Category Archives for Travel

James Richards “Sketching the Energy of Places” Workshop


We were so pleased to have renowned urban sketcher James Richards teach his workshop “Sketching the Energy of Places” at Studio Antonelli.

Check out his blog here and see his photos of the trip, and some great sketches! He also offers a wonderful online sketching course and teaches workshops all over the world. Highly recommended!


The School of Life: The Renaissance

If you don’t already know the School of Life, enjoy! This video inspires us to think of how a little vision can go a looong way…

Notes from this video:

The Renaissance was the artistic style that won my heart from an early age. I have to say it has inspired most out of the all the art that passes through my paintbrush…I was obsessed with the Renaissance and Medici family when I studied abroad, and if you can get your hands on a good Medici history book next time you visit Florence, your trip will be that much the richer.

The Medici vision was for beauty, truth, and wisdom. Can you ask for anything more? I swoon thinking of how it must have been for artists like Michelangelo living in the high Renaissance time in Florence. To me, this video really cracks open how much is possible when you hold to integrity to these values and put art on the forefront. I can get rrreal worked up on the modern school system, and how much we lose when we invest time in ONLY math and science, without valuing the liberal arts viewpoint. A definitive Renaissance Man is good at everything! A merger of arts and sciences leads to the most beautifully engineered cities in the world.

What would you like about living in the Renaissance? Would our cities look any different if we still worked this way? Comment below!

Ciao from Italia!

I’m SO thrilled to be coming to you today from gorgeous Florence, Italy.

It’s been a whirlwind in Studio Antonelli. I have been in in a new city every week since the opening of our group show September 12th, The Ladies of the Night. We’re hard at work on a new gallery page to showcase the work from that very successful show–thanks to all who attended or bought a piece!

But back to Florence. I’m struck at how small this city is; the ratio of historical gems of the Renaissance to square footage of city is mind-boggling. If you haven’t been to Florence, put it on your list! But first be sure to stay tuned for my upcoming (online!) art class: 10 Steps to Drawing Italy.

10 Steps to Drawing Italy takes my popular “10 Steps to Drawing Anything” class all the way to that beautiful, boot-shaped country that is known all over the world for high culture, to-die-for food, and the movement that changed art as the Western world knows it, the Renaissance.

Much more to come! But for now, join me as I stroll through Piazza Santa Croce, in front of the church where the likes of Michelangelo and Galileo were buried, reminiscing on what it’s like to revisit a place I once spent hours sketching as a lil’ study abroad student in college.

Meet the San Miguel Art Teacher Interview Series: Joseph Bennett

Why Interview Art Teachers in San Miguel?

The first thing I did on my very first visit to San Miguel de Allende was look for an art class to take. I was so inspired by the colors and vibrancy of the city, I wanted to jump in to the art scene here.

Much to my millennial-minded dismay, the Google search results in Mexico don’t match up to the extensive answers you get when you ask Siri a question on your iPhone.  The art classes I found either no longer existed, or were postponed for another month, or had no one on the other end of the phone number listed.

I wanted it to be easy to find the best art teachers in town.

When I moved to San Miguel just 1 year after I first visited, I began the hunt to find out where to take art classes, and also where to teach them.
I became an art teacher of drawing and portraiture painting, and began to collect the names and contact info of the other wonderful art teachers I met along the way.

Now it’s time to get to know the best art teachers in town. 

This list will continue to grow and change as we update our list and get to know more of the teaching talent in San Miguel, be it in painting, assemblage, ceramics, or making the giant traditional Mexican puppets that dance through the center of town.

If you are an art teacher in San Miguel or of you would like to recommend one, please contact us at

What’s the best way to find the right teacher? Videos! 

I am a big believer in the idea that different personalities and learning styles need different types of teachers. I decided to not just write out the interviews, but to record them, so that you can get a sense of the personality and teaching style of the SMA art teachers before you sign up for a class.

