In this series, the artists working at Creative Gateways give us behind-the-scenes insight into their current works in progress, inspiration, and creative challenges. Today, we look at Meg’s watercolor painting “St. Francis in San Sebastian”…
A Life in Mexico
Meg Munro brings many different themes and experiences to her work as a watercolorist. One of the most frequent involves her experiences living in Mexico for over three decades. There she painted a wide variety of subjects, including people, nature, and individual places. Her painting “St. Francis in San Sebastian” is a prime example of the power of location in Meg’s work.
A Window to the Past
“St. Francis in San Sebastian,” like much of Meg’s work, is closely linked to her time in Mexico. San Sebastian specifically is a mining town in the Sierra Madre mountains behind Puerto Vallarta. “The Portico is a 150 year old hacienda from the silver mining era,” Meg explains. “It is the sunlit fern and patterned light all jumbled together in an exuberant display of nature’s bounty framing the pink cantera statue of St. Francis that I found so appealing.”
The statue of St. Francis is easily identifiable as one of the religious and spiritual elements that Meg’s paintings are known for. “St. Francis is very special. He modeled his life on how he felt Jesus lived his life. So, he practiced more than he preached. He also had a very radical conversion experience in that he came from money and gave away his position and prestige out of the suffering he experienced that precipitated his re-orientation in life. He moved towards loving humanity rather than acquiring more things.”
However, Meg is quick to point out that, for her, St. Francis is not the thematic focal point of the piece. “More than anything, this painting is a moment in time on the patio of this hacienda, which hadn’t changed much from when it was built 200 years ago.” The town was founded in 1600, but became a ghost town after the Mexican Revolution in 1910. It was isolated due to being accessible only by a long, windy dirt road and a river that had to be forded – a ten hour journey overall. About 15 years ago, however, a new bridge and improved roads cut that travel time down to only two hours. “I spent some quality weekends there in that timeless place,” Meg tells us. “It’s very quiet and a totally different climate from the more tropical Puerto Vallarta down the mountain. It truly is like stepping through a window into another time. That’s the charm factor of San Sebastian.”
The painting is part of an ongoing series of Meg’s called “Mexico Memories.” “It’s what I’m calling all of my Mexico paintings, whether I painted them twenty years ago or am painting them now. From the moment I captured them on camera, they became memories. Now that I no longer live there, they’re even more poignant to me. All my ‘Mexico Memories’ paintings remind me of how Mexico endlessly gave and gave in color, patterns, and joy. I have been irrevocably altered by my life in Mexico. Already it was a step back in time in 1984 when I moved there. I keep harking back to that sweet spot that allowed me to be an artist and carve out my quiet, timeless space, away from the distractions and information overload around me. I feel very fortunate to have this perspective, as it’s part of what makes me the artist I am. I may be a dinosaur, but it’s good to be a dinosaur.”
A Gallery in the Present
You can see more of Meg’s work, as well as the work of all our resident artists, by visiting Creative Gateways Open Studios & Gallery, open 7 days a week, 10am-5pm!