Monday, November 11, 2013

Following the Mission Trail in San Antonio Texas

I know you’ve heard of the Alamo in San Antonio, but do you know that it is one of the oldest structures in North America and was built as a mission before it became famous as the last strong hold of the Texas Revolution in 1836? There are in total five missions that date from the 1700’s. 

A series of aqueducts connected them and provided water for the fields of parishioners. The Oil Painters of America held a paint-out there over three days to celebrate the remaining structures.  Neglect, wars, vandalism and other ravages of time have reduced their splendor, but the sheer size and effort that it took to construct these compounds is quite amazing.  

The architecture reflects the origin with stucco and painted white like their native stone.  Carvings in stone are reminiscent of the best that can be seen in Europe. I must admit from an artistic point of view I am thankful that only of them has been restored to the white stucco form.  

Some of them are still residences for priests who have lavished them with gardens of flowers, cactus and even cats with names like Moses.  We were not blessed with much sun.  Only a very few hours.   I painted the view below from inside of my tiny Nissan as it rained. The clouds were easy on those of us that sunburn easily but did not add the sparkle that buildings need.  

I do enjoy painting in the mid-tones anyway so I painted  in spite of the overcast.  San Antonio is almost tropical so there is an abundance of feathery Mesquite trees, yuccas, cactus and every flower imaginable.  I did miss the day at the Botanical Garden, so that is another subject for another time My Favorite Mission site was the mission of San Jose.  It has the famous Rose Window.  The front is covered with beautiful sculptures that served to tell the story of Christianity to the Indians that could not read the Bible.  I painted the front with all of its ornate sculpture.  It is missing a tower which was struck by lightening in 1942.  A great loss.  It was so nice to paint to the lovely (though piped-out) music from the church - and the bells (real) that rang with frequency.  This must have been a magnificent sight when it was new.   The “Rose Window” is badly chipped and weathered, but still lovely.  Inside was the Madonna.  a painting for another time.  

To the right is a portion of the aqueduct that brought water to the missions and the fields to support the families surrounding them.  This was no small feat as they are miles apart.  The effort was immense to construct this system of irrigation.  At Mission Espada I found a “Pretzel” tree!  I wonder how old this tree is.  Did it actually see the Mission (at top) when it was new? I just could not resist painting it. A great time was had by all. Greenhouse Gallery hosted a grand party and displayed some 71 paintings from 21 artists!

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