This week, Award Winning Water Colorist and Illustrator, Helen Shafer Garcia, joined us for a weekend of color and creativity in her water color worskhop which was held at the ranch in our barn-studio. Helen and a group of nine art students arrived late Thursday afternoon and on Friday morning, bright and early after coffee, freshly baked muffins and a hearty breakfast, they headed to the barn, eager to begin the class and get creative!
Our barn is an art studio. At least half of it is, while the other half is used for hay storage, and Raul’s work area. Of course our now retired Baja Desert Racer needs a home too, but by far, the barn is the designated area for the creative art workshops we facillitate at Rancho La Bellota: ceramics, print making, photography and plein air painting thanks to our sister site, Baja Rancho Art who does the foot work in bringing these wonderfully talented artists to our ranch.
I paricipated in this workshop too, and I had a great time. Helen presented us each with a blank art journal she had made for us which we were to work on during the weekend. She also supplied handouts on drawing, and water color tecniques she used to create her personal style of water color art. She went over everything with us step by step, complete with hands on demos and explicit explanations. Plus, there was a ready supply of every art material for everything anyone could ever need for this workshop, right down to the needles we used for binding the pages of our journals together! Helen and Baja Rancho Art did a great job with an abundant supply of art materials for everyone.
A landscape painting was also on the workshop itinerary. Friday afternoon, the group took a short nature walk for a morning of plein air painting before embarking on an afternoon trip to the wineries in the neighboring Guadalupe Valley, Baja’s exquisite and booming wine capital. Of course while they worked, Raul generously supplied everyone with a Cantaloupe Margarita, or two. My knee would protest loudly if I even tried to go with them, so I stayed at the ranch and painted the Owl Tree next to the garden (my landscape homework) which didn’t turn out so bad. I was happy with it, and that’s a plus!
Some of the particpants were seasoned artists while others, like myself, were beginners but Helen’s clear explanations and patience with all of us made it so easy so want to pick up a paintbrush and get to work. Helen did a marvelous job. She made it fun while demonstrating her specific techniques for capturing light, contour drawing, and adding bright color to her work. And if we didn’t get it the first time, she gladly explained it again until we did. She wasn’t worried about making mistakes, so why should we? The whole idea was to have fun, relax, and let your creativity flow! And that’s exactly what we did. If you would like to see more of Helen’s work her website is Agave Latte you won’t be disappointed!
An Adventurous Traveler From Across the Sea!
A few months ago Raul and I connected with Photographer, Writer and Adventure Traveler, Zoe Cano. Zoe is based out of London, England, who, with a spirit for adventure traveling from an early age, decided to explore the roads less traveled and left her job and the corporate world behind her.
With her love of motorbikes, she succeeded in a massive exploit to cross the American Continent solo, without assistance, back-up or sat-nav, on a classic Triumph Bonneville 860cc T100. Zoe wanted to meet people, and see what’s really out there in the big wide world we live in. Her question to all of is, “How far would you go to make a dream come true?”
The highly acclaimed ‘Bonneville Go or Bust – On the Roads Less Travelled’ published by Road Dog Publications USA narrates this unique solo adventure. Since its launch in 2014, the book has received rave reviews and 5 star ratings on both sides of the Atlantic.
Now Zoe is on yet another adventure, and this time in Baja California, Mexico! Solo! She stayed with us at Rancho La Bellota for a few days before heading south to the southern tip of the peninsula. I’ve got to say, because we get this all the time, but while sitting on the patio veranda one night discussing her travel plans, the subject of safety in Baja came up. I’d like to share some of it with you because I feel its important to clarify on this subject where there is often confusion or mis-information.
Here’s a woman, from a foreign country, and as far away as England who chose to travel in Mexico because she wants to meet the Mexican people and she wants to visit the many beautiful places she’s only heard about in Baja California. We asked her if in England she’d heard any of the hype about traveling in Baja and she replied there was some, but all of what she heard came from the United States.
Zoe and Raul both agreed, you can’t believe everything you see on your TV screen, especially these days. Sometimes, guests who come to the ranch are slightly worried about what they’ve heard from the news media regarding safety in Mexico. Immaginations play a big part in creating the snowball, but when they see for themselves, in person, how beautiful, and peaceful it is here, they’re quite surprised. Then they ask us, “Why does the media still discourage traveling in Baja?” Well, we answer, “Your guess is as good as ours!”
Raul and I are always more than happy to clear the air on this very subject. And I, as a woman, and an American who has lived, and traveled in Mexico for over 25 years can tell you first hand, there is nothing to fear here. I’ve traveled the highways up and down, over hill and dale by myself and never have I seen anything out of the ordinary, nor did I ever feel my personal safety was in danger.
Both Raul and I have traveled up and down the peninsula many times, and Raul for most of his life, but when the topic of safey in Meixco arises, we strongly feel, right down to our bones, that there is heavy misconception on what is safe, and what isn’t. In the quest for a specific answer to this dilema, you need to get to the heart of the matter. The only way to do that is to come down and see for yourself!
Baja California has a multitude of beauty to offer travelers from the tip of the Peninsula starting in Tecate, Baja’s wine country, the Guadalupe Valley, and Ensenada, right down to the southern tip, some 1,000 miles away in La Paz and San Jose de Cabo. Oh, and let’s not forget Rancho La Bellota! If you’re traveling in Baja, look us up. Raul and I will be there to greet you and welcome you into our home.
And Zoe, que te vaya bien, May you travel well!