Friday, December 17, 2010

12.17.2010 ~ pajarito canyon, los alamos

— los alamos winter, i — pajarito canyon
6 x 6 inches oil on panelcopyright dawn chandler 2010

Enough of summertime paintings — I'm ready to immerse myself in the season of the present. And what better way to do that than by exploring the late autumn forests with a convivial group of friends.

Earlier this week I had the good fortune of being invited to join a stellar group of women on a day hike in the Pajarito Canyon of Los Alamos. If that name sounds familiar, it may be because this is an area decimated by the disastrous Cerro Grande Fire of 2000, that destroyed over 48,000 acres and 200 homes in Los Alamos.

Ten years later, this fire-ravaged landscape on this overcast December day was gray and bleak. Broken, charred tree trunks rose up from the muted landscape like lonely masts in a ships' graveyard. The wind howled eerily. Yet even in this barren winter landscape, signs of growth and rejuvenation were everywhere. Though leafless this time of year, dense stands of slender new aspens covered the shady hillsides, their gray monotony broken with sprays of copper scrub oak, red willow and evergreen. The wind though....never have I heard such a haunting sound. Never. Voices are what we heard emanating from the waving aspens, an ancestral murmur stirred by our conversations and the approaching snow.

Here's a scene from our hike that day — toward the end, when the sun broke out briefly as we wound our way up from the stream and back down to the trail head. I did this little painting that evening, after our hike, in an effort to hold on to a bit of the magic of the day....

Sunday, December 12, 2010

12.12.2010 ~ just around the bend

— philmont summer, xiii — just around the bend
— 6 x 6 inches — oil on panel — daily painting series
— copyright Dawn Chandler 2010

Soon I'll be posting paintings of autumn and winter landscapes, as I take in and attempt to capture the changes of the land around me. For now though, a few more images of summer.... Here, a little painting I did in August, of a June afternoon. We're just south of the Rayado River, where it crosses the road just east of Zastrow. Once we turn 'round those trees on the right, we'll dip our toes in the cold mountain water.

I will say I'm pleased with how my trees have been turning out this year. Finally feeling like I'm getting the hang of conveying them with paint.

Thursday, December 02, 2010

12.02.2010 ~ painting under the weather

A tightening of a vice grip — that's what my head feels like is happening to it on either temple. Haven't had a cold this bad in years...... Makes me realize how much I take my usual good health for granted. Also makes me realize what a wimp I am, to feel this badly from a cold, when courageous people I know are fighting off much more serious and painful diseases.

Interesting that in the midst of this achy misery, about the only thing I can do that doesn't exhaust me or make my head and brain ache is paint. Who would have thought? Certainly not I. But yesterday, at least, when not sleeping in a head-cold coma, I found working at my easel to be remarkably soothing — even more so than usual. My fuzzy brain — otherwise strained and pained by activity — just seemed to fade in to a place of quiet peacefulness, such that I didn't really have to think much at all; some other silent part of my brain just kind of kicked in and took me away to a place of comfort. The further surprise is that I painted well, even, despite significant numbers of brain synapses dulled with sickness.

I guess this is one of the reasons we create: that no matter our wounds or ailments, on some level it lets us escape from our pain and go to a place of nurturing peacefulness.

Detail of a new landscape painting I've been working on this week ....

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

11.30.2010 ~ philmont summer, xiii — rayado clearing

— rayado clearing — philmont summer, xiii
— 6 x 6 inches — oil on panel — daily painting series
— copyright Dawn Chandler 2010

It's been a few weeks since I've been able to paint — globs of oil paint left on my palette are now firm with a skin of dried paint across their tops; my brushes, neglected, sit resting upright in their assorted tin cans along the edge of my large palette. (Which, I might add, brings me to note that one of the great tragedies of the movement by coffee roasters to package coffee in folding 'vacuum' bags is that it's harder and harder to find good coffee cans for storing stuff!)

Travel and other projects and obligations had kept me from my muse in the studio much of this autumn. But now, with a number of these commitments out of the way, I can return again to my passion.

It can always be a little intimidating getting back into painting if you've been away from it for a while. A subconscious questioning of "do I really have the skill to pull this off?" often harasses the mind. Depending on what else is going on in one's life, it's a question that can arise on a daily basis, even if one has been painting consistently. The fear of getting started is what it boils down to. That's always the biggest challenge: just getting started. So the important thing to do — the essential and critical thing — is to just do it. Get started.

