Saturday, July 09, 2011

The Community Garden in la Manzanilla

This is the community garden in La Manzanilla, started by June and Rick, and well supported by a big cross-section of Mexicans and "gringos". I am so lucky that it is right across the street from my place, and that there is a great composting system to accept all of our kitchen scraps and garden prunings. You can read more about the garden at

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Another Recyclable

I'm so used to painting with lots of color, that it was refreshing looking for the value contrasts in this painting of a local "camioneta" (Before the Restoration - seriously!) I don't know if the "after" will be as interesting to paint.


My garbage bin area was a mess. When I finally couldn't stand it any more, suddenly things fell into place: 1) David needed to thin out his bamboo grove. 2)Roberto agreed to dig in the bamboo poles to create a screen. 3)Javier went up in the hills and found the vine to weave through the bamboo. 4) Liza made up signs that help separate compostables from recyclable bottles and cans, and from basura (garbage) So now, the compostables can be carried over to the community garden, just half a block away, the cans and bottles can be claimed by Javier, and the garbage collectors have less to haul away. It has been quite a satisfying "green" project all around.
This summer and fall, we are going to do some fundraising to hire folks and buy the few materials necessary to create more of these.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Art Saturdays

We've started up Saturday Neighborhood art classes again. Every Saturday at 11:00, Linda's home is open for art activities to kids of all ages (mostly neighbors, and since she is my neighbor, we are working together on this) What a bonus! The first floor of her house is a covered but open air large room, with bare concrete walls that the kids are welcome to draw on with chalk. There are large tables, built at kids' height by the father of one of the kids. Here's a picture of Linda, sitting on her roof, going through a book of traditional arts, brimming with ideas to have the kids learn skills, but with the emphasis on creativity. She's so excited to have her home be such a great resource to the community.

Last Night's Sunset - La Puesto Del Sol Anoche

Monday, January 17, 2011

Adios Tenacatita

In La Manzanilla, we are sure missing Tenacatita this year. This painting is called Tenacatita Mantel, and it represents the color that one could always expect to see over there. Restaurants choc-a-bloc with patterned tablecloths,and the posts that supported the palapas were often painted in bright colors too. I am so grateful to have photos of that splash of color to paint from...plan to do a Tenacatita Mantel series this winter.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Getting my work out there!

I will be showing some of my more colorful work at the French chocolaterie called Chocolaterie Nouvelle France on 21st just off Main... so for the Drift this weekend, people can see my work at 2 locations within 4 blocks of each other... and I will have a refreshingly empty home and studio; walls crying out for new work! (Collage is my passion right now...:)

Just came home from a Trade Show, sold a painting, and made some good new contacts - it is fun getting back to marketing, especially when there is such a variety of ways to do it.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

The Drift On Main

This year I am participating in the artwalk for the Main Street area here in Vancouver. This painting, A New Day, is the one I am planning to feature in the Opening Show this Friday night at the new Creekside Community Centre. Then on Saturday and Sunday, my work will be displayed at Ripples Bed and Bath on Main Street at 17th Avenue.

Anyone who comes to see my work at Ripples will be invited to enter a draw for one of my watercolors - and you can pick from a selection. The draw will be on Sunday after the show closes...

For more information,and a map for the artwalk, click on this link

Monday, September 27, 2010

The Road Becomes a River

Heavy rain in La Manzanilla has turned the road at the side of my house into a deep gorge that threatened to undermine the steps. Luckily, Dan was there to monitor the situation, and he ordered some large rocks to fill up the trench - there's no point in having the road graded or even filled with sand or gravel; it just gets washed away in the road that becomes a river during heavy rain. These rocks were placed aver 2 weeks ago, and now I hear that there has been more rain, and some of them have even moved. By the dry season (November onward) the roads should have been fixed, unless we get another crazy winter of unseasonable rain.

A Colorful Painting Finds a Good Home

I sold one of my favorite paintings during last winter's artwalk to friends from Vancouver Island. I just saw it in its new home on a recent trip over there. It is gratifying to see how well it fits in to the beautiful home of Geoff and Janis...who also referred me to one of their favorite galleries - Gallery 223 in Nanaimo. So now I have some work being shown there also. Thanks, Geoff and Janis!

