Monday, December 24, 2012

12.24.2012 ~ tree of gratitude, tree of grace

This is my Christmas tree: an ancient, deceased cholla cactus (sans needles) that's been brought back to life in the spirit of Charlie Brown. A Christmas Cholla.

But more than that, it's a Gratitude Tree. For each day these past few weeks, I've adorned its knotty limbs with a paper tag, upon which I've written something for which I am grateful:

I am grateful for my friends

I am grateful for my awesome family

I am grateful for quiet mornings to write and paint and think and reflect

I am grateful for trees

I am grateful for birds

I am grateful for snowfall

And I am grateful to all of you who, despite relentlessly busy schedules, make the time to read my humble musings here. Knowing that you good people are out there curious about what I do and have to say, warms and inspires me.

Thank you.

Rather than me bringing this cactus back to life, I think it's brought a certain quality of life back to me.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

12.15.2012 ~ the morning after

what do you do

the morning after

when you feel so utterly

angry and helpless

to help

what do you do

but go to the edge

of the forest

fall to the earth

flail your cold tattered wings

and give rise

to 27 snow angels

~ dawn chandler 12.15.12

Thursday, November 29, 2012

11.29.20 ~ autumn sunset ~ avondale, colorado

autumn sunset ~ avondale, colorado ~ by dawn chandler ~ oil and mixed media on panel ~ 12 x 24 inches ~ copyright dawn chandler 2012

In this season of American Thanks Giving and gratitude — especially for bounty and good food — it seems appropriate to post an image of a farm. But not just any farm, mind you, but a classic American farm. Small. Organic. Family-owned.

Numb from garlic. That's how my hands (thumbs especially) were a couple of weeks ago, and I blame the Hobbs Family Farm up in Avondale, Colorado. Farmer Dan invited my Man and dog and me up for a modern day 'barn-raising' of sorts. Only, rather than his community of friends coming together on a Saturday afternoon to build a barn, we joined together in a ring of porch chairs under the cottonwoods to bust open garlic heads.

Hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of garlic heads! Why? So in the coming week the cloves could be planted for next year's crop. For the Hobbs Family Farm specializes is beautiful, succulent culinary organic garlic as well as seeds and fresh produce.

We jumped at the chance to participate — not only because we thought volunteering on an organic family farm was just downright cool, but because it was a darn good excuse for a road trip to an area we really weren't that familiar with. Twenty years of driving along 1-25 from New Mexico to Denver and I'm not sure I've ever pulled off in Pueblo except to pee and hit the Starbucks at Exit 101.

This time we turned at exit 100 (okay, only after hitting Starbucks first..) and drove east about 15 miles, winding our way around fences and ditches and rows and rows of corn before pulling into the long driveway that leads to Farmer Dan's place.

By the time we got there, the garlic circle was well established, with neighbors and friends swapping tales and good humor as they sifted through bucketfuls of garlic. We slid right in while Wilson kept chase of the barn cat community.

After a few hours the grill came out. (The coolers had been well-stocked and tapped frequently throughout the day). One thing you can count on when you bring together friends and family of a small organic farm is that the food will be fresh, delicious, healthy and superb. This meal did not disappoint.

Not long after the plates had cleared and Wilson mopped up the crumbs, the clouds that had been churning all day broke up, just in time for sunset.

Below, some painting details:

autumn sunset ~ avondale, colorado ~ by dawn chandler ~ oil and mixed media on panel ~ 12 x 24 inches ~ copyright dawn chandler 2012

Monday, November 26, 2012

11.24.2012 ~ view from the top of wheeler (el grande)

view from the top of wheeler peak, taos ~ by dawn chandler  ~ oil on canvas ~ 24 x 48 inches ~ copyright dawn chandler 2012

And there you are: 

You rose early in the morning, met friends in the parking lot, grabbed coffee and a burrito at Michael's Kitchen, continued driving on up through Taos and Taos Ski Valley, where you parked, and embarked on your hike — your breath freezing those first few minutes as you made your way up through the trees and eventually into the dazzling sunlight. 

....Some time later....your bones, muscles and lungs weary, you ascend the steep path to the summit of the highest mountain in all of New Mexico — all 13,065 feet of Wheeler Peak.

You're now looking east, toward Old Mike and the Moreno Valley, and you're feeling like a rock star. 

Rock on! 
You're glorious.

My second oil painting of this view from the top of Wheeler. And this one is LARGE. 24 x 48 inches! I was inspired after the terrific positive response to my first (much smaller) painting of this view, to try my hand at a larger one and have prints made of it. I have now done that, and am pleased to offer prints in three sizes. Click here for more information! Whoop-YEAH!

Here are some details of the painting:

Monday, November 19, 2012

11.19.2012 ~ hiking wheeler peak, iii ~ morning at williams lake, taos

hiking wheeler peack iii ~ morning at williams lake, taos ski valley ~ by dawn chandler ~ oil on panel ~ 12 x 24 inches ~ copyright by dawn chandler 2012
No matter how many times I hike up the densely wooded trail of the Taos Ski Valley to Williams Lake, I am awestruck — In awe, not only by the sheer density and moisture of the soggy forest, but in awe of the view upon emerging from those woods out into that alpine basin. Repetition doesn't diminish my sense of wonder every time I lay eyes on that mountain lake. Just a few miles and a few thousand feet below is a plain of dusty, wind-whipped sagebrush and here is whole 'n'other world, more out of the Alps than the Sangre de Cristos.  

