Monday, September 28, 2009

Remembering the Light

The extraordinary light, the beautiful mountains, the perfect weather, the warmth of the people, the colorful culture, the delicious foods and spices, the exciting music and smells made the visit to San Miguel a multi-sensational experience. My stay at Casa Luna with the Main Line Art Center ( group led by Francine Shore set the scene for a transformation so that I came back from Mexico an artist ready to pursue my dream and become a professional artist.

I look forward to revisiting San Miguel and staying at Casa Luna again, tracing my steps and finding new places, always expanding my horizons and open to new experiences.Here is a good resource to learn more about San Miguel

From the top: Remember the Light, mixed media; Casa Luna Evening, monotype; Remember the Days, mixed media

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Perfect Climate in San Miguel

San Miguel has a delightful spring-like climate all year. The average day is brisk in the morning, with warm and sunny afternoons, and cool nights. At 6400 feet, both the humidity and the temperature is kept down and the air is clean and refreshing. Many tourist from North America come to San Miguel in the winter, where they can enjoy nice days in the 70s instead of the snow and the cold. But the winter nights still afford time in front of the fireplaces in the many bars, cafes, and bistros in town, and most find a sweater still necessary when the sun goes down.

The rains arrive after the hot dry month of May when San Miguel goes through a transformation into an oasis paradise. The rains continue, usually a brief shower in the late afternoon, until the month of September. Every day seems like a little slice of heaven on earth. The temperatures range from 70's to 80's year-round. For more information about San Miguel, visit

The sun became an important image for me in Mexico. I used it in the monotype series I made when I returned. From the top: Night Fiesta, El Sol, Mexican Morning and Daybreak are colorful, vibrant, and express my love of Mexico and my time there.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Mexican Monotypes

I came home from San Miguel D' Allende changed forever. I left a hobbyist and came home an artist, ready to devote myself completely to my art. I cleared out a room and created a studio. I worked passionately for hours and hours on creating new work. I took workshops and classes, fine-tuning my techniques. I also learned about other printmaking techniques and materials. I wanted to become greener, using less toxic materials. I discovered Akua Kolors which are soy-based and much better for my skin than using oil-based inks which require toxic materials for cleaning, yet I could achieve the sheen I wanted when using them.

I went to a 4-day workshop created by Ileen Henderson of New Hope for Art, led by Susan Rostow who created Akua Kolors which I still prefer and use most often.

These monotypes are from a series I made at the workshop. From the top:
Moonlit Horizon, Mexican Sunset, Mountain Moon.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Reinventing Myself

Since the 1930's, expatriates have come to San Miguel to reinvent themselves. 70% of the foreigners living there are Americans, most retired. It is also know for its world-renowned community of artists, many of whom, while garnering international acclaim, have chosen to live and exhibit there in the numerous art galleries here. The extraordinary natural beauty, pleasant climate, warm people and dramatic sunsets make it an unforgettable artistic escape.

I created art everyday, walked the lovely streets, absorbed the charm and beauty of the landscape and Mexican culture, and thought about what I wanted to do with myself and my art. What was holding me back from being an artist? FEAR!! Fear of failure. Fear of ridicule. I decide I would follow my heart and my dreams and do what I had wanted to do but was afraid to do in high school. I was ready to accept public criticism and not fall apart over it. When we all presented our work at the end of the week, I presented mine and said that 11 artists came to Mexico but 12 artists were leaving!

Once I got home, I cleared out a room for my studio and got to work 24/6 (I observe the Sabbath) making up for lost time, I suppose. Here are some of the first works I did when I came home from Mexico.

From the top: Mexico Remembered 1, mixed media; Mexico Remembered 2, mixed media; Joyous Sunshine of San Miguel, mixed media, Art Group in San Miguel, photograph

Saturday, September 12, 2009


I was spending the days with 11 other women all of whom called themselves artists. I was the only one who did not think of myself an artist. I considered myself artistic. I knew I was way better than average, but I never labeled myself an artist. I had one show in 1995 at the Temple University Alumni Center through a contact from Rita Lourie Galena and got good feedback from it, but it was an isolated and fun incident.

I walked around the town taking pictures and making prints in the studio I established in the bathroom at Casa Luna. We went on day trips a few days, shopping trips now and again and out for dinner and margueritas. The week was going by quickly.