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

The Value of Coaching

Back in Vancouver, after spending the winter in Mexico, where life seems so much simpler! The complexity of life in the north is exciting, but also requires more focus, it seems. What are my goals? What is most important to me? Do I really need to buy that widget - and that - and that - ?? (things that weren't even available in La Manzanilla, and therefore didn't come up for consideration)

So this morning I remembered that today is the first Tuesday, and Sandi Amorim is offering her Coaching Gym (up to 25 minutes, first – come - first - serve, by telephone, every half hour from 7:00 - 2:00, and it's FREE). Just in getting ready to make the call, I renewed my commitment to effectively market my artwork this summer. It was so helpful to have another (very professional) perspective on this huge topic. Thanks, Sandi... thanks for the benefit of your many years experience in coaching, and your generosity in offering these sessions as a way to "pay it forward".

So now, here is my chance to pay it forward. Artists and other small business owners will find this an exceptional opportunity; however, anyone who lives in this busy world will find value from Sandi’s coaching. For more information,just contact Sandi directly at 604-874-6410 or through her blog:

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Reusable Shopping Bag Challenge

Reusable shopping bag challenge: Someone showed me the smallest foldaway shopping bag – it could easily be carried in your purse – or maybe even attached to your keychain? – so it wouldn’t be left in the car when you get to the grocery…very thin, light, and strong fabric. The ones you can see on these websites

are good, but not so tiny – does anyone have knowledge of a better one?

I would love to see this problem addressed in La Manzanilla, a beautiful little beach town with a major litter problem.

Sunday, May 02, 2010

A Cold Front

Just before we left La Manzanilla, for a few days the days were refreshingly moderate; and then the wind would pick up in the evening, These photos are ones that I took on a walk on the beach, looking for images to use for my Magic Hour series.

Friday, April 30, 2010

Adventures on the road to Canada- Marty Pique

On our way to Vancouver from Mexico, in the Mojave Desert, Dan and I stopped in a convenience store on the corner of nowhere and nowhere - well, it seems that way in such a huge desert. Dan noticed on the wall a photo of a man with a small bicycle and a HUGE load of bags of bottles and cans. He asked the proprietor if that was a real photo, and she said, "Well, here is, just coming in the door" and yes, there was Marty, coming in for a coffee. He took us over to show us his setup, and then I suggested I could promote his initiative, which is to clean up this part of the here is a link to an article all about Marty Pigue (he said it is pronounced "pig" but he is not Canadian!- shouldn't that be "peeg"?) - anyway, Marty's another great guy doing his best to clean up our world. At the end of the article are details of how you can send him a donation to help his initiative.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Adios Plastico

Oh, happy day! a truckload of bamboo furniture arrives in town, and the vendor, who has driven 25 hours from Vera Cruz, is anxious to sell. Lots of interest - it is surprisingly difficult to find reasonably priced comfortable, light furniture like this, even in Guadalajara, apparently.
Now what to do with the purple futon - and its purple painted metal frame? With the team of Israel and Javier "no hay problema" and up to the teraza it goes.
By the end of the day, the vendors are happy - they have sold all the goods on the truck, and are headed back to Vera Cruz with orders for more.
It's sure fun translating this Mexican color into my artwork.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Homemade popsicles

My neighbors, Yair and Elvis, love making "paletes" from blended papaya - wish I could be here for the mango season, too...they will be very plentiful in a few weeks.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Dan discovered this beautiful little restaurant in Melaque - called El Patio, it has been recently renovated, and is off the busy main street, in a little courtyard. Its colors and the structures were perfect for the photos I like to take to inspire my Mexico paintings. The food was really good and inexpensive - good find, Dan!

Eating well in Mexico

Nopal is a useful cactus plant that grows very easily here - you can just throw a pad down on the ground, and it will root. The local people eat it every day, as it is so inexpensive and nutritious. I make a morning drink of it with blended raw nopal, apple and pear, and a little ginger and pineapple juice - very refreshing, and we think it tastes better than the popular jugo verde, which is more savory and includes celery and parsley. These nopal cactus right outside my gate are really starting to grow now that spring is here. I plan to be a nopal guerrilla gardener one of these days, and just start planting the pads everywhere there is a bare patch of ground. It seems to me we should make sure there is plenty of free food available in the village "just in case".

