Studio: international art — 60.1914

Page: 33
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The Colour Lure of Mexico

silver, and varied'! hues, on mouse-grey, white,
black, red, grey, blue and browns. They watch
the pretty Senoritas over the garden walls, or “ play
bear” at the grilled city-windows, content to be
unnoticed for many a long day, for by their patience
the true lovers are known.

Around the Plaza, trees that looked as if their
proper place should be in ornamental tubs in
aristocratic doorways, here grew stiffly but graciously
on the edge of uneven stone pavements. Soft
peachy-coloured houses were behind them with
their quaint barred windows. On Sunday mornings,
processions of old-fashioned figures, voluminous
and rosily bespotted as to skirts, snugly wrapped in
rebosos, carried the votive candles on the way to
mass. And the candle-stalls where one bought
these tapers were another series of pictures. Odd
awnings gay with gold, and silver, and colour spots
shaded them, and the saleswomen or little girls in
charge, were nearly always the kind you delighted
to see and wished you might record in something
more tangible than memory.

It was almost impossible to travel much about
the country when I was there, but between dis-
turbances I went down to Oaxaca in the southern
part of Mexico, because there the consensus of
opinion said the people themselves could be studied
at their best, although the city itself was not so
beautiful, and it was difficult to live comfortably in
the hotels there. It was teeming with life in-
describably interesting.

Mexican “ Flights into
Egypt ” passed along the
streets continuously—
people coming in from
the country most prob-
ably ; the mother and
the child ridingthedonkey
while the Mexican Saint
Joseph trudged alongside,
muffled in serape and
topped with a wide-
brimmed, steeple-crowned
hat. Heavy teams of
black and white oxen
lumbered along the
stony streets, pulling
emigrant topped wagons,
the swaying cover of
brown rushes or matting
in woody colouring, and
nothing more paintable
could be desired by the
animal painter.

The churches, some of them gaudy, some of
them harmonious, were full to the* brim with sub-
jects. All the pink and yellow streets of Oaxaca
were corked at the end by lovely mountains making
different colour-schemes at every division of the
day : richly blue in full sunlight, fading into more
tender tones with the day’s declining. Avenues
and roads were bordered by tall cactus fences,
through the cracks of which or over the top peeped
the curious children and those long past their child-
hood as well.

It is the market of Oaxaca that is its most
moving attraction from a painter’s standpoint, for
there one can select from a great variety of subjects.
But it took all our courage to venture in on sketch-
ing bent. It is an enormous place, aisle upon aisle
of vegetables of glorious colouring with fruit and
flowers. There were women cooking, women
quarrelling, women frantically bargaining, men and
children doing all these things and many others.
All sorts of the most intimate domestic actions
took place in the blue misty air, caused by the cook-
ing of the ubiquitous tortilla in little charcoal stoves.
In an inner court was the basket, straw mat, and
pottery department. Pottery, in enormous heaps
of luscious colour, rich deep green, orangy-brown,
lined with the same olive-green, and bowls ! Oh,
what jolly bowls with rims and splashes of rude
colour, but what colour! These pottery heaps
were displayed under the shade of luxuriant trees,


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