Wednesday, December 31, 2008

A Story Left Untold (Part 8)

I woke up the next day having picked up a bug of some sort. Perhaps my system didn't like the well water. I lay low for most of the day.

Michael had us all put our work out along the corridor and we had a formal comment and critique session. We were to:

Name something that worked well in a painting.
Find one are that you will tweak to finish.
Comment on someone's painting that captures your eye.

It is amazing what you didn't see by those that you worked side by side with. We were all so focused, it made it fun to see each group of works.

I had to say my goodbyes, because my flight was the earliest of the bunch and we decided the best consideration would be for Mary and I to drive back and spend the night in San Luis. She then had to drive back to the ranch after sending me off to pick up the rest of the crew.

I spent the last evening with Mary and Beto. They took me out for another local meal. It was a warm and friendly last night. I am so blessed to have met Mary, three years ago on Wet Canvas. I plan on keeping my promise to Beto. I will return with my family. I know they will pleased with the suggestion.

I know I have rushed the last few days at the ranch. I have a strange feeling that all my memories will fade with the turning of the calendar at midnight.

Onward to new memories and new experiences. I welcome 2009.

A Story Left Untold (Part 7)

I believe we all were exhausted from our field trips, so it was agreed that we would stay around the ranch for our last day of painting. The clouds behaved themselves, and we had some great sun.

Michael decided to begin the day with a demo.

I had a fantastic day finding all the colors in the rainbow, while setting up shop in the courtyard.

Kitchen View 9"x12" oil on linen panel

Magenta Shadows 9"x12" oil on linen panel

Then while Michael and Mary worked wonders on the barbecue, I pulled out the pastels one more time, and captured the afternoon light on the side of the family room wall.

Dinner's Ready 18"x25" pastel on Canson paper

A long day... and I called it a night early. Needing to travel back to San Luis the next day, so I began my packing. It gave me some time to process the prior week.

A Story Left Untold (Part 6)

I am feeling the need to tell this story in its entirety before the end of the year.

Each day I woke refreshed, having sunk into the cozy bed Mary had provided. I was allowed to share her bathroom, so showers were surrounded by a gorgeous navy blue tile. Then the knowledge that a great cup of coffee would be waiting made me move a bit quicker. I always was greeted by Maria's warm smile and fabulous smells from the menu of the morning. Mary was always one step ahead of her, making sure nothing was out of place. I can understand now why Mary did not achieve as many paintings as we all hoped she would.

We hurried and packed our gear into the Suburban, and headed out once again. This time to San Miguel de Allende. I was really looking forward to this excursion. Mary and I had talked about it often. I had never heard about this city before I met Mary. One night I did a Google search and looked at all the B&B's, since they usually have great local photographs. So I was particularly looking forward to the visit.

Once again we stopped along side the rode to paint, and the clouds were absolutely stunning. Michael offered a challenge to all of us. For some reason he and I were not communicating well that day, and to let go of the tension he suggested that I make a throw away painting. I have to admit, I don't approach my work as something to keep or not. It is the process where I find my greatest rewards. I usually don't even know if it is a keeper for days after creating it. This particular view, I was captured by the layers, and how each land mass hid the one behind. That is why I titled it Hidden. There was also a lake in the distance, hidden behind some brush.

Hidden 9"x12" oil on linen panel

I remember also something that had created tension with me that day. My easel had collapse and all my paint and turp had landed in a heap. Not a great way to begin painting when you have limited time, and the expectations of someone that seemed at odds with yours. So I just turned my mind off, to all that was around me, no critical thoughts could enter my head, even if they were my own. I looked toward the one place that had elevated my spirits, and found the most glorious cloud mass. It must have known I was there, because it did not move. Or if it did, time stood still for me while I painted it. The shadows were lilac, pink, violet, plum, eggplant... I had such fun with this piece, and I think it shows. I titled it Cloud Nine, because that is how I felt when I was done.

Cloud Nine 9"x12" oil on linen panel

Our travel to San Miguel was quick and easy. I can say that, because I was not driving. Once again, no time for site seeing. In for lunch and back out once again. This is one place I would have liked to have explored for an hour. Gives me all the more reason to go back for another visit. I did promise Beto to bring my family the next time.
We had a wonderful Mexican lunch, music made conversation difficult, but the margarita made up for it. It must have been a favorite, since each table was filled along with the bar. I believe Mary had made reservations for us, since a table was waiting in the corner.

After lunch we headed back toward the ranch. Michael keeping an eye out for one more spot to paint

By the Side of the Road 9"x12" oil on linen panel

I know this worried Mary quite a bit. She was certainly not use to this type of painting and was concerned about our safety. For those of us that have painted in some questionable places, this was paradise. Michael spotted some great fields framed by a row of trees. I enjoyed this view quite a lot. We spent about one hour painting by the side of the rode, then we were instructed that we needed to be on our way home. When traveling, it is important to listen to those that are familiar with the safety factors.

The day ended around the kitchen counter, then one by one we closed our doors.

A Story Left Untold (Part 5)

I left off as a rain cloud spoiled our fun, while painting near
Mineral de Pozos.

