I’m so happy to unveil the location for our summer art courses:
You may know the Studio Space from it’s inspiring art openings and theatrical performances, but we’ll be harnessing all that creative energy to hone our drawing and painting skills.
If you struggle drawing stick figures, this class is for you. The 10 Steps have been specially formulated to fast-forward your drawing ability, using the latest in neuroscience and stern looks from the teacher. 😉 Learn the drawing tricks the pros use to make it look easy. Take the full 10 weeks and you will never look at the world in the same way again-you’ll be seeing through an artist’s eyes. You can also choose to take 4 weeks or shorter sessions by arrangement with the instructor. Some materials included.
10am-12noon Mon, Wed, Fri.
Learn the traditional techniques of the Italian Renaissance painters, and experiment with new styles and media. Both beginners and intermediate level painters will benefit from this workshop style class. Develop your skills in a supportive group setting where we’ll be improving our own abilities by learning to critique and discuss painting and composition through class discussions. Learn which brush is best for a variety of techniques, recipes to mix just the right color, critiquing your work, and much more. Confident drawing ability is required. Some materials included.
10am-2pm Tues & Thurs
Sign up by clicking here or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Well that went fast–my drawing and painting workshops in San Miguel are full to the brim!
Since so many of you adventurous artists out there are still clamoring to draw, I will be offering an overflow class, Sketching San Miguel.
This class will be held Thursday afternoons, from 1-2:30pm, at various locations around Centro. We will sketch in some of the great coffeeshops, rooftops, parks, and hidden nooks and gardens around San Miguel. The theme of travel sketching will help us learn to capture a moment in time in our sketchbooks, both improving drawing skills and creating a series of drawings that have the power to bring us right back into the moment of the sketch.
I am thrilled to be a featured artist in San Miguel de Allende’s Lokkal online magazine, terraanima.org
Click here to read the story from the Lokkal website and to check out the other fabulous artists who share the stories about their work, or enjoy the story behind the painting “Antonia in the Jardin” below.
Much thanks to Lokkal Magazine for the invitation. This piece is the completed version of one of my 10 paintings in 10 days challenge, and was featured in the Ladies of the Night art opening in September 2015 in San Miguel de Allende.
Though it is still in progress, I present to you my final painting of this challenge.
Thank you, yes you, for following along with me. Your views and comments and likes and shares lit a fire under my butt to keep on painting. I learned about myself and the practice of painting, painted some of the best paintings I’ve done, and I couldn’t have done it without you.
This painting is another from the Storyville prostitutes, whose lives across the border mirrored the lives of their Mexican counterparts. The women would all dance in the hall, turn a trick, and more often than not sit and play cards when business was slow.
Although this is a New Orleans sourced photo, I’ll be using the designs from traditional Mexican handicrafts for the pillows, and work in photo references from our Casa de la Noche show for the girls.
Now it’s time to finish off these paintings and get them ready for the show!
September 12th, 5-8 at the Bordello Galeria in Casa de la Noche, #19 Organos, San Miguel de Allende.
I have figured out what was flummoxing me in my initial paintings of these ladies of the night–texture. The gorgeous and CHEAP handmade canvas, with it’s almost 3 inch deep frame and pre-toned primer applies, has a very different texture than the usual plastic-wrapped sort I’d get at El Pato or art supply stores in the states.
The toothy, richly toned canvas is ideal for a dry brush technique, where just a tad bit of paint is scrumbled, painting in a circular motion. I originally discovered this on day 5 of the challenge, but I added too much paint and lost the lovely, delicate quality of soft-toned skin that I had fallen for just a few brush strokes ago…
That’s why Day 6 of the 10 paintings in 10 days challenge produced one of my favorite works of late-I applied what I learned in day 5.
I used the same approach for today’s painting.
The internet here in San Miguel seems to be taking a siesta…or more likely tipsy on tequila, since it’s past midnight as I clock in day 9, so I can only load this one photo of the process.
This dama had a challenging, and yet resigned look in her photo. I was inspired to put the stamp of the San Miguel health inspection stamp on her card behind her head like an off-kilter halo. She immediately became Maria for me, a fallen angel, a very different manifestation of virgin mother…or perhaps more Mary Magdalene? Her breast is bared to offer sustenance, like each Mary did in her own way, and as all women offer themselves in one way or another to create life in this world.
I’m going to cut myself a break and add all the gold I want on this one. The Klimt influence gets to flirt with italian renaissance representations of the divine feminine. Loving that learning from my mistakes this past ten days, and learning how to use my materials, has led to the creation of this Maria.
10 Paintings in 10 days? What was I thinking?
I have to admit, I jumped into this challenge without really knowing what I was getting myself into. I had adopted a looser, faster style recently, and felt confident that I could at least make a really strong start on all the pieces for the show coming up in TWO WEEKS.
What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger…
One thing I love about this challenge is that it is keeping me painting in the studio, as non-stop as I can manage between teaching and celebrating life, like you do in Mexico (it’s a requirement here, like sitting in traffic in the states).
I think of painting like working out, you go to the gym and it hurts every time and you sweat every time…but each time you get back in there, you’re able to lift heavier and heavier weights.
But I gotta admit that painting is HARRRD.
I tell my students that, if they’re lucky, they will like 1 out of every 50 pieces of their work. Most often, we see what we want to fix, or what needs work, not the nice painting others see.
For day 8’s painting I revised a canvas I had all but cast aside
I went back to the studio, and knowing that I HAD to paint something tonight, I revised a painting that is very special to me that I had set aside months ago in frustration.
