Plein Air Painting in San Miguel de Allende Mexico 3-12 to 3-19 2017

Since I started painting almost 4 years ago, I have wanted to take classes from Joe Lombardo. I love his landscape paintings which are beautifully constructed and warmly-colored. He has a reputation as a great teacher. I was particularly interested in his use of color and looked forward to hearing his ideas. How lucky I was to have a week watching him paint and getting his landscape painting instruction and guidance in the beautiful Mexican City of San Miguel where there is something beautiful to paint in every direction. It is an art lover’s city with many art galleries, majestic churches, noisy festivals, rooftop bars (saw a few) and colorful old buildings.

Truthfully, I am not fond of painting outdoors which requires schlepping a lot of equipment; where it is usually too hot or too cold, or even worse…windy, with paints and canvasses ending up on the ground and my sun hat sailing off in the distance. The panels are small – like 8×10”. I paint on as big a canvas as will fit in my car. I had only done landscape painting twice before and gave away my equipment. It wasn’t any easier in San Miguel. Real landscape painters know how to position themselves so they are always in the shade. Not I. I ended up in the sun every time. While it was cold at night in this mountain desert climate, the noon sun was hot. The last few warm drops of water in my water bottle were not satisfying. Real landscape painters have lightweight equipment. Not I. I hoisted almost 20 pounds of my new foolishly bought equipment to walk up and down narrow hilly cobblestone streets. I sometimes took a cab. At 2-3$ a ride, I didn’t feel guilty.

Joe Lombardo talks as he paints. I loved to hear him think through his painting. His explanations of color harmony and working with a limited palette are helpful. I finally understood working with a limited tetrad palette. We did our own paintings using that palette. He talked about value studies, perspective, and painting architecture. He gave us a variety of environments besides the city to paint like a cactus park, El Charco, and La Gruta Hot Springs. This past year I changed from painting exclusively in acrylics to painting in oils. Still learning. I struggled to paint without medium, using quick strokes and leaving spaces rather than my usual process of drawing, value study, toning, underpainting and blending paint. I came to struggle and I did. But it was a useful and enlightening struggle. I told Joe, “You can teach an old dog new tricks. It takes a little longer.”


“Lavender Field in Provence”

“Lavender Field in Provence” Acrylic Painting by Nadine Block

A friend and I went on a walking tour of Provence, France a few years ago. We walked 10K a day, ate in beautiful restaurants and shopped or toured museums in the afternoon. It was a magnificent vacation. Just imagine doing a healthy walk which mitigates a caloric meal! We walked along and kayaked the Gardon River where the beautiful Pont Du Gard Roman aqueducts can be seen.

One evening we went to a service featuring Gregorian chants by monks in a white stone abbey. It was very quiet and peaceful. A large lavender field next to the abbey was magnificent. When I came home, I wrote and illustrated a little book for my grandchildren, “Two Grannies Walking.”

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Southern India Foliage

“Southern India Foliage” acrylic painting by Nadine Block

In 2012, I traveled with a friend and a tour group to southern India. From Chennai on the Bay of Bengal we went around the southern tip of India to Cochin, Bangalore and Mysore. Southern India is less populated and has more open space than other parts of India. There were vivid green rice fields, tea plantations and Hindu Temples. Cows, tuk tuks and honking trucks fought for space on dusty roads.
I was blessed by an elephant. He swung his long grey trunk over my head and gave it a slight touch, a blessing. In India, elephants are believed to be holy.

Southern India Foliage

Istanbul Fruit Market

I hope this painting of a fruit market in Istanbul looks good enough to eat. Istanbul was the first stop of our three-week guided tour of Turkey in 2012. The city is overflowing with amazing tourist sites such as the Blue Mosque, the Topkapi Palace and the Grand Bazaar. Istanbul is the only city in the world that sits in two continents. The Kadikoy Market we visited is on the Asian side of the city a half hour ferry ride from the European side. There we found food shops, spice shops, and fish shops. Walking through the markets made us so hungry! Luckily, we finished our visit by heading for a delicious lunch and a stop for tea at Camlica Hill, one of the highest spots in the city.
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