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land of enchantmentThe Land of Enchantment...so they call New Mexico. I am indeed enchanted, a week into our stay in a lovely handmade cabin near Llano, just off the High Road to Taos. My husband Don and I have been out and about exploring the area from Chimayo to Taos, while other days we have spent at the cabin; reading, writing, walking and painting (me) and researching the area in consideration of a purchasing a house here (mostly Don.) We're well aware of all the cautions surrounding NM real estate purchases, but are proceeding nonetheless with optimism and the intention of finding a place for a few month's retreat each winter. To paraphrase Emily Dickinson, we are dwelling in possibility and hoping to make this dream a reality.
I've been to this area at least a dozen times over the years, and this landscape moves me deeply. In some ways, it's similar to places in other parts of the world that I have loved--Sweden (with its snowy mountains), Spain (with its arid mountains) and Ireland (with its dramatic cloud formations and big skies.) But as I work in the small studio in the cabin, I see that New Mexico has its own, unique flavor that is coming through in the work. This is a scrubby, gritty, rough and very textural place with its rocky landscapes, old adobe walls and patchy foliage. And it's also a place of great subtlety as the light shifts throughout the day, and the colors of winter weeds glow against the snow. Below is one of the paintings I've finished in the small cabin studio, Travel Lines #3, 36"x30," oil and mixed media on panel.
Here is a smaller painting, reflecting memories of hiking in a canyon in the beautiful Bosque del Apache wildlife refuge near Socorro, where we went on our first weekend in New Mexico. (Canyon, 12"x18" oil and mixed media on panel.)
As always when I work, the time that I've spent in the landscape--walking, driving through, photographing, observing, enjoying-- feeds my imagery. This happens in an indirect, intuitive way. There is mystery to the way that the process of building up layers of oil, cold wax, powdered pigments and chalks releases the colors, textures and moods of my experiences. Once I sense a connection, the information goes both ways as I begin to direct the painting toward a more intentional resolution. I'm very grateful to have this time, which I look at as a sort of unofficial artist residency--one that I'm able to share with Don. Quiet days and no big agenda. Soaking up the special character of the New Mexico mountain landscape, and knowing I'll be back.
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