‘The more I give myself permission and enjoy it without feeling guilty or judgmental about any other time, the better I feel about the quality of my work’
This quote summed up how I approached the Study abroad trip with U.T.P.A. from June 7th to June 24th 2015.
I had given this trip more careful planning than my usual trips due to the mountainous terrain we would be negotiating. I was very excited about this excursion due to a childhood fascination with a character I followed on Children’s BBC called Paddington Bear, he claimed he came from darkest Peru.
We stayed in Miraflores district of Lima in a charming hotel with a short walk to the coast.
Lima is home to a third of Peru’s entire population of 30 million. From a climate perspective, it averages 5co (2in) of rainfall per year. Despite that, it has been home to continued civilizations due to it’s high humidity of clouds called garua which hangs between the foothills and coast, home to Lima. This makes it rich agriculturally because of this microclimate.
In Miraflores, where we saw the Huaca Pucllana, a ceremonial and administrative center built by the Lima civilization between 400 and 700AD and later inhabited by the conquering Wari culture and eventually the Incas, who arrived when the Huaca was already being used for agricultural purposes rather than as a temple or site for ceremonies. Archaeologists are still excavating the complex.
Below is a group shot during our first evening in Peru. Thanks Erik Qeler for the photo.
After visiting the Pyramid, Eric and Nicole pictured here we walked back towards our hotel and stopped for an almost Barcelonaesque scene. I think the bus pick us up in this square before driving us back.
We visited the Historical Center of Lima after lunch and i used it as an opportunity to paint the Lima Cathedral viewed behind Eric, Sarah and myself. I appreciated that Dr. Robert Bradley who has an excellent appreciation of Peruvian Cuisine always made sure after a trip, we would visit a fascinating place to eat. The image on the right had a huge collection of National flags and visiting football supporters from abroad as well as local Lima football clubs.
The Larco Museum we visited in the evening. It’s collection of MesoAmerican Artifacts in regard to the Analytical portrait renditions in pottery plus the sophistication of their aesthetic stylisation were a rare treat, perhaps the best collection of this type in the world.
What appears to be an ornate necklace is infact a Quipu. These were used by Inca’s as a codec system.
I enjoyed the mural design scattered around the Miraflores district of Peru.
In Lima’s historical district is this library housed in some beautiful architecture and across from the library is a Church designed in typical Rococo Baroque style.
The next morning we headed of to Pachacamac, coastal ruin Only 19 miles (30km) south of Lima. Basically, a desert next to the ocean.
Sarah Elizabeth’s photo of the UTPA group headed for the Tempo Del Sol
“Pachacámac” in Quechua means “Pacha” world, and “camac” to animate – “The One who Animates the World.” Culturally and chronologically it is related to Chancay, and other centers of the Cuismancu empire, including Huari. At the time of the Spanish conquest it was a major Inca shrine. The first occupation of Pachacamac began around 200 AD with complex architecture, included were stone walls that served as the base for the fantastic adobe structures. With the arrival of the Huari culture in 650 AD, Pachacamac’s influence extended to other zones of the central, and the coastal Andes. Numerous Huari influences appear on the ceramics and textiles of the site. After Huari’s collapse, Pachacamac grew in size, eventually covering 210 acres.
The next morning we headed to the Lima Airport and flew to Cusco. Distance between Lima and Cuzco is 572.44 km (355.7 miles). As soon as we landed in Cusco we caught a coach at the Airport and headed to Pisco.
The coach journey was beautiful,the contrast of the high mountain peaks and the fertile valleys made a fantastic contrast of colors. When we eventually reached Pisco Town, the coach took up the whole width of the street. As we the main party of our group was located in the central part of the town, this made for a fascinating bus ride.
The picture to the left is the cafe that was right next to the ladies hotel. The men were about a quarter of a mile from the center with this amazing view behind me. This was our chance to acclimate and do some mountain hiking.
Visiting the Pisac Ruins of the Sacred Valley
Visiting the Pisac Ruins, the photo below on the left is of the Intihuatana, which means “sun calendar” in Quechua, is from above. Photo on the right is of our Professor of History, Dr. Robert Bradley. Our walking encyclopedia for Inca History.
