Wednesday, December 4, 2019

WORD PAINTINGS #79 - TO BE CONTINUED....


5 December 2019 - Llano Quemado, New Mexico    Snowstorm predicted for today - all hunkered down and ready to hibernate.  The pantry and freezer are all filled up.  You would think I live a thousand miles from the nearest store...got caught in that great Chicago blizzard ('67 ?) with 3 hungry babies - have never been the same!  Taboret is jammed full of new paint tubes; the last canvas order arrived today - six 20"x20" all ready for a couple coats of gesso this weekend.  Delightful surprise in my big red box of photos and source material gathered through the past few years.  At least ten images just hiding in plain sight. Sometimes they have to sit a while - waiting to "become" paintings.  A bunch of new Audible books on my iPad - going to reread Graham Hancock's AMERICA BEFORE - love his work. Finish the 24"x12" "Acequia" painting and two or three small auction pieces before the 15th and then shut down for two weeks of quiet preparation for the new work....sketches and underpaintings.  Let it snow!!!

Moving forward....just whisperings to my Art Gods about what I would like to accomplish in this coming New Year.  My living situation inspires me to work everyday.  Still organizing from the move, but plan to make the time at the easel a top priority.  Hoping to share more stories on this blog - next I want to write about my all-time favorite living artist, George Carlson. Made some important creative choices because of his work.  He lived in Taos as a young painter.  Did the most amazing pastels of the Tarahumara in Copper Canyon, Mexico.  Moved on to become an award-winning bronze sculptor - still painting large beautiful landscapes of the Channeled Scablands in Washington State.

George's pastels made me want to try something new.  Bought my first set of Rowney pastels from England and spent quite a few happy years covered in multi-colored dust!  Ramon Kelly's portraits, Carlson's pastels and stories of the Tarahumara inspired my trip to Guatemala in 1991.  This was the height of the "civil war" in that country.  I heard a radio ad for an anthropological experience. Had just sold a big painting - I signed up and was on my way to the Mayan ruins in Central America!  Considering the fact that I have been agoraphobic all my life, there are a few more interesting stories to tell....machine guns everywhere and a scary Sunday morning at the Chinese money changer's abode in Antigua!

Looking into my big red box of source materials brings back so many great memories of the places I have loved all these years.  Going into my stories of that life-changing time in Guatemala will be interesting especially in light of America's current immigration policies.  The other day I heard that some of the asylum seekers are being turned away not to their own home countries, but to villages deep in the jungles of Guatemala! I thought this was a joke. The information sounded so insane - but I trusted the reporter enough to believe it could be true.

Looking forward to spending some snowy winter afternoons painting and storytelling - might be full of surprises!


 



Thursday, November 28, 2019

WORD PAINTINGS #78 - ORDINARY DAYS CONTINUED....



THANKSGIVING DAY - 28 November 2019 - Llano Quemado, New Mexico

Up at 6AM - Out to the kitchen to make my coffee....silence. Snowstorm during the night - about two inches on the ground.  A soft light creeping over the foothills towards Pecos.  Nothing moving - complete stillness - a moment in time when the pendulum stops before it turns in another direction.

Warm and cozy - still tucked in.  Gathering energy to begin my day.  Setting up a new palette this morning - another New Beginning!  Adapting, adjusting to all the changes this year.  This new home/studio continues to inspire...

What is an "ordinary day"? Two weeks ago every day was spent gessoing canvases in preparation for the winter work.  Last week I gathered source material together.   Front and center is a 40"x30" painting of Hunter's Moon - the view from the front portal in the middle of October. Have painted it in my head so many times since that evening that I almost know all the color mixtures by heart - know how to lay in the underpainting.  It is almost organic - have mixed the glazes in my imagination and know how they might work over the first layer of paint.  The well prepared blank canvas now sets on the big easel, just waiting....

In between the larger canvas work, I need to gesso more of those small Italian linen panels for Small Paintings 2020.  Such a joyful experiment this year! In an effort to recover from my surgery and the surprise move to this new place, I began these "studies" to bring back my muscle memory - reconnect all the working parts - my heart, eyes, hand coordination.  Had no idea how important these would be to bringing me back to life.  They became my daily routine - the return to my ordinariness.  Ten little underpaintingsjust waiting to be completed. Hallelujah!

Where is all this going?  Making some big changes which will allow greater freedom in the making and selling of my work.  A new sense of excitement is building....

In the meantime am enjoying the snow/cloudy view from my bedroom window.  Waking up - it is so good to be alive!   My Art Gods are all around me again....welcome back, Guys - thanks for your patience!!! Let's start all over one more time....  

