Sunday, March 31, 2013

The High Road

Outside Santa Fe
Oil on canvas, 10x10

I was driving through the mountains, from the highway toward Madrid, NM, when I came around a curve and the land opened up into a broad meadow, with mountains at the edges.

Everything in my soul sighed, and I found a smile on my face.

Until that moment, I hadn't realized how much I love the open spaces. Yes, I joke about belonging to the Big Field, Little House school of painting - but until today, I didn't understand how visceral is the drive to be in those places, and paint those places.

I love the mountains - but I don't so much love being in them. I love trees, but I don't so much love being surrounded by them.

When I am at the edge of a huge field, or at the edge of the ocean, or when I'm at the edge of the salt marsh or a big field of snow, my heart and my head and my soul find the space to rejoice, to relax, to imagine.

I found particular beauty in this scene, a ranch house and barn at the edge of a huge field, snug against the mountains. Later in the day, I found myself enchanted by Eagle Nest, New Mexico. And at the edge of Taos, I found fields and mountains and great storm clouds. There were too many people and too much traffic to allow me to paint - but I took a ton of photos.

Here's my painting in the landscape:


Scenes from the Day

I spent the day traveling the high roads from Albuqueque to Las Vegas, NM 

A wall of bottles outside of Madrid, NM

In Madrid, NM, the houses are brightly colored, and some have paintings on them. One resident proudly told me that the town doesn't have a mayor, a government, a police department or any corporations. It does have lots of shops, galleries and artists. 

The town of Madrid, NM, takes care of Brush, the dog. He was neglected by his owner, who then moved away and left him, and the town took over.

Ever seen a Mickey D's sign like this? 

This red brushy stuff was all over the high country as I drove through. 

I love how open Eagle Nest, NM, is. The town of about 500 is 9,000 feet high. 

Great storm clouds outside of Taos. 

Sunset in Las Vegas, NM

Dog of the Day! With no explanation or introduction, the morning weatherman
 did his entire gig holding a Chihuahua.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Heading East

Oil on canvas, 12x48

The van right now is full of big, wet paintings, and while my hanging system is working well, it isn't really set up to handle big stuff - and I have some. 

And I have to make some tracks towards home; I am hanging a show in Groton, CT, April 5 - and have to get to Wachapreague first! 

So I wasn't planning on stopping. I wasn't planning on painting. And I really wasn't planning on painting a big piece. 

But I came around a curve in the road, and saw this rock formation spread out in front of me, and realized I was in Ganado, where I was born, and that was enough for me. 

I pulled off the highway, found an easy spot where I could set up, and I painted away. 

I love this piece. I love the mass of the rocks, its easy swell and curve, and the tiny house in the right foreground. And I like the sky pretty well, too. So it was a good stop! 

Here's my painting in the landscape. Because of the glare from the setting sun, it's a little hard to see this long painting AND the long landscape, but it's there if you work it. And just in case, there's the landscape minus the painting, too. 


Scenes from the day
 Here is some of the scenery along Interstate 40, heading toward Albuquerque

 A flower I saw while I was painting 

 More scenery! 

 Leaving Flagstaff, I got off in Meteor Crater, AZ, where there was a fine view of this snow-capped mountain.

A sign near Meteor Crater, AZ

Had to stop at the Trading Post, of course. 

Dog of the Day! 

Friday, March 29, 2013

What a Day!

Cathedral Rock
Oil on canvas, 30x40

This was the fourth of four paintings I made in Sedona on Wednesday, and I have to say, I love it! 

It is 30x40 - BIG! - and, taking a tip from the late Louisa McElwain, I bought a masonry trowel and used it to apply the paint. 

These rock formations demand it. They are huge, they are bulky, they are ridged and rolling and crenelated - and even though they are far away, the details are visible. 
The temptation is to try to paint each and every fold, each and every striation, each and every shadow - but that's not me, that's not how I paint - and it's not how I want to paint. 
To capture their splendor and muscle, I found I needed a bigger tool than I had. The masonry trowel is bigger than I am comfortable with, and stiffer than I like, but it worked. 

It was challenging and exhilarating, and I love the result. 


So here's my question: How do you live in a place like this?
How do you go to the grocery store and the library and the gas station when you are surrounded by this incredible scenery?
How do you pay attention to the chores and to everyday life?  
My guess is that people say they get used to it -  but I would never want to get used to it! 

Here's my painting in the landscape: 


Scenes from the day

These bronze statues at one of the National Forest information areas are just about life-size, I'm told. Though I haven't seen a javelina, or wild pig, lots of folks I spoke with have seen them. 

