Archive for November, 2010

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My How-To Retablo Ornament Video To Air!

November 28, 2010

Image from the videoMy father and I created a how-to video to illustrate my new “Paint-Your-Own Retablo Ornament Kit.”  The video entitled “Stamped Retablo Ornament” will be aired on Channel 26 Arts and Entertainment Public Television!  I’m so excited to share the video.  I will post the airing time as soon as I know.

overhead camera viewWe worked hard to balance the practical issues of technique with the fundamental issues of approach.  It is my first video, so there is much to learn. But it was so enjoyable and rewarding and it made me feel I really do have something important to offer.  My Dad chose to keep many of the bloopers, which gives it a warm quality I like. He went through a lot of extra effort to capture overhead views to allow the viewer to easily follow along.

sgraffito detailAt first, I was concerned about filling a half hour show with my tiny ornaments. But, once I was engaged in the process, I realized I had a lot to say (which my Dad knew all along).  If you get a chance to catch it, please send me some feedback.  If you miss it, you can purchase a copy of the complete 45 minute DVD or the kit here:  Delgado Arts Shop

You can also preview the How-To DVD here:

For more on the kit, click the “Retablo Kits” under the “Pages” heading on the right.
Mini ornament retablo kit top view

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Saint Peter | San Pedro

November 10, 2010
retablo of Saint Peter

© copyright 2010 Sean Wells y Delgado

As a Mom of two, it is difficult for me to set aside the time to focus on art.  I’ve actually been working on the previous sentence for the last 2 hours. So, to help me seperate my work time from my Mom time, I have decided to assign themes to my days.  Today was my first dedicated Retablo day.  It was very relaxing to feel I could unfurl my painting supplies and projects on the kitchen table without trying to accomplish 20 other things or worry about interruptions and tiny hands.  I intended to work on ornaments in preparation for the holidays, but there was a board that has been calling to me for years.  I stared at it until I remembered an image my Grandmother had always wanted me to paint. It was a Saint Peter.  She wanted me to paint him as if you were looking through a keyhole.

As I stared at the board imagining an image that would compliment the board shape, the image of the keyhole became clear and I knew it would be the perfect saint for this board.  I found the board at a yard sale in Alexandria, Virginia.  I was told it was an antique and used to stretch pelts of animals like muskrats.  It looks well-aged and has a wonderful deep and weathered grain.  It looks like it may have once been the top of a fence.  I really love the idea of using a reclaimed board since I think often, the santero used whatever substrates were available.  Nothing went to waste.  So, although the board is not hand shaped by me or even made from a local wood, using reclaimed resources is in the spirit of our pioneering predecessor artisans.

Detail of Saint Peter retablo

© copyright 2010 Sean Wells y Delgado

I read up on Saint Peter to refresh my memory and studied several images of him.  He is shown with an oversized key and is seen as the gatekeeper to Heaven. He is often shown holding a book, a symbol of wisdom.  As a fisherman himself, he is patron saint to boaters.  He wears a red robe.

I was most taken with the story that he denies being apostle to Christ to save himself as Jesus is put on trial.  He is ashamed of his action and confesses to Jesus and is forgiven.  Once called “Simon,” Jesus anoints him with the name “Peter” which, in Greek,  translates to “rock.”  Matthew 16:18 says,”You are Peter, and on this rock I will build my Church.”  Peter is not judged on his failure, but on his potential for success. He is given the key to the gates of Heaven in the greatest demonstration of faith.  He goes on to live up to that expectation as a loyal disciple and is generally accepted as the first Pope.

Once I had all the imagery in my head, I sketched out the image and the painting flowed quickly.  It is a larger piece measuring about 14″ tall.  It will be a challenge to hang since the board is not weighted symmetrically.  But,  I was pleased with being able to finish an entire larger piece in one sitting.  I really love the keyhole as well as his expression.

Saint Peter  |  San Pedro
feast day June 29
symbols:  book, large key, rooster, fishing net, red robe.

