Tuesday, December 7, 2010

A couple of views of Donna's new studio/classroom/gallery. We're still hanging paintings and generally getting things arranged. - Not too fond of the pink fireplace but understand, ........ the whole room was pink when we moved in! Ugh. The landlords didn't want us to paint over it but we made it a "make or brake" rental issue and they folded (regana dientes, - as the say down here). The whole casa is very beautiful and I'll post some more pics from our rooftop, soon. - maybe today .... I seem to be in that 'ol bloggin mood, somehow.

The Parroquia from Umaran
18x14 in. oil on panel

The Old Gas Pump 14x18 in. oil

Reicker's Ranch 9x12 in. oil


Oh, - I just remembered. This is supposed to be about painting pictures, - isn't it? O.K. -Here are some more I've done lately. We've had a print made of "Morning Light" and a few of our other most popular things from the past couple of years ................. I'll maybe post a few of those too.

New Paintings


This painting "Over the Rooftops" is actually done from our new rooftop terrace in centro San Miguel. Yes, that's right - we moved yet again! The countryside was nice but all we seemed to be doing was heading downtown repeatedly over some very bumpy roads. First we broke an essential suspension part on the car ( which was very hard to replace ) followed by the electrics rattling loose on our trusty moto. Enough is enough and we're happy to be back 2 blocks from the Jardin and Parroquia. The new place is great and we both have a nice studio to paint in. We plan to be here for some time but then ........ you never know for sure, - do you? I haven't posted for almost 3 months now as things have been wildly, unusually, crazy/busy. I wont go into the details here but rest assured the"road of life" has been pretty lumpy too. My oh My there are some nutty people who end up in San Miguel de Allende!
Anyway, things have settled down in the nicest way and we're getting back to some serious painting. We've been selling a few things through the new gallery (Izamal) on Mesones and we're busily getting Donna's Studio/Gallery ready for a hopefully active winter season. Her studio is in a spacious 350 year old casa with high boveda ceiling, capped with an ancient cupula. It's perfect for her art classes - it's got big colonial era"bulls eye" windows, high up on the street side for natural light. It also stays warm even over these cold winter nights because the walls are over 2 feet thick and solid. Also, because our studios and apartment are all in the same location we get to see more of each other during the day, which is a definite plus for us (even after 40 years!). I'll post some pictures of the new place soon. We have a barn owl living in a palm tree about 100 yards from us and every night after the sunset has faded over Guanajuato he/she flies out over the town. It sometimes flies a few loops around the Parroquia towers - we haven't spoken to anyone who has noticed it - they probably think it's an oversize night flying pigeon. It's got a friend too and you sometimes see them in the middle of the night chasing around. Then, when there's a glimmer of dawn in the eastern sky ................. it's back into the rustling palms for the day. - what a life. 'Course you gotta have a taste for rats and pussycats, I guess.

Thursday, September 9, 2010


The painting is of "ten ten pie", a popular outdoor corner cafe
in the heart of San Miguel de Allende. It was painted entirely on location about a year ago.The Amazon ad is for a new book by John Scherber which aims to council people on the joys and pitfalls of retirement in our little town south of the border. It's a compilation of interviews with folks who have already made the move .... more or (sometimes) less successfully. It's a small but representative sampling and the book is full of insight - an interesting read.
"Ten ten pie" is, by the way, the term that the Mexicans apply to the snack they have between breakfast and the main meal (comida- at about 2 pm.) of the day.

Monday, September 6, 2010

The last one of 3 night scenes around the Jardin

Warm Summer Evening
oil on canvas
30x30 ins.

