When I first read about Tunisian Collaborative Painting I got very excited to try it and immediately contacted two painter friends living in Morelia: Lucille Arneson and Valda Alsop, shared the links, and invited them to make a painting after Christmas.  By the time we'd gotten it scheduled, eight other colllaborativos had been completed, some with Lucille and Val taking part. But finally we got together, the three of us, and created this painting on my roof while we listened to the opera Mary Queen of Scots.  On Monday, Val and I got together, with Lucille's blessing, and tweaked it a little more. We had SO MUCH FUN, I'm sure we'll do it again.


For my friend Dorian's birthday I thought it would be fun to invite friends to an "art happening" at the Calzada (a famous walkway in Morelia) that's near Dorian's house and collaborate on a painting. I set up the easel, Dorian picked out the colors, and seven of us worked away until .... we got totally stuck, at which point we quit and decided whoever could return would go to Dorian's patio the next day to to finish.

Note: One of Morelia's main architectural features is its aqueduct....

Dorian, Clay, Me, and Lucille
Where we got stuck


COLLLECTIVO #6, AMATI'S 1 (14X14" acrylic)
This was painted at Amati Café a little jazz club in centro Morelia that has great hamburgers and artisanal beers by La Bru. We listened to jazz and painted. Seven of us.

COLLLECTIVO #8, AMATI'S 2 (13X13" acrylic)
The next Friday night we painted this one... slightly different group. I put out the same colors, got a totally different result. And actually one painter and I worked on it again the next day... 


COLLLABORATIVO #5 "LLENO"  (13X13" acrylic)
I'd like to say that yesterday I motivated a group of non-painter, mostly gringos (otherwise known as Friends without Borders) to drop all inhibitions (and their desire to have lunch and some conversation in peace) and create this collaborative painting, but I'd only be telling a half-truth.

Although the adults started it off with a sun, a heart, and some spirited squiggles, it was really three young girls: Ashlyn, Maria, and Sylvia who seemed to know intuitively what collaborative painting is. They didn't argue, or discuss, just worked together. When one element she liked got painted over by her littlest sister, the oldest sister just replaced it.

When they stopped, I asked, "No quieres pintar mas?" (Don't you want to paint any more?) The little one said, "No. Lleno." (It's full). I loved that.


Sometime in December I was surfing the web and read about Tunisian Collaborative Painting.  Then on New Year's day I packed for a four day trip to meet NY friends at Troncones and stuck in three 13X13" pieces of corrugated cardboard for covering with muslin to make quick and dirty supports, gesso, some jars of acrylic paint, and 5 random brushes.

On January 2nd I looked at my husband, daughter, her friend Diana, and our friends Greg & Patty gathered around an outdoor patio on the beach and announced, "I'd like to make a collaborative painting with all of you, I hope you'll all participate. We're going to take turns. Each person can paint for as long as they want. No talking to the person painting, no commenting. Just make whatever marks make sense to you. After everyone has had their first turn whoever has an idea can go next. We're only finished when we all agree we're finished."

Everyone said they'd try it. I thought of a number (7). Patty picked 7 and went first. Her mark was that orange swirl in the middle. This is the end result:
Colllaborativo Art Project, Painting #1, 13X13" acrylic
On the second day the husbands dropped out. And Diana started by making 5 bold red swirls and a bold red snaky line. This is the result of the second day:

Colllaborativo Art Project, Painting #2, 13X13" acrylic

On the third day Alice said she didn't want to paint, so it was Patty, Diana, and I. Diana hadn't spoken much English so far on the trip but when I asked if anyone had a new rule to propose she said, "Yes! We must cover the whole thing with paint." So that became the rule for painting #3. After we each had a couple of turns, Alice joined in after all. 

This painting took a lot more thought and we had to take a long bogey boarding break in the middle when we got stuck. We liked the result and decided covering the whole canvas should always be the rule. Also, toward the end we did discuss where we thought the painting was weakest and what to do about it.
Colllaborativo Art Project,  Painting #3, 13X13" acrylic
On day 4 we were really looking forward to another painting. We decided we'd start with each person closing their eyes. I dipped a brush in paint and facilitated each person making some blind marks. This created an ugly mess. And from there it just kept getting uglier. We still were not discussing the painting while it was going on, but when Alice and Diana left to go swimming, I turned to Greg and Patty who do marriage success training and pointed at the canvas. "Can this marriage be saved?" I asked.

