flora and fauna

Finding White Lilies

white-lilies-cameoWalking in downtown Ajijic, along a small crowded street, a shock of white caught my eye.  It was coming from a dark doorway.  I couldn’t make out what it was exactly so I stepped closer to get a better look.  There were art objects in the doorway as well; a big earthenware bare brown jug with a minimum of decoration, as well as tables with sculptures and displayed paintings.

Then I saw the white of the lilies.  I snapped some shots and felt privileged.  I just loved them. They were dropping red pollen from their stamens onto the lower gigantic petals.  They were on their last leg as cut flowers.  I knew them as stargazer lilies.  I had grown them in Washington.  Mine were many colors of pinks, but I had never seen white ones like these.  I looked up and saw a woman staring at me and smiling.  Apparently I thought I was walking into an art gallery when in reality, I walked right into someone’s studio.  I was embarrassed and apologized and stepped back quickly.  She did not seem to mind.

I felt both silly and lucky at the same time.

Even though I have been in Mexico almost a year, I have not seen one calla lily yet.  I have seen only a few backyard versions while walking in my neighborhood.  They were shades of red and I noticed that they seemed happy in shady gardens.

Diego Rivera painted many works using the calla lily.  Even though we see these images over and over just about everywhere, I don’t get tired of them.  He also painted them so well that he transformed from the well known flower into abstract shapes molded around his figures as perfect adornments. He found a perfect prop for his figures and faces.

Read about this iconic Mexican artist here:

diego-rivera-calas

So lilies of all kinds have been on my painting list for a while.  Here is what I painted today from my photo.  The red grains are pollen.   Click the picture to purchase a print.

white-lilies-full.web

If you would like to grow some of your own calla lilies, this is a good site for information.

To learn more about stargazer lillies…

Here’s a lovely little video of a bee collecting pollen.  It’s relaxing and I’ve watched it a few times. Nature is amazing.

ice cream, people, Places

Selling ice cream (helado) by the Lake

P1080813 copy-web

This wonderful happy man can be seen in the villlage of Chapala Mexico in the state of Jalisco.  On weekends you can pretty much always find him pushing his tomato red cart.  He sells ice cream, called helado in Spanish.   He has lots of flavors to make you happy.  The atmosphere is pleasant and the malecon (tiled walkway along the water’s edge) and the plaza are just lovely.  The lake is beautiful and cools the air. Right now there has been so much rain that the lake is the highest its been in 50 years.

You can stroll and eat and take in all the sights and sounds.  Very often you can find people dancing in the plaza to the music of local musicians.  Some of the bands will be a collection of guitars, drums, and various brasses including tubas.  Chapala is a great town.  Some may call it a city.  If it sounds like I am selling the place, I’m not really.  I just enjoy it.

In Mexico they churn the ice cream by hand, in huge metal canisters called garrafas. The canisters are filled with the ice cream base and placed inside of wooden barrels full of ice and salt, and then it’s someone’s job to stir the ice cream with a large wooden paddle as it slowly freezes.

This technique gives the ice cream a unique texture. “Mexican ice cream is closer to gelato, as it has less fat and air than American style,”

When I saw this guy, I was immediately attracted to the cart and his infectious smile.  I just had to paint him.  happy   happy   happy.

P1080813 copy-web

If you are interested, click the picture to purchase a print or a textile of this watercolor.

Read more about making Ice Cream in Mexico here:
http://www.tastecooking.com/mexicanicecream

interior design, Sweden Design

Mexico and Sweden– Design

There are 3 concepts here that connect two countries:

  •  How to fill a space
  •  How to wisely leave space unfilled
  •  Form follows function

these modern designs are from REFORMA in Sweden

blue chair-reforma
 

the chair

 

 

reforma bench
the bench
green sofa-reforma
the loveseat

 

family sculpture
the intimate space
carpet
the carpet

 

baby cushion
the baby cushion
ceiling-lite reforma
the light

 

 

 

 

 

these traditional designs are from Modern Mexico

mexican carpet
the carpet
equipal-mex
the equipal leather chair
mex-wall-art
Intimate space as a wall

 

mex-ropa
la ropa, or colorful clothing

In the world of art, design and

interior design, the winds blow across continents and rain illusive mists–like magic to make their connection.

They inspire people to create and fulfill age old traditions of culture, color, and function in designs that adapt generation after generation.

Visit www.reformasthlm.se To see their whole line.

Ajijic, people

Ajijic’s People: Dave the sculptor and part-time Orange Juice Guy

orange-juice-web

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. 

buy prints here


 

flora and fauna, step by step, how to

Philodendron, step by step

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,

underpaintings-blog

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.

phillyphor-colorThis 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.
phillyb&w
Same photo in black and white. Sometimes it’s easier to see the big values in black and white.  I decided right then and there that this painting was more of a design than a representational drawing.   That gives me lots of abstract freedom.

phily-stepbystep2

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.

philystepbystep-3.jpg 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.philystepbystep-1

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.

philly-web

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.