Posts tagged Mexico
Dia de los Muertos

Dia de los Muertos, 12x16 oil on panel

I recently showed up to a holiday lunch wearing an orange and black striped blouse and one of my witty sisters-in-law commented that I seemed to be not one but TWO holidays behind. I think this may be why! I've been working on paintings from some of the photographs I took in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico when we were there for their Dia de los Muertos celebrations (which falls at the same time as our Halloween).

Time spent observing their rituals was enormously moving. All over the city, in stores, restaurants, on the steps to homes, and most notably in the town squares there are altars created for those who have  passed away. They are thick with marigolds (the flower of remembrance) and a velvety bright magenta flower I had never seen before. The favorite food and drink of the departed are presented on lovely platters, bowls and glasses, there are photos of the person, and often items that they particularly loved or that represent what they enjoyed doing. The altars are decorated with candles, incense and often skulls or skeletons.

The painting above is of one small detail of a large altar in the public square. The festive crown of flowers pays tribute to the beauty and vibrance of the departed and the field of marigolds is an assurance of respect and remembrance. Crowds gather for 3 evenings to circle the square,  look at the altars and remember those lost, and to admire one another's costumes. Skeletons are everywhere, reminding us that it is simply a thin veil of flesh that seperate us from our ancestors and from those we have recently lost.

The first day I lay out the composition in light and dark values of Burnt Sienna

Once the value study has dried I return to the panel and paint over it placing the first layer of color and trying to adhere to the values I have made note of in the monochromatic underpainting.  Squint your eyes and look at this image and the value study above it and you'll see that I toyed with a different background idea.

In this session I decided to return to the darker background and added  a bit of the stone sidewalk rather than more marigolds. I continued to add definition to the flowers, trying to capture their countless layers of petals without getting too detailed. I tried to define how the sun came across the skull and it's flowers, and how the short wall behind it cast a shadow behind it. More than anything else, I tried to capture the beautiful vision of a culture that honors it's dead and continues to include them in their community and family life.

The finished painting is at the top of the post.

Mexican Hibiscus

We have just returned from 2 weeks in Bali, a trip that filled my head with enough images and thoughts to occupy me in the studio for months. Despite the vastly different culture and climate, I was surprised to find a great similarity in the plant life there to that we enjoy in tropical Mexico.

This 8x10 on panel was done about a year ago after a trip to Mexico. The richness of color in the late afternoon sun, and the way these flowers reached above the bush to contrast with the colors of the building behind were too good - I had to paint them!
Platanitos Musician

This small 8x10 on canvas catches the spirit of my favorite musician at the Ruiz Brothers palapa on the beach at Platanitos, Nayarit. A cowboy to the core, he has a distant look and a serious approach as he serenades the table.

This is the first post on my new blog and I'm pleased you're here with me! I produce a new painting every week or two, and I now plan to share them here. For years I have photographed my work at the end of a day in the studio and sent the image to my kids - basically to prove that I've been working, and hopefully doing something they find worthwhile. Over time my mailing list expanded to the wider family and a list of supportive friends. I have finally put together this blog in order to formalize the process. Thank you for joining me, I hope you enjoy!