After a relaxing drive north on Highway 51, we arrived at Ex-Hacienda San Joaquin de las Trancas on what proved to be the coldest day yet this year. Without proper clothing, cold weather and an overcast sky usually mean a short painting session. Linda finished her lovely watercolor sketch of a trio of ruins covered with bougainvillea in 45 minutes (a record) while I got caught up photographing a family of pigs that wandered into the scene I was sketching and I had to finish the painting later from a photo.
Ex-Hacienda Las Trancas is a joy for any artist. There are possibilities wherever one looks: the lovingly restored capilla, the façade of the hacienda with multiple layers of pink and peachy paints peeling just enough to suggest a long history, old hacienda buildings now ruins, dramatic views looking across the Rio Batán, the elegantly restored hacienda interior….I could go on and on.
The rich pastel colors of the exterior walls attracted my attention and rather than try to paint the entire front of the hacienda (remember it was cold), I focused on a small wall with patches of the hacienda colors that allowed a peek at the landscape beyond. Then the pigs ran in and I had to add mama and her piglets.
The origin of the hacienda dates to 1567 when a Spaniard named Diego Martin received land and troops from the Spanish Crown. During its early history, Las Trancas was a fort on the Camino de la Plata or Silver Road between the region’s rich silver mines and Mexico City. In 1709, Las Trancas transitioned from fort to hacienda and, eventually, grew to over a million acres (larger than the state of Rhode Island) before the land reforms of the early 1900’s. The main crops grown on this vast hacienda were corn, peaches, grapes and chilies.
The current owners, Stephen and Kelley Wilkinson, have carefully and beautifully renovated this historic hacienda. Part of the income from destination weddings at Las Trancas goes to Proyecto Pueblito to improve the quality of life for the people in the surrounding area.