The photo isn't the best but you "get the picture" so to speak. There are a lot of changes going down around here lately. The month of august was about a total washout for the gallery and coming as it did on the heels of a lousy July in which very few of the summer tourists made it down, we have decided to close the gallery. We made this final decision a couple of weeks ago and we have made other arrangements for the exhibition of our work. Strangely, today was one of the best days the gallery has had over the year in which it was open. Nine paintings went out the door under the arms of various happy shoppers! As weird as this is, we are not about to alter our decision. Over the year the gallery made a profit but the last 4 or 5 months were excruciatingly boring. All the galleries in town are feeling the pinch but one in particular is still quite active and we're pretty enthusiastic about joining them. Galeria Izamal has a great location right next to the historic Angela Peralta theater, with some of the best restaurants and night life near at hand. We like the people and beginning on the 15th of the month we'll both be gracing their walls with Dickson originals. Also we'll be displaying a few from mid October on, in the Frank Gardner Gallery. He is a great guy and a fine painter himself, with an already solid reputation in the states. He happens to have the gallery a few doors down from ours on Zacateros, having been there for many years. He's not having his best year either, of course but he has a good following in town and beyond and over the coming years I think it should be a good relationship for all. Frank has friends among some of the finest painters in America today. They come to town from time to time and it's kind of startling to unexpectedly happen upon a real master or two painting in the Jardin on occasion.
We also will be putting some things in the Aurora studios complex at the Generator Gallery, starting the beginning of October. Beyond this, there is an on-line San Miguel art auction thing about to happen and we're climbing aboard that as well.
It should be interesting to see how these various venues work out over the next while. We actually have no regrets about leaving the responsibility of our own gallery behind and are quite enthusiastic, in fact. Donna has just rented a much better studio space for the giving of her well attended classes. It's just down Zacateros, the other direction from Franks and the north light is superb. I'm tempted to set up my easel there too but I fear it might be a bit distracting. At any rate we are trying to keep up a presence on calle Zacateros so that people can still find us when we suddenly vanish during their absence from this fair town. ............... enuf, enuf fer now, 'till next time, T.D.
Warm Summer Evening

Wednesday, August 18, 2010


Another night scene just completed last week and I'm happy to report as sold yesterday! We've had several sales in the last week of both Donna and my work, so things are not all bad here. That is not to say that things are rosy, by any means. The general economic situation here is about abysmal. Tourists and residents alike are being subjected to an endless barrage of misinformation. If it's not been the swine flu it's been the narco-trafficantes - there seems to be the feeling in the air that to travel at all in Mexico is a dangerous proposition. I even saw an article in the New York Times that asked the question as to whether Mexico might be on it's way to becoming the "new Afganistan"! ............ say what? - I have my theories as to why all this is coming down the pipe but you folks will just have to do your own guesswork ...... if you're so inclined.

We are in the midst of yet another move across town. We will also be showing beginning September in the Aurora studios complex. So we are very busily occupied and will not be found hanging around the Jardin for the next while. But as stressful as these times are we are still happy beyond words to find ourselves in Mexico. No, it is not at all dangerous in the streets of San Miguel and it's still the same old sunny and colourful place as I remember 40 odd years ago. Love It! ........ talk to you soon, Tom.

Friday, July 30, 2010

La Musica de la Noche Tom Dickson

I thought I'd post this latest oil
of mine just finished last week, so .............. here it is. We put it in the gallery window and it seems to be stopping a lot of people cold on the street. I'm also working on several other night scenes of San Miguel and will post them when they're done. We've had a lot of people in to ask the price of that one ( 3200 U.S. ) but people are pretty keen to hang on to their pesos these days. All the same, that one is not going to last long. I like doing night scenes so will probably try to keep one or two in the gallery in future. Speaking of the gallery and galerias in general in San Miguel; ours ( Galeria Los Laureles ) has been more or less just floating since mid April. The summer is usually slower than the winter here but this year has seen the fewest tourists in town in many years. There are many reasons for this and the Mexican people are feeling the pinch at every level. It certainly is not the optimum time to be in the business of selling art but all the same I must report that our gallery has made a healthy profit over the past year and we intend to keep at it as long as the discerning art lovers out there make it possible. However, we do find ourselves looking wistfully forward to those halcyon days of winter these days......... Donna's art classes continue to attract a lot of students as her reputation as a top notch teacher expands. She loves the challenge and her students love her, - she certainly has a way of bringing the best out of them, - some of the more serious among them have shown tremendous improvement over their studies and it's greatly rewarding to D. as well.

