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.