Wednesday, March 30, 2011

03.30.11 ~ another view of the chamisa trail

— santa fe winter, V — the chamisa trail
— 6 x 6 inches oil on panel — copyright dawn chandler

Another view from the Chamisa Trail, just outside of Santa Fe, where my friend, pup and I hiked in late December. If you look carefully — squint your eyes just bit — you can just make out my sweet black mutt bounding down the trail ahead of us. Hard not to find joy in life when out in the woods with a happy pup.

Monday, March 28, 2011

03.28.2011 ~ santa fe winter, iv

— santa fe winter, iV — the chamisa trail
— 6 x 6 inches oil on panel — copyright dawn chandler

Remember these? My small (6" x 6") "daily landscape" oil paintings? I had started to post some new ones in January, but my rhythm got interrupted when I had to rush off to the east coast later that month...

Here's one of two more little landscapes I had done in January that I hadn't had time to post. This scene here is on the afternoon of December 28th, 2010, on the Chamisa Trail of the Santa Fe Forest, just a few miles from down town, and off the ski valley road. The day felt fairly warm — until we got in the shade, when we were reminded that it really was winter. We had just turned around at this point, to see the bright light of midafternoon highlighting the slope of distant evergreens.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

03.20.2011 ~ first day of spring

the brightest light is between the shadows
— 9 x 12 inches — oil and mixed media — copyright dawn chandler 2011

First day of spring and I will say I'm ready to put this emotionally wrought winter behind me. I've spent a lot of the 'down time' these weeks reflecting on my life and work — especially of the past twelve months — rethinking goals and acknowledging desires. Most of my creative energy last year was spent painting landscapes, thanks in large part to the commission piece I posted previously, and the many studies I did in preparation for it. That was good, productive and lucrative studio work, helping me to keep my representational paintings skills sharp. Painting landscapes is fun and often challenging; certainly I'll continue to paint my landscapes, and will be posting more of them here (and some very soon!)

But the extreme focus on landscape last year kept me from spending much of any time on my
mixed media/abstract work. As a result, my soul is feeling a little starved of its voice. Having lived so much emotion already this year, I'm hungering to give voice to all that's simmering beneath the surface. 'Feeling an almost nervous need to express my 'internal landscape.'

At the start of this new year I had intended to start developing some new mixed media/abstract pieces — just as soon as I got certain other projects out of the way. Yet just as I was about to begin this exciting new work, my work was interrupted by the sharp edge of Life.

This evening I am cleaning my studio in preparation for renewed creative intensity. While tidying, among the paintings I found was this small oil canvas — one of the few "abstract" pieces I worked on last year. It started as an abandoned traditional landscape, which I painted over here and there whenever the desire struck me. On New Year's Day of this year I added the final brushstrokes.

I'm pleased to find this piece again; it resonates strongly for me just now. I call it "The Brightest Light is Between the Shadows" — the first of my new "Sanctuary" series.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

03.16.2011 ~ end of day over the philmont range (grande)

end of the day over the philmont range
— oil on canvas — 24 x 36 inches
— copyright Dawn Chandler 2011

In June of last year patron friends of mine contacted me about doing a commission for them. Several years earlier they purchased my original oil painting of June Evening On the Cimarron, which they hung in their living room. Now they wanted something for their dining room.

After spending some time studying my paintings on my website, my friends thought they might like a New Mexico landscape with a peaceful mood, and some of the warm colors they saw in some of my other paintings.

Once they settled on these parameters (warm colors, peaceful mood), I offered to do a series of smaller landscape paintings based on their preferences, and see if I came up with something that appealed to them. If so, I would then create a larger painting of the one they liked. If not, I'd keep creating smaller paintings in hopes of eventually coming up with something they liked.

By October I had completed ten panoramic landscape paintings (all of which, incidentally, were posted and discussed at one time or another here on my blog). I created a special presentation for my friends so that they could easily view all of the paintings. A modified version of The Panorama Paintings presentation can be viewed by clicking here.

