Category Archives: Inspiration

Photo safaris, trips and explorations of the world and mind

Mucha Lluvia, Mucha Productividad

It has been cloudy and cool for the past week here in San Miguel de Allende, many days were filled with rain. Hence a lot of rain, a lot of productivity. Holding up in the studio most of the week I’ve been able to complete 3 small oil paintings. They measure 12.5″ x 9.5″ / 24.5 cm x 32 cm.  Below photos of the paintings along with a gallery of photos showing the work in progress.

Untitled, as of now, oil on canvas.

Untitled, as of now, oil on canvas.

I haven’t titled this piece yet, I may not at all. Inspired by all the mystery, colors and textures of SMA. Moons and arches have been recurring themes in my work for decades. Maybe a foretelling of coming to live in a city full of arched gate ways and passages. Below are detail photographs of the finished painting.

Gallery of the painting in progress.

 

Arch with Niche - Oil on canvas, December 2014.

Arch with Niche – Oil on canvas, December 2014.

More arches and moons. Many of the walls here in SMA have niches in them with statues of the Virgin of Guadalupe, angels, Buddhas, and other figures. Detail photos in the gallery below.

The gallery below shows the progression of this painting.

This the third oil painting I’ve completed, started with a quick sketch of flowers using up left over oils on the pallet late one evening. The challenge then was to work the piece into a finished painting.

Flower Sketch - oil on canvas - December 2014

Flower Sketch – oil on canvas – December 2014

Below are details of this painting.

Below is the progression:

 

 

 

Cool Nights, Warm Days

This time of year (mid December) San Miguel de Allende’s weather is beautiful. The nights cool off in this high desert mountain region. Sunrise temperatures are generally in the upper 30′s to mid 40′s fahrenheit, 4° to 7° celsius. The day reach into the upper 70′s, low 80′s F, 25° to 28° C, and every afternoon I’ve been here thus far there is a cool gentle afternoon breeze. This is also the dry season, the rains do not return to SMA until late April / May.

Early morning fog on the mountains and cloud cover burn off in the rising sun.

Early morning fog on the mountains and cloud cover burn off in the rising sun.

When going out about town, especially on foot or using public transportation I suggest thinking ahead about your attire and your tolerance for the temperatures. I easily get cold, so I like to layer up if going out early in the morning or heading out when I will be out after sundown.

The sun is warm and can even be hot in the middle of the day. SMA is at 6.5K feet in elevation or almost 2K meters. The suns rays are strong at this elevation. I find it easy to stay comfortable while walking around town by switching sides of the street to either the sunny or shady side and having layers you can take off or put on as necessary. Most of all tho, you will need a good pair of sturdy walking shoes!

In SMA this time of year there seems to always be a sunny or shady side of the street.

In SMA this time of year there seems to always be a sunny or shady side of the street.

It is a beautiful time of year here, very temperate and pleasant, and the sun light brilliant and dazzling. Not surprising why so many people visit San Miguel every year.

Navigating San Miguel de Allende

Getting to San Miguel de Allende is a process, there really isn’t a direct route, you can read more about that in a previous post I wrote: Going to San Miguel de Allende. Beginning my third week here I thought I’d write about getting around this town.

I choose not to drive here, I gave up driving nearly 2 years ago, in Phoenix, AZ, one of the worlds most pedestrian unfriendly cities. So why would I start driving here? Walking here is a very rewarding and challenging experience.

Nearly every walking surface here is uneven, cobblestone streets and various rock slab sidewalks. The roads tend to be narrow, and there are hills to contend with, some quite steep.

Public transportation is readily available and inexpensive. Taxi cabs are everywhere and run 24 hours a day. They are a fixed rate of 30 pesos in town and 40 pesos to the burbs, that is $2.32 / $3.10 USD, at the time of this writing. The bus runs every ten minutes starting around 8 AM and running into the evening around 9 PM or so, I’ve just gleaned this from observation not seeing a schedule. Bus fare is 5 pesos  or about .40c US. The bus runs everyday of the week on this schedule and so far as I can tell even on holidays. There are different bus lines servicing the different colonias, the destinations are listed on the front of the bus. There is no transfer system here tho, every ride costs 5 pesos.

Driving here is not for the timid or easily distracted. The narrow streets intersect with no stop signs or signals, pedestrians and drivers all negotiate turns to go with glances and stares. Although most pedestrian street crossing occurs at a corner, crossing in the middle of the street is not uncommon, nor is it uncommon for pedestrians to have to step into the street to pass each other or avoid an obstacle, like a telephone poll.

Many streets are one way, this gets confusing if you don’t know your way around. On these streets drive: trucks, buses, SUVS, compact cars, motor cycles, ATVs and bicycles. This mixed with pedestrians, dogs and the occasional burro or horse can make driving cross town an interesting experience. Honestly if you don’t have to drive here I wouldn’t.

