January 31, 2014


I took a week-end workshop at Swintons Art Supply (http://www.swintonsart.com) taught by Rick Janzen of Streamline Studios (http://streamlinestudiosinc.ca)  and a wicked local sign painter in the sense of the traditional trade craft.
We started out finding about the history and Rick told many great stories about his experiences. There were many book references and lots of photos of past work to look at. He introduced us to the tools of the trade and all the materials etc. were included in the workshop fee = wicked!!
I have always wanted to learn the skills of the traditional sign painter in order to better perfect what I hope to do in my work. I've taken up many of the skills, from transferring lettering, hand painting on glass as well as learning airbrush. I've done a few murals and some signage(see earlier blog post or visit my website for reference) Brianbatista.com. 
We rolled out some poster paper and began with layout and design of hand painted signs.  I decided to make a sign that I can use at my comic expo booth or elsewhere I offer custom work.
Then I was lucky enough to get to try out his electro pouncer. This is definitely something I'd love to have in my studio, though at around $500 its a little rich for my blood. for now a luxury item I can try out. It used electricity to burn holes int he paper. How it works is you stick paper to a piece of metal using magnets. The electro pouncer has a ground wire that gets attached to this metal backing. You turn it on and use it like a pen. It pulses out a little arc which burns holes. So cool. A couple of people got shocked, which isn't that shocking, handle with care!
This paper is then put on top of the surface. Take a chalk bag and tamp the surface and the chalk will go thru the little holes and create an outline to follow that can easily be removed. This is a great way to transfer a design. here I am using white chalk but if the surface was light or white I would use crashed charcoal instead.  Once the designs transferred it makes it much easier to paint, plus I still have the pounced paper design if I need to make multiples.
Here it is mostly painted.  It takes a lot of brush skill to do this well. Something that only time and practice and bring, as in any real skill worth attaining. I ran out of time to add other colours and outlines but I do intend on working on the sign more and adding some more decorate elements and maybe some gold leafing before distressing it.
What interested me most about this particular workshop is the DISTRESSING part.  In my sacred images paintings I try to get that aged antique look. Often it is tedious and labor intensive requiring lots of techniques and time. This on the other hand was quick and effective. First we need to age the wood so that the ground doesn't look so fresh. there are so many ways I found online to do this from vinegar and steel wool to what we did, which was way easier, stain it with raw umber paint watered down.
After the initial drying we applied wallpaper paste to the surface. This will act as a resist for later when we begin removing layers. I used this heavy duty dryer to speed up the process. Aesthetically speaking, the wear on a sign would be more around the edges and more around the top due to weathering so more paste should be applied there, the middle would have much less distress. rick gave us many fine examples and ways about thinking about how to distress the work to look realistic.
 Then you put on your design. You can use a variety of transfer methods or go the old fashioned routs and draw directly on it like I did.
I created a second test panel where I painted a letter on a fully painted background whereas the first I chased in the background. I designed this letter B based on an old rosewood style font I have always admired. another transfer method is to rub the back of the paper with charcoal and then place it down and go over the lines on the front. This pushes the charcoal on the back onto the surface with the traced design.
Here they are painted in. I decreased the contrast between the off white and black to show bleaching by the sun. The colours I used are harmonious with one another and are heritage colours.  With little time I raced to paint these in, they are rough but it is not going to matter once the distressing comes into play.
Here they are after I finish with the two distressing techniques we learned. I like them really aged :D
The first method is to use a warm water soak to loosen the wallpaper paste and then using a floor brush or nail brush with short strokes to lift the paint off the surface where the wall paper paste is applied. Its wet, wild and fun and works fantastic.
I love how this lake sign turned out by one of the other participants.  Did I mention these are water based paints but it works equally as well for oil based paints. It is the messiest part of the process which is why we put down black plastic garbage bags.
We also tried block ageing which added to my tests. It is a way to make it look as though the painting is peeling off without having to life the paint, instead you add paint of the wood colour on the top. Here rick is further ageing his sign.I think the more distressed the better, as long as you can still make out what the sign says. It was a fun time and by the end of the class we had some pieces to be proud of!
Photo by Rick Janzen

I am so stoked about what I learned, I am pumped to apply it to my practice. I already have grand ideas and an extensive list of stuff I want to do so be prepared to see some major output in the coming months  after I finish all my teaching gigs and I can get back to the studio. I can't stop thinking about it, so much so I skipped past the remaining El Salvador trip inspiration. If this class comes up and this interests you I highly recommend the course.

Until next time = :D

January 28, 2014

The beach caves near El Tunco

My pal Lupe has been raving about her favourite spot and she has been wanting to visit it in years. We are finally here, and our chance to see it for ourselves….the sea carved caves at the end of the beach near El Tunco.

