Every time I go to Mexico I learn something new and gain a deeper understanding of the community and culture. So when Carolyn St Claire asked me to attend an art reception in Tijuana at the Cultural Center I jumped at the chance.
Her friend Roberto Pacheco Martinez, www.robertopachecom.blogspot.com who is an architect turned professional watercolorist, was showing his work and she had promised to attend.
She met him and his wife Monica at a water color society he had started (Facebook: Sociedad de Acuarelistas), and he is now teaching aspiring artists how to improve their craft. We walked around the cultural center and I was amazed at this beautiful space dedicated to art and community. There were high ceilings, large open spaces and the soothing music of water fountains.
Roberto had two of his beautiful watercolors displayed. They look like photographs until you get closer and can see the brushstrokes. His focus is Realism in Watercolor. He currently has a painting displayed at the Watercolor Society in Liberty Station, the former military training base (NTC) turned into a combination art colony and shopping center.
Several students were displaying their work and I was drawn to one where an owl’s head floated above a backdrop of inky black trees set along a country road. I liked the juxtaposition of the softy drawn feathers of the owl’s head against the hard lines of the trees. The owl’s eyes draw you into the painting. I saw a young man standing nearby and asked him if he was the artist. With a smile he said yes and explained it was his first attempt at painting.
His name is Huber Castaneda and he is a part time tattoo artist, which explains his attention to detail. He told me that painting the tiny branches on the trees was a nerve wracking experience. He only had one chance to get it right as water color is a very non-forgiving medium. He said he had to hold his wrist while he carefully used an incredibly tiny brush for the smaller branches, and even then he had to use only the tip of the paintbrush. He said it’s hard but not as hard as working on a person’s skin because if he messes up a tattoo there is no do-over. He also said that tattoos are like working with water color as the tattoo ink is diluted with water. I asked him about other mediums, and he said he had the opportunity to work in acrylics, with chalk and colored pencils. Acrylic is the hardest medium for him.
I asked him about other work he has in progress, and he showed me an intricately drawn picture of his younger brother with his wife and baby. He was drawing a tree growing out of the baby’s knit cap. The ultrasound was drawn in one of the lenses of his brother’s glasses. It is a beautiful and moving tribute to his brother.
He also showed me another work in progress of an eye with a leaf coming out of it. I’m not doing it justice with my words, As you can see it is wonderful.
I complimented him on his work and look forward to seeing his work in the future. I found him to be articulate and passionate about his work. I spoke with his instructor Carlos and he said that Huber listens carefully and is willing to be guided. The results are evident.
I love macro photography and paintings. I did not have the opportunity to speak to this artist in person to compliment his work. I admire the ability to paint like these two young men and I am thankful that places such as the Cultural Center exist to provide them a place to learn and grow as artists.
I love experiencing Mexico as a weekend ex-patriot.