Saturday, August 8, 2015

Canyons, Fat Grass, and High Plains - A Creative Process Blog

High Plains of New Mexico

In 2004 my sister and I went on our first Thelma and Louise road trip to Utah. I was not seriously painting at that time. In fact, Lunacy Limited, my papier mache mask business was still going. But I was bored with it. And still struggling with the effects of a head injury on working in three dimensions. The canyons of the Colorado Plateau woke something in me and I came back from that first Utah trip determined to capture it in paint.

I had been trained in the fine arts and University of New Mexico and watercolor was a long lost love I still played around with as a hobby. So my first paintings of the canyons were on watercolor paper. But time had marched on and there was watercolor canvas and liquid watercolors and metallic ink pens. I came back with pictures I used as models but it was the feeling I had absorbed while standing in the magical land I had to paint. I had to translate the emotion to the viewer of the finished painting.

Canyon March to the Moon

And obviously I did. I won prizes and sold paintings. The mask business was soon history. There are several ways to go as a painter. You can paint what you love or you can paint what sells. The latter had been how I ran my mask business so I fell into that with painting. Until I got tired of painting ten mission churches in two weeks for the next big show. Then I quit painting for almost three years.

Mystic Mustangs

When I went back to painting it was because I missed painting, and I still felt I had something deep inside which had to be translated so others could read it. I must love my subject. I deeply love the Colorado Plateau. They continue to inspire me. But another painter recently took me on a tour of the land which inspires him - the high plains of north eastern New Mexico. I came home with more than a 100 photos and a need to paint the feeling of that day on the plains.

First let me say, I do not do green. It isn't in my palette. I cannot wait for fall to go back and record the scenes which so turned me on in fall colors. Meanwhile I could not wait to put my feelings on canvas. If you are used to my orange and red canyons and my yellow churches the paintings below will seem strange. I have often said I do not do greens.

But I do skies and I do alone. I may put horses or crows or a woman spinning clouds into a landscape but basically it is the emptiness of the landscape, the silence but for the wind or distant thunder. I do not do cities except in photography. And a fan told me my buildings always look abandoned.

Alone on the High Plains
14 x 30 mixed media on artists canvas $1050

Home in the Fat Grass
20 x 30 mixed Media on artists canvas $1500

I begin my next challenge today. I am painting the interior of a Johnson Mesa church. It's empty. I am alone in my studio.

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