Sunday, June 19, 2016

Laughlin Peak - A Creative Process Blog

Laughlin Peak from the Ocate Side

Laughlin Peak is one of three volcanic cones in the Raton/Clayton Volcanic Field which creates the Fat Grass country of northeastern New Mexico. Its two sister mountains are Eagle Tail and Tinaja Mountain . All on private land now they can still be seen US 64 and once were main navigation points for travelers on the Santa Fe Trail.

As my sister and I four wheeled in her jeep along the ridges of the mountains in my back yard Laughlin Peak was the distant Cinderella Cone I didn't know the name of. It drew my attention whenever it was visible and I had traveled past it on my way from Ocate to La Cuerva to pick raspberries or just avoid Mora on a trip to Las Vegas.

Last summer an artist friend of mine, Carl Swanson, took me on a trip through the fat grass country and I got to see the other side of the mountain.

Laughlin Peak from the east.

It is easy to see why the travelers on the Santa Fe Trail used it as a navigation point and why some chose to go no further but to settle at its base. The grass is tall and springs abound around the mountain's base. The photographic trip I took last June inspired my fat grass series of paintings and this spring a trip through Ocate made me decide to paint Laughlin Peak from the west.

Photography has long been an instrument for me to aid my painting. So taking the picture which opened this blog I modified it to black and white to better draw the mountain. And the road which led up to it.

In black and white

Laughlin Peak is more imposing from the west but the road which seems to lead straight up it to the middle of the mountain was what in my opinion made the painting. My first drawings for the mountain made it a lot taller as if I was drawing its distant past before time and weather lowered it. Part of me was drawing its outline from the west. So the final sketch ended up being a compromise between the two sides of it.

West side colors laid in
In keeping with my style the peak ended up more colorful. I also identified more with its west face than the green east side. And no way was I going to do the pure blue sky of the photograph. There is something about Laughlin which seems stormy even on the best of days.

Raven Road
18 x 28 watercolor on artists canvas
And in the final painting it is all about the road.

As I prepared to do this process blog I found other photographs I had taken of this imposing part of the landscape of the high plains of New Mexico. And one in particular I want to paint.

Laughlin Peak from another angle

The rocks in the foreground are a volcanic burp. And in the middle foreground is a volcanic rift. Laughlin and its sister mountains look really peaceful these days.

I realize this isn't my normal process blog. But not all of the creative process is about the application of paint. Some of it is just a head trip. Why does an artist pick that subject and that angle on the subject is part of the process. 

1 comment:

I appreciate all kind comments on my art and poetry.