally don’t like crowded and/or overworked compositions, so that is exactly what I achieved here. ha ha ha. no joke. I was going for a completely different look but things happen. I began with a gorgeous yellow and blue underpainting with tons of white paper. I drew some lines into it reinforcing some of the big shapes I saw. I experimented and applied a pretty good amount of masking fluid to the whole work, protecting the whites. Then came the first color wash. It looked very stark and cut out and pretty confusing. So I did something new and a little odd.

I softened the white areas with similar colored watercolor pencils. It took a very long time because this is not a small painting. I softened each area a piece at a time. Looking at the photo here, it’s pretty hard to tell exactly where these sections are because they are pretty much everywhere.
I loved the look but it still looked cut out so I glazed various sections with soft washes, trying to push back some areas to accentuate others. It didn’t work and the whole think kept popping up like jack-in-the-boxes everywhere. So here we are with no focal point and a big traffic jam. But there is something compelling about it. It’s a mystery of how color can take over.

I had to stop because there is only so much you can repaint a watercolor before it becomes dead and muddy and opaque. I will continue this technique on the next painting but perhaps only do one shape. I think I don’t even want to count how many are here. I keep seeing this piece as a six foot painting. Even then it would need a huge space to live in since it’s such a bully and attention grabber. I would love your feedback on this one.

Here’s a few versions on products: