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Oaxaca Watercolors

While I was in Oaxaca I tried to do a watercolor every day. I didn’t quite manage that, but I was quite prolific by my standards. Kind of fun, I’m hoping to continue maybe once a week throughout the year. This isn’t every single watercolor I did — I did a few others that I’ll mix into my upcoming posts — but it gives a decent overview of my trip while I work on my more targeted posts. The first one is from the Oaxaca Ethnobotanical Garden in the center of town inside the walls of the historic cathedral complex, a fantastic garden; I’ll do a post about it soon. The second shows a booth selling clothing in the street nearby, set up in front of the side entrance to the cathedral.

Both of these views show the cathedral, Santo Domingo. On the left side of the wide angle view is the entrance to a terrific museum. It was featuring an exhibition of one of my favorite sculptors Jorge Yazpik; his work will probably get two separate posts. The agaves in front of the church were wonderfully dramatic. Gotta do agaves and palms if you’re going to watercolor in Oaxaca.

I also went to Monte Alban and Mitla, Oaxaca’s two best Zapotec archaeological sites. Beautiful stonework, I took many photos. Mitla has a Spanish church built onto the Zapotec ruins.

I did some hiking from town to town in the hills above Oaxaca City in an area known as the Pueblos Mancomunados. One section of trail in particular was spectacular, with pre-hispanic stonework to admire and bromeliads flowering in the trees. That will probably be my next post.

After some time in the highlands, I went down to the beach. The coast there is beautiful, warm and friendly and suitably tropical for a January vacation. I made this watercolor of the town laundry in Mazunte. There was a sign boasting that everything was ‘Washed with Love’; I probably should have incorporated that into the painting.

These two are from neighboring San Augustinillo. Walking along the road from Mazunte, the landscape of dusty sun-baked scrub opens onto a view of the ocean surrounded by palms, sudden technicolor like when Dorothy opened her eyes on Oz. I find that Mexico’s beautiful places are often made more impactful by the undistinguished scrubland surrounding them.

Oaxaca has a strong graphic arts tradition, which led me to make several other watercolors which are more graphic, less realistic and perspectival than what I usually do. They’re included below for anyone interested. (more…)

Sea Ranch

I was up in Sea Ranch with my family for Thanksgiving. I’d stopped there before and explored a little, and I once posted about the chapel, but this was my first time staying there. It’s great, deservedly iconic. The landscape is dramatic, the houses are sited nicely in the landscape, and the hiking trail along the bluff has some great moments as it moves through the tunnel-like cypress windbreaks and the open bluffs.

While I was there I experimented with using an ipad for drawings. I’m skeptical of the ones I did entirely digital, but I like the results when I hand drew a little thumbnail, photographed it with the ipad, then colored it digitally. It’s not all that different from coloring it with markers, but it let me erase or adjust the color and there’s something nice about the flatness of the digital color. I’ll probably experiment some more with entirely digital drawings in the future, but this method seemed like a good addition to the bag of tricks.

I also did a couple of watercolors. I’m hoping to do more of them next year.

Thanksgiving weekend marked eight years of this blog. Posting has slowed for me and just about every other garden blog I follow, and commenting has faded away, but I still prefer the blog over all of the other online formats. It remains a great tool for organizing thoughts, images, and links, and I often find myself going back into my archives or sidebar. I intend to keep posting, my thanks to everyone who keeps reading.

Bahia Asuncion Watercolors

We spent the bulk of our Baja trip in a fishing town called Bahia Asuncion about halfway down the peninsula on the Pacific Coast. The town itself is somewhat drab and utilitarian rather than charming, but the landscape around it is fascinating. It’s incredibly austere — none of the plants are over waist high, they’re widely spaced, and none of them had foliage — and I was at first a little unsure about the place as a vacation destination. But it grew on me, as desert landscapes tend to do, and the beaches are fantastic, endless and empty of other people. I made about a dozen watercolors while I was there, doing the sketch on site during the day and then adding color during the evening.

BajaCentralDesert1

I also made two watercolors of the central desert, Ocotillos, Cardons, and Boojums in the boulder gardens.

BajaCentralDesert2

MissionMulege2

And I did three watercolors of the missions. One of an Elephant Tree at Mission Mulege.

MissionSanIgnacio2

And two at Mission San Ignacio.

MissionSanIgnacio1

Rock Creek Watercolors

RockCreek1

Last week we went out to Bishop for a wedding and then afterwards spent the rest of the week camping in the area. We went a few different places, including three days at Rock Creek, where I made several watercolors along the creek heading up from our campground to the lake, my first watercolors of the year.

RockCreek2

RockCreek3

Though it’s called Rock Creek, the prominent feature in that section is a beautiful riparian grass. I’m not sure the species.

RockCreekLake

Up top, Rock Creek Lake is a beautiful alpine lake surrounded by pines and aspens. It seemed like peak time for the coloring of the aspens, a great time to be there.

Cycling Tahoe

I recently rode my bicycle around Lake Tahoe. I’ve been wanting to do that ride for years and figured I should do it now, while my legs are fit from my Portland-to-SF ride. It was great. You don’t see the lake quite as much as I thought, a fair bit goes through what I would characterize as alpine suburbia, and the best views are from the same vista points that I’ve known for years, but it’s a beautiful ride and a beautiful lake, one of California’s best. I made some quick sketches similar to my Portland-SF sketches.

Coast Cycling Thumbnails

These are my sketches from the coast. They were all done very quickly at the end of the day, sitting at a picnic table at camp or sometimes in my tent with a headlamp, recording some of the images that stayed in my head. A couple represent specific places such as the view of the bridge across Coos Bay or the sand dunes at Honeyman Memorial State Park, but most of them are the kind of half-remembered amalgam views that make up the bike-touring experience.

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