Across the courtyard from me, one of the rooms had not be redone yet. The doorway (top photo) was still unfinished and raw. Most doorways in Casa Luna and in the town were works of art. I took many pictures of them. Here are several. Little did I know that a new door was opening for me into a new career and lifestyle.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Colores de Mexico

San Miguel is the seat of the of the municipality of Allende in Guanajuato which is the heartland of Mexico- geographically and historically. This is where men fought and died to create the United States of Mexico. San Miguel is a key tourist attraction of the area.

Everyday we either walked around San Miguel or took a van ride into the countryside to visit an interesting places not too far away. The rich colors of what I saw stayed in my mind's eye and influenced my work in my Casa Luna "studio" and when I got home.

Doing artwork everyday and being in an art community made me rethink what I was doing with my life and the direction I was taking. I found I really enjoyed what I was doing and wondered what was holding me back from staying focused on art more at home.

I started soul searching and reviewing life choices.

From the top: San Miguel in My Mind, mixed media (done at home;) Fiesta, monotype; Wall in Guanajuato, photo; San Miguel Doorway, photo

Monday, September 7, 2009

Casa Luna

Casa Luna, the red weathered 300 year old villa right in the heart of San Miguel, has been lovingly restored by Diane Kushner who makes you feel right at home in this colonial bed and breakfast where every room is a work of art. The gardens and courtyard are an intergral part of the buildings in Mexican architecture. I loved the integration of inside/outside here. For more information, visit

The colors and light of the surroundings exploded in my senses priming me for exploration. Using color, pastels, drawing, sketch pads because of their transportability, I was able to free myself of old barriers and create new textures and visions. Using rice paper and hand printing instead of BFK Rives and the traditional press, I experimented and achieved a different outcome from the usual. The colors were muted, but the process was immediate and spontaneous.

Many changes were taking place inside my head in Mexico. I could feel something going on....

Photographs from top: Casa Luna Wall, Casa Luna Roof, Casa Luna Fountain, Casa Luna Courtyard

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Early Monotypes

These three monotypes were done in the bathroom a la studio of Casa Luna, the bed and breakfast I stayed in for the week in San Miguel. I brought rice paper and ink with me since it would be easy to hand print. I did not, however, have the proper equipment and need to spray the paper often. Since I did not have a water bottle to spray, I used Off bug spray which seemed work too!

San Miguel's architecture is colonial and the colorful walls were very attractive to me. The top two monotypes refer to them. The town is surrounded by mountains as is reflected in the last monotype which also has pen added as well as printers ink.

Let me tell you about Casa Luna which is a restored 18th century villa with 20-foot high ceilings, two foot thick walls, fountains, and a central courtyard in the center of town, just two blocks from the central plaza or Zocalo.

Here is what Arthur Frommer says:
The owner, Dianne Kushner, has a real talent for bringing together disparate design elements and making them look like they naturally belong together. Most rooms are large and come with a king bed or two twins, down comforters, gas fireplaces, and large bathrooms with shower/tub combinations. Most have private patios. The common areas are lovely and relaxing and get you right into that mañana attitude. Breakfasts are delicious, and cooking classes are sometimes offered.

Images from Top: San Miguel Wall, Wall in San Miguel, Mexican Landscape

Saturday, September 5, 2009

A Life Changing Trip to San MIguel d'Allende

In January 2005, I joined my printmaking teacher Francine Shore and 11 other women on a trip to San Miguel d'Allende for an 8 day trip sponsored by the Main Line Art Center. I would not have be able to go on such a costly trip if I had not received a very generous inheritence from my dear childhood friend Myrna Brind (of blessed memory) whose instructions were to do something I would not normally do which meant do not pay bills with the money!

So off I went to Mexico. Francine gave an hour lecture each morning and then we were on our own for most of the day. We met each evening for dinner. We stayed in a delightful bed and breakfast- Casa Luna (more about that later) in which I had a private room and bath. I turned the lavish bathroom into my studio. I had brought art supplies with me. I was intrigued by the colors and patterns of the city, the sounds, smells and tastes of the culture. It was an exciting and energizing experience.

Everyday I created handprinted prints, drawings using materials I had not used in years, such as craypas, charcoal, and sketches with pencil. Focusing just on art and having fun was a new experience. Being with other creative people was exhilerating. The shopping was incredible. Anybody want to buy a hardly used poncho? It seems right at the moment but isnt really me!!

Over the next several posts, I will share the life changing experience as it happend and show you some of the work I did in Mexico and when I came home.

Photos from top: Colorful Houses, From the Roof, The Zocalo