Quechua woman in the Sacred Valley, Peru. So the Quechua language was spoken by the Inka’s as well as by Pre-Inca civilizations. What i found fascinating was the bowler hat? The hat has been worn by Quechua and Aymara women since the 1920s, when it was brought to the country by British railway workers.
The Sacred Valley is the home for Southern Peruvian Quechua. In Ecuador Quechua is a transplanted Imperial language the Inca brought in.
Jim Sykes on the right purchasing some items from the Quechua lady. Some of the group on the same path up to the mountain.
On the way back down the mountain, i hooked up with Sarah Elizabeth and Erik Queler.
That is Eric going down the mountain, it was a shortcut. The shortcut in future, i will not be wanting to take again. At the bottom of the shortcut, this chap informed me the route we had taken was not good one and pointed the the safer route directly behind him. He managed to sell me this memento which i bought as a reminder, beware of shortcuts in the Andes.
The rest of the journey down was a lot more tranquil in comparison.
A few days later we headed to Ollantaytambo. ON the Coach journey there we stopped along the way. I loved the stark contrast of the houses that were painted and their juxtaposition to the mountains behind them. There were so many places i wanted to stop and paint a picture of.
Ollantaytambo was another amazing place of interest. I certainly was expecting to visit a Disco or gate crash a wedding. The hosts at the wedding kept handing us beers, even the babies were drinking beer. I was asked to dance a few times. Up until the Peru trip, being asked to dance was like most people think about being in a fire or drowning, fortunately, a few nights before Sarah Elizabeth patiently taught me some simple steps. That gave me at least the confidence to attempt a form of dance. The Quechua ladies were extremely fit, their dancing moves very athletic and they could drink a pub dry, respect.
The place Sarah Elizabeth talk me some moves The wedding gate crash
That was my location while painting the magnificent view. Meanwhile while being serenaded by Nicole Guzman, a Champion singer for mariachi and upbeat rancheras for Texas. She possesses an amazing voice. It all added to the beautiful ambience.
Later in the day, down in the valley from that mountain, the tour included a culinary experience that dates back 4000 years. An earth oven to bake the food. The menu was variety and extremely tasty. A variety of Potatoes, vegetables and meat protein.
While everyone was waiting for the results from the earth oven, i thought i’d paint a scene. It was a challenge because the sun was setting quickly.
Good food, happy people.
these evening get togethers at local restaurants were always fun before moving onto the next town.
Aguas Calentes and Machu Picchu
The train journey was one of the most amazing train journeys i’ve ever experienced. Going through the Central Highlands on a train with glass ceilings is a vista paradise.
The station at Aguas Calentes was a very narrow platform due to how it’s design is factored into the steep mountain passes.
From our hotel room, we could see how the real estate is well planned in order to facilitate rail infrastructure.
This was a little an interesting little market near our hotel. Not frequented by tourist because it was shown to me by our tour guide Jim Sykes. I like it because i got a full stomach for a lot of food for about 2 dollars.
Factoring in the soccer pitch was impressive due to limited space. It also acted as a social hub for a lot of the townsfolk.
Artist, Activists. Poets, writers, singers, history scholars from South Texas and Mexico about to climb up to Machu Picchu, what could go wrong, nothing, it was awesome.
I am getting a little thirsty at this point and low on water. Wheres Coco leaves and lime when you need it.
that was an epic experience
The following evening there was a Copa America., we went to a local bar to watch.
Heading back from Machu Picchu
The journey back took much longer, there were many delays. So i got out my sketch book and drew. Ivete Kuete joined in the art jam.
we only stayed a night, because we had spend sometime here already. I am sat here drinking coffee, waiting for the bus to our next adventure.
Painting in Peru
My medium for painting in Peru for plein air was Watercolor. As you probably already know, plein air is french translated into English meaning, “in the open air” and is particularly used to describe the act of painting outdoors. You might wonder why use that word. Whats important about any discipline or profession are semantics. Basically the use of words associated with a particular discipline/ profession have a dictionary that comes with that area of work or study. So the word used here ‘plein air’, is synonymous in Art History and with all people studying and practising art.