Time to meet our first art teacher: Joseph Bennett

Artist and teacher Joseph Bennett has enjoyed international acclaim for his found-object assemblage pieces. Joseph is a Renaissance man, with a passion for theatre, art, service, his interior design business, therapeutic services business, and more. In this energy, we see the energy and professionalism that make it all possible, and we get to ogle the wabi-sabi beauty of Joseph’s artworks.
Do you have dilapidated treasures hiding in a box in your closet, waiting to be reborn, to tell their story, as art? Assemblage is waiting. In this interview, get to know the teacher and what to expect before your class with Joseph, and learn the keys to creativity that Joseph use to maintain his creative and successful artistic lifestyle.
To see more of Joseph’s work or to sign up for a class, please visit, or like his Facebook page at
On Joseph’s work
“Bennett’s assemblages range from architectonic, all-white pieces that wouldn’t be out of place in a textbook on Minimalist design, to veritable cornucopias overflowing with surreal, mind-numbing assortments of minor treasures.”
Mark Elliot Lugo, Curator“Joseph Bennett is guided by a love for found objects. His ability to see their potential as bearers of stories guides him as much as a consideration of form, color, contrast, balance and texture. On a formal level, his assemblages show an affinity for the properties of early synthetic cubism, surrealism and
primitive art. On an emotional level, however, the bits and pieces that make up the work are already suffused with meaning and help communicate a more personal message.”
Karen McGuire, Curator

On Joseph’s Teaching
“A ton of specific, practical ideas + applications along with inspirational enthusiasm. Thank you Joseph!”
Eric Peterson“Well- paced, mastery of subject, focused. I can tell that you really know what you are doing. Thank you for a fantastic workshop! You are a pro!”
Carole Clement 

The Suffering Artista in Mexico

I’m going to tell you the story of how falling off a ladder trying to get up to a roof in San Miguel de Allende finally helped me to understand the worst cuss-word there is in Mexican spanish: hijo de la chingada.
Along the way, I learned the value of suffering in art through reflections of la chingada in Mexican art, and you can’t talk about women and suffering and Mexico and art without the holy visage of Frida ascending her way into the conversation.

To illustrate, I have 2 Before and After shots to put before you today.

Before and After #1… The Artist on Tuesday.

fresh self portrait june 8 2015

Before, Jessica Antonelli Self-Portrait, oil on canvas, June 8 2015

This was an exciting self portrait, done in less than 2 hours, and much looser than my usual tight, realistic style. I was so excited at the breakthrough in brushstrokes I went out with friends that night. With a mezcalito too many in me, I decided I’d brave a ladder leading up to a scenic roof that I’d been too weenie to climb up before.

But that weenie-ness was wiseness in disguise. I crashed down to the tile floor, landing mostly on my wrist, secondly on my face.

Which leads us to the Artist After the Fall…

After portrait

After, Jessica Antonelli self-portrait, oil on canvas, June 12, 2015

I was never as bloody as this intimates with the magenta slipping down the canvas like that, but I was desperate to get some of that raw emotion out of me and note the canvas before I lost the opportunity to catch it in oil instead of bottling it up inside. Frida has a great quote on that:

"Walling in your own suffering is risking that it will devouring you from within." Frida Kahlo

“Walling in your own suffering is risking that it will devour you from within.” Frida Kahlo

I couldn’t help googling the wheezy out of Frida while I was recuperating. Mexico is rather famous for it’s suffering females, and Frida Kahlo reached icon status after a lifetime spent suffering from everything from polio, to a spine-crunching trolly accident, to a philandering spouse–the world-famous Diego Rivera, whose betrayals were so devastating he even had an affair with Frida’s sister.


The Broken Column, 1944, oil on wood, Frida Kahlo



 But it wasn’t just Frida who led me to understand one of the worse spanish cuss words. I’ve been hanging out with enough local good influences in Mexico, that after the fall I thought to myself se chingo, that arm got fucked up. Perhaps it was the influence of the anesthesia that had me dreamily wonder about something or other I’d heard about Mexico herself being referred to as la chingada, or the fucked over.

I did some intensive research by typing the question into google.

la chingada definition

Please, please, if you have time and any interest in the complexity of Mexican culture and gender and vulgarities and identity crisis, read this excerpt from Octovio Paz’s The Labryrinth of Solitude.

The title in the pdf is Sons of La MalincheHijos de la Chingada, and the story of La Malinche came back to me from an early spanish class here in San Miguel de Allende.

La Malinche was in the nobility in her native indian Atzec people when Cortez and his Spaniards arrived with conquest on their minds. The trilingual La Malinche helped translate her native Nahuatl language into Spanish, much to Cortes’s advantage.

José Clemente Orozco's "Cortés and Malinche" (1926). Image from Allegory of a Revolution

José Clemente Orozco’s “Cortés and Malinche” (1926). Image from Allegory of a Revolution

Not only did Cortes take advantage of La Malinche’s language skills, he violently opposed and brought down her home nation, had a son by her, and then abandoned it all. No small wonder that her experience of being fucked, being aggressively used and screwed over in both micro and meta ways, have led her to be known as la chingada, the Mexican Eve, and the mother of all Mexicans who call themselves hijos de la chingada.