While my friends were drawn to several of the smaller paintings, the one that really resonated for them was End of Day Over the Philmont Range. They especially liked the tapestry of colors in the foreground.

So in late October I set about creating a larger version of End of Day Over the Philmont Range and had a ball painting on a larger scale. I had it more or less completed by mid December, but then put it away for a few weeks to give my eyes and sense of discernment a rest from looking at it. In early January I pulled it out again, made a few adjustments here and there, and then, finally, deemed it finished.

To share the finished piece with my friends, I created yet another presentation, The Dining Room Painting Commission, which can be viewed by clicking here.

One of my few joys in early February this year was to share with my late father a picture of the finished large painting, End of the Day Over the Philmont Range and the great news that my friends happily approved of the painting. (My Dad was pleased. :)

Yesterday, I finally shipped off the painting, concluding this really rather wonderful and cool project. I loved doing it, loved painting big and exploring landscapes on a horizontal. In fact, I enjoyed it all so much that I suspect there will be more such paintings churning out of my studio in the coming months. God knows I'm ready to get busy painting again.

Friday, March 11, 2011

03.11.2011 ~ i wasn't ready for you to go

'i wasn't ready for you to go'
— by dawn chandler
— from the passion series, 2008 — 16 x 8 inches — mixed media on panel

On March 2nd my father would have turned 80. He died a scant month ago — days shy of his 80th birthday. I've spent the past many long days packing up his apartment — a labor of staggering bitter-sweetness, for with every tear comes a laugh, and every laugh, more tears.

Among his things was this painting I made three years ago.
Thinking back on the creation of this piece......
I remember it started with the image of the young woman on the left. In fact, I had glued her down to the panel some years before, and then never returned to the piece. At that time I had in mind that the piece would be about romantic love and yearning. I tore her in half, which seemed to emphasize the breaking of her heart, and glued the two pieces to the panel. I then abandoned the piece.

Three or four years later I was working on a series of panels for a large art show I was to be in later that summer. I found the panel with the woman again. She seemed to be begging for her story to be developed. At the very least she needed a suggestion of place; a scene for her story.

So in my studio that late spring of 2008, I found a photo of a window frame, and collaged it in.
The window panes were too blank though....
Looking around, I found a photo of my childhood home....Hmmm.....might just work.... I enlarged it and collaged it so it appeared through the window. needed something...another figure perhaps?

Excavating more stacks of photos, I found one I had taken of a bronze figurine on a Tiffany clock — a clock that had been in my family a long time. I enlarged the clock figurine and placed her in the bottom corner. She seemed almost to be talking to the young woman on the left, but I couldn't quite tease out their conversation nor determine their relationship.

After some thought, I deemed all the parts of this piece now were competing for attention with each other. All were of the same high contrast black and white. A difference needed to happen; the competing lights and darks needed to be reduced somehow.

On a bit of a whim I brushed on a light blue wash of paint on the right-hand side of the piece, visually pushing it back.

The right-hand side — the window, the distant house (my childhood home), and the elegant, older, dignified woman — became ghostlike.

With a quiet gasp I staggered with the sudden recognition that this painting was of my own story, and my utter heartbreak at losing my mother. She died months earlier to breast cancer.

With a wave of emotional recognition, I admitted aloud there in my studio as I leaned over this painting, that.....I wasn't ready for her to go.
Blinking back a river of tears, I gave voice to the gaping break in my heart in a way I hadn't been able to do before, and whispered those words aloud, over and over again: "I wasn't ready for you to go....I wasn't ready for you to go.....I wasn't ready for you to go....."

Some weeks later, during the opening reception for the art exhibition, my father, without knowing anything about this piece or the meaning behind it, commented to a very close friend of mine that he was really drawn to this piece. My friend, knowing the emotional story behind the painting, revealed it to him.

My father bought the painting.