I have several commissions lined up that I need to get done in the next few weeks. So to warm up my creative and painterly senses, I decided to simply just get started by doing a small landscape. Get the blood and paint flowing, so to speak. And flow it did! I'm pleased with how quickly this little one came together.

That's another thing I've noticed: often after taking a hiatus from painting, when I do finally pick up a brush again, I'm able to paint quite well and quickly. My eye for color seems more honed than before — kind of the opposite of what I would have expected. I would have thought I'd be rusty, but maybe my senses are simply rested and recharged? That, at least, seems to be the case this time around, and I'm grateful for it.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

11.27.2010 ~ Baldy Mt in books and prints

Well this is kind of cool: My painting "Baldy from Miranda Meadow" which I did this past summer, now adorns the cover of the newly released book, Carry On! The Life Adventures of Joe Davis, Former Director of Camping, Philmont Scout Ranch. Written by James Sundergill, edited by Bill Cass it is published by the Philmont Staff Association — the alumni organization for which I was the executive director for several years some time back.

Baldy Mountain, standing 12,441 ft in elevation, is the highest peak on Philmont. I climbed it for the first time thirty years ago (!!), when I was fifteen, trekking across the Ranch for the first time with a group of great friends and my parents on a two-week backpacking trip. Climbing Baldy in the wee hours of a July morning was surely the hardest and most challenging thing I'd ever done up to that point in my life. The glory felt on the top of the peak just as the sun was breaking over the eastern planes is a cherished memory I hold to this day. Summitting that peak — just like I did three decades ago — is a crowning, life affirming achievement for thousands of kids and adults every year.
The mountain and it's surrounding area were acquired by the Scouts back in the 60s, during Joe Davis' tenure at Philmont, and was an especially beloved part of the Ranch to Mr. Davis. It therefore only seems appropriate that an image of the peak grace the cover of a book about the man. I'm pleased with how well the cover turned out. Indeed, I don't mind at all that the painting image was cropped considerably. It looks good!

The timing of the book's publication couldn't have been better, as I've just had giclee prints of the painting made.

For more details and to buy a print of Baldy from Miranda Meadow, click here.

For more details and to buy the Joe Davis book, "Carry On!', click here.

Friday, November 26, 2010

11.26.2010 ~ colorado afternoon

colorado afternoon, i
— 12 x 12 inches — oil on panel
— copyright Dawn Chandler 2010

Thanksgiving often finds me in Colorado, visiting family, but this year I decided to stay put in New Mexico and celebrate with special loved ones and friends here. Still, my thoughts this holiday often drifted northward to the Centennial State. Here then is a Colorado scene that I painted some time this past summer — "Colorado Afternoon" — based on a road trip I'd made through the Western Slope a couple of years ago.
...Need to do more Colorado scenes....

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

10.27.2010 — rayado summer storm, i

rayado summer storm, i
10 panorama xiii
— 10 x 20 inches — oil on canvas
— copyright Dawn Chandler 2010

A summer's evening in June, looking out over Rayado to the not too distant Miami Mesa. We're at the junction of Hwy 21 and the Zastrow/Abreu road and looking south. The clouds were boiling cold with hail and rain, when finally they broke and swelled with color.

This is last of my panoramic landscape 'studies" that I created in response to a commission request by friends of mine. [details here]. I'm delighted to conclude this project with a strong painting. All of my paintings in this series have been good and satisfying, but for me, this last piece is my favorite of the series. I like the verity of the colors, the natural compliments therein, and the energy and freshness of the brushstrokes. Indeed, this painting came together quickly and confidently and to my eye, it shows.

I thoroughly enjoyed this panorama project and based on the inquires about and sales I've had of these works,
others seem to have enjoyed it, too. As a result, you can expect to see more panoramic paintings in the future!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

10.19.2010 ~ daybreak

10 panorama xii
— 10 x 30 inches — oil on canvas
— copyright Dawn Chandler 2010

Another panorama based on a photo taken by my friend, Douglas. This painting didn't feel as challenging to pull off as the previous one, mainly because I didn't feel quite as stumped by the colors. That's not to say capturing the sunlight highlighting the earthy ochres and browns of the New Mexico grasslands is easy! It's just that with practice I'm getting a little more skilled at finding that certain brownish-ochre-gold tone with my paints.

