South America Odyssey

I recently returned from a trip to South America. Other than a visit to Cartegena, Columbia, last November on a cruise to the Panama Canal, I had never been on the continent. We did a packaged land tour, round trip from Miami, and visited Chile, Argentina, and Brazil. We had free time on the tour, so naturally, did some painting along the way!

I bring a small acrylic paint set on international trips as they are so much easier to travel with. The downside is I don’t paint in acrylics much anymore, so it takes a bit of practice to get back into the ‘acrylics mode’ of working.

We flew overnight to Santiago, Chile from Miami, spent several days there and then flew down to Puerto Montt, about 600 miles south of Santiago. This area has the climate of Seattle, and everything was much greener. It was a clear day, which they say is not that common! With snowcapped volcano cones dotting the horizon, it looked very much like central Oregon and Washington.

I did my first painting of the trip at Puerto Varas. The painting is of Mt. Osorno, which looks very much like Mt. Fuji.

The next day, we bussed over a pass in the Andes to San Carlos de Bariloche. The pass was only about 4200 feet high. Due to recent and continuing volcanic activity, the entire area was covered in ash, and piled along the road. It almost looked like gray snow, and in some places a moonscape. The sky was overcast, but they said it was mainly the volcanic ash still spewing out of a local volcano.

Once over the pass, we entered Argentina. The scenery changed. It was almost like being in Glacier National Park, and if the Spanish signage wasn’t everywhere, it would have been just like being at Lake McDonald, or St Mary’s lake in Montana. It also reminded me of the Merced River Canyon as you come into Yosemite Valley. On to San Carlos de Bariloche, which is reminiscent of a Swiss village. It is at the edge of a beautiful lake and equals or rivals Lake Tahoe in beauty. The town itself is very touristy with lots of shops and good restaurants.

That night, we ate at a recommended ‘steak house’ as we wanted to try Argentinian beef…it was wonderful…I ordered the Filet Mignon and they brought me three full size delicious tender filets…for only about $18.00! About the tastiest beef I have ever eaten.

The next day in the morning we had a short walking tour of the town, around the town square a couple blocks away from the hotel. That afternoon, I did a couple paintings. The first painting was of the town square clock tower, which turned out fairly well. I didn’t paint the actual clock faces on the tower as I would have been difficult to paint under the conditions.

Later, I wanted to do a painting of the lake with the Andes in the background, but the ash cloud engulfed everything, so I painted a small study of the clouds themselves.

After flying to Buenos Aires and doing some touring around the city, we spent a day at a ranch on the Argentine Pampas. I did a one hour study of a hay barn on the ranch. The Pampas reminded me of California’s central valley, except there are no hills or mountains in the distance. I didn’t take a snapshot of the barn, but below is a picture of some Argentine Gauchos, along with the painting.

I had one free morning in Buenos Aires to paint. I don’t usually do buildings and architecture, but wanted to capture Caminito Street, the birthplace of the Tango. The old buildings there are painted very colorfully…

We then flew from Buenos Aires to Iguassu Falls, one of the natural wonders of the world. The border of Argentina and Brazil runs right down the middle of the falls so we proceeded to visit the Argentinian side of the falls. Even though we could only see this side of the falls in a ‘side channel’ from the top, it was absolutely spectacular! A walkway/bridge ran across the top of the many falls (there are about 250+ individual falls).

We then crossed the border to our hotel in Brazil, Mabu Resort. The next day we visited the Brazil side of Iguassu Falls. This was the main view, and you could see the main falls area called the “Devil’s Throat”. The walkway/bridge actually went down right at the bottom of the main falls.

A walking tour took up the morning, and the others returned to the hotel, but I stayed the entire day and painted in the afternoon. For decades, I have wished to visit and paint the falls, and today it came true. I did two paintings shown at the bottom of this series of photos (BTW, you can click on each photo for a larger version). Also are a few pictures of the falls, and my paint kit spread out over the benches…

We then spent a few days in Rio de Janeiro. I hadn’t really planned on painting there, but the Sheraton where we stayed had such a view, it was hard to resist! The hotel is situated by a rocky cliff, and from our room on the 16th floor we could see past a rocky point with Ipanema beach and the city in the background. It was cloudy and a little rainy, but decided to do a painting from the pool area. As soon as I started, it began pouring, so retreated to our room to finish the painting. Our room had basically the same view, but a little different angle, so was easy to finish.

After a long trip home, we arrived tired and ready for a rest!!

I expect to do some larger paintings in oil of some of these travels, particularly Iguassu Falls. I don’t know if there is a market for them, but I certainly won’t mind a large painting of the ‘Devils Throat” hanging in my living room!