The jacaranda blossoms were beginning to fall from the trees, and I gathered a few one afternoon to sketch. My palette didn't allow me to mix the exact shade of violet, but it was close, and after this I became interested in doing some other botanical sketches. I collected more samples of seed pods and flowers on subsequent walks.
Here's a drawing of the flower from a red bottle-brush tree.
And the resulting watercolor.
White roses, mango, seedpods and tequila on a rebozo.
Young Nahuatl girls, trying to make a little money on the streets, sell small nosegays of these fragrant, creamy white roses, probably gathered from wild bushes. They fade within a day, but even so, I like them and wanted to buy some to draw and remember.
Two artichokes, agapanthus, and a palm-leaf coaster.
The same artichoke (and then there were none...) and woven palm-leaf box and coaster, with some chips and beer.
I didn't do as much sketching of interiors or architecture as I'd have liked, mostly because we were usually moving through spaces rather that sitting down for longer periods of time, except to eat. This sketch of the front altar at the Metropolitan Cathedral was done one afternoon when I was alone and tired enough to want to sit for half an hour. This "black Christ" is famous in the city. The crucifix stands in front of a gold-encrusted altar with polychromed statues of Spanish priests and friars, but the people come for the Christ figure, and leave bouquets in front of him after they kneel and pray.
I had taken my small, traveling watercolor set, a block of Arches paper, a small 5"x5" sketchbook, and my Lamy fountain pen with a small bottle of Lexington grey Noodler's ink. By the start of the second week, I realized I needed a few more things, so I found an art supply store nearby and paid them a visit. In spite of my limited Spanish, we managed to communicate pretty well. I bought some sticks of Conte compressed charcoal, a larger watercolor brush, and some large sheets of good drawing paper that the proprietor cut up for me into quarters. It was a good move, because after I got hurt and was laid up in the apartment, I was glad to be able to work larger than in the little sketchbook. These pieces were done on the balcony, looking down at the street from the fifth floor.
I did the charcoal sketch first, then the watercolor, in the late afternoon of the same day.
Artwork always absorbs me: in this case it kept my mind off what had happened, and gave us a souvenir of that particular place we wouldn't have had otherwise, except in photographs. When I look at something like this watercolor sketch, I always remember -- even years later -- what it felt like when I was doing it: the circumstances, the scene, the challenges I had. Usually that isn't true for me when taking photographs; it seems to be part of the heightened concentration and awareness that drawing requires over a longer period of time.
I hope you've enjoyed seeing these - I've been working on some other pieces inspired by Mexico since getting back, and will show them to you eventually. The color and sculptural forms there always shake up my visual reality, and I plan to keep working on these subjects for a while.