Friday, July 2, 2010

In the Courtyard 15x11 ins. watercolor Donna Dickson

Manana Nueva 14x18 oil Tom Dickson

Calle San Francisco 16x20 ins. oil, Tom Dickson

Another sampling of what the two of us have been doing lately. I've been working in the studio a lot lately and doing a lot of experimenting. I keep going off on tangents ( something I haven't been doing a lot in recent years ) and have much unfinished work piling up against the studio walls. I'm happy with the ones I've actually finished though and the two of mine above are examples. "Manana Nueva" was started in the Jardin a week ago and fussed over 'till yesterday. Calle San Francisco was a studio painting all the way. I get more and more interested in clouds as time goes by and am finally feeling that I'm getting somewhat "in touch" with the subtlety of them................ but like in the song they're tricky devils - you can look at them from both sides "up and down and still somehow" you don't really know 'em at all. They have in fact, been one of the biggest challenges of my painting career. They can be a great asset to the atmosphere of a picture, or, if done poorly they can suck the life out of an otherwise decent painting. I can remember doing the odd sky where the treatment of the clouds would have been more suited to bags of cement ................... some painters avoid the problem by just not "going there" but I think they are missing an element with a lot of potential if they don't.
Donna's summer students have been returning in the last few weeks, so she's been busy with them but still managing to get some painting time on her own in. She's done a few interiors lately that have been very nicely handled and the one of hers above "In the Coutyard"is a prime example. Things at the gallery continue to be pretty slow as tourism is way down. People have been scared off of Mexico by the swine flue, Mexican drug wars, kidnappings -in short, a lot of bad, largely undeserved press. The Great Depression #2 doesn't help much on top of it all of course. ............... we're keeping our fingers crossed ............

Monday, June 21, 2010

us in Juarez Park

Summer Afternoon 16x20in. oil T.D.

Quiet Interlude 12x14in. oil D.D.

The photo of us painting in Juarez Park was taken by Wilhelm Kopa, one of Donna's students and a damned good photagrapher. I can't remember what he must have said to crack us up but it must have been good to get 'ol Tom smilen. Donna's "Quiet Interlude" was started on location at cafe Via Organica about a week ago and now resides in the window of Galeria los Laureles. The "Summer Afternoon" was done about the same time and now sits right next to the aforementioned "Donna" in that same window. The two of them are getting a lot of attention from the sidewalk but as yet we're still not getting a lot of traffic through the gallery........... the result of an unfortunate combination of many factors. We are entertaining the Mexicans however and they are in general a very appreciative lot.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Some of Donna Dickson's Recent Work

Summer Morning - the jardin 11x15 watercolor

Early Morning Ancha 9x12 oil

Flores y Libros 10x10 watercolor

Fresh Flowers 15x11 watercolor

Morning near the Presa 9x12 oil

Esquina de Canal 9x12 oil

As promised! This is just a sampling of what Donna has been doing over the last month or so. Didn't I tell you she was good .................. Oh, by the way she's my wife if anybody doesn't know. However prejudice (or fear for that matter) clouds my vision not a bit. She's a very busy painter these days, Not only does she teach 3 or 4 classes a week but she does quite a lot of store minding to boot. We still try to get out painting on our own from time to time and sometimes it works out that we do.
It's been really hot lately and the tourists are few and far between here in San Miguel. Things will no doubt pick up when the Texans descend on the place as they always do later in June. - we'll keep you posted.........

Sunday, May 30, 2010


I've been working on a couple of larger paintings and had just about completed them but inspiration struck and I went off on a bit of a tangent. The result is as you see above. Yes, palette knife work and a decided emphasis on color. Where might this be going? I'm now half way through another one done with the knife and still finding it all pretty exciting. Not that I haven't used the knife in the past but this time it felt different and a better fit with what I want to "express" at this point. The thing was done in a whirlwind of pleasure and most of last week flitted by without my being much aware of the time ................ yes, it does fly by when you're having fun, too! Last month's trials have faded into semi-obscurity, by the way. Our gallery computer is back up and running with our precious files expertly reloaded and I can hardly remember our other gripes. Tempting to say " life is good " but I don't say stuff like that. I'll try to get back to finishing the nearly completos and post them, real soon. Also I think it's time to post a few of Donna's too, ( she's doing some pretty marvelous stuff these days ).

