Posts tagged ‘spanish colonial arts’

simple paintbox of spicy colors

image of colorful jars of clayI’ve been collecting local clays and minerals to continue my natural pigment retablo training.  I wanted to keep them in something I could take with me to craft shows to display the pigments.  I had some canning jars around from preserving various garden items and thought they would make perfect storage containers for the bulk of the clays.  But, I wanted something a bit more apothecary feeling for my everyday display jars.  I found a dated set of 1970 spice jars (still containing original herbs) at an estate sale for $1 that I thought were ideal.  I cleaned and filled them and used my label maker to give them delicious sounding names like chocolate, ginger and chile rojo and cumin.

image of the spice rack and tool boxI was just going to trash the ugly wooden holder until I realized it was the exact size of of my tool carrier.  I painted it white and mounted it together using some mending plates.  There was a perfect slot between the two to allow for my brushes to slip in.  I just love how it came out and it makes me want to leave the set out in plain view, encouraging me to paint.  I’ll be looking for another set of these spice racks for the other side of the tool box, mainly to adjust the weight!  I’m looking forward to displaying my setup at my first show!

Oh, I FINALLY finished and photographed the legless vanity!  Too late to post tonight, but it will be a series of how-to posts.  I can hardly wait for the big reveal…stay tuned.

tool chest in action

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August 22, 2010 at 7:06 am 2 comments

St Anthony helps me find my art

Image of Jason painting a retabloI took a retablo workshop with my brother (the previously featured tinsmith) in Santa Fe today.  It was wonderful.  One of the traditional Spanish Colonial Crafts, a retablo is a piece of devotional art painted on a wood board that has been prepared with gesso.  It most commonly depicts patron saints or other icons of Christianity.

As a child, I had participated in the youth market of the annual Spanish Market.  But, as the distractions of life took over, I lost touch with the art.  Now that I am back in NM and enjoying watching my brother foster his tin talents, I long to develop my retablo interest once more.  I had studied with an incredible and well respected santera (=one who paints saints),  Arlene Cisneros Sena.   She taught me a respect for the art that I had not understood as a child.  She reminded me of the true meaning behind these primative saint paintings:  To honor God, a heavy responsibility for any artist to carry.  Over a series of intense one-on-one lesons, she also imparted the advanced materials and techniques that go back to the original Conquistadors.

After finishing my studies with her, I felt much more secure in my understanding of the art of retablos, but I still did not feel a personal ownership of the art.  I was also struggling with the realization that although Arlene’s personal retablo style is beautiful and impressive, it does not reflect my natural style of painting.  I did not want to simply imitate her work.  I needed to find my signature feel.  I applied for Spanish Market last year and was rejected.  I believe it was primarily due to the fact that I had not developed my work enough for it to have a consistent style (ie. my pieces did not look like they were painted by the same person).  But, the rejection (as rejections are prone to do) stunted my motivation.  My brother has been encouraging me to continue to develop and suggested this workshop.

image of clay pigmentsI jumped on it immediately.  As a one day workshop, the actual workshop was casual and not filled with too much technical information.  We were given prepared boards and Juanito jumped right into a retablo.  Each artist has a preferred media.  Some use acrylic, others watercolors, others natural pigments.  Juanito uses earthen clays which gives his pallete a very natural complimentary feel.  I found myself freed to paint, unburdened from the responsibility of choosing or representing colors.  The freedom led to a natural evolution of the painting and I was very happy with the result.  Juanito himself has a very fluid, interpretive style.  And, although my work is very different from his, his permission to loosen up with my hand gave me some confidence to trust my insticts.  I’m very hopeful about applying this year for market and look forward to developing a few more potential portfolio pieces with the new techniques I have adopted.  The piece shown is the retablo that I finished today, the image of Alma de Maria.

image of Alma de Maria retabloI was also quite happy to find out I had won the workshop raffle!  Juanito painted a demonstration retablo depicting Saint Anthony (patron saint of lost items).   He asked us to pick a number between 1 and 40.  I picked 27 and hit the nail on the head.  He personalized the retablo to me.  It was a good day.  If you ever get the opportunity, I recommend taking a workshop with either my brother at his shop (www.NewMexicoTinwork.com) or at the Museum of Spanish Colonial Arts (www.SpanishColonial.org).  You can view photos from the workshop at my online gallery.

I would love to collect some clays from around the world!  If you would like to send me some clays from your region, please send to:

SEAN WELLS
3167 SAN MATEO BLVD NE
ALBUQUERQUE, NM 87105

Saint Alma retablo with tin accents by Jason Younis y Delgado.

UPDATE 09/22/2010:  My brother just added tin accents to my retablo.  Here is the beautiful collaboration!

August 1, 2010 at 7:06 am 3 comments

Spanish Colonial tinsmith ‘how to’

image of tinsmith pounding metal I was honored to assist my brother this weekend in his demonstration booth at the annual Spanish Market fiesta celebrating the long heritage of the Spanish Colonial Arts this past weekend in Santa Fe, NM representing nearly 300 of the top artists in 17 basic categories.  The body of traditional New Mexican Spanish Colonial Arts generally share four basic factors:  They all derived from the original Spanish artisans that colonized New Mexico;  The artists each have some story of heritage tied to the original craftsmen in some way; The artists are trained in the original materials and techniques;  And the arts all revolve around honoring the spirit of God (and more specifically, the Catholic Church).

Graphic Delgado Family Tree

My brother, Jason Younis y Delgado is a 5th generation tinsmith in the Delgado Family tradition.  Every year I can, I join him in his booth and share the story of our family artisans.  Every year, I listen to my brother share stories passed to him from our Grandmother, who he studied under for many years.  And every year, I learn something new and wonderful.  I created this graphic family tree banner to show the breadth of Spanish Colonial artisans in our family and although I was well-aware of the many artists and long lineage in tinwork, I was moved to see it represented in one place.

There are so many amazing stories how this and the other Spanish Colonial crafts evolved here in New Mexico.  Fortunately, my father, a professional videographer has captured these tales on DVD for our family to enjoy and share.  He has created a 2-DVD set.  The first covers the history of tinwork, the history of tin in the Delgado family and the basic tools and techniques.  The second volume is an instructional How-To video that covers three basic projects.  My brother and Dad both did a fantastic job. This is an interesting video for anyone interested in historical stories, family biographies or anyone who enjoys learning new crafting techniques.  You can also learn more or purchase finished pieces, starter kits or supplies from my brother’s comprehensive website NewMexicoTinwork.com.

If you have a historical crafts in your family or region, I encourage you to learn more about the history and/or techniques.  It is an incredible way to sew the generations together, to support your local artisans and to keep these rare arts alive.  Please support your (and my;) local artisans!

PURCHASE THE DVD SET

To learn more about Spanish Market, visit www.spanishcolonial.org

To learn more about having your own How-To video produced for FREE or to see a 10-minute snippet of my brother’s video, check out www.Videotero.com.

July 27, 2010 at 7:48 am Leave a comment


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