On the left, the larger mountain mass is Urraca Mesa. We're looking down a fence line, with the road off to the right.

Monday, October 11, 2010

10.12.10 ~ morning rising across the sangres

morning rising on the sangres (tooth ridge)
10 panorama xi
— 10 x 30 inches — oil on canvas
— copyright Dawn Chandler 2010

The view here is of a fond stretch of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains in Northern New Mexico — most notably a section of Philmont range, starting with Urraca Mesa on the far left followed by the north side of Tooth Ridge jutting in at an angle.

My friend Douglas took the panoramic photograph that this photo is based on. I've been cursing him ever since he sent me the photo. What a struggle trying to get the color of those mountains and the highlights upon them right! [Perpetual thought to self while painting: "What the heck color IS that anyway?!?"] I can assure you that whatever colors you think they are, you're wrong, because I tried them and they didn't look right! Ack!

And then the sky posed a further challenge: a perfectly clean and crisp gradient of white to blue, without a fleck of anything save a short line of rose clouds near the peaks. I painted it just like it appears in the photo, with a smooth clean surface, but found it.....boring. So I went it with some denser paint and a loose hand, adding some texture to the sky, as well as a larger cloud presence. The result? A much more satisfying and lively surface, and an ultimately more convincing atmospheric feel to the sky.

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

10.06.2010 ~ taos mountain sunset

taos mountain sunset light (winter)
10 panorama ix
— 12 x 16 inches — oil on canvas
— copyright Dawn Chandler 2010

There's something sensual about the curves of the Taos foothills, when banked in snow. Though the surface is icy, in the glow of the setting sun, the folds and contours radiate warmth.

I guess come winter, that's what we all do, except our warmth radiates from the inside.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

09.23.2010 ~ summer storm breaking over rayado canyon

summer storm breaking over rayado canyon
10 panorama x
— 10 x 20 inches — oil on canvas
— copyright Dawn Chandler 2010

I admit that I love this painting. For I think it captures on a relatively small scale the "big sky" and "land of enchantment" realities of the landscape out here — those very qualities that haunt the dreams and imagination of anyone who has ever been to New Mexico.

The view here is from the Miami Lane, the dirt road that runs perpendicular to the Philmont range of mountains — about 7 miles east of the Ranch and Cimarron. I took the photo that this is based on several years ago, on a beautiful June evening. We're looking west toward Rayado Canyon....

I've done several paintings based on this scene, this one being my favorite, so far.

I'm thinking this one definitely needs to be done on a larger scale....

Monday, September 20, 2010

09.20.2010 ~ evening in the sandias, ii

evening in the sandias, ii
10 panorama vi
— 12 x 16 inches — oil on canvas
— copyright Dawn Chandler 2010

Here again, the evening sun casting an almost metallic-like glow to the Sandias. The sagebrush, desert grasses and cactus varying in hues of silver, copper, gold, ocre, umber.

My favorite part of this painting is the couple of small brushmarks of orange in the sky, suggesting a glimmer of highlighted clouds breaking through. That, and further above, where blue sky breaks through the mass of purple-gray clouds:

Saturday, September 18, 2010

09.18.2010 ~ evening in the sandias, i

evening in the sandias
10 panorama viii
— 12 x 16 inches — oil on canvas
— copyright Dawn Chandler 2010

I've come to love the trails of the Sandia Mountains that grace Albuquerque's eastern edge. Supposedly they are named "Sandia" — the Spanish word for "watermelon" — because, when soaked in the light of the setting sun, they take on the deep amethyst color of watermelon. More often though I find the color of Albuquerque's evening mountains to glow hues of orange or copper.

