Monday, February 19, 2018

A cantina in San Miguel de Allende

Pen, ink and watercolor on Handbook Journal 8 in x 8in. Ink on location, watercolor in studio.

El gato negro is a traditional Mexican cantina in San Miguel de Allende, so the cantinaTenampa, almost next door. The last one was busier and had a bigger crowd coming in and out. So I chose The Gato Negro. The parked cars next to the sidewalk in front of the two doors of this cantina made both entrances hard to sketch. So I placed my stool between two parked cars to sketch only one entrance, praying the drivers saw me before moving the cars. I draw the frame of the door using perspective to show how low I was seated. I did the same with the stone frame to the left but I think I over did it. I like it anyway. 
The small space inside invites you to go the second floor, if you don't mind claustrophobia. I love the salon swinging doors, so wore out and falling apart. I wonder how many times these doors have been open. Whatever the number is plus one, mine.

Friday, February 16, 2018

An incomplete strange day, San Miguel de Allende

Pen, ink and watercolor on handbook journal 5.5 in x 8 in
This is Emmanuel. A cook who works in Mariscos Los Delfines, a seafood stand at the Mercado Ignacio Ramirez. There's always stand up people waiting for a seat at the bar in the very narrow alley, food must be good.....and it was. I started to sketch after I finished my lunch but I didn't finish the sketch. I couldn't stay seated longer when there was people standing, so this is what I got, a sketch missing color, at least I put a little bit of it on his persona.
Color chalk on concrete table
Later this same day, we found a cafe. We saw a very small advertisement sign in the frame of a door with very narrow steps leading upstairs. There, at the roof, the cafe/restaurant's tables had a cup with color chalk, an open invitation to draw, which I did. It was, however, a sketch missing in my sketchbook, I couldn't take it home, but I was happy to use other media and leave a greeting on the table.
Pen, ink and watercolor on Moleskine Art Plus Watercolor 3.5 in x 5.5 in
The last sketch of this day was this dog which I have seen several times in this window at sunset. -"This time I'll sketch you". I started to sketch the dog before it moved, it was a good decision, because I happen to be at the very moment in which the owner of this dog arrived home and the dog left the window. Then I realized  the dog was missing a leg. When I finished the sketch I waited for the dog to return to the warm spot in the window to take a photo. I waited....and waited.....and waited. It never came back. Now I have a photo of a window and a missing dog. I thought the dog was smart for choosing a warm spot but it turned out it has been waiting for its owner all of these times I've seen it. Sweet dog, lucky owner.

But what a weird day.



Thursday, February 15, 2018

Close up of a tree, San Miguel de Allende

Pen, ink and watercolor on Moleskine Art Plus Watercolor 3.5 x 5.5 in
I spotted this tree across the street from Cafe San Agustin where we had a churro...or two...or three. Ha! The view towards the window was focus on people having a hot cocoa or reading their smart phones. But further away I noticed the perfectly cube-ish shape of the tree and the cool shade it provided to the people seated under it, but I couldn't see the trunk clearly. So we crossed the street and sat at a bench where the intricate trunk and branches were a delight to my eyes. Old trees are everywhere in old but beautiful San Miguel.
Pen, ink and watercolor on Moleskine Art Plus Watercolor 3.5 x 5.5 in

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Hello San Miguel!

Pen, ink and watercolor on Handbook Journal 8 in  x 8 in
Well, we are back to San Miguel de Allende with more desire to sketch the light and color of this incredible place. After our arrival from Morelia and after settling ourselves in our place for the last two of days, I grabbed my sketching gear at last and headed to this location. It was until today that the shy sun finally came out to make the earthy colors of San Miguel scream. So let's scream together San Miguel, you showing off your colors and me splashing them on paper!

Sunday, February 11, 2018

The flashback memories of a window, good bye Michoacan.

Pencil and watercolor on Arches paper 8 x16 in
Well, tonight is our last night here in the city of Morelia. Our hosts were delightful, we wish we could stay longer. This painting of their place where we stayed was made for our hosts. This window facing the back yard was one of my favorite views, I love to sketch views through windows. This image will remind me of the morning coffees we had here, on those white chairs, under the shade on a pink umbrella, spotting a green hummingbird graciously flying above and around the lavender flowers and orange blossoms almost everyday. 

Tomorrow we head to San Miguel de Allende, our third time there, where I intend to add more sketches to my collection. We were grateful we chose to explore the state of Michoacan this winter, but specially the manorial and cultural city of Morelia.  

