(Upper) San Miguel - Boy With Head Load, by Clark Hulings

Balancing Act

“Their work is ongoing, with no time to stop and visit.”

Even when we’re no longer students, the beginning of September is a time when we all seem to re-focus, buckle down, and get to work. There’s so much to be done. This 1972 painting (Upper) San Miguel – Boy With A Head Load is one of many examples of Hulings’ attention to the dignity of the daily routine of work.

A Sterling Addition

San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, is classic Hulings subject matter. There are a series of stunning paintings from the 1960s to the early 1980s set there; some of them feature the spectacular cathedral or one of the markets right in town—and others, like this one, are up on a nearby hill, looking down. San Miguel is in the eastern region of the state of Guanajuato. It is home to Otomi and Nahua indigenous groups, as well as an expat art community that was largely initiated after the second world war by writer Sterling Dickinson: the co-founder of Escuela Universitaria de Bellas Artes.

Wild Cactus

The shadows on the left side of the painting are very intriguing—there is so much detail in the darker area of the piece that you have to lean in and see what’s going on. The roadside jug, and what look like building materials, could be the remains of a previous project or something in-progress. The stonework in the road goes from smoothed-over to very crisp detail; it shows the groove in the middle where a slightly darkened line may indicate how water flows downhill in rainy season. The directional light contours a robust cluster of cactuses, growing wherever they want, right into the terra cotta roof tile.

All in a Day’s Work

The humans and animal are much more organized than the wild plants. The fact that the boy carrying the load on his head has his back to us and is on his way down the hill, and the person in bright red with the big-headed burro are on their way to the right—show us that their work is ongoing, with no time to stop and visit.

Bring San Miguel Home

If this beautiful 30 x 36″ painting is inspiring you to tackle some of your own work, you’re in luck. Our colleagues at Nedra Matteucci Galleries have this piece for sale, and we will be happy to introduce you if it’s just the right addition to your collection.

Elizabeth Hulings