It is not a far walk down the beach and you get to pass all sorts of hostels, cacti and even another small settlement around another river that seeps out into the ocean like the one that we can see from the cabana at the place we are staying at.

As we get closer the caves seem to open up. There are men wading in the water nearby casting nets into the waves. I have no idea what they are trying to catch. I'm walking in the same waves and nothing seems to be hitting my shins so I really can't say how successful they are. They are there for hours, I'm not sure if they are catching anything.

The first time we go the tide is up a ways, making going into the cave more dangerous as the waves smash in and the back flow can trip you up. I have valuables and my iPhone so I am not going to risk it on this occasion.

Rosco brought his lunch and waded out to a rock to enjoy his food and the magnificent view.

The tide was rising as the sun began setting. We would have to come back another day to enjoy the sea caves more. Ray and I managed to go when the tide was out and the sun was rising the morning before we had to leave.

This is inside the same cave but this time the tide is way out and you can get thru the many caverns in the rock.
 The shapes that open out to the ocean are inspiring windows to the edge of the world.
It was hot and we sat outside on the cave on the furthest point of the outer rock and watched waves roll in. This is super natural inspiration!
Above the caves are fences and a building. I bet the view from up there is phenomenal.
 There is a long staircase that comes down to a pool carved out in the rock. During high tide we couldn't reach this point.
 Looking up form the cave are these softened sedimentary formations.
Here is the view looking back as we depart the beach caves at El Tunco and head for the rock! You really have to go there to see this amazing place in person!

January 27, 2014

El Tunco

We made our way to our new spot after a 3hr. tour. Us boys had a blast in our van. Quiet and silent looking out the window for the first hour and once the beers and rum began being passed around it got to be real fun. No beers, no talking. Beers and the boys get rowdy. The girls bus was the opposite, they started with talking and rested the last bit of the way.

Jess Lupe the pics are awesome! however, truth be told, us girls talked about sex stories and weird fetishes for half of our ride to el tunco.... if only you were a fly on that wall…

In many ways I do wish I could have heard the silly stories and giggling. Alas, I would never impose. Regardless, we arrive at El Tunco with enough time to settle in and visit the beach.
We arrived at the El Tunco however the rock is not what we saw first, first we got into our sweet pad booked on air b n b. The owner frank waited for us outside the private gated community. Our vans arrived and we opened the tall gate. For security the top of the gates have broken pieces of glass cemented to the top so no body tries to jump over. Should I be worried?
Lupe found us a pad for 12 and I paid for all of us on my visa. Peeps paid me back which is how I bought US currency for the remainder of the trip. The main house was great with kitchen and appliances, even a TV, though we weren't going to be watching any. Walking thru the house to the back to see the ice cold pool and cabana. The boys got in first so we waited patiently for the girls to allow them to have first pick of rooms. We are gentlemen, after all.
Our first night was spent in the Cabana circled around good eats and drinks overlooking where the river meets the ocean.
Okay so the river didn't really meet the ocean and I think there is a good chance they do their laundry upstream and dump their sewage. There were plenty of people down there swimming and fishing and it seemed to be teeming with life and people during the day.
I got to share this detached bunk house with an outdoor as well as an indoor bathroom with shower. It was luxury on this trip. Hot as hell inside though, an the fan didn't work and made a death metal noise.
Here is the view that I saw when I left the dark hot room. Not bad.
And here is the backyard full of coconut trees, though there weren't any coconuts for us to pilfer. Jacob High Tower hung his awesome hammock between these tall trees and Josh put up a slack line too.
Outside there were enough tables to push together so we can all share meals with each other which is what I love most about this group of travellers, we work together and share everything, well almost everything. lol.
Having our own pad made me feel a bit like I was at a beach house in Hollywood with my celebrity friends. We sat around the swim up bar one night trading embarrassing sex stories. I ran away as to not kiss and tell. My room mate has the best ones, no contest!
Mr. Dingles in his natural habitat. No matter where I've been with my boy always finds the best outdoor pee spot. Lucky dog and he does it with style!

Walking out from our gated abode there is a cool hostel on the corner where we got an amazing thai feast for 13 one night. Steps away are the crashing waves and wicked surfing swells at the beach. Accommodations are awesome and we are within walking distance of a nearby little town. This final week in El Salvador should be relaxing and an adventure!

