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 ....