Las Palmitas, Pachuca, Mexico
5′ x 4′
acrylic over gessoed canvas
Fear No Color
My paintings have never been extremely large so when I decided to gesso over an existing giclee that measured five feet by four feet, I was taking a leap of faith that I could create something wonderful. Because the giclee was rather dull and colorless, I wanted vibrancy in its replacement. My friend, mentor and teacher, Janine Wesselmann and I searched for possible subjects and stumbled upon Las Palmitas, a neighborhood in Pachuca, Mexico. Most of Las Palmitas was built using cement blocks, leaving the neighborhood rather drab and definitely colorless. A group of street artists, known locally as The German Crew, decided to create a mural painted over the entire neighborhood. Over fourteen months, muralists and residents painted over 200 homes. According to an August 1st, 2015 AP article in The Guardian, they used colors like the Skittles candy. Seen from a distance, the results of the Pachuca Paints Itself Project is quite remarkable.
Janine and I had found our inspiration.
My Florida home is not receptive to my painting in the house on such a large canvas. I jerry-rigged a studio in the middle of our garage in between our cars. Bless my husband Terry, he did not go crazy. I told Janine my plan of execution and she gently told me, “No.” She explained that my strategy would waste an immense amount of paint. I had thought to take my underpainting and divide it into quadrants, painting first one and then proceeding to paint its neighboring quadrant. Foolish plan! Janine, who is a master teacher and internationally celebrated artist had a better plan. Being a relative novice myself, I deferred to her knowledge and expertise.
She instructed me to choose a color I liked and use it in three to five locations and then repeat that process until I had all the buildings painted. Choosing colors meant looking for complementary colors or opposites to highlight certain areas. Once all the buildings were in, I needed to add a few details: stairs, windows, balconies, fences, doors. From the beginning, Janine’s mantra to me was, “Fear No Color.” She encouraged me to choose joyful colors as my guide. Just as the colors of the mural brightened the lives of those living in the barrio, the finished La Palmitas, now hanging on my breakfast nook wall brings joy to me and friends who visit.