The main factor for choosing this medium was the regions i grew up in and am uncle who first showed me how to paint, he used watercolor. All the art clubs had watercolor and oil where the staple mediums for most hobbyist. I spent probably about 15 years trying to develop my watercolor skills in my formative years of starting out. In the last 15 years i’ve hardly used them, except on a business trip abroad to South East Asia about 5 years ago. I felt Peru was a good choice for the medium because of the climate, i though pleasant temperature that would be amiable to the medium.
So I choose a some basics colors, Cadmium, Ochre and Chrome Yellow. Ceruleum and Cobalt Blue along with Rose and a darker red, sorry the label has worn off, so i can’t read what they are. I will say basically, you want two types of red, a light red and a dark red. I try to always have two primaries of each set, two blues, reds and yellows, but i had three yellows types on this trip because i thought i might run out. Also i bought a chinese white just in case i wanted to break out the Designer Gouche, which i ended up rarely using. I bought also a Chinese Marker pencil, some crayons and a few graphite sticks. The brush i use is a fairly expensive one., a Petit Cris that is squirrel hair. The reason is the water retension of this type of brush is impressive. I am able to paint a lot longer with one dip of the water cup and the variation of thickness is gently touching into the variation of a Chinese Water color pen brush.
My first day painting was in Lima on the 8th, in the Administrative Square. It was unusually warm for a Lima winter, El Nino was not plunging the city into overcast, but it was warm clear skies. The key also was precipitation, a key component to drying time for the water colorist. It was low and my applied water color to the page was drying relatively quickly and was allowing me to layer more washes over the top. So paying attention to meteorology has some practical advantages, it can help you decide on what medium to use during your opportunity to break out the painting or sketch pad.
Below is where I painted the above scene from. What i really enjoyed about the experience besides admiring the beautiful architecture, was the interaction of the locals. They taught me some spanish while another would graciously empty and refill my water. The main group of students had gone into view the interior of the Church. I was too wrapped up in the beauty of my location outside. I think i gave the dog some of my water, a friendly soul.
This was the next day on our adventure. The difficulty was finding a good view, it was sparse and desert like visual. Nice temperature, but the humidity was higher and i had problems waiting to paint wet on dry, because the paint was taking it’s time to dry. Also the staff at the site told me to stop painting or they would eject me. When one of the students asked them why, the reason given was the Belgian archeologists would not be happy about me painting it
Pisac, our first evening. An enchanting place, with good company and Coco leaves. A Golden Valley well named as the Sun kisses the top of the mountain. The precipitation was high and it took a long time for the paper to dry. I had to finish this painting later on.
.An eveing in June at the Town of Pisac, Cusco, Peru. It was a pleasant evening, around 7.00pm. Sipping coffee on a balcony with a gentle caressing Andean chill in the air.
Admiring the mountain back drop, the only clue to it’s immense presence, specs of light from the dwellings higher up, plus the sea of stars silhouetting her peaks. Also, the fact i had climbed to those elevations earlier that day to explore one of her jewels, a beautiful Inca ruin.
The market’s plastic coverings were being patiently dismantled by the village inhabitants, only to be reconstructed again early in the morning. I can still hear the market traders gently talking in Spanish with the same grace and economy of pace they poetically display daily, while climbing her inca steps from the golden valley to the heavens.
Intihuatana Ruins, Cusco, Peru
Another Ruin i got asked to leave. They thought my watercolors would damage the rocks. I thought it was absolutely far enough, they had no way of knowing my paints were water soluble. I think with a nation’s national treasure such as these architecture wonders, they can’t take risks. All i can say about the journey up to the mountain to get this painting is, that it was a wonderful walk because it was my first attempt at hiking this attitude, a good acclimation.
The painting was looking over towards an Inca Grain storage in the middle right at the town of Ollantayambo. The conditions were ideal and i was beginning to remember how much fun watercolor was, in that, i wasn’t corralling cats, i was fine tuning pigment alchemy.