Greg said, "Always!" Of course he wasn't one of the painters... However, he was right, and in the end we all felt it was the best of the four attempts.
Colllaborativo Art Project, Painting #4 (The Saved Marriage), 13X13" acrylic
Patty wrote me today about the experience: 

We DID have the best time. I LOVED doing it and am actually pretty impressed with the results of day 4. You have stirred my creative juices! Thanks for providing such a great project to do together. I found it very liberating, as I did not feel responsible for the outcome and found the process interesting on a number of levels. While this was developed as a way for seasoned painters to open up a bit (I think), it seems to me a perfect, non-threatening art project for non-artists, including those who have some inhibitions about creativity.

I'm anxious to try this again with another group! If you're interested, give me a hoot!
The first two painters made their marks
The beginnings of painting #3 

Diana of the cover-the-whole-canvas rule

Patty and painting 4 


Posted this painting on my Facebook page yesterday and a friend notified me that it's timely because today is International Guacamole Day. I thought she was kidding, but I googled it and it turns out Nov. 14 is in fact National Spicy Guacamole Day. I must have sensed it in the air...

Black & White Cow with Blue Corn Tortillas

Black & White Cow with Blue Corn Torillas (40X40 acrylic)
I had just finished my last cow painting "Cowcentric" when I went back to Umecuaro for the weekend where I saw an awesome black and white chicken which gave me the idea for this black and white border. I had my camera and I followed the chicken around for quite awhile (the chickens of Umecuaro are quite free-roaming) until it got spooked and jumped into a ditch. I kept hoping I'd run into that chicken again, but alas, no such luck. Meanwhile, I was basically tripping over black and white cows. So here's another cow. But can there really be too many cow paintings?

I got the blue corn tortillas at the San Juan market when I got back to Morelia. Perhaps you can't see them well, but there are also kernals of blue corn in there.

100 Chile Labyrinth

100 Chile Labyrinth (23.5 X 23.5, acrylic)
Labyrinths! I love to walk them. I built one once in our yard out of sticks. I've carved them over and over into the sand at the beach. They're a passion of mine. So here's my attempt to bring two passions together: food and labyrinth.  For models I used a bag of chiles de arbol that I bought at the market. Notice that each one is different.  I had no idea how many chiles it would take to get to the end. When it turned out to be exactly 100, I couldn't believe it!

The idea is to follow the labyrinth from chile to chile with your eyes starting with the lower middle orange one that's pointing up...

 Note: This painting is very hard to photograph well (at least w/my camera) because of the black background.


COWCENTRIC (40X40, acrylic)
I started this painting last year when I was housesitting in Umecuaro, a tiny ag-town in Michoacan where the cows roam free. I'd walk right up to cows and snap their photos. They didn't care. Easier than lugging home a cow head to paint! The red corn came from a vendor a few blocks from my house who was grilling it, cutting it off the cob and selling it in a cup with cream and cheese. I had a little trouble explaining that I just wanted to buy an ungrilled piece. The word I was looking for was "crudo" (raw).

COWCENTRIC w/ neighbor's chummy dog
Here's a photo of the painting with my next door art critic. She loves it!


A couple of weeks ago we stayed at a BandB in Barra de Potosi, a little beach town in Guerrero.  At breakfast on the second day my husband told the owner that we'd been to Barra ten years before and that I'd made a painting of a man under the now-cleared palm grove and that in fact it was one of his favorite paintings of mine but that I kept it in the closet! Duh and huh!?

I'd been in Barra for 36 hours at that point and never put together that I'd been there before and I hadn't thought of the painting for years.... I wasn't hiding it for goodness sake.  I just stored it once when we were renting our house and then hung something else (I've got a lot of paintings and a small house).  So here's the the iceman from Barra de Potosi, out of the closet at last.

Adelaide in the Window

Just finished this really fun commission from Clay and Dorian Slate owners of Mexican Home Art a copper furniture & fixture company. They just had a lovely fountain put into their patio, but wanted something to fill the little adjoining wall.
Copper fountain behind a  copper table


They'd brought back some photos of trompe-l'oeil windows they'd seen in Spain and wondered if I could do something similar, but then because they also wanted a portrait of their granddaughter, we came up with this concept.