Octavio Paz says it so much better than me. Here’s another link to read that article, seriously now.

I mentioned I was in an anesthesia haze during all of this, but here’s another Before and After to prove I’m a suffering artist, in case the portraiture didn’t convince you:

Before …The Artist’s LEFT (thank God) Wrist on Tuesday

Before, Front View

Before, Front View


Before Side View

Before Side View

Aaaand After

After, X Ray Frontal

After, X Ray Frontal

I will have this apparatus on for the next 6 weeks, and tonight I’m feeling rather grateful that the suffering of a broken wrist has led me to a deeper understanding of Mexican culture and cussing. Without this horrifying clamp in my arm I never would’ve seen Orozco’s haunting and powerful mural image of La Malinche and Cortes, or painted out my feelings in that self-portrait I finished today that exhausted my energy reserves, but still left me feeling stronger.

More importantly I must thank my family and friends who helped me get to the right hospital in Mexico, or immediately flew into San Miguel to nurse me back to health, or were so stinkin’ worried about where I’d disappeared to they filed a missing persons report on me while I was having surgery. Love you guys. Muchas. Muchas. Gracias.



Visiting the Frida Museum, Mexico D.F.

Easter weekend, and the line around the Frida Kahlo museum wrapped twice up and down the street in Coyocan where Frida and Diego Rivera once lived, painted, and hosted the likes of Leon Trotsky.

No way were we going to wait in line two hours.

Here’s the Best way to avoid the line at the Frida Museum:

Go online to buy your tickets in advance at this website, show up at your appointed time, and skip the line! It costs a bit more but it’s well worth it. However, weekdays are not as busy as a holiday weekend, so you can probably get in without too long of a wait most of the time.

Museo Frida

After escaping the line, we went a few blocks away to the Trotsky Museum, the former residence of the man whose name is it’s own -ism, Trotskyism.  In his fort-like home, he was assassinated with an ice pick, although not before carrying on an affair with Frida, who often cheated on her husband Rivera to counter her husband’s many infidelities.

I knew a lot about Frida and Trotsky’s scandalous affair from one of my all time favorite books, Frida, a Biography of Frida Kahlo, by Hayden Herrera. (Her life is beyond fiction. A must read.)

What I did not know is that the Mexican Muralist Siqueiros participated in an attempt to murder Trotsky before the guy with the ice pick finished the job…Can you imagine Diego and Siqueiros as contemporaries, two of the most famous artists of their time, at war over politics that spanned across the globe, rivals in both their views on communism and their approach to painting a wall, Siqueiros actually attempting murder for his ideas… mind boggling.

To visit their homes, and walk the few blocks that Frida would have traversed between her home and Trotsky’s, makes their incredible lives all the more real, and recent.

Frida, Diego, Trotsky and others

Here Frida and Diego, an unlikely couple in themselves, pose with Trotsky and other Marxist sympathizers.

The museum also hosts much of the artwork Frida composed in her time at the home in Coyocan, as well as her preserved painting studio.

Frida's palatte

Here Frida is a geometrical design of Frida’s palette, showing the range of colors she used in her symbolic and surrealistic-ish self-portraiture. Frida's Studio

Frida’s studio. It is worth it to pay and extra 30 pesos to take pictures. Otherwise, you have to put the cameras away!

Visiting edgy Mexico City helped me to understand the raw passion Frida had for life, she having grown up there. It is a city where you must always be alert for trouble, actively keeping track of your purse and how much the taxis are charging. But the alertness makes you feel alive, a part of the city in a way that most safe tourist destinations don’t.

Frida grew up in Mexico City in a time when politics raised blood and saw it spilled in the streets. Diego, who was the most famous artist in Mexico at the time, made artwork a weapon for social change and revolution, favoring a Marxist future for Mexico. His grandiose murals empower the people, the worker, the heart and capable hands of Mexico.

If Diego represents heart and hands, Frida was the soul, la chingada (pardon my spanish) who was ravaged by polio, accidents, heartbreak, and betrayal–and yet her artwork expressed her irreverent attitude toward life, which she laughed at and with, in a way so purely Mexican that it is hard to put in english.

I highly recommend D.F. and Frida’s Museum, but only after reading Frida, a Biography of Frida Kahlo, by Hayden Herrera, which everyone who breaths should read.

Have you been to Mexico City recently? What was your experience? Comment below to share!

So You Think You Can’t Draw?