The photo above and the following photos are all scenes from Sedona

Sunset on a beautiful day. This is the highway out of Sedona. 

And here's the Dog of the Day! 

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Sedona Splendor

Sedona I
Oil on canvas, 10x10
Tubac Trip painting no. 13

For years, people have told me that Sedona is beautiful, magnificent, awe-inspiring - but the descriptions have pretty much stopped there. 

As I was driving here from Tubac, I began to wonder. I saw lots of beautiful scenery, with hills and wildflowers and saguaro cacti - but there was nothing more lovely than the gorgeous stuff I'd seen near Tubac. 

The highway climbed and climbed. At one point, a sign warned drivers to shut off their air conditioning to keep their cars from overheating on the 5-mile climb that was to come. 

Three thousand feet. Four thousand. A high meadow, with that feeling of being in the air. Big birds soaring. I was about 20 miles from Sedona, and while it was lovely, I was still waiting. 

From the highway, I got a glimpse, and I felt myself speed up. I got off the road, and onto the side road. 

First curve. 

Second curve. 

Third curve - and there is was. In the distance, incredible red, striated rock formations, spiring up into the sky, marvelous chimneys and steeples rising from their bulky bases. The colors took my breath away, against the blue sky and the setting sun, and I tore along looking for a place to pull over to paint. 
I have only seen the start of the beauty that is here, I know, and will spend today tracking up and down hills, down and back on side roads, awe-struck, looking for places where I can pull off and paint. 

I can't wait! 

My painting in the landscape

Scenes from the Day

Many of the overpasses are decorated, with tiles on the walls, or colored rocks arranged in patterns on the slopes going down to the roadways. 

 Here are Dad and Paula, saying goodbye in front of their house in Tubac.

I saw lots of cacti and flowers on the drive from Tubac to Sedona.

The start of the beautiful scenery around Sedona. 

A gorgeous end to a gorgeous afternoon. 

Here's Annie, the Dog of the Day. Her owners found her wandering around a Wal-Mart parking lot. She is a sweetie, who puts up with her buddy below, a spazzy Corgi whose name I can't remember. 

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Arizona Sycamore - Arizona Success

Arizona Sycamore
Oil on canvas, 10x10
Tubac Trip Painting No. 12

The show in Tucson was a smashing success for me! I sold six paintings, for a total of about $2,400. That's not my best show ever, but it is up there with my best shows.

I was one of only a very few painters in the street fair, which truly was a street fair. In addition to food vendors selling turkey legs, corn on the cob, chili cheese fries, Chinese food, Hawaiian chicken and more, artists and artisans were selling jewelry, sculpture, hats, jams and jellies, tie-dyed T-shirts, blown glass and marbles, photographs and who knows what else - that was just the people near me.

All three days were bright and sunny and hot. Two paintings sold on Friday, none on Saturday and four on Sunday. The people who came to the fair - and there were tons of them! - were pleasant, polite, friendly and restored the faith in art-fair-goers that my experiences in Florida had pretty much destroyed.

So this was an excellent show for me, and fun, too!

On Monday, Dad and I had the chance to paint together again, while Paula played in a big golf tournament, coming in second. Dad and I drove through the funky/artsy little town of Patagonia, up a winding road that turned to dirt eventually, and ended at what was the town of Harshaw. Now, it is pretty much just a crumbling brick building and a turn off the road.

Dad painted the building, and painted an Arizona sycamore, an amazing kind of tree, with trunk that is dark near the ground, but, higher, its trunk and branches are white - and curving, twisty and gnarled, as well. I don't usually make paintings of trees, but this one was spectacular - and a challenge.

My painting in the landscape


Scenes from the Days
 Here's a view of the street fair, up the road from my tent.

I was lucky enough to be near the amusingly named Piggly's, which sold fries, chili cheese fries, enormous turkey legs and more. I didn't eat there, but had fun watching people devour turkey legs! 

Here's Ted, who visited my booth twice during the show. Ted has only one eye, but says he can see fine. His mission in life is to bring a smile and joy to people, he says. He told me he isn't afraid of dying because his wife is already dead, and he is looking forward to meeting him in Heaven. I asked if he dressed like this when his wife was alive, and he said - Yes! Even more so!

Here are the Knaacks, who bought one of my paintings - the first sale of the show! 

A jackrabbit in my dad's yard one night. 

Cows and a burro on the way to Harshaw. 

I almost put this in as the Dog of the Day... Patagonia's radio station.

A cool little shop in downtown Patagonia

Dog of the Day! This one is named Pima, and was a rescue from the Pima Animal Shelter.