By the way, one of my host of followers ( Robin ) has put some of her photos of subjects I've painted up on her site, side by side with the plein airs, for comparison's sake. She also wrote some nice remarks about my work - if you want to check this out: http://robintalkscookstravels.blogspot.com/search?updated-max=2010-05-08T06%3A00%3A00-07%3A00&max-results=44

'till later, Tom.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Calle Canal 9x12 oil

May Morning 9x12 oil

Time flies. But I had thought it did so as a direct function of how much fun you might be having. Well, the last weeks have not been a "barrel of laughs" and yet they've slid by with alarming speed. I'll not burden my legion followers with fine detail but will touch lightly on but a few of the "high" points. Firstly, about 6 weeks ago we got word that our rental house that we'd just got used to was being actively sold from under us. Secondly, our altogether faithful and seemingly robust coche decided to break down half way through the move to new quarters. Thirdly, the astute parts people in this little town could come up with respuestos for neither amor ni dinero. (we finally tracked them down ourselves over the net but it took the better part of a thousand miles round trip to actually get them on the car, with much appreciated help from Donna's non-complaining brother) Fourthly..................... it still sets my jaw to stiffen ...................... just before we set out on the adventure to retrieve the parts .................... our here-to-fore faithful and seemingly robust business computer decided to swallow up all our records. A "registry problem" according to the small explanatory box which was the only on-screen item left within our power to access. Fifthly, I've had a lot of trouble adjusting to my new studio where everything is more or less backwords to what I've been used to.
But! I'm here to inform all who have the slightest concern that as of about the last week things seem to be rebounding some-ut and riding on the confidence of this new-found "roll" I am posting the 2 new 9x12's done recently in town&country. I'm also working on 2 larger studio things which are pretty interesting, so maybe the new space and I are reaching some kind of understanding. -I'll post these two real soon, barring any new set-backs. On the gallery front, things have really slowed down here in San Miguel. May is acknowledged as being the weakest month for tourism and this year seems to be worse than ever. I think next year we will just close up 'till mid June. - 'til later, Tom.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Regresando por el Rio
30x30in. oil on canvas

La Escuela San Juan de Dios
14x18ins. oil on panel

Al Lado del Oratorio
14x18ins. oil on panel

In the last 2 weeks I've done 2 paintings with Donna's plein air group on consecutive Fridays and these is them. I like painting with her group. In some ways it's a bit distracting but in other ways it kind of takes the heat off me. If lots of kids are hanging around, as they were at San Juan de Dios, it spreads the burden around somewhat. Mexican kids are really well behaved and respectful ....... they deserve not to be entirely ignored, so you have to respond to them when they ask questions or give a compliment. Come to think of it, they were not the biggest distraction at S. Juan as mid- way through my obra I received a very painful sting from what I have been self indulgently characterizing as a probable "Killer bee". The little feller selected me out of a half dozen others in our group and demonstrated the seriousness of his intent by not only zapping me once in the neck but shifting slightly to his left and delivering, yet another dose, for the road as it were. One group member (Helga) broke her concentration long enough to extract the stinger as it was more than a little out of my view but other than a few vaguely muttered references to the possibility of dangerous alergic reactions and such there wasn't a lot of genuinely focused sympathy to be had - the class being completely immersed in their own struggles at the time. So I kind of semi hopped, semi whimpered, for a minute or two and in the end caught a glimpse of my own half-finished painting and went sulkily back to work, the swelling on my neck increasing with every passing brush stroke. This happened Friday and the swelling finally went down this (Tuesday) morning. Despite it all I like the painting! ........ it's got a kind of a buzz to it?
During this last two weeks I was also working on the big 30x30in. "cowboy picture" in the safety of my well-screened studio, the only distraction there being a brand new kitty that someone had thought it expeditious to hurl over our gate. I guess they called it right. I tried to ignore it's plaintive cries hour after hour but by the time Donna got back from the gallery I was inventing reasons why it would make sense and all ............ I've tried to keep the kitten fur out of the paint as best I can.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Calle Codo el la Tarde 14"x18" oil on panel