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First Phase Screening for Spanish Market Passed!

November 4, 2010
La Conquistadora detail

©copyright 2010 Sean Wells y Delgado

I just received notice today that I have PASSED the first phase of screening for Spanish Market Artists 2011!  I am so excited to share my news.  Spanish Market is the annual show of premiere Spanish Colonial Artisans of the Southwest presented by the Spanish Colonial Arts Society held on the Plaza in Santa Fe, NM.  They maintain the highest standards of quality, craftsmanship and tradition and it is a true honor to have opportunity to participate in this show.  My brother has been a participant for many years now as a tinsmith.  His work is impeccable.  And we have always aspired to do this show together.

The Screening Process

There are two phases.  The first consists of submitting photos of three sample pieces.  The letter states “to ensure that your materials, techniques and subject matter fall within the general Guidelines for Spanish Market and that your work meets the minimum standards  for craftsmanship and artistry.”  I have passed this part of the review.  In the letter, they include some juror responses to guide the development of the work and I received some thoughtful positive comments that made me feel like they really spent some time reviewing the work.  One I particularly liked read, “Nice linear details.”

Alma de Maria (The Soul of Mary)

©copyright 2010 Sean Wells y Delgado

The second phase, which takes place sometime after the new year, requires submittals of actual examples of finished pieces.  As I understand it, this gives them an opportunity to inspect for craftsmanship and execution.

As the letter states, the the three pieces I submitted were juried anonymously.  I included the Alma de Maria retablo I completed at Juanito Jimenez’ retablo workshop, a Saint Francis that includes some simple carving and my first La Conquistadora (which became part of the banner image for this blog).  It is a larger retablo measuring 12″x18″.  I plan to do a whole series on her and will blog about them in a future post, I’m sure.  All three of these pieces were done using traditional techniques and earth clays or natural pigments, with the exception of the outlining.  I use a sepia watercolor.  I would like to replace it with a natural pigment, but have not found a suitable one yet and I like the softness and warmth of the brown over a harsher lamp black.

Saint Francis

©copyright 2010 Sean Wells y Delgado

I applied last year in a scramble and, although I liked the pieces I had submitted individually, I did not feel all that good about how I had represented myself, showing much older pieces with my newer work.  Disappointed, but not surprised at a rejection, I committed this past year to developing my style.  I thought finding a style would come from painting in large volumes.  Well, being a mother of two toddlers precludes quantity work.  I found that my confidence grew simply in developing my knowledge base.  I studied with two retablo artists. I read about the history of the Spanish Colonial arts as well as the traditions of the retablo artist (Santero).  I have familiarized myself with the work of other retablo artists.  I have been reading diligently about the lives of the Saints.  And, I have taken an active interest in the exhibits of the Spanish Colonial Arts Society Museum of Spanish Colonial Arts.  I can feel all of this information coming through me when I sit down now to produce.  But, there is so much more to learn.

La Conquistadora

©copyright 2010 Sean Wells y Delgado

Well, thank you all so much for your prayers and positive thoughts as I awaited the good news.  As I told a few of you, although I wanted to jury in for many reasons, I trusted there is a very exciting plan set in motion for me this year whether I get in or not.  I don’t know if this blog is the right forum to mention this, but last night I had a wonderful dream that my brother and I collaborated on a large image of Our Lady of Guadalupe.  The challenge in collaborating on a Guadalupe is that her image is traditionally oval and her flames want to be unbounded.  In the dream, I carve her flames and as they taper out, they become vines that swirl into flowers in the corners of the image.  The organic forms of the vines and flowers flow and fill the shape of the rectangle.  This allows my brother an inviting form to frame with a traditional classic frame.  His rosette stamp work reflects the corner flowers of the retablo.  It was a wonderfully satisfying dream.  I plan to make the board just as I have dreamt it.  I think the image in the dream is a gift from La Conquistadora, who has been shining on me lately.  Thank you, my Lady.