Sunday, August 31, 2008


The work of painting the fresco is now finished and Stuart has returned to California for a much deserved rest. He and Gerardo found it was more work than they expected. They worked well together and we are very happy with the result!

Now we will begin the re-landscaping of the patio. Plants that are pictured in the lower boarder of the fresco will be planted in front of their images. The real plants will blend into the painted backdrop.

Orchids will be hung from the painted tree branches. Ed has a hundred or so orchids, most of which are native to Oaxaca. When we travel Ed has me stop the car when he sights an orchid and climb the tree to get it for him.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

DAYS 12 & 13 - DETAILS

A couple of Scarlet Macaws fly though our jungle.

This is an unusual flower that grows in the state of Veracruz.

Monday, August 25, 2008


Our new spider monkey.

The jungle at dusk.

The jungle at night.


Sunday, August 24, 2008


The artists worked today, Sunday, so that they can try to have the main wall of the fresco finished by the end of the week; this is before Stuart returns to California for a few weeks, and Ed and I go off to the States for our wedding and honeymoon to Europe.


The plants in the foreground are now being detailed. Some are finished. They are based on real plants so they can be identified. The blue butterfly to the left of the trees is still made of paper.

Here is a close up of the plants in the foreground of the fresco. Most are still are in outline but the one on the right is finished.

There is paper spider monkey in the tree. Below it is a banana tree.

Saturday, August 23, 2008


Stuart is painting the trees on the right side of the fresco behind a live bugambilia in the corner of the patio.

The plants at the bottom of the mural will be more detailed and in sharp focus. For now you can see the chalk outlines of the leaves.

Friday, August 22, 2008


We wanted a more vibrant green than we were able to get with the natural dyes so Stuart added a monstera plant at the base of the tree near the fountain using acrylic paint. He also made the tree trunk larger and added some leaves up top.

Gerardo, and his student helper, Cesar, worked on the trees on the right side of the Fresco today. There is a paper spider monkey in the tree for now until it is painted on. There are real plants in the picture as well as painted ones. When it is finished we will have the base of the wall heavily planted and orchids growing live in the "trees."

Thursday, August 21, 2008


Here is another view of the living room. Not a very good shot but you can get a feel for what it is like. Needs cleaning for one thing. And it is out of focus. Oh, well. Ed is in his chair on the left and our friend and neighbor David Poisal is on the sofa. The paintings are from and of Tlacotalpan, Veracruz.

Click on the photos to enlarge.

Another Stanhopea orchid has bloomed. The bloom stalk grows down rather than up. Since in the wild they are in trees, that makes as much sense as growing up.

And now for the fresco. It is now possible to get a feel for what the left side of the fresco will look like. There are still more plants to be painted along the bottom in the foreground. There is a paper butterfly stuck on for the moment.

Here is the same part of the wall taken from the balcony.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008


Today we had soup and salad for lunch. It looked so good I thought I would share it with you, (so to speak).
We started with a cold soup; watermelon on the left and melon on the right.

We had a cold lunch of avocado stuffed with shrimp.

An orchid bloomed in the patio this morning.

The artists made a lot of progress today; they had two helpers to sift the sand and plaster the cement on the wall.


Monday, August 18, 2008


Maestro Gerardo's palette of natural dyes,

Stuart adding vines.

Working in tandem.

Click on the Toucan to enlarge.

A friend stares (is it in shock or awe?) as he watches the artists at work.

Sunday, August 17, 2008


Today, Sunday, is a day off for our artists so I thought I would post a few pictures of the house and garden taken awhile ago.

Above is the garden looking toward the fountain walls. The fountain is not visible in the right corner but the water falls from the top into a small pool. The white wall at the right is where the main part of the fresco is going. It will also be straight ahead on the end wall above the fountain.

To the left is a close up of a small section of the fountain wall. It is made of a local greenstone which has been built to look rustic.

The photo on the right is from the covered portico outside the glass wall of the living room which is not visible to the right. The glass doors and screen which are shown go into the dining room. The pink wall is the opposite end of the patio from the fountain. The fresco is going on the wall to the left.
On the left is a view from the dining room into the patio. The fresco will be on the white wall straight ahead.

The dining room is painted with a mixture of lime and natural dyes. Then a clear layer of nopal cactus juice mixed with water was added. When that was dried it was polished to give it a high sheen. This is an ancient technique that is now almost a forgotten art. The only other place we have seen this technique used is at the spectacular new Regional Museum in a former convent.

Above is the living room taken from behind our blue couch of which only an arm is visible. We had the rug woven for us by a friend Augustin Cruz, a master weaver. Then we had to have glass top coffee tables made so we could see the rug. Augustin made us matching coasters that you can see on the coffee table. Our carpenter, Jorge (George) Bautista also made the unit on which the television is sitting. It has a cabinet on top which has the sound system and drawers for CDs and DVDs.

Click on any photo to enlarge.

Saturday, August 16, 2008


This view is looking down from the balcony outside the glass wall of our office. Stuart is adding a palm like tree the top of which is visible in the distance over the fountain wall.

In the photo to the right Gerardo is painting a tree on the opposite end of the wall. Here he is troweling on fresh cement, then he will paint on the cement. As the lime and pigment mixture dries it undergoes a chemical bonding with the cement fixing the color in the cement. The color will remain as long as the cement does.

Friday, August 15, 2008


I stand corrected (Thanks, Gretchen!). I had been calling the art project on our patio wall a mural. Because the technique is to paint the natural dye and lime mixture on fresh concrete, it can and should be called a fresco; the word comes from the Italian word affresco which derives from the adjective fresco (fresh). Perhaps the best known fresco is that in the Sistine Chapel painted by Michelangelo on fresh plaster.

Maestro Gerardo de la Barrera went to Italy to learn the technique he is applying to our wall. As a maestro (teacher) he is passing on the secrets to Stuart Brandt as they work; and Stuart is teaching Gerardo how to make a mural and to give it depth. They make a great team and both are excited by the work of art they are creating.

The duo is working from the top of the fresco down so as to not drip cement on work that has been done below. The tree branches are now bare. The cement is being kept damp and will be freshened with water from a spray bottle so that leaves can be added.

Stuart was anxious to see how a live orchid would look on a branch. It has been hung in the center of the photo.

Thursday, August 14, 2008


Here is the final sketch for the main wall of the fresco. It is 9 feet high and 23 feet long. In the lower left corner is an existing wall made of greenstone. It is part of a fountain that come out of the wall in the upper left corner and falls into a pool.

Stuart has the greens almost mixed and is now checking to see if they match the plant on the left.

Gerardo de la Barrera starts in the upper left corner above the stone wall of the fountain. First he trowls on wet cement to just the spots to be painted next. Then the paint is brushed on - the paint being a mixture of lime and natural dyes mixed earlier by the artists. The blue sky outlines a tree branch to be added from which Spanish Moss is already dripping from the phantom limb. Ed has already decided to hang real Spanish Moss right over the painted ones.

A view from our office balcony of the the upper part of our new tree with Spanish Moss.