WORD PAINTINGS #77 - "ORDINARY DAYS"

TAOS MOUNTAIN - 7 NOVEMBER 2019

“The images of peace are ephemeral. The language of peace is subtle. The reasons for peace, the definitions of peace, the very idea of peace have to be invented, and invented again.
Children, everybody, here’s what to do during war: In a time of destruction, create something. A poem. A parade. A community. A school. A vow. A moral principle. One peaceful moment.”
—From THE FIFTH BOOK OF PEACE, Maxine Hong Kingston


Saturday, November 2, 2019

WORD PAINTINGS #76 - "OUT OF THE WILDERNESS"

                                  ROAD TO WILDERNESS GATE (Truchas, New Mexico)
Llano Quemado, New Mexico - 2 November 2019 - This painting always reminds me of the day I was lost in a small meadow while hiking to the top of Truchas Peaks with a group of friends.  So out of shape from sitting at the easel every day I was crazy to think I could climb a mountain at 60 years of age.  My shoes were soaked, I had no idea of how I arrived at this place alone - brought up all my issues of abandonment!!! Sat on a big rocky rock for a couple of hours. Thought maybe if I stayed there the rescue helicopters would find me in a day or two starving and dying of thirst! (Always a Drama Queen)  Late afternoon -- just as I had decided to follow the small river back down to Truchas, I heard the sound of voices. Another group of hikers invited me to walk back to town with them.  Such relief!!!  One of the men admonished me and said "Next time find some friends who will walk at your own speed!"  Life lesson learned, forgotten and learned again many times over!

Today is Saturday - slept until ten.  Always a lovely surprise to open my eyes to another day on earth! Have many things on my to do list.....gesso new canvases, organize source material begin my winter work.  Blocking in some underpaintings.  Long shower, wonderful cup of coffee - opened the window shades to another dazzling morning!  Falling back into ordinariness after all the high drama earlier this year.  Life is simple again - very quiet....no confusion.  All my work right in front of me. Adding prints and paintings to my Online Gallery for the holidays.  Planning to do a 40"X30" painting of Hunter's Moon - view from my portal of the last full moon.  Also some small auction paintings - I love the routine of my daily life - keep walking around saying "thank you" under my breath.  Made a big pot of vegetable soup with some Polish dumplings.  

My friend and helper, Doug Yeager, took this photo this week.  Posted it to my website - a note to remind myself that I can still do some large work....visions of more large paintings dancing in my head!  Have wanted to do "Don Gregorio's Winter Field" for many years.  This was the view from the front door of my little adobe house the last time I lived in Truchas.  Summer, winter, spring and fall - this place was my view to the eternal nature of life - a quiet mystery. And a constant surprise...sunrises, sunsets, summer  storms, winter snows - changing every minute, every second.  Beautifully framed, this painting now hangs on my studio wall.  It is not quite the same as being there, but in completing this canvas I was able to emerge from the wilderness one more time! 

Saturday, October 19, 2019

WORD PAINTINGS #75 - GOING TO GROUND

Hunter's Moon - view from the front portal

Llano Quemado - 19 October 2019

Some people are slower than others to understand what it means to live in the present; I was one of them!  Seemed to bounce from one drama to another this year - very little painting - until now.  This weekend a new 48"x36" snow painting - Don Gregorio's Winter Field will be completed.  My next post on this blog will be a photo of the canvas and the story to go along with it.  How excited am I?  I am over the Moon (no pun intended).

That Big Easel in the Sky beckoned last April.  Two months later I was packing up the house at 223 and had no idea where I would land.  How is that for living by the seat of one's pants?  Logged onto Craig's list one morning at two o'clock and pictures of this new studio were the first to pop up.  If I had written a list of everything I needed - clouds, mountain views, sunsets - and of course a walk-in shower - this place was eerily close to my sugar plum visions!  The landlord had to do a background check which took about two very tense weeks before I was given the green light and could give him my deposit.

Life has changed profoundly.  Little things no longer bother the way they did before and patience seems to be a regular visitor. The word "surrender" was foreign to me - not in my vocabulary - no way .   Morning words in my daily journal now end with "Today is all there is...."  

Chaos and confusion are no longer the order of the day. Beginning with my new small paintings a sense of purpose is being restored in small bits and pieces.  This place is silent and peaceful. And wonder of all wonders I am at the easel daily.  Pictures of new paintings pop into view and I can focus on the work again.  Hallelujah!  And to think I came that close to giving away my big sturdy easel and all my paints!

Last Saturday evening I put on a jacket, picked up my camera and just sat on the old railroad bench to watch the full moon rise over the foothills towards Pecos.  The more the sky darkened the moon shone brighter with every second.  I was thrilled to be here - in this place, on this planet.  What a wonderful surprise!!!!  Yes, I am slowly coming to ground one more time. How does one put "quiet joy" on a canvas?  Think I am going to give it a try!    