I’ll focus mainly on walking and bus riding, my main ways of getting about town. SMA is small less than 4 miles across in any direction. But don’t let that fool you, the hills, and obstacles make getting around on foot somewhat slow going. Between the maze of streets, various obstacles and hills it may take a little longer to get somewhere than anticipated.

The main drags here can be congested with traffic making them noisy and fume filled, because of this I prefer walking the back streets and alleys of the colonias. They are quieter, less traffic and full of interesting sights, sounds and smells. If you’ve come to San Miguel and you have not walked the colonias you have done yourself a disservice.

Hidden walkways make for quiet and pedestrian friendly places to amble. Being new here these are particularly fun, you never know where they will lead. I carry no map with me, I study an online map before heading somewhere new and take the adventure as it comes, stopping to get directions along the way, if I found I’ve gone off intended course. An opportunity to practice my Spanish.

On one morning I set out with only one intention, getting to the main drag Sterling Dickerson from where I’m staying using the less traveled back streets of the colonia. Below are photos I took along a pedestrian walk way I stumbled on.

There are many more walkways to explore, I look forward to finding them.

Through out the colonias are various shops and restaurants. Some small and simple, others large and elaborate. I think I’ll save more detail on that for another post.

As I mentioned above the bus service is regular and covers every part of the town. The seating on the buses here are not comfortable, they serve their purpose. The buses are mainly ridden by the locals, seems very few visitors or ex-pats ride, I have been the only gringo on the bus several times. Although high season has just begun and with the expectation of 100,000 plus visitors over the next few months the demographics of the bus population may change.

The buses navigate these narrow stress and hills and riding can be interesting down a steep incline or through a busy intersection. Some buses have a spotter and driver others only the driver. There doesn’t seem to be a lot of consistency in how the fares are collected. On buses with spotters, the spotter jumps off the bus when it stops, or is almost stopped, and announces the destination. You board the bus, take a seat and eventually the spotter comes by collects the fare and gives you a ticket. Other times you’ll board the bus and hand your 5 pesos to the driver then sit. Pretty much I follow  what everyone else is doing. There really appears to be no standard process of paying your bus fare, just have it readily available when boarding. When it comes to your stop you’ll need to let the driver know to stop by either asking or pressing the buzzer on a pole by the back door of the bus. The bus isn’t luxury, but it is a great way to see the colonias for only 5 pesos.

There are several ways to get around SMA, all with their challenges and rewards, as it should be with anything truly worthwhile.

 

Two Weeks in SMA

Today marks the beginning of my third week in San Miguel de Allende. I thought I would share my favorite photos from my exploration of this town.

La Porqueria de San Antonio, San Miguel de Allende, GTO, Mexico

La Porqueria de San Antonio, San Miguel de Allende, GTO, Mexico

This church sits on the top of the hill in the colonia San Antonio in San Miguel de Allende. The jardin here is generally quiet and peaceful. During the weekdays the sounds of the children playing in the school yard is common. Here the pace of life is easy, taking time to sit in one of SMA many jardins is a lovely way to pass a part of the day.

Bougainvillea

Bougainvillea

It is December and flowers are still abundant here. The contrast against the colorful walls makes for striking images.

Parque Juárez

Parque Juárez

Parque Juárez is a gem! This park is large and lush the pathways lead to hidden fountains and other areas to explore. 

Parque Juárez  Pathway

Parque Juárez Pathway

Hidden treasures are around every turn in the park and in SMA in general.

Narrow Cobble Stone Streets

Narrow Cobble Stone Streets

Narrow cobble stone streets, and some steep hills can make navigating SMA a challenge.

View out the church door

View out the church door

Interesting architecture is every where. This is looking out the church in the main jardin out toward the Cathedral.

Toy vendor in the plaza

Toy vendor in the plaza

This, my final photo for this posting, is my favorite photo I’ve taken here so far. Yesterday, Dec. 15, marks the beginning of high season here in San Miguel. The plaza was hopping with people from all over the world, music, food, and many colorful vendors.

Las Posadas begin tonight, more photos from San Miguel de Allende to come!

 

Going to San Miguel de Allende

WOW! I arrived here in San Miguel de Allende, Guanajuato, Mexico a week ago. It has been amazing. I’m here for 2.5 months renting a place to live, work and show in colonia San Antonio.

To begin with I flew from Phoenix to Hermosillo, Mexico. The airport in Hermosillo is small, no jet ways, 6 gates. Customs went quickly there and thus when I caught my connecting flight into Mexico City I was a domestic passenger, I picked up my luggage, got my ticket for a cab to the Terminal Central del Norte where I caught a bus to San Miguel de Allende.

Hermosill Airport, Meico

Hermosillo Airport, Mexico

The colors and textures begin. Cab ride from Benito Juárez International Airport to Terminal Central del Norte.

