I’m hoping to get back to posting daily. This month I’ve had too many distractions, and heading into the holidays it threatens to only get worse. Today’s selection is from a reference photo I don’t really remember taking. But I seem to recognize the scene from a route we used to walk into centro in San Miguel that first six months we were there, along a back street that really was only wide enough for one car. There were several mesquites overhanging the street with their horizontal orientation. I like them immensely for their character of jutting branches and sense of age.
This is a “quick and dirty” study that I just breezed into, enjoying applying the alternate cool blues and warm burnt sienna to form the tree, my central figure. The wispy terminal branches were executed with a thin liner brush after using the side of my round to do some dry brush technique to show the density of those tiny twigs at branches’ ends.
I’ll be at Harrah’s in Metropolis again this Sunday for another bazaar, this time having to do with food and art. Last Sunday was their first Holiday Bazaar and attendance wasn’t where they wanted it so they invited us back for the coming Sunday when they hope to have more folks out for this “taste” event. Stop by to see my daily paintings, if you’re in the area, which is what I’ll have on hand for the event.
Mexico is all about foods with bold flavors and colors. Peppers of all kinds abound, from mild, such as the banana peppers, to screamingly hot, as in the habanero. Their colors are dark and brooding to lemony sublime. Along with the nopal cactus, peppers are the quintessential national vegetable, served in everything imaginable. Even sweeter things get a dash of chili pepper to add some spice.
Another staple in the Mexican diet is the mango. Probably the most common one is the yellow orange variety, smaller in stature than the bright red one we are more likely to see here in the north. These bright, sunny mangos turn a fabulous yellow gold at their peek, and you see people sucking out the fleshing through a hole bitten at one end while they squeeze from the other, not unlike squirting toothpaste from a tube.
The colors in this tableau almost sing from the page. Warmth at every turn and fold, mimicing the sweet pungency of the mangos and subtle flavors of the banana peppers. That purple crimson on the left? Dried peppers of some persuasion, perhaps pablano, perhaps another kind with a bit more potency. Whatever they may be, they bind the whole together in a mix of robust warm and cool saturated colorsÂ that is altogether Mexico.
This week has been hectic to the point of having to let something slide, and then ended up being the daily paintings. What painting I did was to finish a commission I’ve been working on for over a month now. Some commissions come with the idea and images laid out, making the whole process easy to get under way and complete. Others, like this one, require planning out the composition with the client, a more conceptual approach. There was a whole phase of trial sketches done for approval before the final composition was decided upon.
When you’re putting together a composite picture made up of several elements from a variety of sources, it takes quite a bit more effort to makes sure that they all work together, that light falls in the same direction and that the perspective is right.
This particular commission is to be a retirement present for a women who has worked for the last 30 years advocating and lobbying for children’s healthcare policy in Washington, D.C. for a national children’s health organization. The children are at play doing what healthy children do naturally, a tribute to her several decades of work on their behalf.
Besides changing from Daylight Savings Time, there are a number of signs in Lower Town that Autumn is here. Grass is cut only sporadically these days, the leaves are falling faster than I can keep track, and a lot of people have decorated their yards for Halloween or Thanksgiving. I’ve seen pumpkins and fake spider webs. Lots of mums in bloom and a few orange lights strung across porches. The apartment house on Madison where Linda lives didn’t have its usual fright face in the windows. I missed that.
But just down the street from me Rex and Anita have festooned the entryway into their yard at the hedgerow with an arch of cornstalks and a bright little pumpkin that almost goes unnoticed as it cowers by the base of the arrangement. I thought it would be an interesting composition to focus on the dried stalks to show how something so drab can actually have its own beauty from light reflections and the fun curves that come with the drying process of the corn plant. The pictures I took showed both the structure and the stalks up close. Today’s painting encompasses a part of the arch and the lonely pumpkin in shadow. He’s sporting a little dappled light from the sun peeking through the hedges.