Posts Tagged ‘New Mexico’

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Student of Tinwork

February 13, 2011
Tin Votive Sconces
Created by Fr. George Aquaro

My brother Jason just received the highest compliment on his How-To Tinwork DVD.  He was sent this photo from Fr. George Aquaro  who created this pair of votive sconces after watching Jason’s videos!  The whole family was just so amazed and touched by Fr. Aquaro’s work and it is a real testament to Jason’s knack for teaching to see that a novice could create these beautiful pieces.  Now, to be fair to Fr. Aquaro, he must be an artistic, crafty and handy person to begin with.  This is not one of the patterns that Jason demonstrates (to my knowledge).  So, Fr, Aquaro must have designed not only the construction, but the stamp work patterns that appear on these pieces.  So, although I do see this as a testament to Jason’s innate teaching ability, as Jenny Craig would say in fine print, “Results Not Typical,”  lol.  So, Fr. Aquaro has done an exceptional job of absorbing the techniques and concepts taught in Jason’s video and assimilated it into original works of art.  I especially love the quilted backboard, something Jason was working on just the other day for a nicho.  It will reflect the light of the flame beautifully, I’m sure.

I immediately requested to post Fr. Aquaro’s story here and he graciously obliged in addition to sending a testimonial:

I have never worked with tin or sheet metal before.  Jason’s videos helped me overcome my hesitation at working with sheet metal, and has opened a whole new world of art that I really thought was outside my abilities.  His clear and thorough instructions guided me right through the process, from design and aesthetics to construction and finishing.  After watching Jason’s videos and getting a few simple tools, I was able to start working with tin from the local hardware store.  My friends are now making requests for pieces even though I have only been at it a few weeks.  I highly recommend Jason’s video series to anyone who wants to learn a new and fun art form that can be as beautiful as it is practical.  Thank you, Jason!

Fr. George Aquaro
Los Angeles, CA

He goes on to explain that the dimensions of his work is constrained by the fact that he is using rolls of 12″ flashing from his local hardware store.  Jason offers larger sheets locally.

I noted his email address and followed it to his website where he supports the tradition of baking Prosphora.  I had to Wiki it.  It is the term for the bread baked for the Eucharist, marked with a seal.  He has video instructions and recipes to bake the Prosphora.  But, I was particularly taken with the section on the bread stamps or seals.  These are urathane molds used to mark the bread before baking with a variety of Greek, Russian or iconic images.  I believe Fr. Aquaro casts these himself.  I’m not sure what the rules are for the general public using these molds (it seems there are varying rules as to who can bake the bread), but there is an example how someone used one of the molds to cast a plate, so it seems you can use the casts for other purposes.  Although, I would think the resulting piece should be respectfully spiritual in nature.  The images from the stamps are very lovely and I think there would be lots of creative things to do with them.  Here’s (appropriately) the stamp of Saint George:

Saint George prosphora

Click the image to visit his site http://www.Prosphora.org
Visit my online store and follow the links to Jason’s site to purchase Jason’s Tinwork DVDs.

Thank you Fr. Aquaro for sharing your work with us.  Keep it up!

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Final Jury Piece #3 Complete!

February 4, 2011

 

SCAS jury review 2011

copyright ©2011 Sean Wells y Delgado

It was a disastrously unproductive 2 weeks with sick kids, sick Gramma babysitter and snow days that turned into snow week.  But with a bit of support from family watching kids, I was able to wrap up my 3rd piece to submit for SCAS final jury!  I will head up to Santa Fe tomorrow with pieces in hand and stay over for an early morning delivery.  I was so excited when I finished it and saw the three pieces adjacent to one another.  It looked like the work produced by a single artist (my goal for this year) and I was very pleased with the trio as a set.

St Francis Retablo

copyright ©2011 Sean Wells y Delgado

SAINT FRANCIS  |  SAN FRANCISCO  For the final piece, I created a companion board to the La Conquistadora board and chose the Saint Francis imagery.  It is a large 12″ x 18″ board, so I was able to get into some entertaining details and textures.

I added some birds and framed him in trees to symbolize the tale of Saint Francis being swarmed by a variety of birds as he walked through the woods with his companions.  I included an owl to recall the giant owl my brother just encountered on a hike with my son. I typically include a stylized deer wrapping his legs, but decided to convert my deer into a wolf, after having heard tale of  how he saved a village from a killing wolf.  He befriended the wolf and convinced the town to feed the wolf.  In exchange, he asked the wolf not to harm the villagers or their livestock.

I sketched several iterations of the wolf, trying to capture ‘wolf’ and get away from ‘dog.’  I asked my two year old son if he liked the doggie in the painting.  I was so happy when he said (completely unprompted), “that not dog Mom, it wolf!”

The pattern in the leaves of the trees were inspired by illustrations from one of my kid’s vintage sleepy time books.  I had so much fun painting the leaves, I will surely be introducing more pattern fill and texture in future boards.

I chose to wrap the imagery of the leaves and tree trunk around the edge of the board.  I like the effect, but it is a more modern look, I believe.  And, it is not very enjoyable to paint on a curve!

Retablo St Francis detail

copyright ©2011 Sean Wells y Delgado

I feel myself getting more comfortable with predicting how the pigments and board will react to one another.  My brush strokes are getting more confident and I am loosening up.  I’m sorry I forgot to get a progress shot.  It was very cool at the color blocking stage.  I will be sure to get those shots in the future.

Anyway, no matter what happens with jury at this point, I feel I am putting my best foot forward and have represented my family’s name with honor.

TV EPISODE UPDATES:  Well, the weather started getting rough and the all the stations had some technical issues.  In short, both Santa Fe and Albuquerque will be rerunning this weeks episodes next week. I have updated the episode list to reflect the new air schedule.  Also, just a note, after we finish the Saint Rita episodes, we will start a Saint Francis board that will be based on this board!  We haven’t shot it yet, so if you have any thoughts on whether to put in a wolf or a deer, drop me a comment!

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Show on NM Santeros

January 25, 2011

Here’s a great little half hour show produced for KNME public television on New Mexican Santeros.  It follows some of the artists into the studio and it is filmed beautifully.  It has many oral excerpts of personal letters from the pioneer period that get you into the mindset of the settler artisan.

It features artists Jose Benjamin Lopez, Marie Romero Cash, Felix Lopez and Cruz Lopez.

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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.