Early morning in particular seems to be my Hour of Awe at William's Lake.

As with all of my paintings in  this series, I started this one by first staining the panel, and then scribing my thoughts — dreams, hopes, wishes — across it. Once the ink dries, I begin to paint

My scribing mostly becomes hidden once I start painting, but sometimes words appear through the paint. Usually I work to conceal my words. But sometimes words just seem to want to appear, as if to make a statement about the scene. Here, I was pleasantly surprised to find ghosts of the words "pausing" and "stay" emerging from the background. How appropriate.

This painting is based on a photo taken by my friend Fred Cribbett. Thanks, Fred!

Friday, November 09, 2012

11.09.2012 ~ of eastern shores: assateague, ii

assateague, ii ~ oil on panel ~ 12 x 24 inches ~ by dawn chandler ~ copyright dawn chandler 2012

Another of Assateague....Here, some of the inner marshland. I'm not sure what that silvery lavender foreground foliage is, but it reminds be a bit of our New Mexican sage. 

Below, some details:

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

10.31.2012 ~ of eastern shores: assateague island

our view ~ assateaugue island, i ~ by dawn chandler ~ oil and mixed media on panel ~ 12 x 24 inches ~ copyright dawn chandler 2012

It was one of the finest days of my life. And really, nothing all that extraordinary happened. It was early November 2010 and a couple days before, My Man and I ran in the Outer Banks Half Marathon — My first ever trip to the OBX to run in my first ever half marathon*. 

Now, two days later, we found ourselves alone — not another person is sight — on Assateague Island, walking quietly through the early morning fog, making our way over piney paths to the edge of the ocean. To this view. 

The rest of that morning the island, those pines, the long misty coastline....the wild ponies....remained ours. Alone.

In the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, I wonder if Our Island remains. 

*It was a horrible race for me, thanks to a number of reasons not the least of which was that I simply wasn't ready for it. However the OBX Half is a GREAT race, and I highly recommend it! Very well organized, beautiful flat course, wonderful people and a whole lot of fun. I'm looking forward to doing it again some time and having a much better race!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

10.16.2012 ~ view from the top of wheeler peak

view from the top of wheeler ~ by dawn chandler ~ oil and mixed media on panel ~ 12 x 24 inches ~ copyright dawn chandler 2012

In my eighteen years of living in New Mexico, I've climbed Wheeler Peak at least fifteen times. There on the summit of the Land of Enchantment at 13,161 feet, on various occasions, I've supped with good friends on steamed asparagus and smoked salmon, quaffed my thirst with gin and tonics and single malt and beer, busted up at least one kite, and once watched incredulously and helplessly as my black dog in her pink collar sprinted balls-out for a third of a mile on the heels of a brawny bighorn sheep:

Canis lupis familiaris, of the rogue Taos purebred breed, alias "The Black Dog with the Pink Collar"

Ovis canadensis. In fact, the very bighorn the above-mentioned Black Dog with the Pink Collar chased across the Wheeler tundra during the 2009 ascent.

Taos Purebred vs Ovis canadensis race diagram. The neck-and-neck sprint resulted in a tie across and over that far ridgeline. The race STILL didn't tire that damned dog.

Anyhow.... here's a recent painting of the view from the top of Wheeler, looking -- -- -- which direction? Anyone?

view from the top of wheeler ~ by dawn chandler ~ oil and mixed media on panel ~ 12 x 24 inches ~ copyright dawn chandler 2012

Some painting details:

Friday, October 05, 2012

10.05.12 ~ cathedral rock ~ autumn clouds

cathedral rock ~ autumn clouds ~ oil on canvas ~ 24 x 30 inches ~ by dawn chandler ~ copyright dawn chandler 2012

My latest painting of Philmont's Cathedral Rock — the fourth of four recent paintings of this theme, and by far the most dramatic! It might be my favorite of the four, for that very reason: those clouds just seem to churn with action and drama and season's change. This is the largest painting I've done in a while; me thinks it needs to go over someone's mantel.

Tuesday, October 02, 2012

10.02.2012 ~ cathedral rock ~ autumn afternoon, i

cathedral rock — autumn afternoon ~ oil on canvas ~ by dawn chandler ~ copyright dawn chandler 2012

Autumn is my favorite season, especially in New Mexico. The weather and temperatures are more reasonable; more civilized. No wind. Not too hot. Not too cold. The surprise of late summer blooming, like purple asters and gold chamisa... The clear cool crispness of the mountain air, scented here and there with earthy heat-smell of roasting green chiles....The spicy edge of pinon woodsmoke cutting the morning chill... Farm stands overflowing with harvest... clear morning skies overrun by churning late afternoon clouds....