Here is looking north from the Copper Trail, on one such fiery evening. Intriguing to me is the contrast between the hard, rugged mountains, and the delicate, soft clouds.
Note the distant mountain on the right: that's all "underpainting." I had intended to paint over that thin wash with denser paint, but after building up the areas around it, I realized I didn't need to cover it up. The sketchy umber underpaint described the distant craggy peak just right.
I love it when that happens.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

09.14.2010 ~ taos mountain sunset (first snow)

taos mountain sunset (first snow)
10 panorama vii
— 10 x 20 inches — oil on canvas
— copyright Dawn Chandler 2010

A rainbow of colors....and yet it's real. For those who have never been to New Mexico and wonder what people are talking about when they speak of "the light" out here, this is it. Nothing quite like Taos Mountain capturing the light of the setting sun, especially when there' some fresh snow on the peak. And here it is from one of my favorite view points (and everyone else's) — the edge of that beautiful expansive field that lies north between Hwy 64 and the mountains in El Prado.

I think my favorite part of this painting is something you can't really see in this photo (see detail below): It's where when I was scraping some of the bluey-purple paint across the sky with my palette knife, I accidentally left two "shadows" of the knife's edge visible in the sky. Actually, to call it an "accident" is incorrect; I surely saw the marks but decided to leave them. Evidence of the artist's tools.

Monday, September 13, 2010

09.13.2010 — the panoramas

Over the course of the next few days I'll be posting some horizontally-aligned, traditional landscape paintings done in oil. Though I occasionally do some horizontal landscapes (and have even posted a few this summer), the horizontal composition remains fairly unusual for me. Rather, I've established a bit of a reputation for vertically- or squarely-formatted paintings.

So why the rash of horizontal landscapes?
Because I've received a commission, that's why. :)

Collector-friends have requested a large horizontally-formatted landscape to adorn a spacious wall of their beautiful dining room. The room is lovely and warm, decorated as it is with a Frank Lloyd Wright/Mission flair. My friends are seeking a peaceful scene, and are drawn to the warm colors they've seen in some of my other paintings. Beyond this, they are open to whatever I might come up with.

So I'm creating a selection of small landscapes that fit (more or less) these parameters. With any luck I'll hit upon something they really like, and will then do a much larger version to grace their dining room wall. It's a fun and exciting project that I've been working off and on for the past few weeks.

I'm pleased to be making strides with these little landscapes.
Here are a two panoramas that I completed earlier this summer and posted here already, but which happen to fall into the parameters mentioned above — namely, peaceful + warm colors. Fine as these paintings are, they don't quite fit the bill of what I have in mind for my friends. More sky, I think: they need more sky. Still, I'll include these in the portfolio that I'll be sharing with my friends.

baldy sunset (10 panorama, ii)
— 10 x 20 inches — oil on canvas
— copyright Dawn Chandler 2010

end of the day over the philmont range (10 panorama, v)
— 10 x 20 inches — oil on canvas
— copyright Dawn Chandler 2010

One more panorama that I posted earlier. While this one doesn't really fall under the parameters outlined above (too much bright blue probably for what they are looking for), it's one of my favorites. I think it captures well the expansive feeling of the landscape, the warmth of the day, and the building clouds.

midday on the range (10 panorama, iv)
— 8 x 16 inches — oil on canvas
— copyright Dawn Chandler 2010

Tomorrow, some new panoramas!

Monday, August 30, 2010

08.30.2010 ~ philmont summer, xii — evening horses

— evening horses — philmont summer, xii
— 6 x 6 inches — oil on panel — from the daily painting series
— copyright Dawn Chandler 2010

This is a view that inspires me every time I witness it: horses grazing in the pasture that runs along Hwy 21 and sits just north of Philmont's basecamp, between the staff parking lot and the Cito Road. Cottonwoods edge the field on the north and east sides, while the west edge fades upwards into the long spine of Tooth Ridge.When the day is done and the shadows are long and there's horse out there....well, it's a poetic scene.
On this summer's eve, there was an orange tinge to the evening light, casting a veil of warmth over the landsscape. (It glows in the painting but is less apparent here in the photograph of the painting).
That's Black Mountain there in the background.

Monday, August 23, 2010

08.23.2010 ~ end of day over the philmont range

philmont panorama, v
— 10 x 20 inches — oil on canvas
— copyright Dawn Chandler 2010

End of a June day, looking west to the Philmont mountain range. That highest peak is Black Mountain.

