Ajijic, Odd Little Stories, street scenes, unborn sculpture

Street findings continue for the new year. My history of wire at its finest.

wires smashed
most recent collection, that won’t fit in the original box anymore
metalscraps.box
the beginning collection in mid 2017

I have walked these beat up cobblestone streets for almost 2 years now.  As I have stated before, it is safest to look down when walking.  It’s pretty easy to get snagged on a loose or projected cobblestone and fall on your butt, or on your side, or head first.  If it happens and you are walking fast,  you could go flying.  If it happens slowly, you stand a chance.

My eyes wander as I walk and look down and that brings back memories of walking on the beach when I was a kid and searching for anything living that was beautiful that I could take home.  Where the heck does that come from?  I do remember the shock taking home starfish.  I soon found out they dried up, smelled pretty bad and rotted away.  How come I didn’t know they were dead when I collected them?  Of course I should have known there was a difference between dead ones on the sand and low surf and live ones clinging to rocks that I could not pry away without a crowbar.  It’s called an early education I guess.  That’s life when you are nine.

So here we go with angels flying around tempting me with stories and events that happened, never happened, or could possibly have happened.  When they are building something here in Mexico, such as houses or apartments, and since just about everything construction-wise is done by hand, the process is slow, very slow.   I’ve only seen one or two backhoes since I’ve been here, There are big dump trucks with sand running around all the time.  There are also big trucks with rocks:  big rocks.  I hold my breath every time I see them flying down the Libramiento, going way too fast.   I pray they will slow down and I pray they don’t lose their brakes.  It has happened and a few of these big babies have landed across the caraterra right into the walmart parking lot. 

I often wonder where all the rocks came from.  If you go up to the mountains you can really see the land formations and it’s all about big tan, yellow and sometimes red rocks.  They are sharp and not worn down.  It looks like a giant’s fun puzzle that once was something…but now just busted pieces of history we don’t know anything about.  I was told this whole area is rock. We are surrounded by  remains of the days when Mt. Garcia used to spew lava for a long time.  I can just see the earth stretching up and cracking and groaning while it spit out lava and swallowed living things who got caught in its way.

When the trucks tear up the narrow cobblestone streets, they also smash anything left unprotected in their path.  Ha ha God has ordained me to pick up these pieces of wire which at one time were a part of something  and are now smashed flat by being ground and flattened by all the construction traffic.  Every damned one is different so of course my hands are attracted to them like a magnet, and I just have to pick them up.  They have personalities, just like people.

The above photo shows the newest collection and the very beginnings. The last photo is the latest and believe it or not, these smashed wires have not lost their quality .  The new ones are just as good as the old ones.  When time allows, I will make them into mobiles, or film their shadows as they slowly turn from my ceiling.

Here’s some new ones.  Feast your little eyes and just imagine how they look like animals, other things, and of course,  people.

wires smashed

Ajijic, people, step by step, how to, street scenes

Marketplace seller, WIP

This woman is a weaver and she was sitting in a dark corner of the marketplace.  The sun shone through the archways of the Mexico town plaza.  The cobblestone streets are a maze of patterns and colors.  Piece by piece, she is coming together.  I will add some cast shadows and some detailed drawing elements to help define her more.

This is large, a full sheet watercolor.  When you get away from working big, it is scarey to  pick it up again.  This painting will help me re-discover my old self, when I painted big all the time.

The pallette is my full plastic stephen quiller pallette, now a good 15 or 20 years old.  When I grow up, I will get the porcelain studio pallette.

Ajijic, Odd Little Stories, Places, thoughts behind the work

Early Days of Wire Collecting in Mexico

  • metalscraps.hook
  • metalscraps.boxmetalscraps.3metalscraps.2metal scraps.1

When I first arrived in Mexico I did a hell of a lot of walking.  I walked every day, up and down steep hills, and over broken streets with potholes and cobblestones.

