Art Posts

Finding Inspiration in Guadalajara y Guanjuato

Upon arriving in Guadalajara it was time to buy new art supplies since I hadn’t brought much with me from Colombia or Peru. I decided to try out a medium I hadn’t dabbled in since…possibly preschool. Cheap, portable and something different for me, Why not give watercolor a shot?

After watching half of a couple youtube tutorials and just going for it…I really still have no idea what I am doing or what the best practices are for working with this type of paint.

First thing I made with watercolor

During my first month in Guadalajara I spent a lot of time drawing in parks, visiting art in museums and deciding what I wanted to work on next. I had been feeling a period of experimentation and exploration coming on with my art, (Which really reflects the self-exploration I have been going through in life). I felt the need to try new things, and quickly! I wanted to draw faster, compose faster and be less precious about the process. I felt inspired to combine mediums and forms and work with collage.

In recent years I’d often get caught up working on the same painting for 3-6 months and by the time I’d finish, my heart would already be somewhere else. I would spend too much time thinking about what to do and then how to do it. Sometimes this resulted in long periods of self-doubt where I would completely stop working. At some point, later on, I always started working on the piece again and would end up really liking it. After, I would wonder what took me so long?

To combat this vicious cycle, I decided to practice going with my first idea and just doing it. Both with the main composition, concept, style and each little step along the way. The first thing that sounded cool, visually interesting or funny to me I would insert into my piece next.

Mixed media loosely inspired by Tierra Whack

I decided to sit down with a piece of sketchbook paper and just go for it. I wanted to make something collage-y, not just material-wise but composition-wise, with various forms and layers stacked on top of and over each other.

Marker, watercolor, pen and collage on sketch paper

I was Initially inspired by Leonardo Díaz’s paintings which I came across while visiting Guanajuato. I really admired his collage-like composition in his painting, Big Mouth Strikes Again. I was inspired by the way that he used numerous blocks with different images, textures and styles to construct one form.

Around this time I also discovered Tierra Whack’s visual album “Whack World”. It’s an amazingly creative, alternative hip hop and R&B album and I played it almost every day for weeks after finding it. There’s a scene where Tierra is stuck inside of a house not unlike the scene from Alice in Wonderland. I took this idea and just ran with it. I incorporated parts of the album into the drawing such as the dog underground representing her song “Heaven”, and lyrics from her song, “Dr. Seuss”, written across the background. Other elements came from my mind, my dreams and fashion magazines. I wanted to channel a feeling of magic and whimsy. I cut a strip out of a magazine and pasted it in as one of the levels of the house, later recreating a larger section of the same magazine photo with marker and watercolor.

Big Mouth Strikes Again, Leonardo
Page ripped from either a Vogue or Elle magazine

Screenshot of the video for"Dr. Seuss",
Whack World, Tierra Whack.

During a week off from my day job, (ESL), I visited 2 cities in the neighboring state of Guanajuato. First I went to San Miguel where I visited Fabrica La Aurora, which is almost like a mall of art galleries and studios. That is where I discovered the work of Leonardo Diaz as well as many other talented artists. I also took a liking to the painting below. This painting was not part of any gallery, it was just hanging on the wall in one of the main hallways connecting the galleries and was unlabeled. I am not sure who it is by but I was attracted to the overlapping shapes and colors as well as the changing textures. I took a photo and ended up making a sketch in the park later that day, inspired by this collage of shapes.

My sketch
Painting found at Fabrica La Aurora, title & artist

The second city I visited was the city of Guanajuato, which, like San Miguel, is known as a place where many artists go to live. I liked San Miguel but Guanajuato stole my heart. I instantly took a liking to its traditional pueblo meets big city vibe. And the levels! It seemed like everywhere I went there was some bridge above me connecting to a higher street of buildings. Then there would be a street half a level lower with more buildings. There's a cool energy to Guanajuato. It feels like if you took Cuzco and turned it into a roaring city, while also deleting 80% of the tourists.

Animalistic Dreamscape

After my trip to Guanajuato I created my first real watercolor painting, featuring some collage elements. In the beginning, all I knew was that I was going to draw a fox.

Watercolor with magazine paper on watercolor paper

I was listening to Jerry Paper and his album art featured a drawing of animals appearing somewhat humanized. I started looking up old nursery rhymes with animal characters wearing clothes and acting like humans. My fox ended up not wearing any clothing as I thought the human-like posture was enough. The next thing I wanted to include was this bench that I had seen in San Miguel. The bench had a hole in it and plants were just growing right through the bench. For some reason it made me laugh and I took a photo of it knowing I would use it later. I also knew that I wanted some type of bird interacting with the plant. I couldn't decide between a peacock or an ostrich so I made a hybrid.

At this point the bench was just floating in mid-air over the fox so i felt like I had to start connecting everything. I decided to put the bench ontop of a building that the fox was standing infront of. I started incorporating pieces of magazine into the building including; a door made from a coca cola ad, bits of blue pictures found throughout the magazine to make windows and a photo of bricks to play on the bricks I had already painted. The top half of the painting became an underwater scene that still vageuly hints at being a sky too. The coral and orange wavy streaks could be looked at as ocean currents and abstract clouds at the same time. The bottom half of the painting turned into a vague outerspace scene. The red carpet stairs may be leading to a journey though space and time, maybe to another dimension. I wanted to give the feeling of a door left open to various possibilities. The polar bear also could represent alternate realities as it apears upside down and right side up but in very different visual styles.

Bench in San Miguel
Jerry Paper album art
The Fox and the Goose

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