I created this painting partly to test out the image to see if it's one I want to do on a much larger scale. Initially, my main interest was in the foreground and trying to give a sense of the tapestry of flora there in those Colfax County grasslands. (Those whitish grasses that catch the evening light and shine like gold are especially intriguing to my painter's eye.) I was also intrigued by the way the landscape appears to fade to the right as one's eye moves closer to the position of the sun.

I've about decided that if I were to recreate this scene on a larger scale, I'd make room for much more sky, so that the sky:land ratio is at least 2:1 or even 3:1. Right now, the canvas/composition is split almost perfectly in half horizontally, with a line dividing the distance (sky + mountains) and the flatlands of the fore- and middle-ground. It's a bit too evenly balanced for my taste. Though it's a peaceful evening, I'm craving a little more drama to the picture, and some 'Big Sky' might just do the trick.

Friday, August 20, 2010

08.20.2010 — miranda meadow

— miranda meadow — philmont summer, xi
— 6 x 6 inches — oil on panel — from the daily painting series
— copyright Dawn Chandler 2010

Back to landscape for a bit.
After a couple of frustrating outcomes with my little 6 x 6 paintings, to my surprise I quite suddenly created one that I love — this one of Baldy from Miranda Meadow. This is a view I return to frequently in my landscape paintings, for the meadow at Miranda is without question one of the most lovely in Northern New Mexico. Indeed, just about anyone who has ever been to this spot shares my reverence for this place.

But back to painting.
I began this painting as I begin all of my landscapes: by rather sloppily slapping down some paint (usually dark colors at first) with a large brush. My aim at this stage is to get in the basic forms and structure of the composition, with the intention of moving in later with smaller brushes and more color to etch out some details.
But with this piece, after just a few bold strokes of my large brush, I had the essential form of the landscape down and — WOW! — there it was! The landscape was complete! I suddenly realized that no further detail was needed, for it's all here.

I love that.

Hmmm....'Wonder if I could achieve this on a much larger scale....? May have to give it a shot.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

08.19.2010 — making my way

"making my way"
— 10 x 15.5 inches — oil on linen
— copyright Dawn Chandler 2010

I don't remember the origin of this painting, or even when I started it. But I do know that it's rooted in a "traditional" landscape that didn't work out. Seems I've been working on it off and on for a good year or two: adding paint, scraping it away, adding more, then putting the whole thing away for days or weeks or months. Then pulling it out again. Finally I finished it earlier this summer.

This painting grows out of darkness, but there's a light of promise and hope.
'Traveling a difficult journey, but coming through stronger, wiser. Changed, positively.
Suggestions of landscape — trees like beacons. Archways, as if making sacred the journey itself.

Recently, I had a brief but profound conversation about my paintings with a fey stranger, who was clearly moved by my work. When I commented that "arches keep appearing in my work, but I don't really know why or where they come from," he said to me without a moment's hesitation and a sparkle in his eye, "It's because you are an Opening. You are providing an opening for others to go through."

Monday, August 16, 2010

08.16.2010 ~ Cathedral

Two or three year ago I began a series of mixed media paintings which I've come to call my "Passion Series." Combining passages of abstraction with recognizable imagery, these are the landscapes of my soul. The series is ongoing, one that I continue to work on to this day. It's through these paintings that I work out and make visual the things that are on my mind: the joys and sorrows, trials and frustrations, celebrations and enticements that make up Life. Sometimes a painting starts out with a very specific story to tell. More often they commence with no end result in mind; meaning and expression simply evolve. Each painting in the Passion series measures 16" x 8" and is created on panel.

Two years ago I exhibited the first of the Passion series paintings in an exhibit in Taos. The painting shown here, Cathedral, is the most abstract of them all and is the only one created entirely with oils. For these reasons it has always been one of my favorites of the series, though I wondered if anyone else would appreciate it as much as I do.

Turns out they do, for a lovely woman from California and her partner ended up buying it. I remember when they came into the exhibition, they stayed quite a while, and we talked for some time discussing the paintings. I was pleased when they expressed an interest in Cathedral. I remember well our conversation, for they sensed a feeling of uplift in the piece — a sense of coming out of troubled times. Resilience. That sense spoke to them, as it did to me, and they ended up buying the painting.

These cool women have been on my mailing list, so they've gotten occasional cards and announcements from me, but really we haven't been in touch since their purchase. Oddly, just the other day, I was thinking of them and their painting.