I don’t know when it began or where, but there has been a devious lie circulating for ages about artistic ability. People believe that you are either born with artistic talent, or not. I haven’t heard of a single scientist coming out with evidence that drawing skill has been linked to the 15th chromosome, or that it has to do with the same gene that signals for dark eyes, and yet people take it as a fact that you are naturally an artist, or you are doomed to a life of stick-figures and self-depricating jokes. How to draw mountains demitri martin However, as you can see above in this thoroughly scientific graph by comic genius Demetri Martin, drawing skill is directly related to the amount of time spent practicing it.

Continue reading

Pros and Cons of Building a Tiny House on a Trailer

I was ready to buy my trailer, the foundation of my tiny home. I had spent hours scanning through craigslist ads for options. I researched what axels were needed and found out that I needed to be worried about the tires–like, a lot. I was considering going vintage, buying one new from the factory floor, or ripping up an old RV for the trailer hidden underneath. I finally decided to consult an expert–Darby from Tiny Texas Houses to see which of my options would be best for building with salvage. His response: Are you sure you even want to build on a trailer at all??

Before I get into the tizzy that sent my brain into, I must say I’m thrilled to be purchasing materials for my home from the Tiny Texas House salvage warehouse, because building with salvage aligns so beautifully with the principles of permaculture.
For instance, the principle use and value renewable resources would favor the choice of wood rather than materials like vinyl siding, because the trees, which are the single source of wood, can be replanted, while the plastics in vinyl siding are produced using oil, and has been said to exemplify “all that is wrong with modern residential architecture.” Really valuing that resource, though, is to repurpose that wood so that it’s life cycle as construction material might allow for fewer of the resources to be needed in the first place.

Back to my tizzy. No trailer?? After spending untold hours researching trailers, I realized I had never questioned the trailer in itself for my tiny house, and questions are a big part of what this is about for me. I think it’s important to ask yourself if the norm is right for you–for example, for me, the “normal” home I’d mortgage my life away for and feel trapped with is not a good option.

Questioning the tiny house with that same critical thinking approach only makes sense, and when Darby wrote back he kindly pointed me toward his own blog post on the subject of trailers for tiny homes.

So let’s break it down. This list is customized for me, but perhaps might be useful to others planning to build in coastal areas.

Pros and Cons: Tiny House on a Trailer?


  • Mobility–I do plan to move around often. I count myself lucky to be a part of some very exciting communities between Galveston, Houston, and even Mexico. I’d love to travel so that I can continue to learn from others and see more of the states. Having the house on a trailer would be mighty convenient…
  • Hurricanes- Let’s be real, I live in Galveston. A hurricane is coming, we just don’t know how soon. I might just spend each hurricane season off of the island. A house on a trailer would make a yearly move easier.
  • Legal issues- On wheels a house on a trailer usually counts as an RV, and I might only be able to stay in trailer parks, however Galveston is more or less strict about RV rules due to the above mentioned hurricanes.
  • Easy to find plans-There seem to be a plethora of plans already out there for me to riff with as I begin to gather materials for my home. There are only about a million other blogs on people building their homes on trailers.


  • Cost– A trailer will probably run me $2,000 at least, although it’s possible to buy an of RV for less, if I don’t mind taking the time to tear into it to free the used trailer underneath…Tires are expensive to replace as well, which adds up.
  • Steal-ability- It is not out of the realm of possibility that someone might just hitch up to my trailer and take my tiny home away with them. However, I could buy a hitch lock to protect myself, or even put a boot on my trailer tires.
  • Waste– If I do end up in one place for more than a year, which I could see happening down the road, it does add up to an awfully big waste not to use the trailer sitting under my home for its intended use.
  • Driving in a storm…or basically anytime- I’m not exactly famous for my awesome driving skills, and a trailer would only make things more difficult.

So that’s just looking at the trailer. When considering alternative foundations, Tiny Lake House sang praises for a “hybrid” portable house on piers, which can be moved when needed to it’s next spot. Still, she seems to recommend this for tiny house owners that plan to move every few years.

I love the hybrid idea, but if I do plan to park myself in Galveston, I would MUCH rather brave the elements in the “near absolute protection” of a monolithic dome structure, which I would happily build on the tiny side using natural materials and nerding out like the permaculturist I am. In fact, I’ve already got a design in mind for just such a home, I’m just not ready to settle down just yet.

So far I’m still leaning toward a trailer, I think it would be a good starter tiny home that would suit my nomadic lifestyle. Still pondering though, and please leave a comment below if I forgot anything!