After cruising around the Southwest (taking lots of pictures of vintage motel signs for future paintings!), we've landed in Southern California. When I collected my waiting mail, I had a surprise waiting--my watercolor and ink painting, Parque Mexico, won an honorable mention in the national juried AZ Aqueous Show! What an awesome welcome back to California.
I'm excited to announce that one of my Mexico City paintings was chosen for BWAC's juried show Color, opening Saturday, July 22 and running through August 14. I also have a painting in the affordable art auction. Spend a summer day in Red Hook and check out this colorful show, which hangs in one of Red Hook's iconic Civil War era warehouses. It's a cool place to spend a hot summer day. And if you don't find yourself in this unique neighborhood very often, make it a day and grab some lunch and a beer. Some of my favorites are:
Fort Defiance 365 Van Brunt St.
Sunny's Bar 253 Conover St.
Baked 359 Van Brunt St.
The famous Red Hook food vendors at the Red Hook Recreation Fields, 160 Bay St.
Every summer at the Jazz Age Lawn Party on Governor's Island, I leave in awe of the beautiful 1920s costumes and snazzy dance moves of fellow New Yorkers. It is such a colorful event to take part in and to doodle afterwards. Every year I see this particular couple on the dance floor and they are marvelous. Watching them, I feel momentarily transported into the supper club scene of a movie where complicated dance steps are second nature and get even better the more bath tub gin one guzzles.
Drawing them was a little bit of a breakthrough for me. Some of my jazz age drawings have been looking a little tight and overly cartoony, but after a day of frustrated drawing last weekend, where nothing was quite working, I did a rough, loose sketch of them and it just began to come together naturally. With painting, I think I need a fair amount of warm up time to finally loosen up enough to create a piece I really like.
Here is the evolution of the painting. I started with a wet pink wash to play off of her red costume. Whether or not I have the patience to let it dry thoroughly before moving onto the next layer depends on my mood.
I've been playing a bit with time lapses while working and captured a bit of the layering process.
And the finished product. I often outline in black with a brush pen and India ink, but I liked the effect of using black watercolor and seeing it bleed a bit into shadows. I'm really liking this effect and I think I'll use it for my next round of Mermaid Parade paintings.
This piece is for sale in the shop and will be part of a short Illustrated Guide to the Jazz Age Lawn party I'm working up for August's to do.
San Juan Capistrano was one of my favorite weekend trips when I was a kid in Orange County. My aunt was a docent at the Mission and my sister and I spent many Saturday mornings fattening up the pigeons with bird seed, watching volunteers demonstrate tortilla making or wandering in and out of cool dark adobe buildings. It wasn't until I began visiting my sister when she moved to South County that I discovered the Los Rios Historic District tucked behind the Capistrano train depot, and it happens to be OC's oldest neighborhood!
The old cottages house cafes and garden shops which create a steady stream of tourist foot traffic, but there is also a sense of sleepy, orange blossom Old California crouching just behind the clockwork arrivals and departures of the Pacific Surfliner.
Some favorite San Juan Capistrano spots:
Seriously good scones and coffee at Hidden House Coffee, 31791 Los Rios Street
Hanging out with the day drinkers at Swallows Inn, 31786 Camino Capistrano
Las Catrinas for Mexican crafts and aspirational garden decor, 31742 Los Rios St
Shrimp tacos and a beer at the Mission Grill, 31721 Camino Capistrano
The gardens at Mission San Juan Capistrano, cant' miss it.
This morning the Spanish band La Pegatina is providing the soundtrack to Sunday watercolor painting. This morning I discovered their yet unopened CD in the bottom of the backpack I'd taken to Mexico City last fall.
We had paid a visit to Tianguis Cultural del Chopo, or "El Chopo", a Saturday flea market in Colonia Guerrero near the Metro Buenavista subway stop. This market trades in anarchist literature and art, used tapes and CDs, punk paraphernalia, band t-shirts, piles of Doc Martins. And at the end of the slithering, tented aisles of memorabilia from the teenage wasteland, you are rewarded when the alley opens onto a blocked off intersection crowded with mohawked Chilangos and a band playing. While a hard core band throbbed meters away, La Pegatina played their impromptu jam session across the intersection, between parked cars and the dazed victim of a recent brawl, weaving their way Pied Piper style through the crowd and cars for their following fans. It was a loony scene to encounter, and I bought their latest CD, finding out later that the band is not local to DF--they're actually from Barcelona.
I thought it'd be fitting today to give the CD I bought that day, Revulsiu, a listen while I revisit Mexico City as inspiration for my paintings. Today, I worked on a smaller painting of some down and out hotels in the Zocalo area.
I'm so excited to be showing 16 of my Coney Island and Mermaid Parade watercolors at Steeplechase Coffee in Windsor Terrace, Brooklyn.
For fifteen years I've photographed and sketched down at Coney Island, always returning to its vibrant visual landscape for inspiration. “How Sweet It Is” is a collection of watercolors inspired by the candy colors of Coney Island concessions and summer mermaids. The Jackie Gleason catchphrase no longer graces the entrance to the Cyclone roller coaster but perfectly captures the nostalgic, joyful, bittersweet, sugar rush of life down at ever-changing Coney Island.
Stay tuned for even more Coney drawings...this year's season has just begun and I'm heading down with my sketchbook tomorrow! In the meantime, enjoy some photos of the show's opening and thank you to my wonderful friends and family for all the support and encouragement.