In this brand new episode of The Artist Diaries, Loni Stark references an iconic Mexican game as inspiration for her latest art project.
I just had to paint La Calvera.
As much as it, admittedly, creeped me out.
But when you’re trying to do an honest-to-goodness interpretation of a Mexican classic, you absolutely must respect the cultural idioms. And, in the case of La Lotería, it meant including a card featuring a skull. Oh. So. Not. My. Favorite.
On my most recent visit to Baja, Mexico I found inspiration in the playful and visually striking cards from the iconic game of Lotería. So paint it I would! Or, at least … try.
My goal: to create a six panel art piece that would sit above the headboard in the my casa in Loreto Bay. As always, my medium would be oils.
Choosing which six of the ubiquitous Lotería cards (there are 54 different images in total) to paint was my first challenge. There are many interesting symbols, and whimsical sayings that accompany them. For example…
- El gorrito (“the bonnet”) – Ponle su gorrito al nene, no se nos vaya a resfriar. (“Put the bonnet on the baby, lest he catch a cold.”)
- El pescado (“the fish”) – El que por la boca muere, aunque mudo fuere. (“This one dies by its mouth, even if it was mute in life”)
In the end I went with the symbols and pictures that I found to be either colorfully pleasing, or, to be those more widely recognized images.
As for the skull I so feared?
I decided to use the famous “Day of the Dead” celebration as inspiration and co-opted my own (hopefully acceptable!) interpretation of La Calvera. In other words, when in doubt: color, color, and more color.
What you don’t see in this Artist Diaries video are the finishing touches. Some are yet to come. I need to wait for the canvas to dry. Then, I will add the official Lotería card numbers (typically located at the upper right or left hand corner). Also, along the bottom, each card will feature its name. I’m thinking of going with a script font. Much planning, and, no doubt, second-guessing, is likely to ensue as I figure out how to apply the finishing touches for the written inserts I will soon need to paint onto the panels. Oh. I know, the drama!
Regardless, I was pleased as punch that I was able to take a few days out of my Baja work schedule to “attack the canvas” (as Clint likes to say). Special times.
So: here I am in a casa in Loreto Bay in Baja California Sur, trying as hard as I can to stomach painting a heart and a skull! Video is below.
As always, any and all suggestions on my oil painting skills or would-be skills are welcome. This would-be artist wants to keep growing, one canvas at a time. One must at least try, no?!