Then yesterday, quite to my surprise, one of these lovely women visited me at the New Mexico Artisans' Market on her way up to Taos. She spoke of how fond she is of her painting they bought, and the fact that the painting increased in significance for her soon after they bought it. For not long after they acquired the painting, their beloved black dog died.

In the lower left corner of Cathedral there's a passage of black, and she came to see that passage as a symbol of of her good dog, and a source of comfort to her.

It just goes to show that we can bring our own stories to the art we gaze upon. I love that this painting allowed me to express something very personal, then, that someone else could appreciate it, and that they in turn have brought their own meaning to the work.
This friend is now interested in acquiring another painting of mine to compliment Cathedral. Her timing couldn't be better, for I've lately been feeling the desire to work on some new "landscapes of my soul."

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

08.11.2010 — abstracted italia

— 8 x 16 inches — oil on linen
— copyright Dawn Chandler 2010

Remember yesterday
I said that sometimes when I give my studio a thorough tidying, I'm sometimes pleasantly surprised to find paintings I had forgotten about? Here is one such painting. I had worked off and on on this for a long long time, and finally added the finishing touches to it late this spring.

The evolution of this canvas (and others in this yet unnamed series) is rooted in tradition, for buried neath layers of oil paint lies a "traditional" landscape painting — one with which I was not satisfied. So I started to transform the recognizable landscape into something more abstract, by adding and scraping away and adding again and rubbing out layers of paint. I love the adventure of this process, and never have any planned notion of where it's going to take me.

This piece, in it's quietly romantic way, reminds me of Italy. Perhaps my friend, Chipman, last night sensed this, for of my dozens of paintings, this is the piece he decided he must have. He and his family have just moved back to the United States from Italia.
This painting is so new (few have seen it) that it is as yet untitled. In fact, I'm so fond of this piece and in evokes such a feeling of peacefulness, that I had kind of thought I might keep it for myself. But Chip's a good friend with a keen eye for art; as I wrapped it up for him, I invited him to name it. Perhaps you'd like to offer suggestions?

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

08.10.2010 ~ studio visit

I am having a studio visit today — collector friends who are visiting Santa Fe and want to see what I've been up to with my paintings. Such visits are always a great excuse to tidy up my work space and review what I've been working on. Usually I end up being pleasantly surprised by coming across paintings I had forgotten about.

So I've filled the otherwise empty walls of my studio with paintings today. My studio now feels a bit like a 19th-century atelier. Perhaps I should serve absinthe to my guests?

Sunday, August 08, 2010

08.08.2010 — rayado country road

philmont summer, ix
— 6 x 6 inches — oil on panel — from the daily painting series
— copyright Dawn Chandler 2010

Late morning along the road through Rayado country, from Zastrow to Carson Meadows.

Here's another one that was challenging. Why? Because there were really no distinct shadows. It was close to noon, and also a little bit hazy, so there wasn't much in the way of shadows. Without distinct shadows to help describe volume and visual contrast and interest, I find the picture can often go flat. Also, in the middle of the day the colors can get bleached out, especially out here in the high desert where the sun is so intensely bright.

For these reasons this picture isn't as visually rich to me as it might'a/could'a been had I been able to get some photos at a different time of day — say early morning or evening.

I guess though that not everyone is bothered by the "shortcomings" that I see here, for this little painting sold just a few days after I did it.

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

08.04.2010 — miranda autumn

miranda autumn, i — winding down
— 12 x 12 inches — oil on canvas
— copyright Dawn Chandler 2010

I’m nowhere near ready for summer to end, and yet I couldn’t help but paint an autumn scene today. Though I have abundant new summertime landscape photographs to choose from, I just had a strong desire to escape into this scene — one that’s been calling me since last October when I took this photo. 'Guess I just had a hankering to carve Baldy out of the sky and dapple some sun-kissed leaves. Or maybe I just felt like communing with my friends, Jonathan and Roanne, who are pictured here conversing as they sip thermos coffee in front of the Miranda Cabin.
We had just completed our climb of Baldy Mountain (that peak looming 12,441 high in the background), and were winding down in the afternoon sunshine at Miranda. Despite gale-force winds on the saddle and summit, it was a grand hike. Weak coffee never tasted so good as it did there in the Miranda Meadow, as the late afternoon sunlight warmed our aching bodies.