When  you do this kind of walking, it’s very important to look down.  If you don’t look down, and look at the surroundings all the time, surely you will stumble and fall.  I believe the majority of seniors here walk with canes.  I walk with a cane now too but only when I’m going to wild places and very old parts of town like Ajijic.  |My vertigo has gotten much better as I work at it all the time.  The sidewalks are extremely narrow as are many of the roads.  The cobblestones are worn and bumpy and some stones are popping up, which can catch you off guard if you foolishly wear sandals instead of good walking shoes.

The most dangerous part aside from crossing streets is my depth perception problem.  I have a hard time trying to judge the distance from the sidewalk to the street.  Sometimes it can be very steep and that is really hard if you don’t have a cane; especially with a week leg, or if both legs are not strong.

When I moved to San Antonio my life got immediately better.  Before my infamous tumble when I injured by knee, I used to collect wires I found in the streets.  There is always lots of construction going on around here.  People are building all the time.  When construction is in full swing, the combination of chain link fencing, cement trucks, flatbed trucks of bricks and wire towers seem to be everywhere you look.

The vehicles run over everything and smash anything soft into the cobblestones, changing the poor victims into unrecognizable shapes.  Wires are my favorite things.  Although I dearly love the disappearing metal soup and soda can lids.  I find them pretty nice when they are rusted into oblivion and are full of holes, leaving them wafer thin like some sort of ancient ceremonial disc.

When wires are run over many times, it really improve their shape when the cement trucks do their damage.  I got to the point where I was actually looking for them. I just could not help myself from this new compulsion.  That can be dangerous.  I’ve had lovely friends collect some for me too.  They have left them for me on my patio table.  How fun is that?  I have kept these smashed treasures  from my travels and someday I will create a few works of art from them.  Until that day, I want to catalog my precious collection here so I won’t forget my early days in this amazing place.

Ajijic

Man with Panama Hat

I noticed this gentleman in downtown Ajijic, Mexico.  I took his picture early last summer and he struck me as being very distinguished.  He looked serious.  His camera had a very long lens and a sun visor.  He looked at ease and he was definitely not your average person in the square.  I kept looking for a dog but he did not have one.

I did not forget him so six months later, I am painting him.  So what is it about him that makes him so intriguing?  I am guessing that he has a history and it is not Mexico.  I think he has traveled and I think he has seen a lot of the world.  Why do certain images stick in our brain.  I hope he is ok and doing well.

The thing about this watercolor is this…it was painted as a tonal value piece.  Three shades of light, medium and dark painted in paynes grey.  The paper was Fabriano Uno paper, the old version that had little or no sizing on it.  I soaked the paper well and adhered it to a board.  I started by using wet into wet and because the paper was stretched. it was pretty near impossible to get a hard edge.  So I went with it.  Later I learned that stretched paper cannot hold a hard edge, and you do not lose color the way you do with painting on sized paper.  I did not know that.  So everything will have a soft edge. Originally, the pencil drawing on the sheet had detail in his face, in his shoes and his camera bag.  All was lost. But I don’t consider this a bad thing because I learned from it.

When the painting was dry after a whole day, I gently laid layers of transparent colors on certain areas, such as the background foliage, the people and the tiled shiny wall.  Listo.  Reproductions are here:

panama-hat-web

Ajijic

Cleaning the Light

cleaning- the -light-thI saw this woman a few months ago cleaning a doctor’s office.  I was struck by the beautiful light coming from the open door.  Inside was dark and she was almost in silhouette.  I could not get her image out of my head.  So here she is in watercolor in a fairly large painting.

In Mexico,  you see women with the revered string mop just about every day.  They sweep and then mop.  It isn’t as easy as it sounds.  I’ve tried it a few times and I’ve given up.  I don’t try anymore.  Now Betty does it for me and I really appreciate her.

I just love the image as it is a celebration of our everyday lives.  We should always appreciate these little gifts of a simple life, as they make us more human and more humble.

Purchase prints or textiles here:

cleaning- the -light-web

Ajijic

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.

tuba-web

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.