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Semana Santa

It must be the biggest thrill for a Mexican child or teenager - a few days camping at the beach at Easter time. Many of the families are on holiday from Guadalajara and other inland cities. Our usually quiet village transforms with food stands, cake displays, plaster mold painting kiosks (you can see here a whole family earnestly painting a Snoopy or a Virgen de Guadalupe) Enrique's favorite "jardin" acticity is a multi-level trampoline with a safely net all around; during Semana Santa there is more than one... not to mention all the merry-go-rounds and carnival shooting stalls. It's really a step back in time.

Abstract or Not?

This painting is based on a few rows of ribbons that I saw in a shop here. I've had a good time balancing the cool and warm colors in this piece - usually here warm wins out - I wonder why? This is a 20 x 24" oil painting on canvas, and you can see it on my website. Look for Ribbons 2 at my website (see the link to the top right - scroll up) under the Available in La Manzanilla set.

A Trip Inland to Comala

Comala is a small colonial town which is famous for its Botaneros - restaurants which serve delicious drinks that you pay for, and then receive endless free appetizers to go with them. The Mariachis are there, too, ready to play and sing for you - altogether a really fun attraction.
Comala also has an interesting former hacienda which is now a museum with a beautiful ecological park - the plant in this set of pictures is a vanilla vine.

Growing Food In the Garden

A year ago, this 10 foot "tree" was only a seed! Imagine my surprise when I returned after last summer, and saw this beautiful papaya plant. I thought we would be eating papayas in a few weeks, but they have actually taken about 4 months to ripen - which, I am told, is why the fruits are so sweet. They have been allowed to grow slowly, with no chemicals, and are much better than the ones you buy here in the shops. All you have to do is broadcast the seeds from one of the papayas. Some of them will find their ideal growing conditions - and...what a bonus!

Magic Hour

The hour before sunset is beautiful here - the 2 photos and the oil painting (called Magic Hour on the Beach) reflect my fascination with the warm color and the contrasting tones of that time of day.

Another of This Year's Paintings

Martin's restaurant is one of the favorites here in La Manzanilla.

Surprise Visitors

I very seldom see scorpions (called alacranes here) in my house or yard, but these ormigas sure found them! These ants visit your property, and go right through, housecleaning, and eating every living thing (well, every insect, anyway) that they can find. They surrounded this alacran, and within a half hour had devoured it. Then they moved on.

Christmas Visit by Enrique and His Mother

Chasing butterflies - and actually getting them to land on his finger - is one of Enrique's favorite activities here, where they fly right through the living room.

End of the Season

It's early April, and many of the Northerners are heading home from Mexico. Semana Santa is over, and the beach is getting cleaned - by volunteers and by the tide...
I have not been blogging this season, so plan to catch up my "blog followers" with a selection of photos taken over the last few months...below is one of the oil paintings inspired by the jungle of my yard down here. It is called Jungle Flower, and you can see it if you go to, and look in the Available in La Manzanilla set.

Monday, October 05, 2009

My Temporary Studio In Vancouver

This summer, for the first time in years, I rented studio space here in Vancouver. I had a few paintings to finish (mostly Pacific Northwest images), and this seemed the best way to avoid distractions. For the last few years I have used makeshift "studios" at my home. It's been good in many ways, but there is always the distraction element when I am working from home - and never enough room.
I started out by completing those paintings (always a hard task for me; if it were easy, I would finish them all in one go!) It's just so easy now, when I am stuck, to pull out a new canvas, full of possibilities. However, after a week or so of dutifully working on those unfinished ones, I couldn't resist the chance to do a few paintings that were rumbling around in my head - colorful umbrella abstractions from my time in Mexico. In the photos above you can see a few of them in a corner of my 1000 Parker St. studio space.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Saved by Israel's Sharp Eye

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Looking back at the images I had in my laptop, I came across these pictures of a potentially expensive problem diverted by Israel, who often does projects in my house.
When we were trying to figure out how much water was still in the tank, he noticed a vigourous tree root growing under the tank (which is on the roof). This would have grown quickly, and with the weight of the water, would have caused the tank to crack. He worked it out, and saved me from even more water problems than I already have, with a relatively small storage system... gracias, Israel!