It’s pretty rare that I include figures in my landscapes. Not sure really why that is. I likely avoided them early on in my painting career because they seemed too hard to pull off — the landscape alone was challenging enough. Anymore it’s largely because when I’m in the landscape, I’m often alone. But on the few occasions when I have included figures in my paintings — always hiking scenes, interestingly enough — I’ve enjoyed the challenge of adding the human element. Too, I’m appreciating more the way in which including figures alters the narrative of the scene.

Hmmm....wouldn’t be at all surprised if I start including figures in my landscapes more often.

Here's a close-up of my friends, rendered with just a few quick brush strokes. As usual, it's through suggestion rather than closely-rendered detail that I'm striving to describe specifics.

I admit that I'm very satisfied with this painting; it came together quickly. Luckily I had the benefit of a strong photograph to work from. As usual the images here on the web don't do the color of the painting justice.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

07.14.2010 — sunset over baldy

sunset over baldy
— 24 x 24 inches — oil on canvas
— copyright Dawn Chandler 2010

This painting is from that evening in early June — just a few weeks ago — when my friend and I caught the most glorious sunset on our way over to the Ranch after having dinner at the James. That far distant peak nearly center is Baldy Mountain......

I’m a bit surprised by how this painting turned out. I think my painting style — at least when it comes to my landscapes in oil — are usually a little more painterly than this (Or am I just imagining that?). By painterly I mean brush strokes that are kind of loose and textural. Yet this painting turned out astonishingly realistic — much more so than I was striving for or intended........And yet. There it is.

What’s interesting about this is that this larger version (24” x 24”) ended up being much easier to paint than the small (6” x 6”) study for it. In fact, the study frustrated me so much, that I finally transformed it into an “abstraction” (which, as it turned out, I was immensely satisfied with. So was someone else, who ended up buying it a couple of days ago.)
Here’s the (sold) study, post abstraction:

philmont summer, viii — sunset over baldy (abstracted)
— 6 x 6 inches — oil on panel
— copyright Dawn Chandler 2010

What was frustrating me about the study is that the clouds were turning green. That’s because I was painting alla prima — wet paint into wet paint. (Remember that that's one of the points of doing these little "daily" paintings: I try to complete the whole painting in a day). The orange had just enough yellow in it that, when painted over or into the blue, was turning green. Grrrr. My efforts were further frustrated by the fact that I was trying to paint in my usual landscape manner of dark to light, and that just wasn’t working for some reason. The edges of the clouds were too harsh, and when I’d try to soften them, I’d get green.

So, on the larger painting, I reversed my usual technique and painted from light to dark, and that worked. Brilliantly. I also let the yellow/orange layer set and dry a bit before moving in with the blues and purples and — Voila! — no green clouds.

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

07.06.2010 — midday on the range — panorama

philmont panorama, iv — midday on the range
— 8 x 16 inches — oil on canvas
— copyright Dawn Chandler 2010

This painting is an expanded view of the scene in the painting I posted yesterday of midday behind Philmont's Cattle Headquarters:

philmont summer, vii — midday on the range
— 6 x 6 inches — oil on canvas
— copyright Dawn Chandler 2010

Overall I think the expanded version is a more successful painting. In the first one, I think I painted the far mesas a bit too dark, whereas in this version I lightened them up just a bit, giving the painting a little more atmospheric depth.

Also, I think I got the suggestion of the lay of the land in the foreground a bit better in this one.

And finally, I love the volume of the clouds here — especially that one that rises up like an anvil, as though chiseled.

Monday, July 05, 2010

07.05.2010 ~ midday on the range

philmont summer, vii — midday on the range
— 6 x 6 inches — oil on panel — from the daily painting series
— copyright Dawn Chandler 2010

Over at Philmont and back behind Cattle Headquarters....A few weeks ago two friends and I were out there in the blistering heat digging up a cholla cactus (...with permission, of course). Apparently 'mad dogs and Englishmen' are not the only ones fool enough to go out in the midday sun..

Still, the view of the plains and distant mesas was simply stunning!
This is my first attempt at a painting of that view. Stay tuned for another.