Photo on left, courtesy Ana Carlina Delgado
The next day, we climbed another mountain at Ollantayambo an i painted the same Inca Grain storage you can see on the left. At this point i was very much enjoying the medium. The weather condition were excellent, a warm temperature with low precipitation.
This was my location for the painting that day. Again another Inca monument but no custodians at this particular location. That meant of course, no concern to consider. I of course was respectful of the monument and left the site as i had found it.
This is a place i had dreamed about being able to visit and paint. I didn’t realise i would actually have the opportunity to fulfil that dream. I painted it as if nothing else in the world mattered and i was in a place of tranquility and all my concerns and cares melted away. I just admired this engineering wonder of the world and tried in a limited time frame of approximately to capture it gesturally. I was the hottest day during my visit to Peru and i got some sun burn on my foot. I had put sunblock on but did not cover my whole foot. The exciting aspect of painting this scene from life, I was able to appreciate the sun changing position and through that observation, I was able to understand and appreciate the structure in a manner not really possible from a photograph.
I then made my way along the Inca trail to a higher elevation were the Sun Temple was located. From that view i was able to gesture Machu Picchu from the other side of the mountain. By this time i was dehydrated, i had used most of the water i carried with me on the paintings. This was going to be an interesting trip back down and no Coco leaves and lime to chew on to off set fatigue and water loss.
This was a view from the hotel in Cousco in the breakfast room. I was able to enjoy good conversation and paint a beautiful scene. The tiled roofs reminded me of Provence, Sicily and parts of Spain.
The Inca Fort above Cousco and our last day there. I wanted to contrast the Inca Fort with the modernity of the current settlement down below in the distance. Jim Sykes had asked anyone earlier if they wanted to walk down with him. I volunteered because i wanted to paint longer and not have the time constraint of catching the bus. It was a fantastic walk down, and we stopped in a restaurant before meeting up with the main group.
My last day in Peru, Lima. I had walked down in the early morning to paint this then returned the later in the day with Miriam, Rafael and Gladys. I thought, Brighton Pier, this was a surprise in terms of architectural style, i had to paint it.
Dance centre in Cusco
Last weekend, my last in Peru, i went with Miriam Michelle Bootz and Norma Perez to try and use up our slots on the museum ticket for Cousco before heading back to Lima. We managed to get to one museum, but understandably, the other Museums were shut, it was Sunday after all. What i didn’t expect was, the Culture Center and their performance of dance.
My thoughts on Peruvian culture and in this particular case, central Peru, has managed to preserve and cultivate it’s past while assimilating certain aspects of contemporary modernism. In some ways, similar to a living language. Refreshingly dynamic and perpetual. The adaptation of this artistic forms means, it’s relevance as living cultural conduit has a promising legacy for present and future generations.
It somehow preserves the etymology of traditions whether pre or post Colombian, in a manner that clearly communicates a raw accessibly visual art to the outsider. It’s resonates emphatically to your core, as a beautiful universal language.
The dance I love for a number of reasons; color, variety of dress, the clarity of gender role. This aspect may be deemed suspicious, depending on your presupposition of what gender role infers, so I will try and elaborate. I love that the expression of love from both genders expresses an equal. An expression of mutual consensual love towards each other. There is not a Coercion of one dominating the other. Regardless of matriarchies or patriarchies, the dancers infer neutrality towards a mutual union of love.
Another aspect of the symbolism of the dance, is it’s use of fertility symbols displays a universal bond with indigenous cultures that are indeed ubiquitous.
Again, I stress my ignorance of many aspects of this culture, but this is the inference I am deducing from what I have witnessed.
In many instances, being in the physical presence of a performance cannot be communicated via a secondary medium. So I am certainly struggling to find the best words to honor what i witnessed.
Much of my description is emotive, however I will continue to research and study this area of South America in the hope of building my knowledge base in a steady pace as time allows. It will allow me to refine and revise my observations and continue to enjoy it’s fascinating culture.
Estimado Perú , gracias por deleitándose aspectos de tu hermoso corazón latiendo a mí. Estoy en deuda .