An artist finds a comal! Exhibit by Nydia R. Garcia Schmidt

An artist finds a comal!


Woman unloading comales in the city market

We normally think of comales and tortillas as the perfect combination, but this artist found another match for a comal—a paintbrush. Here is the story of Nydia from Mexico.

Nydia began painting on comales soon after she met a potter and    his wife in Mexico, in the state of Oaxaca.  His pottery business        included making mezcal clay containers and painting them, then    distributing them to various venders around explained the                sealing (glossing) process used and encouraged Nydia to try it on    comales  since they are made of the same material.  Nydia had already  seen the comales being sold in the market in Mitla Oaxaca, during one of   her shopping trips and was eager to paint on them. But she needed  a few tips from the potter and artist.

His encouragement and experience allowed Nydia to feel encouraged enough to work on her   new adventure.


Mandala comes from Sanskrit meaning “circle.” And always has a concentric structure. Mandalas offer balancing visual elements, symbolizing unity and harmony.

Some of her first designs were inspired by traditional Mexican sarape motifs, and painting the straight horizontal lines seemed simple enough.  She realized that this was harder than it appeared, since having a steady hand is essential.  Nydia wondered if she could paint the straight lines to get the visual effect of the color running stronger or lighter.


Sarapes are famous for their bright colors

Sarapes are famous for their bright colors.  After thinking about this for several months, one day on her way home from church, she thought about using  ‘masking tape’ and went that same day to a corner store to purchase the tape. It worked! The paint did not bleed through. Nydia went on to paint several with this design and quickly sold them or gave some as gifts to friends and family.

After painting some of these sarape designs she became a bit bored with the design and didn’t paint for a few years. She was also very busy raising three teenage sons and finishing her Masters Degree! One day during a visit to Barnes and Nobles she spotted the Mandala coloring book and could not take her eyes off the designs.  She envisioned how they would look on a comal and immediately looked for a pattern.  She wondered about tracing the lines and eventually has found the perfect technique, ask her about it!

Nydia’s interest in painting in comales is purely a hobby, when she is not traveling or busy at work; she tries to carve time to work on new patterns and color combinations.  There is a sense of excitement to see the orange, or red, or green transform the otherwise simple comal into something beautiful for the eyes. (credits for this article go to Enid Sanford)


Nydia is from Monterrey, Mexico and works as the Americas Area Director for Wycliffe Global Alliance, an alliance of more than 100 ministries involved in Bible Translation. She uses her hobby to also advocate for the more than 1.5 billion people that still do not have access to the Word of God in a language that speaks to their heart. Nydia and her husband Jim live in Pharr, TX. Her teenage boys are now young adults living in Clovis and Socorro, New Mexico and Chicago, Illinois and received her MA Degree in Cross-Cultural Leadership in 2011.