The room in Mexico

"Guest Room" 8" ✕ 10" Acrylic on paper

"Guest Room"

8" ✕ 10"

Acrylic on paper

I woke up in half-light to the howling of strange birds. Stiff. Confused. Jet-lagged.

Where am I? Mexico? Guadalajara. Zapopan. Monica’s house! In the nanny’s room. The wedding.

It's late. I slept in.

The blinds keep out the sun. There is a tiny courtyard outside of this tiny room which leads to the laundry and then the kitchen.

This grand house, built for a large family with a nanny, is full again for the wedding. The exchange student, the family, my wife, and me. My wife slept on the spare bed in the exchange student’s room. I slept here.

It's nearly noon and the sun beats straight down into the courtyard. Sunlight bounces off the white stucco, the red painted concrete, and under the blinds filling the room with dim, alien light and odd reflections on the louvered glass window. The birds continue.

It's time to move. I find the switch and an anemic bulb challenges the sun. I shower and dress. I gather my strength. How much Spanish do I remember? Less every day. If my wife isn't there can I ask for coffee? Do I hide here with the birds?

Process

This painting is based upon a quick snapshot, taken with my phone.

Part of the visual interest, for me, was how the white stuccu walls seem to radiate color from the concrete floor and sky. The small, cramped courtyard enhances the linear perspective. Somewhat bleak, yet strangely cozy.

I relied upon a washy underpainting of bold colors buried under offwhite paint to create a sense of depth and texture. To create the louvred windows, I carefully created perspective lines with tape and filled in the glass with transparent glazes of tinted liquid acrylic medium.

Here is where acrylic paint shines as a medium. Complex colors and textures can be built up quickly with layers of varying transparency and thickness. After laying down a layer of color, a quick blast with a hair-dryer readies the surface for more.

Michael Barrett

Tacoma, WA 98402