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

people

Guitar Player

guitarist-th

I painted this in July and forgot to include it in the blog  Better late than never.

Meeting friends in downtown Chapala and  walking the malacon after dinner, I spotted this young man in a crowd, meandering his way through the restaurant umbrellas.  I did not see his face but he had a quick step of happiness in his stride.

Of course, I had to paint him. I loved the way he casually slung the guitar over his back and he was definitely walking with a purpose.  I wondered, “was this before or after a gig?”

It’s a treat to see he wore a pink shirt and straw hat.  Of course!  Thank you kind sir for your happy stride.

prints available here

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.

 

 

Ajijic, people

4 Musicians in Mexico, painting completed

Link to purchase my painting

3musicians--th

These musicians can be heard in various venues around Ajijic.  Their music is very pleasant and rich.  I love the combination of instruments. They come in and do their thing while people enjoy, converse and eat.  I noticed that generally people don’t seem to listen much…maybe that’s my personal opinion.  But I loved the mix of instruments and above all, the way they communicate with each other; and that comes back to us, filling the room with music.

Listening to them reminded me of many nights going to little jazz clubs years ago in Los Angeles.  It was so easy to drift into the  music and lose your daily woes.  It gave me the opportunity to get lost in the moment where music can allow you to raise your presence from your body to a higher level.

I am happy to say those memories are renewed here in Mexico.

Ajijic, flora and fauna

Jimmy and her orchids

jimmy-wc

So the original is SOLD and now in a new home in Jojotepec.

Menyand-Jimmyweb

print available for purchase       Jimmy loves her orchids, her garden, her life. Orchids to her are more of a life-style than a hobby.  So when she invited me to her home to see them, of course I was eager.  It was a treat.  I wish I could remember all the names and things she told me about them, but I can’t.

There are three gardens.   First there is the front garden which you see when you enter through the black metal gates.  Then there is the orchid garden which is an enclosed patio from the house and lastly, there is the fruit orchard and flower bed garden at the back.

 

When you are walking through San Antonio, (an area in Ajijic) you see many sets of metal gates.  You really can’t guess what lies behind them.  There are homes and gardens of unimaginable intrigue and beauty.  I love Mexico for all its surprises

Jimmy is a walking encyclopedia about orchids.  It’s a full time job to keep everything watered and pruned and looking happy and pristine.  I don’t know how she racks up the energy, walking with her cane, to do all of her daily chores to maintain this lifestyle.

 

P1080655
Here is the beautiful orchid herself “Jimmy”.  She told me there were no boys in the family and she was the last one, so they named her Jimmy after her father.

When you enter the house, you see a table, a mirror and a collection of hats that she makes.  It’s a welcoming site.

P1080627

She makes hats and knits for babies for charity and does much more.

My favoritething she told me was when she went to elementary school in a one-room school house.  She always asked a lot of questions, to the annoyance of adults around her. One day a new teacher told her she could ask as many questions as she liked.  She jumped for joy and went home saying, “My teacher said I could ask any questions I wanted.”  She said it was the happiest day of her life.  She still is an independent spirit.

jimmy-wc
My quick watercolor of Jimmy.