This painting is a gift to the wonderful host family I lived with my first 10 months in San Miguel, a portrait of their 3 fantastic kids.
Breaking my own rules of painting
Unfortunately, when I began the painting, I was out of practice drawing and broke all of the rules I use now. In fact, I learned my rules from my mistakes with this painting: now, I draw the subject at least 2 or three times before painting–the more I draw studies, the better the final painting.
I began this painting a year ago, no drawing studies, little practice. But I did them! Although I wasn’t satisfied with the original lay-in, the drawing in paint that sets the stage for the final piece, I continued on. So today, I had to work on reframing the faces and fixing some basic drawing issues I had in the beginning. Next, I need to add color so they don’t look like vampires and do the background.
I may still have a few more visits to the art-gym before I finish this painting, but I’m grateful this challenge has pushed me to keep working on it!
Painting number 7 is a big step away from what I had envisioned originally for this series. I have gotten away from the pure portraits of the ladies, which were taken from their health registration photo IDs, and I now want to show them in context of their life. The more I study this subject, the more fascinated I am by the daily life and social position of these women.
When I began painting them, I felt sorry for the shady ladies of San Miguel’s past. However, a book I’ve been listening to (audiobook style while I paint, a big time addiction for me) documents the lives of 1860s-1930s harlots from Colorado, and it has introduced me to a new concept of these women’s life. The book, Brothels, Bordellos, and Bad Girls, talks about how many of the ladies of the night were not victims, but wild child types who did not want to live the formulaic, oppressive life of pious mothers with a hoard of children to support. They wanted to get drunk and dance and sleep around, be independent and make their own money. In many ways, the average female U.S. college student has a lifestyle more similar to the bordello girl’s than to the proper social lady’s life a century back.
Anywho, here I used a reference photo from the infamous prostitute shots from Storyville, a 1912 New Orlean’s brothel where photographer E.J. Bellocq got intimate with the madame and was able to peek inside the lives of his muses when they were working, playing, and relaxing.
I’m having so much fun putting the ladies in context–although the scene is from 1912 New Orleans I will be using a face from the San Miguel girls, and with Mexico being a little bit behind the fashion the states I think it is still very fitting. More importantly, these girls shared the connection of their profession, their status, and in this photo in particular, one might imagined that there were times that they enjoyed their job.
Painting this gave me a much bigger appreciation for the composition. Although I loved the photo at first glance, only after I took the time to look deeply as an artist did I notice just how MANY patterns and designs liven up this image. The stockings are the focal point, of course. Love it!
I had no idea how much I would enjoy today’s painting process, even though there are a few lil things I still want to tinker with, as usual.
I knew I wanted all white for this portrait, with the features of the woman coming through almost as if from a fog, ghostly pale, all but for her dark hair and eyes.
Of all the women who once worked at the bordello on San Miguel de Allende, I thought this woman’s innocent visage seemed the most unsuspecting. Her white dress in her photo inspired me to turn up the blanca and use as little of the other colors as possible.
As I began, I feel in love with how the white paint interacted with the sienna toned background. Instead of adding coming to make a shade for the contours of her face, I could just apply LESS white and scrumble the brush into the canvas for the mid tones (scrumbling is when you use very little paint on a stiff bristle brush and rub it into the canvas in a circular motion).
The effect was very soft and lovely, just what I had sensed from the lady of the night’s sad sweet face.
After adding a raw umber (dark dark brown), I was less enchanted. Even the mouth on this lady is turned up like she’s less than pleased. However, after going in to add some light peachy tones and enhancing her eyes, I think she’s coming along rather prettily, as you see below.
I think I might have hints of a subtle rose playing in the layers of white, and I’m debating whether or not to give her deep crimson red lipstick, just on the top lip. Please do comment with your thoughts below, or like on Facebook!
See you tomorrow with another San Miguel de Allende damsel on the easel.
And now, drumroll please…. painting number 4!
Today’s painting really took on a life of its own. It began with a simple concept for the composition, a more of less exact rendering of the photo of a striking woman with fierce eyes but a girlish white bow in her hair, looking through her lashes at the camera.
All of the photos in this series come from the health department credentials the women kept up with once-weekly visits to the doctor’s office to ensure their cleanliness and availability to work. While most of the faces are drawn, this saucy face captured my attention.
I began with an ultramarine blue layout on a dark grey toned canvas.
Next I added in big areas of color. Although I was originally thinking of painting her in creamy white with navy blue and deep red accents, the Mexican flag colors snuck their way onto the canvas. The complementary colors and steamy effect the red had on her face reminded me of the jungle.
The jungle colors reminded me of a photo I took not so long ago in the jardin, the main plaza and heart of San Miguel de Allende, where the Parroquia church is perched like a fanciful sandcastle in the middle of the city. Under the shade of manicured trees, locals and tourists alike sit opposite the church and watch each other coming and going in the flamboyant colors of Mexico. This one particular day, the shows of the trees played like lace on the stones of the jardin square.
I thought that this would be a perfect complement to the portrait of a woman who undoubtedly strolled through the jardin all her life in San Miguel. A source from the documentary on the bordello said that most of the girls had pseudonyms at work, so that they wouldn’t be bothered or known by name when they were out and about in town.
I like how the red creates a sultriness to her personality. A sunset beauty in the shade of the jardin trees.
This canvas might get some lime green and pink added before the night of the opening, but I like the direction so far. Hope you do too!