Jardin Afternoon 9"x12" oil on panel

La Capilla Arriba 14"x18" oil on panel

Passing Showers 20"x24" oil on canvas

Well, well ........ March already, - how time rolls around. Bueno, I have been extremely busy with the new gallery and doing lots of painting besides. Galeria Laureles on Zacateros has been open now for 4 whole months and though just a baby is doing very well and showing strong signs of being something more than just a "flash in the pan" so to speak. It was a bit of a risk opening at this point in the worlds economic history but we felt we had something a little different to offer and the customers seem to agree. Our new bilingual gallery sitter (Marionela) is working out fine and claims she loves the job - people are saying nice things behind her back as well and we're not surprised! She's been a friend of ours now for several years and shows great to extraordinary patience with our lousy Spanish. Donna's art classes are being given on the lower level at the gallery 4 times a week now and we go out with a more advanced group of plein air painters every Friday.
Some have actually been saying that they miss our old website, so with this in mind I will try to get into some sort of gear and start posting new things, with hopefully some regularity. I just dropped off "Passing Showers" at the gallery this morning. Based on a a rather desperate attempt to draw some inspiration from this years unusually wet winter weather, I really got involved with it and am pretty happy with the result. It's a kind of a different take on the Parroquia. "La Capilla Arriba" was done at La Ermita high on the Salida Queretero above town a couple of weeks ago. "Jardin Afternoon" was last weeks plein air in the towns central square. "Calle Codo en la Tarde" is a couple of months old now but it's still available and actually in the gallery window at the moment. I should add that we do ship from San Miguel, so anyone interested in any of these could get in touch through galerialaureles@yahoo.ca or, of course drop by the gallery if you're in the area. Donna and Marionela would be happy to meet you. I however will most likely be firmly chained to my studio easel on a typical day ........ but you never know.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Here's an example of what I've been describing concerning my methods. The photo on the left was taken after about 2 hours work on the painting started in the town central square, yesterday. This morning, with reference to the photo I had taken of the actual scene, I began a little refinement and what you see on the right is the finished product, completed about 3 p.m. this afternoon. You can see that the ( all important ) bones of the composition and color were already pegged and in place very early on. And as I said before, with the sights, sounds and smells of the place still vivid in my head, it was a joy to finish the piece off today, and I'm pretty happy with the result. I considered placing more bodies here, there and about but they only would have distracted attention from the elements already in place. One has to learn when to stop.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Here's another example of a " plein air " start that was brought to completion entirely on location. It necessitated returning twice more on following mornings. I don't often do it that way ( the weather cannot be trusted to be the same for one thing ) but it was very peaceful and enjoyable to be in the churchyard. It was also a lot easier to see the details hiding in those shadows.
Here's an indication of the kind of work I do on location. " En la Tarde " is a 14 x 18in. oil on panel which was started en plein air. I start all paintings up to 18 x 24in. on location and work for up to 3 hours at the first go. It is very rare that I can actually finish one of this size in one session, given the sort of " finish " I like to put on them. It's not that I don't like the look of a " broader " approach but this is not my personal preference. So, I have to work hard and fast. A lot of energy goes into these things on the first go. Later I may return to the location more than once and finish the piece but it's more usual that I will refer to a photo I will hopefully remember to have taken at the outset. This is not to say that the main " bones " of the painting change much beyond that first few hours. In fact I try to keep it looking more or less the same in spite of the addition of a lot more detail. This is a bigger challenge than might be expected. As is sometimes pointed out, " more is often less " and it has taken me much experience to arrive at a point where a satisfying balance seems to be at hand. I find this method of working to be most satisfying, ...................... you initially soak up all the color, action and atmosphere of a location and any studio work you have to do later feels like you're still there, where you started the picture. I don't think I could work exclusively from photos. I would feel totally trapped in the studio.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Well now ................. I was encountering an increasing amount of disfunctionality with the old "Dicksons Gallery" website and it got to the point where it was really just a waste of time that could have been better spent painting. So, after 5 or 6 years of careful nurturing, the site is no more and I'm hoping this blog will fill a perceived "void" in the artistic universe. Having said that, I have no idea where this is going. I'm a man of lots of thoughts but very few spoken words. Bueno, ....... vamos a ver.
The painting you see first up on the left is an oil on canvas, 24 x 30in., I did in December. " Days End " is what it's called and I'm pretty happy with it. Total satisfaction with anything I've done is a bit of an illusive feeling but this one comes close. So, that will maybe get us off on the right foot so to speak. I'll check out how the page looks and there will very probably be more to follow. T.D.