Portraits from Oaxaca, Mexico

Oaxaca 2003I first visited the city of Oaxaca in Mexico in 1996. I was struck by the charm and variety of the indigenous people of the region, many of whom wear costumes and practice traditions that have altered little over the centuries. In 2000 I had the opportunity to live for a month in the ancient Zapotecan town of Teotitlan del Valle, situated about 20 mile east of Oaxaca City. There I painted and drew a series of Teotico portraits – I was the first person ever to do this. In 2003 I returned for two months to paint a new series of watercolour portraits.

All of these works are drawn and painted from life. My models were curious to watch me working and were patient and responsive during their sittings. Teotitlan is the principal rug producing town in the state of Oaxaca and every family takes pride in their skills and traditions; carding wool, spinning, dying and weaving. Perhaps due to our shared interest in the arts, I found the community extended great kindness and hospitality towards me.