Leaving Terminal Central del Norte

Leaving Terminal Central del Norte

I had to begin to use my rudimentary Spanish in earnest. All singe and directions, Spanish only. Security is serious here too. Before boarding the bus passengers are put through screening much like boarding an airplane. The bus ride from Mexico City to SMA is four hours. There are many bus lines servicing the Mexican public. For a ride this long you don’t want to scrimp, it is only a few pesos more after all, take Primera Plus bus line and do yourself the favor.  Foot rests with seats that recline to nearly horizontal, adjustable head rest, movie, head phones, WiFi, outlet to plug in electronics, restrooms and your fare includes beverage and snack.

This was the most comfortable bus ride ever.

A few pics along the way, I slept a lot actually it was nice. But fortunately I was awake when we came over the mountain and saw San Miguel de Allende for the first time.

I did a lot of research on getting here and received advice from the person I’m subletting from here in SMA. It was a breeze. Once you have your luggage and have cleared customs go directly to the taxi ticket window. There you will pay your fare get a ticket and proceed to the curb, where a taxi manager will assist you with your cab. This is strictly regulated making it very safe. It is not recommended you grab any cab outside the terminal unless you really know what you are doing.

More from SMA to come!

Warm Sun on a Winter Afternoon

There is nothing like a warm sunny winter afternoon. A benefit to living in Phoenix, AZ. If only it was like this all year. But these days wouldn’t be such treats without the contrast of cooler and hotter days. After spending the day in the studio creating and promoting getting out for some sun and inspiration is in the plan. Wandering around I took these photos.

Hanuman Mala Beads

One hundred eight luxuriously large blue tiger eye beads make up this set of mala beads. Although large (12mm) I had to make a full set of mala beads with them. Every beads on this mala has that tiger eye shimmer. Blue tiger eye is clamming it resonates with the throat and third eye chakras. Tiger eye while activating the higher chakras it keeps our connection to the lower chakras. This helps keep one grounded while doing higher work. This is a great stone to work with for public speakers aiding with nervousness and  clearing the throat chakra.

Hanuman Mala

 

108 Blue Tiger Eye Bead Hanuman Mala Beads

I choose a Hanuman pendant to hang from the guru position of this mala. Hanuman is a deity from an epic Indian tale noted for his courage, power , faithfulness and selfless service.  This set of mala beads are completed with the 3 large rectangle brass beads that are hand made in Nepal. These beads have the image of a monkey etched into them. A large mala for practice, wear or display on your alter, or even all three.

I have made this mala with the intention of courage and clarity of speech and clarity of perception. Click on the photo above to see more photos in my Quiet Mind shop on Etsy.

Hanuman Pendant

Spring is Here!

Spring in the AZ Desert

Time is flying as it usually does, particularly in retrospect. Spring is here kind of unbelievable. We have had some warm and very warm weather already this year, but as I write this we are enjoying a cool spell. The heat will be here soon enough so this is not a complaint. Enjoying all day under 110 while I can.

The awakening of spring is breathing new life into the awakening of the masses to this system stacked in favor of a few. The occupy protests that began last fall, called by some as the American Autumn are coming alive in the rebirth of spring. The protests are making changes in the social and political landscape of this country and the world. The most notable effect of note recently are all the corporations dropping out of the evil Koch Brother’s front group ALEC. The awareness raised about ALEC through Occupy and finally the events surrounding the Trayvon Martin tragedy and the exposing of another of many draconian laws sponsored by ALEC. If you are interested in knowing more how ALEC controls our legislators and more you may want to visit ALEC Exposed. Finally on this subject there is an international call, originating from Europe, for a general strike on May 1st – no work, no school, no shopping, no banking, take to the streets! I’ll be off line that day at the very least.

I with the spring I hope the wave of change that circling the earth continues with positive results for all sentient beings.

 

 

Willodel on Etsy

I was contacted by Lucinda of Willodel in my Quiet Mind shop on Etsy. That prompted me to take a look at her shop. I’m glad I did. Her shop is filled with these wonderfully whimsical houses for your garden visitors. Like this stone toad house, complete with a copper roof!

Bungalow Toad house with copper roof

These houses have amazing details and design and even more amazing Lucinda is self taught! I am amazed at the rustic details of the song bird house below. One of these would look great around my pond. Dropping hints for anyone looking to get me a gift ;).

Bungalow Songbird house made from Aspen, Redwood and Apple wood

Learn more about Lucinda and her work on her web site Lucinda &Co. Another site she maintains that I think is really fun is Garden Toad Watch, a site to document sightings and share stories about the gardener’s beast friend. I’d be adding updates if I gardened in a climate acceptable to toads.

Have to love Etsy and the internet providing all the possibilities for meeting so many artists and seeing their work.

 

 

Summer’s nearly over – July 31 – Daily Posting Challenge Day 61

A late summer trip to the mountains was in order to escape the heat for a little while and enjoy the fresh mountain air! Here are some photos I shot late in the afternoon.

 

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