La Chingona

14 Dec

Today, I will greet the sun as my relative
and give the morning my full attention.

I will say “I love you” into the mirror
and draw my eyeliner extra straight.

I will not call myself fat
because everything in my closet will look good on me.

I will rock my huge Latina hips
like the blessing they are.

Watch out!
I might even wear heels.

Today, I will not hand out one unnecessary apology.
Today, I will be Chingona!

-Yreina Flores Ortiz

I’ve been experimenting with making small, framed papercut illustrations. It’s fun exploring other possibilities with thicker paper, (sturdier than tissue paper). Also, it is  a totally different thing to draw for a framed design than one that needs to hang and blow about in a breeze. Papel picado needs more connecting pieces in the design. Smaller details don’t show up when the flags are up high, but in a frame, the viewer is able to get up close.

I have also placed a restriction on myself to use only the art supplies I already have. I had a teacher once who used to encourage us to stick with one medium/concept and ‘discover the universe in its limitations’. That one piece of advice has spawned many a late-night resourceful triumph. Besides, Lord knows, I have plenty of materials to experiment with already. So, here I go into papercut illustrations. Which is where I started before I learned how to make papel picado anyway!

This piece is available for purchase here here.


Artist Profile: Florencio ‘Jayar’ Flores

2 Nov

My tio, Jayar, created this retablo barber shop scene in memory of Dave Hernandez and his son, Greg.

Jayar grew up here in Indio, CA. The youngest in a family of 6 children, he has been an artist since he picked up his first pencil. In my (admittedly biased) opinion, his art is the love child of 80’s MAD magazine illustration and Chicano Lowrider art.

A self-taught artist, he is skilled in drawing, painting, airbrushing, hand lettering, screen printing, printmaking, sculpting and graphic design. He has worked in the sign industry for the last 20 years. He can take a project from concept through fabrication which is impressive, but he makes it fun. Which is amazing. He’s one of those artists that enjoys making things so finely detailed that most people won’t take in half of what he puts into a project… and they’ll still walk away impressed.

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Papel Picado Tutorial with a free template

26 Oct

Etsy published a tutorial I wrote in their blog’s ‘How-Tuesday’ column! It is meant to be an introduction to making papel picado using the most-widely available modern tools as we don’t all have access to a blacksmith to make us custom chisels. It coincides with the Dia de los Muertos holiday.

I also included a free [for personal and educational use] template to start you off!

Teachers and grown-ups who like to play (with or without) kids: The template also makes a fun coloring sheet for children. Cut out the colored-in flags and glue them together on a string or yarn to make a printed papel picado style banner. Enjoy!

Altar for Dave Hernandez at the Palm Springs Art Museum

23 Oct

My grandfather, David Hernandez passed away this year in March. So, when I had an opportunity to make an altar for the Palm Springs Art Museum’s Dia de Los Muertos exhibition, I knew it would be for him.

Grandpa making the (back then) World's Longest Tamale in his custom-built steamer.


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Customer photo: Mi Casa, Airstream trailer banner

12 Oct

A couple of years ago, when I was still a single mom, my daughter Bella, my dad and I took a road trip to Quartzite, Arizona.

A curious and wonderful thing happens in Quartzite. Every Spring, rock collectors, antique dealers and tourists flock to this tiny desert town just inside the California/Arizona border. Overnight, a small city of RV’s, campers and trailers forms. Vendors lay out their wares and peddle everything from depression-era glass to piles of deer antlers to giant African beads. Food trucks offer corn dogs, buffalo burgers, deep fried cheese curds and chili cheese nachos. Definitely not healthy fare, but whatever.

Anyway, my favorite part was the rock vendors. These passionate people hauled boulders (really!) and tons of rocks, gems, fossils and crystals in from around the world. They proudly stood by with a tub of water, eager to show you how to dunk a stone to bring out its true colors. Bella loved it all. It was fascinating to dig through piles of Minnesota pipestone and dunk them one at a time to bring out the flaws. We learned how to search for tiny cracks that would split a stone over time. We also found a few perfect pieces.

I loved the happy, fascinating rock people. Inspired by their friendliness, when I got home I drew my first original pattern that is not based on a traditional papel picado grid.

And, this week, a lovely customer sent me a photo of her sweet  ’57 Cardinal Trailer. She hung the banner at her campsite at a vintage trailer rally. What a cute setup and, seriously, how cool is that?! I want one.

I just love it when I get to see one of my banners ‘in action’. Thank you, dear customer. Happy camping!

This banner is available for purchase here.

Pink Ribbon for the National Museum of Mexican Art

3 Oct

Every day is an adventure. And when you love what you do, your work becomes part of the adventure.

Back in August, I was contacted by a programmer from the National Museum of Mexican Art.  She asked if I’d be interested in making some HOPE banners for an ofrenda they were working on for their Dia de Los Muertos exhibition. She was working with a community group of women in Mexico that wanted to make an altar for Breast Cancer victims, specifically the mother of one of their members.

Originally, I made these little HOPE banners for my Grandma Bessie. She is a breast cancer survivor of 5+ years. She is one tough cookie!

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