We closed up shop as fast as we could and headed for the car. Gave a nice tip to the woman watching our belongings, and headed for lunch. Mary had a specific place in mind, so we let her lead the way. The town is quite rustic. Dirt roads, and store fronts that appeared to be no more than a wooden garage door propped open. With Michael along, there were no plans made for peaking inside any of the shops. Eating and art making were on the schedule, which truly was fine by me.

We arrived at a open door, walked down some stairs into a paradise of color. The center courtyard was open to the beautiful sky, and the rooms surrounding it held more private eating areas. We were seated in a room with only two tables, but we had views toward the garden and courtyard. The owner couldn't have been more pleasant, as he shared stories of how he and his wife had acquired the structure, and spent 3 yrs creating the Bed and Breakfast, and restaurant.

The food was spectacular and after a private tour of the rooms, we all were ready for a return trip with a loved one.

On our return trip back to the ranch, we searched for another spot to pull over. However, our hostess encouraged us to return to the ranch, as it was late afternoon, and the weather was unpredictable. So we each did another painting, of the local landscape, and called it a day.

Yet the day was not over. After we cleaned up, and changed out of dusty clothes, we enjoyed crackers and local cheeses from Mary's daughter-in-law's family dairy, our beverage of choice. Along with other great food that slips my mind at this moment. All I know is we never went hungry. In a group like this there are challenges to keeping everyone's needs met, and Mary did a fabulous job doing so.

We told more stories into the late evening. My dreams were of the wonderful clouds I had painted that day.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

A Story Left Untold (Part 4)

Thank you for being patient. The holidays are taking up my spare time when I am not creating.

Upon rising we would gather in the "great room" and drink our coffee. Taking in the wonderful smells that Maria was creating. Mary was never far away, directing each meal. We were all so lucky to sit at her table. Fresh papaya, quesadillas, eggs, salsa, warm breads, and much more that I am not remembering at the moment.

We then took our time to pack up our painting equipment. Something that I had done the night before, as I am notorious for forgetting something important. We began our trip out for the day, and headed for an area Mary had suggested to Michael call Mineral de Pozos. We pulled over a few times, and finally found ourselves along the side of a road where there were ruins of old structures. We were taking in the views, when we heard a voice from nearby. Mary was having a conversation with a woman who obviously had set herself up as the caretaker of the area. She had some homemade items to sell, and she was selling her services to "protect" our belongings. She pointed out for us to be careful not go near the shafts to the mines. I looked over the edge of one, and OH took my breath away. I could not see the bottom of it.

Michael set up shop and found a lovely view to offer us a demonstration. The sky was changing often, as the clouds moved rather quickly.

More from this day in another post. Please check back...

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Thursday, December 18, 2008

This Whisper

None of us will ever accomplish anything excellent or commanding except when he listens to this whisper which is heard by him alone.

-Ralph Waldo Emerson

I will be back soon, with the rest of the story.
Roasting chestnuts by the fire at the moment.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

A Story Left Untold (Part 3)

I was just trying to remember what day it was but I guess it really doesn't matter, since I didn't think much about what day it was when I was there. I think Mexico does that to you. You get up and work hard, and then at the end of the day, you sit back with a cool drink in hand, and let the warmth of the sun edge its way down to your toes.

At this point, Michael had arrived. Elizabeth, Kirsten, and Sandra came along with him.
We began the morning with a strong cup of coffee, and a hardy breakfast. Believe me there was never a shortage of food. We were far from any convenience store, so Mary had provided us with everything we could imagine... and then some.

Michael took some time and did an extended painting while he discussed his process along the way.

Bull Ring by Newberry

The sky was threatening to rain, but when the clouds cleared, it was extremely sunny and warm. So when I was deciding on a view to paint, I headed into the bull ring. How often do you get to paint in a working bull ring? Well.. I never had before.

Now I know why... when the sun was out and it was warm... the flies were in abundance.
I worked as long as I could manage the heat and the nuisance, but then I called it quits.

Beto's Bull Ring 9"x12" oil on linen panel

After a short break, I took my supplies toward the side of the property. I guess this is actually behind the wall of the bull ring I had painted. Here is the view that I saw. The earth was such a gorgeous color there.

Crossroads 9"x12" oil on panel

We ended up the day with a fabulous meal, a bit of tequila, and great stories all around.

Please come back again for more.

Friday, December 05, 2008

A Story Left Untold (Part 2)

Robyn asked me not to leave anything out... but unfortunately,f I already have. The sites, the smells, the textures absorbed. Seeing where Mary, does her wonderful artwork, while Beto sits nearby, supporting her endeavors. Being taken to the bread store, and watching as Mary took a flat tray and tongs, to pick up individual rolls out of the bins.

