Friday, August 30, 2013

8.30.13 ~ reading the letter & finding me: alabama meets new mexico

Sometimes you meet someone and they electrify your soul. That's what happened last evening when I had two Alabama lawyers over for a studio visit and dinner. Within minutes I started to wonder if maybe we all hadn't been separated at birth at some point. Their passion for New Mexico and the way they talked about the sky out here and their almost spiritual encounters with random people they'd met could have been myself speaking. The depth to which they were moved by my art only strengthened my feeling of kinship to them. When one kept coming back to this work of mine with a story of my parents embedded in it, I knew on some level we were sisters.

hoping they'll find me ~ by dawn chandler ~ mixed media ~ 8 x 8 inches ~ copyright dawn chandler 2013

I can tell she has a poet's heart, not just by the Leonard Cohen lines that she introduced me to, but because she was also drawn to this — one of my recent "Spirit Series" paintings I had displayed in Taos during my latest show:

reading the letter ~ by dawn chandler ~ oil & mixed media ~ 8 x 8 inches ~ copyright dawn chandler 2013

I'm happy — and grateful — to have just added to the growing collection of my paintings now residing in the fine state of Alabama.

Thank you Sisters. Thank you for the Sisterhood, your patronage and a most splendid evening!

Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack in everything
That's how the light gets in.  

~ from "Anthem" by Leonard Cohen

Friday, August 23, 2013

8.23.13 ~ escaping to the aspens

 I have to get out. 

Out from enclosure; out from a roof and four walls.
I've spent all my summer under a roof and already there's the whisper of autumn in the air.

I need coolness. And damp. A cool damp place where parched dust doesn't blow and the grass isn't brittle from the heat.

I'm craving green aspens.

So it was that yesterday I loaded my paint kit , some water, an apple and a thermos of chai into my pack and headed up into the high reaches of the Santa Fe mountains....

And found myself again on the Aspen Vista Trail.

escaping to the aspen vista trail (santa fe) ~ by dawn chandler ~ oil on panel (en plein air) ~ 8" x 10" ~ copyright dawn chandler 2013

So quiet. Nothing but the sound of leaves quivering in the breeze, the high-pitched buzz of an insect or two, and the rare murmur of hikers' voices.

Otherwise, perfect silence.


 I heard a stone fall.

And then ...another.

Then a rush of sliding pebbles and dirt..
when this hole appeared

in this bank, directly to my right, right off my painting elbow:

and soon, I was being watched

The challenge of the day** — which is, of course, the constant challenge when plein air painting — was dealing with the ever-changing light, as there were patchy clouds all day. Here it's overcast. When the sun did shine through, it was fleeting, but oh so glorious.

*other than the fact that my feet hurt. The one thing worse than painful hiking boots that are too small, is knowing that I sized and sold myself those same hiking boots a year ago in my brief stint working in the shoe department at REI. Good thing I'm no longer selling footwear to people! (good for a number of reasons, that.) The happy ending to this story is that the boots were replaced on the way home with a less graceful but much more comfortable half size up. Whew! [And no, I did not trade in my old pair and take unreasonable advantage of REI's generous return policy. That they were the wrong size is my own fault, not theirs. I will find someone to give them to.]

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

8.21.13 ~ have you camped? have you galloped? have you roamed?

have you.... ~ by dawn chandler ~ mixed media and rust on panel ~ 12 x 24 x 2 inches ~ copyright dawn chandler 2013
Have you...

Have you gazed?

Have you camped?

Have you galloped?

Have you roamed?

...Have you...?

Am thrilled to have this painting take up half a page (!) of The Tempo section in the The Taos News a couple of weeks ago when they ran that cool '10 Questions' article about my recent art exhibition with Joan Fullerton. [Click here to read the article]. Unfortunately the online version of the article doesn't include the painting image, but it sure looks grand in the print version!

The Taos News article helps shed insight into this new painting series, as does my Artist Statement from the show:

Have You Gazed?

For years I have been painting in two distinct styles — “traditional” landscape painting in oil, and a much more abstract style in mixed media collage. It’s been my longtime dream to somehow merge the two styles into one; to create more than just another “pretty landscape’ and take the viewer deeper. But how go about it?