Saturday, February 10, 2018

Quartet of Saxophones, Jazz in Morelia

Pen and ink and watercolor in a Hand book Journal 5.5 x 8.25 in
Our hosts invited us to go to the UNAM Cultural Center Morelia to attend a concert of a jazz played by a quartet of saxophonists called SX4. This group is formed by a teacher, the man in the hat, and his students. Originally the concert was scheduled to performe outdoors in the central patio, but because of the rain, it was moved to an art gallery room which capacity was very limited, so few of us were lucky to come inside. The concert was brief, or at least that how it felt, since I lost track of time sketching. I started to sketch from left to right. When I realized the teacher didn't make it in the same page, as I intended to (that's one of the things about sketching straight with ink), I sketched him in the next page but the sketch wouldn't look balanced so I improvised and included the camera man. I liked it better because the sketch tells a story. At the end I showed the sketch to the musicians, and they liked it. The teacher was a pro, his improvisations were masterfully played, but the students weren't left back behind, they played beautifully, they are in the path to success. Thanks to our host Dolf and Jirla for this great idea, we really enjoyed ourselves.Music here

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Music in Morelia

Pencil and watercolor in a Hand book Journal 5.5 x 8.25 in
This was the second time we ate at this restaurant around Plaza de Armas..... inside. The first time we sat outside, with the hope to enjoy the city with all our senses, watching the people walking by, smelling and hearing the city, and well, that's exactly what we got. Vendors, beggars, singers and musicians stopped by. It was a couple of musicians that played a duet of guitar and violin what we really enjoyed. The selection of themes played by them was classy and the instruments sounded very tuned, the were students at one of these schools for sure. At than moment I understood why this city is famous for its music schools. There are opportunities of quality music displayed everywhere. For instance we went to a the Templo de las Capuchinas to see the church but there was a mass at that moment and a small orchestra playing live. How do you sketch heavenly music? Listen for yourself a small sample.


Once outside I sketched the plaza next door, Plaza Capuchinas, where a dog looked very comfortable laying on the floor under the warmth of the sun next to the pila, a fountain. 
Pencil and watercolor in a Moleskine 3.5 x 5.5 in

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Laura and her restaurant, Morelia

Laura is the owner of a small restaurant she just opened few months ago. While in Morelia, we've eaten food at many places and this place turned out to be a great find. It's located in the corner of Antonio Alzate and Fray Diego Jose Abad streets. She was born in this state of Michoacan and lived some years in the United States where she learned to speak English which is a joy for us, specially my husband. We've come here very often, the food is very simple but very tasty and very well seasoned. She is getting notorious in the neighborhood. Doctors and medicine students from the nearby hospitals skip all the food stands around the hospitals and rather to come to Laura's for her homemade food. I had to remember Laura and her food, therefore here it is in my sketchbook.


Friday, February 2, 2018

Museum house Morelos, Morelia.

This is a view from the second floor of the museum house Morelos. The second floor was built by the very same Jose Maria Morelos y Pavon, one of the Fathers of the Independence of Mexico. He bought this house for his sister and later he added the second floor. It seemed surreal to step in the house of one of the national heroes of the independence, being surrounded by wall and walking on the stairs made of stone designed by himself. It was a privilege actually. After visiting every single room I sat in bench on the second floor invited by the calmness of the place. There, sit, I could understand by watching the architecture, that there was a combination of styles in this building. The cantera or quarry stone from the Spanish influence and the wood work and local carving style of the beams in the high ceilings was to be omnipresent through out the house. My mini Moleskine, always handy, and the patience of a husband were key elements to sketch this view of the front patio.

Thursday, February 1, 2018

Two days for an old window, Morelia.

It was cloudy and cold for the past 3 or 4 days here in Morelia, so fortunately it happened while I had a cold. So I didn't go out at all. Despite my weakness and grumpiness, I still felt like I could do some drawing, I didn't want to, but I tried anyway. Haven't you, my fellow sketchers, have a collection of photos of places or views you couldn't sketch but you wish you could? Well I do. I took a recent photo of this old window in this city and it was time to take it out. This drawing/painting took me two days to make.... two days. Now picture me in a pajama, messy hair, wearing an over sized poncho, at times wearing a winter hat, heavy socks, with tissue paper in hand, dragging my bag of art materials thorough out the place to find to the most comfortable chair possible. Can you image the effort to do that? I just got tired again just to think about it.....On day one I draw the ink lines, some here, some there, then take a nap, another few lines, eat something, another few lines, then sleep again, take your medicine, another few lines, go to bed. On day two the same routine with watercolor. I really took my time using the liquid frisket around those stones, no hurry, I wasn't going to go anywhere. I just wanted the time to pass. At the end I think the painting wasn't bad for not being in the mood, the process and the result actually made me feel better! Now, isn't sketching a beauty? It made my cold bearable. Now that my cold is almost gone I'll go back to the streets again.

Monday, January 29, 2018

People in the streets of Morelia.

This is a great time to post some sketches I've done during our stay in Morelia. Since I've been sick with a cold, I haven't strolled the streets nor have I had desire to sketch. I'll show you in this post, some of the people whose activities are familiar but not easy to spot anymore. Memories from my childhood came after spotting the milk man. I thought this species was extinct! The milkman sells raw milk he carries in these stainless steel jars from door to door. People boils the milk at home and because it is not homogenized, the floating buttery fat formed during this process of boiling is sometimes collected. We Mexicans call it nata. Nata over a bolillo roll bread sprinkled with sugar is heaven! 

She is an organillero, an organ grinder. This was the first time I've seen a woman playing it, it's usually men. She posed and smile when I took the photo while she was still playing her old and well made German organ. Songs are repetitive and sometimes out of tune, but it gives a fun vibe to the streets, better than noise of car engines or horns.
Are you familiar with Chinese fortune cookies? Well how a bout trying a bird which chooses a fortune paper for you? Yep, still out there. 

Morelia is full of surprises and old ways, love it!