I failed to mention that we drove on the highway south, from Mary's house. This hwy was again, very well maintained. The views were gorgeous. With high mountains in the distance, with incredible cloud formations. We were curious if we were seeing part of the weather system that was creating the hurricane in Texas, keeping our artists from flying south. It made for a fantastic landscape. After about an hours drive, Mary turned off on a dirt road. We passed by homes that were most definitely of people that were on the lower end of the economic spectrum. I was impressed how creative they were with their individual spaces. Cactus was used often as fencing material. Their lots were dirt, but it appeared to be swept smooth and clean. We passed by a soccer field where Mary told us how the locals played tournaments weekly. We came to the de los Fuentes ranch gate. Mary drove a bit more before we came to the house. You can't miss this structure. You see it from a distance, and know right away that it is everything you expected and more. I knew what to look for, because Mary had shared photos while it was being built. It is Orange. You can call it melon, tangerine, peach, or papaya.... but it is orange. In the sunlight, at different times of the day it will radiate all the different colors of orange imaginable, even into the magenta range.

Upon arrival, we were greeted by smiles from Maria, Mayo and Monolo. They are the trusted workers that help the ranch function while Beto and Mary are away.
It was also a joy to see the interior space I have read about. Photos prepared me, but to see it finally furnished, and accessorized, was very exciting. I love creative spaces. The colors are continued inside. Blue accent walls, and many windows that bring the orange and green inside.

The dining table that seats 12, is in the center of the space, with the open kitchen on one end and the living room on the other. Opposite the front door (across the dining table) is a pair of french doors that lead out to the courtyard. This view took my breath away every time I saw it in the daylight. The green grass, against the orange walls, made me take a deep breath each time I saw it. This was not a dead grass green either. One that you might expect in the desert. No, it is babysat, by the loyal workers...watered by hand. It is a luscious, rich and full of life. So green you want to touch it, more than once, to make sure it isn't painted on. It felt really good on bare feet

Across the Table pastel on Canson paper
(this was done while waiting for the other artists to arrive)

Dinner's Ready pastel on Canson paper
(this was done on the last day of our workshop)

My next post will share some memories of our first day painting.
Come on back...

Thursday, December 04, 2008

A Story Left Untold

Some say, "Better late than never". I say, "All in good time".

When I arrived home from Mexico this past August, I was greeted with the news that my beloved cat had been run over. This truly broke my heart. In addition my house had been put on the market before I left, and reality was setting in. My daughter is still dealing with medical issues, and ... well, I think you get the picture. This blog, has never been used for personal "stuff", however at times it certainly creeps into my art world. I do believe it makes me a better artist for having to experience these "bumps".

Now... there is the need to tell my story of a wonderful trip to Mexico, and seeing Mary's part of the world. What a treat it was!

I arrived in the evening after traveling all day. Beto and Mary picked me up at the airport and took me to have an authentic Mexican cheese enchilada. It was a lovely spot. One that I am told is a favorite of Beto's. I had met Mary before in New York, and it was such fun to be able to see her again. Beto was a bit shy with his English, so Mary was a quick translator. I can only imagine how exhausting that must be.

We arrived at their home. It is quite clean and simple from the outside. Yet when walking through the beautiful wooden door... so very hard to describe. I am not sure why I did not consider taking photos of it. The entry is opened up to two stories, with nine brick domes centered above. Skylights pierce each dome, which lets in gorgeous light. It is an open floor plan, with treasures spread around on each wall. Not cluttered in any way, but warm and full of history. Many stories that were later shared during the visit.

The next morning we went and picked up Elizabeth. She was attending the workshop from San Diego. Mary took us to a lovely breakfast at the Marriott, in San Luis. We did some visiting and then made some plans for the day. It was about this time that we learned that the others attending the workshop were held up in Houston due to a hurricane. They were expected to arrive a day late, so we decided to make the best of our time together. Elizabeth was on a mission to get another pair of $10 jeans. She could not remember where it was she bought them but could visualize the surroundings enough to know where it was not. We did not have street names or store names. Mary kept putting the pieces of the puzzle together and after a thorough search of the various marketplaces in San Luis, we found the storefront. Elizabeth was overjoyed.
This excursion gave me time to pop my head into architectural jewels, and to hear stories of the area, told to us by Mary.

One thing I made note of to Mary and Beto was how clean the city of San Luis is. I saw women mopping the concrete outside of shops and homes. So very far from the image that I have of our Hispanic communities here in SoCA. San Luis shone with pride, even in what would be considered their less than prosperous parts of town. It is a vibrant community, and one certainly worth visiting if you want a true Mexican holiday.

On with the adventure...
We decided to drive to Beto's and Mary's ranch which is where the workshop was to be held. We were able to stock the refrigerator even though Mary and Beto had made numerous trips during the prior weeks preparing for the eight of us. We were exhausted at this point and Mary showed us our rooms and we called it a night. The next day Mary and I headed back to San Luis, did some food shopping, and then met Beto and their son, Beto Jr., at the airport. It isn't very safe to drive at night outside of the city, so they were coming with a second car to help transport the three artists that were arriving.

I don't want to make this post too long... you will have to return, to hear about our first day of painting.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

A Survivor was accepted into the Holiday show at:
Viva Gallery
13261 Moorpark Street
Sherman Oaks, CA 91423

December 10 - December 27, 2008
Artist's Reception
Sunday, December 14
2-4 p.m.