Adelaide's grandparents
The arched window and stonework are in the style seen throughout Morelia.


I'm back to my food series. These are all foods I brought home from San Juan Mercado in Morelia: Papaya, oranges, strawberries, blackberries, avocados, limes, and cantaloupe. The light parts of the background are metalic gold paint. Not sure it shows up great in the photo, but it's quite nice in person. I got the idea at church (where else) and now I'm totally inspired to use it more. (24X32, acrylic)

Did you know that Columbus named papaya, Fruit of the Angels? And that papaya has AMAZING health benefits? Here's an excellent article:


This is the fourth in my series of food paintings inspired by the San Juan market.  Pig heads figure big there and have always fascinated me.  What do you do with a pig's head I always wondered.  Then I read my friend Cristina Potters's post on Mexico Cooks! about pozole.

I love pozole!  This is my cheerful painted version of it including some possible garnishes:  avocado, sliced radishes, shredded cabbage, and cilantro.

(40X40" acrylic on canvas)

(If you saw the post before Oct. 17, 2011 you may notice that I repainted the pig portion ... I like this pig better.)

Nightshade Family Square Dance

I'm doing a series of paintings of the foods I see daily at the San Juan market here in Morelia.  Some of them I never cook with, but their shapes and colors are so intriguing it's fun to be able to explore them through painting.

This is the first in the series which so far has three paintings.

Acrylic on canvas (32X32 cm) / (12.6X12.6 in)

Posada Mandala

This is one of a series of paintings I've just begun about food.

Here in Mexico, baby Jesus figurines are sold in every size from 2" long to life size.   They all have a certain look, a certain turn to the hands, that I tried to capture.

The foods surrounding the baby are the typical ones that might appear at a Christmas celebration such as a posada:  sugar cane, peanuts,  oranges, and candy -- the colorful ball-shaped candies are called colaciónes.    The white chunky pieces are peeled pieces of raw cane sprinkled with a little chile powder.

Acrylic painting on canvas (12.6X12.6 in.)  / (32X32cm.)

Melón's, Ocho Pesitos Por Kilo

Just got back to Morelia after 8 weeks in New England visiting family and friends and not painting a lick.  So I was anxious to get started again.  I've been working on this large canvas the last 10 days and also on a small (7X7") realistic child's portrait which I'll post on the portrait blog once the parents give me their opinions.    Which type of painting do I like more?  I love it all.  Painting faces is a passion, but so is bold color.  And having the two paintings going at the same time worked pretty well.   I'm going to start two more over the weekend.  

20X28" acrylic on canvas

Caña y Naranja (Sugar Cane and Orange)

These girls are dressed for the feast of the Virgin of Guadalupe, which is December 12th but is such an important holiday the festivities start many days before.  Kids and some adults dress in 16th century costumes like the indian Juan Diego,  the one to whom the virgin appeared.

The girl on the left has long braids pinned to her real hair and is eating sugar cane chunks.

This is my last painting of my time here in Morelia.  I'm going back to New England for the summer, but I already have ideas for when I return in September.  It's been a wonderful experience to be able to devote the last ten months to painting.

30X40 acrylic on canvas

Mariposas Separadas

I want my figure paintings to not just be "pretty" but to engage the viewer with a story or through identification.  I think this painting achieves that.

Asthetically it's about how a good gray can make other colors SING. 

Acrylic on two corrugated cardboard panels, each 30X40"  

Note:  When glassed and framed a painting on cardboard looks like any painting on paper.  The painting on cardboard idea came from Jamie Wyeth who trumpeted its attributes  in a video I saw at the Farnsworth Art Museum in Rockland, Maine last summer .  Edgar Degas put ballerinas on cardboard.   So I figure I'm in good company.  

Here's one of my paintings on cardboard framed:

Flor y Sandía

I don't do a lot of still lifes, but they're a good break from figure painting.  I used all the primary and secondary colors here except purple (poor purple).

30X40", acrylic on corrugated cardboard.  To show how large that is, here it is on a wall.