Cheerful and Colorful Paintings

Cheerful and Colorful Paintings in Oil, Acrylic, Mixed Media and Collage

Saturday, March 22, 2008

San Miguel ~ Mel Stabin Workshop ~ Thursday's Model

"San Miguel Model"
11" x 15" unframed by Nancy
In the Mel Stabin watercolor workshop in San Miguel we painted the
Hotel Posada de la Aldea patio area on Monday. See Post on March 5. During the morning this lady came by and asked if we'd like a model for Thursday. Oh, yes, but on Thursday when she returned she didn't want any photos made so I really had to use my plein aire memory. I'd watched the demo but decided to tour more of the city instead of painting and this really was painted on a Friday in the shade at the Instituto Allende. a Spanish language and art school, across from our hotel. On Friday we watched Mel give a demo of painting the city from the rooftop of the Instituto. The challenge was the multi spired La Parroquia, the parish church. My poor attempt will be saved only to use the backside of the paper. The church soars over the plaza and it's a great landmark as it dominates the city and was built in the 17th century. The original bell begins ringing early and the doves and a few stray dogs love to chime in and it's a welcome sound as you are preparing for the day. Tuesday found us at the flea market with bright colorful canopies overhead and many food stalls and vendors. We stayed until about noon sketching (I took photos) and returned and painted in the afternoon. On Wednesday, we went to the Civica (park) where Mel demoed figures on a park bench (someone always kept moving) and then the group chose different scenes in the area to paint. Again I ran off taking photos. He reminded us to think of the hot colors of Mexico when we painted and asked "Is photo realism enough? Your painting should FEEL like something. Don't record what you see but think what makes a dynamic painting." Mel's haphazard marks and lines and splatter always seem to come out perfect. When we'd get a little anxious we'd hear his "Screw it. Just do it".
Since returning, I've had about 500 photos developed and hope to paint some small watercolors in eighth sheets from San Miguel scenes, 7 1/2 x 11, and post. In the last 3 workshops, Burridge, Stabin, and Dews they all stressed "If you want to learn to paint, PAINT."
I found an article, dated 2005, that is an interesting read and it mentions two restaurants where we dined, Bugambilia and La Capilla. La Capilla was located on a rooftop overlooking the city and near the church. We ate out in the open in February and what a delightful experience and the food and atmosphere were outstanding.
I am so envious of the ones in our group that could speak Spanish when the only thing I can say is "My cat drinks milk" and I didn't need that phrase even once; however, I did say it to the taxi driver just to practice. Since returning home, I've inquired about the Rosetta Stone language software through our local library but this program has been cancelled but they are in the process of beginning a new program in the month. I have doubts that I'd ever be able to be successful in learning any kind of language since I have a heavy Texas accent and have trouble with our English language. One of the girls from Connecticut made fun of my simple one liner, Gracias. She said I drawled it out so much it sounded more like "Grassyasses".
I ordered the award-winning film, "Lost and Found in Mexico" by Caren Cross and found it as delightful as my trip to SMA. She explores the lives of expats who have moved to San Miguel and the film was a hit in the 2007 Santa Fe Film Festival. While I was there she was in the Biblioteca showing the film and answering questions but time was too limited. I chose to order it instead. To read more about the film go to

A slide show about some of the paintings and images from San Miguel. Mouse over for the caption.

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Eat Well ~ Paint Your Food ~ Laugh Often


Connie Michael said...

Interesting post, Nancy. You've got so many neat photos I'll be looking for a SMA series!

Elizabeth Taylor said...

Nancy, As usual there is so many jumping off points to entertainment in your blog. I loved reading about the San Miguel workshop and watching the trailer for the Caren Cross documentary. Sure hope you'll share it with us when you get a chance -- makes me want to pack up and move to San Miguel Allende. Welcome home.

Frank Gardner said...

Hi Nancy, thanks for visiting my blog and taking the time to comment. I thought that it was probably the Mel Stabin group when you said watercolor. It sounds like you had a great time.
Caren's film is great. I have a copy too. She is real neat.
Try "Madrigal's Magic guide to Spanish" (book). It is the best!!!!
Yes, I agree, Just paint, paint, paint. The ONLY way to get better.