June 30, 2015
I decided to work this one large: 24×32. Here I’ve done the drawing on oil-primed linen. The dominant color in the painting will be a golden yellow so I’ve toned the canvas with a complement to the overall color palette, cobalt violet. Seems like a waste of the most pricy pigment out there, but there you go.
I always like to start with the part that makes me most anxious. In this case the marble columns and facade near the hacienda’s little chapel. I’m aware as I paint this, as well when I walked the grounds, that the hacienda system in Mexico was like the plantation system in the South of the U.S. The owners were granted huge tracts of land for military or political service, usually by a river, worked by wage slaves. While not technically slaves, the hacienderos had workers on their land of whom they charged rent and required to use the “company store.” The poor workers were never out of debt and failure to work got them many lashes from the caudillos, strong men. I still seethe thinking of this privileged family attending mass in their private chapel, praying to the champion of the poor to bless their estate.
Just establishing the background area of the veranda. I would have worked on it on July 3 but in the early morning, 5:00, a freaking band started marching around Barrio Xochimilco, church bells rang and a barrage of sky rockets to rival the Normandy landings. The kept this up for many hours, causing in me homicidal ideation. I looked at the square around 9:30 and saw the band seated in a circle with absolutely no audience. Rocio later inquired what was the occasion. It was the final day of the festival of St. Thomas. I wondered why the hell they had to start so freaking early and ended up around 2 in the afternoon, it was Friday afterall. Then a line of thunderstorms rolled over the city, answering my question…
When I undertook this project, I deliberated on what to do with the guard railing on the patio of the hacienda. I decided it would be more strange if there were nothing. I painted everything behind it then laid it in mostly with the edge of a palette knife. Then I went to work on the beautiful front wall of the patio. I usually like to put in foliage elements last. The steps will be an area of interest I’m working up to.
As I work on this, I’m a little burdened by what I’m witnessing in the yard below my apartment. The landlady’s nephew is essentially the property manager. The household dog died some time ago and the nephew brought in a beautiful Belgian Shepherd named Tobias. To Ricardo, the dog is just an alarm. He works long hours and just leaves the dog there. I feel he’s going slowly insane. I don’t have access to the yard, unless they leave it unlocked on occasion. Rocío and I go down to play with him when the gate is unlocked. But usually he sits back there barking at his foot, biting it occasionally, and howling. Once when much younger, he fell into the small pool. Fortunately we were home so I broke the lock and we pulled him to safety. Ugh!
All done! Once I cleared all the columns it went in pretty easy. Getting the railing in was tedious. There’s a fine line between impressionistic work and more realistic. I try to stay on the impressionistic but drift toward recreating the photograph. You can judge the result.
The dog, Tobias, has been a little more quiet. I sneaked the combination on the lock so I can visit him on occasion. I gave him a rawhide bone which seems to help.
24 x 32 in – 61 x 81.5 cm
Oil on linen – Oleo sobre lino