I learned to paint during a long and very hot summer trip with my grandmother to help her run the concession stands at the rodeos in Colorado and in Gallup and Albuquerque, New Mexico. I was a young, impressionable kid, fascinated with incredible rock formations and the cliff dwellings at Mesa Verde.
At the end of the trip, I took all my left over paints from the Paint by Number kits and began painting western landscapes, including desert scenes, rocks, Navajo Indians and horses. The trip left me with wonderful memories and many souvenirs, as we stopped by stands along the road home to buy pottery, jewelry and rugs. I remember tasting for the first time hopi corn tortillas made with blue cornmeal.
Last May, I returned to the Land of Enchantment with two of my sisters to tour the Georgia O'Keeffe Gallery in Santa Fe and then to enjoy a special visit to Ghost Ranch (where she lived for many years) near Abiquiú. O'Keeffe is one of my favorite artists. Seeing the landscapes that she painted was so inspiring. The skies over the cliffs and mesas were a brilliant blue with awesome cloud formations. It was a sensory overload of orange, yellow and purple with the distant mountains rising up in hues of blue and green.
'Between Heaven and Earth' - This oil painting on canvas (11" x 14"), was inspired by the Matrimonial Mesa at Ghost Ranch (home of painter Georgia O'Keeffe), near Abiquiú, NM. It's part of my “Ghosts in the Rocks” series, from photos I took during a recent road trip to Santa Fe and Taos, NM. The shadows of clouds formed interesting patterns on the magnificent, multilayered cliff walls, red hills and mesas. As I gazed out over the landscape, the cliffs seemed to reach up and touch the sky. It was a magical moment.
Thank you for allowing me to share memories of special road trips with my family through these paintings.
Photographer / Artist
The following small studies have found homes in private collections.
'Souvenirs from Road Trips' - This oil painting (5" x 7") on canvas board was one of the paintings for the 31 January challenge hosted by Strada Easel in 2018. Everyday for thirty one days, I worked on an original oil painting of objects around me, such as these souvenirs from a road trip to New Mexico many years ago. The experience to do a painting each day was both challenging and exhilarating. Many questioned why I would attempt this and even if I would be able to come up with enough unique ideas to paint ‘live’! Guess I’m just a little stubborn and raised to complete tasks. “It makes you strong and build character,” my Dad would say.
'After the Rain' - This oil painting on canvas board (8" x 6"), was inspired by the ever changing colors of cliffs at Ghost Ranch after a heavy rain. The oranges, purples and blues of the landscape were so intense. “It is not a country of light on things,” said Georgia O'Keeffe. “It is a country of things in light.” The painting was mounted in a plein air gold leaf frame for the Malone family auction this past summer at The Nature Place near Pikes Peak.
'Matrimonial Mesa' - This oil painting on canvas board (8" x 6"), features a different view of the cliffs and mesas at Ghost Ranch near Abiquiú, NM. The remains of old cottonwood trees are silhouetted against the red and yellow cliffs of the Piedra Lumbre (shining stone). The painting was mounted in a plein air gold leaf frame for the Malone family auction this past summer at The Nature Place near Pikes Peak.
'San Francisco de Asis Church' - This oil painting on canvas board (8" x 6"),of the mission at Ranchos de Taos honors the Franciscan Fathers, who completed construction on the adobe structure in 1815. It was the center of the fortified plaza, which provided protection against Comanche attacks. The community and parishioners gather annually to replaster the church. The painting was mounted in a plein air gold leaf frame for the Malone family auction this past summer at The Nature Place near Pikes Peak.
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