January 24, 2014

Accommodations at La Tortuga Verde, El Cuco, El Salvador


You can check it out here at Hostelworld

The sweet spot Harry carved out for us to visit is right on the beach. It has all the relaxing amenities one could hope for in a vacation spot. You don't have to carry a dime as the staff keeps perfect lists of meals, beers and ice cream, boat rides etc. and tally's it up at the end of your stay. I kept track of everything myself and they were incredibly accurate with the bill.
 The whole point of Tortuga is to help protect the beach and save the turtles whose population has been depleted due to humans eating their eggs. We were lucky enough to help birth batch of turtle eggs and aid them in their journey to the ocean.  If I were to choose one, I would definitely choose the runt of the litter, I like a good underdog. These guys can live to a hundred years and will return to the exact same beach from which they were born in order to hatch new offspring.
 The spot was at one time a coconut plantation, which is awesome if you love young coconut water as much as me, everyday I drank a few fresh ones and learned how they use a machete to release the juice for myself.
 They recently built this bar with a hidden gem, a rooftop bed. Wendy, the bartender created delicious fruit drinks called "tropicalle".  They also served hummus and Bruscetta for a late night snack.
 Here is a view from the bar roof down to the yoga room and conference centre. I did a fantastic class as the sun set, it kicked my ass in a good way. You can also take surf lessons and Spanish lessons. There is tons to do here, but mostly you'll want to hit the water or lounge in a hammock on the beach.

Here is a little friend I made, Doggy. We hung out on the beach and I gave him a rub down and Reiki and picked a few ticks out of his fur- Eeeewwwwwwe gross. Doggie waited for at the end of the road  when we were leaving to say goodbye in his doggie way.

Get a huge group of friends together and book some vans, then try to organize an exodus. We managed to cram all the people and luggage into two of these little Toyota diesels. It naturally separated into Stinky and sweet, Guys and girls respectively. I can say from being in the Guys van that is was a hell of a fun trip to our next destination - El Tunco.

January 23, 2014


It turns out while I was away and on my mom's B-day I was the featured entrepreneur on Notable.ca.

See the Article here: http://notable.ca/nationwide/entrepreneurs/Brian-Batista-Todays-Notable-Young-Entrepreneur/

Portrait Photos by Kenneth Locke.


January 21, 2014

La Tortuga Verde - San Miguel

Tom and Harry planned a some festivities for the locals and visitors on Saturday night at La Tortuga Verde. They erected a large title effigy made of palm to burn later that evening.
Ray and I got super sick from eating some papusas and were pretty much laid out for three days. That part wasn't fun, hot and sweaty and hard to sleep.Luckily there was Jacob Hightower a field medic who served in Afghanistan and his bag of magical pills. He gave us some antibiotics which worked within a day and a half and returned our systems to normal.
Here is the view looking up from my favourite hammock spot near the beach. I took a basic conversational spanish class with Harry and learned enough to get by adequately and order what i wanted which was mostly banana and young coconut shakes in the morning, ensalada (salads) for lunch and pescado (fish) grilled or fired in the evenings. The fish was almost too good!
Except the fugu that we found washed up on the beach. No chance I'd try puffer fish from these waters.  There are many prickly things around but this beach is basically clear and no ocean smell as there was no seaweed etc. Just clear sand and big waves.
I managed to get up on a surf board the first time I tried. Though winded after the session I can see why people go crazy for surfing, it is super fun in a way I can't easily explain. The sun began setting and it was time to clean up and prepare for the party.
I haven't been much in the mood for partying after being ill, partied out, eaten by mosquitos and fatigued from adventure. My brain hurt too from all that is different that I was trying to take in, this trip has been quite the trip. It is also awesome being surrounded by tons of friends I have't seen for a while as well as all the new ones I made.
The next day a few of us decided to get into a truck and drive to the nearest city San Miguel. I wanted to see some more of the country and a contrast to the edge of the world at our very secluded beach hostel.  I love riding in the back of trucks, too bad it is illegal here, everybody has to do it here. The hot air at high speeds is like air conditioning and a temporary escape. In the background is the Volcano that erupted a week earlier. There is still a bit of smoke seeping out, that is not a cloud in the background sky.

We are headed to a mall of all things to use an ATM and to grab some pizza to bring back to the group. You can see the sign to the right of the volcano Mega Mall.

We followed these guys into town. That is Yuca root I'm told and I love how the guy on the left is just totally wiped and taking a nap on the sacs as they head into town.
as we sped by I managed to snap a shot of the gates of a Masonic lodge.
You don't see that everyday. No guns inside. I guess people are carrying here. There were armed guards in every convenience store as well as to just get into the mall parking lot. People starred at us at the mall. It was so weird, first because we were the weird gringos and everybody was looking at us like we came out of a UFO and second because they were part of this new consumer culture. It was a throw back to the 90's when people were mall rats and hung around doing nothing just because that is the most happening spot. The fashion was 90's too. 
Here is a power line that caught my attention. Nearby was a police pick-up truck and in the back were 8 police just standing in there. There was loud music and talking blasting from areas and cars equipped with loudspeakers on top everywhere, it felt like absolute chaos. The sites and sounds of the city were overwhelming enough for me to really want to hop back into the pick up truck and get back to La Tortuga Verde!