Hmmm.... .....All this leads me to remember one October about fifteen years ago when a friend and I were traveling by bicycle across Mexico, and we stopped for a few days in Mazatlan. We camped there on the beach in a lovely little campground that we had all to ourselves -- save one other couple who were camped there in their RV for several months. Turns out they were "regulars" from Albuquerque, who every autumn journeyed to Mexico in their Winnebago, departing the Duke City on Labor Day and living the expat life in Mazatlan until early January.

"What?" I wanted to ask. "Are you frickin' kidding me?! Autumn is THE BEST TIME to be in New Mexico!!! You've gotta be CRAZY to leave Albuquerque every fall!!!"

here's an autumnal Philmont view -- my third in the painting series of Philmont's Cathedral Rock (see the first painting here and the second one here.) This one is based on a photo taken last fall by Bill Cass, the co-author of the book for which I'm doing this project.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

09.30.2012 ~ sunset light on glorietta mesa (x2)

sunset light over glorietta mesa, i  ~ oil on panel ~ 8 x 10 inches ~ by dawn chandler ~ copyright dawn chandler 2012

Last evening's view from my balcony, looking east toward Glorietta Mesa.*

It's funny: I painted the first one as quickly as I could what with the wind whipping up, me getting oil paint all over my hands, and the light shading rapidly to grey as a massive bank of clouds moved in behind me. Disappointed in the fading of the light, but relatively satisfied with my little painting (my 3rd attempt at plein air painting in many years!) I deemed it finished, gathered my brushes, packed up my paint box, and carefully walked down the outside stairs from my balcony to my studio. I was swishing my brushes in fresh turps getting ready to wash and retire them for the evening, when I looked up at the window only to see the setting sunlight beaming brilliantly across the hills. QUICK!! I gathered up my brushes and box again, darted up the stairs, praying the light would last as I started a second painting...

Sure enough.

sunset light over glorietta mesa, ii  ~ oil on panel ~ 8 x 10 inches ~ by dawn chandler ~ copyright dawn chandler 2012

*If you've read Hampton Side's excellent book, Blood and Thunder: An Epic of the American West, then you know much of the history of the US conquest of New Mexico happened right here at Glorietta Mesa, within plain view of my bedroom. In fact, I'm quite sure Kit Carson himself walked right over my septic tank.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

09.26.2012 ~ cathedral rock ~ taking it all in

cathedral rock ~ taking it all in ~ oil on canvas ~ 18 x 24 inches ~ by dawn chandler ~ copyright dawn chandler 2012

My second painting of Cathedral Rock for the book project mentioned in the previous post. This one based on a photo by my 80s Phil staff colleague, Gina Dobratz-Rezner. I wanted to do at least one painting with a vantage from higher up in the meadow, and Gina's pic fit the bill perfectly. (She also has some glorious photos with lots of sunflowers in the foreground...May need to try to capture one of those next...). I like that this one clearly includes the road; there's something inviting about it.

When comparing this painting with the previous one, it's interesting to note the difference in the color overall and especially of the Rock. The colors in the first painting are much, much cooler, with the greys leaning toward blue (hence my comment that it almost feels more like the Pacific Northwest), whereas here the colors are all much warmer, with the greys leaning toward red or pink. Neither is wrong; color is relative, so the exact color of that rock -- and the whole scene -- will change throughout the day depending on the weather and light.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

09.25.2012 ~ cathedral rock ~ summer clouds

cathedral rock ~ summer clouds ~ oil on canvas ~ 18 x 24 inches ~ by dawn chandler  ~ copyright dawn chandler 2012

The first of four very recent paintings of Philmont's Cathedral Rock and reservoir. (Check back! The other three will be posted here over the course of this week!) Special thanks to Greg Palmer who's lovely photo of Cathedral Rock provided the inspiration for this painting.

As mentioned in an earlier post this spring, I've been commissioned to create a painting for the cover of the next Philmont Staff Association publication: The Life and Times of Jack Rhea, director of Philmont's camping department from 1954 - 1962, and edited and co-written by Bill Cass. 

In his research for the book, Bill learned that Cathedral Rock and the reservoir was Mr. Rhea's favorite view on the Ranch, hence the request for a painting of this view. Much like the way my Baldy painting was used for the cover of the PSA/Cass book on Joe Davis, Carry On, one of my Cathedral Rock paintings will grace the cover of this new book on Jack Rhea.

My first attempt this spring at painting this scene was frustrating, as I discussed in some detail in that earlier post. Mainly I felt that that painting fell flat, due almost entirely to a lack of contrast in the lights and the darks.

This attempt is vastly more satisfying! There's a much better differentiation between light and shadow, such that there's a real sense of the time of day. It's funny though, this painting style feels a little "chunky". What do I mean by that? I'm not even sure...But there's something about the paint handling that's a bit unusual for me. It almost feels like a woodblock print rather than an oil painting. Maybe that's from the halation of warm under-painting emerging around the edges of most of the shapes? Hmm... Not sure.

This scene is pretty lush. In fact, truth be told it really kind of feels more like the Pacific Northwest than the arid Southwest...! Oh well. Sometimes, when the rain gods are smiling, Northern New Mexico and Philmont's Central Country really are this lush; it's a blessing when they are.

Below, some details: