Sunday, October 30, 2011

"Softening" Oil Painting

6x9, Oil on Canvas

Finished this little plein aire study yesterday.  I had gotten the shot of these trees on Monday when a beautiful blue mist came through our neighborhood.  It softened everything from the grass to the trees and the morning light.  In some ways it's hard for me to just leave things alone and not try to intensify or put more detail into pieces. This was good practice for me to work towards that subtle light and form.  So much beauty in just those hints.

I finished it off yesterday looking at those trees in the stark afternoon light.  It's amazing how with the soft filtering of the mist how I looked at the bending and reaching of the limbs more carefully than if I had just seen them in the full light.  Another thing that these subtleties bring: being more clear on what you DO see.

I'm working on getting a few little works done for the upcoming show at the Lakewood Home Tour and Market.  In the meantime the temperatures have dropped a little and it's just too beautiful to be inside.  I'm trying to get out and paint more.  Yes, even when I have to help little girls climb trees and collect dirt.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Trip to New Mexico, Georgia O'Keeffe Land

For my 10 year anniversary we decided to take a trip to Santa Fe and do some hiking.  It was marvelous.  I can truly tell you that the land really is something spiritual to behold.  Everything has a blue tint to it with these big New Mexico skies.

We drove up to Abiquiu where Georgia O'Keeffe has a home that is now a tourist spot for those who want to see the home and gardens she kept.  We didn't get a reservation in time (I was disappointed) but my husband said, "Why don't we go up there and just look at the landscape that she loved?"  So we did.

This was just a little ways from her home.  A beautiful Cottonwood that had turned bright yellow against that fresh blue sky.
Her home was tucked away in these blue hills that grew thorns and Sage Brush.  It was not a forgiving place but had a haunting beauty even in the cheery sunlight.

From Abiquiu we went to Ghost Ranch where Georgia O'Keeffe first visited and would stay for several months in the summertime to paint the landscape.  Later, after Alfred Steglitz had died she would move to Abiquiu permanently.

She loved The Pedernal (this beautiful mountain with a flat top) and would paint it over and over (always in hues of blue and purple).  I thought she was taking some liberties with the colors (as she did sometimes) but the day we saw it The Pedernal was really blue.  She loved to paint The Pedernal against the sky and bones.  She said that she thought God would give her the mountain if she painted it enough.  After her death her ashes were spread across The Pedernal.  In some ways I think she gave herself to the land as the land could never be owned.

The Pedernal in the distance

We ate some beef stew (that had green chili's in them so we drank a lot too!) and then set off on our hike up Chimney Rock Trail.
Chimney Rock
We kept stopping to take pictures and read our trail guide that talked about the different plants and animals.  The day was just perfect, sunny and clear but cool.

Juniper Tree
I love the twists and turns of this tree.  Much like the Bristle Cone Pine it grows in these rocky, dry conditions.  Look at the shades of color just in the bark alone.  I also liked seeing it against that blue sky.

We made it!

Such a wonderful time with my husband.  We have always loved hiking together and it was great to get to do it again.

Abiquiu River that feeds into Abiquiu Lake
I love the juxtaposed colors in this one.  The reddish rocks with the bright yellow trees mixed with that deep blue and sparkling water.  Doesn't get more rich than that!  Truly, an amazing place.

Black Mesa
My Dad grew up in Northern New Mexico so we would visit this area whenever we were in the U.S. for a time.  I always loved Black Mesa.  It's so stark and moving.  My Dad has painted it several times.  I took this shot for him.

This was the next day on our way to Bandelier State Park.  There had been a bad forest fire during the summer (the worst in New Mexico history) so they were shuttling people down to the valley.  I read that the fire started by a tree falling over on a powerline.

This was at the site of the ruins of the Ancient Pueblo People.  This was so fascinating.  They lived in these structures but also in the rock walls that had openings in the volcanic rock.  Such amazing people as they learned to make soap out of a Yucca Plant.  They also learned to plant corn, beans and squash along with catching turkeys to make blankets.  We learned that their lifespan was about 35 years.  As I hiked up the valley I kept thinking what it would be like to carry crops along the way or a baby on my back.  They were incredible people.

One of the many Aspens along the valley floor lit up by the sunlight.

We spent several hours touring the sites of the Ancient Pueblo People.  After lunch we hiked up the valley to the top of the Long House (the volcanic rock that was like a home to many of the people).  It was a bit nerve wracking for me as I am scared of heights!  I kept having to look at the rock wall and not out at the valley.  This was something else I realized: The Ancient Pueblo People were great climbers and were not afraid of heights!
The Trail is like a switchback going up the valley.  You can see the tiny staircase at the bottom.

I have so much inspiration.  I can't wait to get to painting.