Friday, October 11, 2019

WORD PAINTINGS #74 - THE LAY OF THE LAND

LLANO QUEMADO, NEW MEXICO - 13 October 2019  

The studios in Tesuque and Victor Court were not open to the sky and they were very claustrophobic.  Had talked with a friend and discussed a field trip north to Cimarron or the San Luis Valley.  Almost gasping for space - clouds, sunsets - mountains....views!  Saw some of George Carlson's new paintings of  the Channeled Scablands in Washington State.  They are at once powerful and meditative - space and geological time.   Love his work.  He is my favorite living artist and has inspired me ever since he was a young painter in Taos.  His pastels of the Tarahumara in Copper Canyon prompted me to travel to Guatemala in 1991.  It is a long story.... Again I am inspired greatly by his current work.

A short field trip at sunset to explore my new neighborhood called Llano Quemado this past Tuesday.  My first impression was somewhat disappointing.  These three photos were the best from that evening.  Am not yet "attached" to this place.  Acres and acres of sagebrush, very old and abandoned adobes hidden behind heavily wired fences and gates. The grand view across the fields and small farms below is Taos Mountain at sunset.  The light is constantly changing....every second of every day.

An epiphany this morning - my prayers for light and open spaces have been answered!  This place is not about history or nostalgia - it is more ethereal, heavenly.  Would love to explain what I am feeling, but understanding eludes me.  The dramatic clouds of the monsoon are gone.  Skies are blue and cloudless this afternoon as they were earlier this week.  News of huge winter storms in Colorado.  Am patient - anticipating all the changes  this winter will bring.  Mountain snows tend to accentuate the geometry of the landscape....winter colors always surprise me in their soft beauty.  

Adapting - another cord of wood from Costilla on Sunday.  Paints and brushes at the ready! Here is my blank canvas...just waiting.  In a way I am a stranger to this time and place.  I have never been 80 and I don't know how to navigate my way through this uncertainty. One day at a time, one step at a time.  There are no accidents.  This new place feels like a gift - something I didn't earn.  Perhaps all that brought me here is just plain Grace...    




 

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

WORD PAINTINGS #73 - FIVE FINGER EXERCISES

6 October 2019 - Llano Quemado, New Mexico 



Coming back to life is a slow process.  Have not been able to paint very much this year.  Likening this time to what a ballerina must feel like after breaking a toe - all the muscle memory must be brought back to life before she can dance again.  Started painting after one month in this new studio.  Small Paintings 2020 are my way of waking up the connection between what my mind sees and what my fingers can do - yes, five finger exercises.  Am starting all over again one more time!

After returning home from Colorado, a wonderful nurse named Felicia tried to convince me that I had survived for a reason.  Okay - last month I celebrated my eightieth birthday.  Dare I dream that I can recover my muscle memory?  Each day is different.  Some are more difficult than others.  Coming down from all of the chaos after the surgery and the move.   This new studio is quite peaceful....starting those small paintings has renewed my sense of discipline - shower, coffee and toast and back to the brushes and paints - every day.  Pablo Casals a very old man loving his cello....Bach serenades.   Routine, purpose - the meaning of me becomes clearer with every little painting. A renewed sense of accomplishment.....good things to come.

Almost gave away my large easel earlier this year - and all my paints and brushes!!!!  Believe this was the lead up to my health crisis in April - I was very sick.  Now a new 48"x36" canvas is underpainted and ready to go - Don Gregorio's Winter Field - starting work on it tomorrow.....

Each fall for many years I make an inventory of the supplies I will need to get me through the winter...and I plan some field trips to gather new source material.  A monster box of paints, gesso and turpentine arrived last week from Jerry's Artarama.  Huge step!!!  Now there is no going back - it is all beginning....life makes sense again.  Field trip this coming week.  Photos of the views of Ranchos valley from the rim road - at sunset.  The leaves are are beginning to turn.  Am unfamiliar with this part of Taos.


  
“The images of peace are ephemeral. The language of peace is subtle. The reasons for peace, the definitions of peace, the very idea of peace have to be invented, and invented again.
Children, everybody, here’s what to do during war: In a time of destruction, create something. A poem. A parade. A community. A school. A vow. A moral principle. One peaceful moment.”
—From THE FIFTH BOOK OF PEACE, Maxine Hong Kingston

WORD PAINTINGS #79 - TO BE CONTINUED....

5 December 2019 - Llano Quemado, New Mexico    Snowstorm predicted for today - all hunkered down and ready to hibernate.  The pantry and ...