Then, a confluence of influences occurred:

• I began to read, write and study poetry.
• I rediscovered—after a quarter-century hiatus—my love of backpacking.
• The wondering of how I could go so long without engaging in an activity I was once so passionate about.
• The discovery of my 30-year old booklet of “Wilderness Quotes,” to which I used to turn for inspiration when conveying the “Wilderness Pledge” to Boy Scouts, back in my days of teaching backpacking and camping skills at Philmont Scout Ranch in Cimarron, NM.
• Finding among those pages, Robert Service’s epic poem, The Call of the Wild. Though poetry critics surely roll their eyes at Service’s doggerel lyricism, his poem inspired me in my youth, and passages of it still make my pulse quicken. The text and phrases in these paintings are from this poem.
• Reflections on the land, and people’s increasing disconnect with the natural world
• Reflections on pathways and journeys.
• Gratitude for rediscovery.

If passages of this painting look familiar to those of you who are on my postal mailing list you may recall this painting from my "save the date" card for the Taos show: 

across the mesas ~ by dawn chandler ~ mixed media on panel ~ 12 x 24 x 2 inches ~ copyright dawn chandler 2013

Or this painting from hiking Taos' Wheeler Peak:

descending wheeler peak, taos ~ by dawn chandler ~ oil on panel ~ 12 x 24 inches ~ copyright dawn chandler 2013

Monday, August 19, 2013

8.19.13 ~ thank you, taos!

What a whirlwind it's been!
Hooray! The sign in front of the Taos Center for the Arts

My primary focus for the past twelve months — and the past four months most especially — has been creating art for an intense two days in Taos. Not only did I deliver, but Taos delivered as well!

Last summer Joan Fullerton suggested to me that we do another art show together in Taos. We'd had two previous shows together — in 2006 and 2008. Both times we rented the beautiful Stables Gallery of the Taos Center for the Arts (TCA) for the exhibition. Both times we started planning the shows a year in advance. Both times we put a ton of planning into the shows. Both times we used the upcoming shows as an opportunity to experiment with new work. And both times we cranked out a helluva lot of artwork.
And that was the whole point with Joan's proposal.
Since moving away from Taos (I to Santa Fe in December of 2009; Joan to Denver in September of 2010), we'd both been feeling a little off-kilter in our studios. Lots of Life had been fogging the focus in our studios.
What we needed was a goal.
A deadline.
And we both knew that nothing motivates us quite so well as having a show date on the calendar.

So we set the date — Friday, August 9th — and got busy!

More details about the process (and why we decided to make the show for just two days) can be found in this cool article in the Taos News [THANK YOU TAOS NEWS for the amazing 3-page spread in the Tempo! We are blown away by the coverage!]

The show was a splendid success, with tons of friends streaming in throughout the weekend. Indeed, it was heartening to see so many lovely people, many whom we had not seen since moving away. Equally heartening were the folks whom we'd never met before, who had read the Taos News article and decided to come see the exhibition, or those who simply happened upon the show by accident. The enthusiasm and positive feedback for our work has us glowing with validation and motivation. So thrilling, too, was it to see our work on the clean white walls of this beautiful art space. 

joan fullerton's latest paintings on display at the stables gallery in taos, new mexico

new paintings by dawn chandler

a selection of dawn chandler's new "have you gazed?" series of mixed media paintings incorporating traditional landscape with passages of text and abstract elements.
a selection of dawn chandler's 'traditional' landscape paintings in oil on panel as well as her suite of "spirit series" abstracted landscapes made with the leftover oil paint form her traditional paintings.

I'll write more soon about this new work I'm doing as a result of this "deadline." Meanwhile...

Thank you Taos!

Thank you friends — old and new....

Thank you Taos News and the TCA....

Thank you Cafe Renato (as well as the other many great eateries where we dined & drank over the course of the week. YUM)...

Thank you dear friends out on the mesa who let us stay in your beautiful home while you were traveling.....

Thank you JB and family for love and traveling so far to come and show your support....

Thank you CW of Southwest Framers for responding to my 11th hour request (plea) for a frame....

Thank you JS — STUD! — for helping us take down the show, and the delightful post-show luncheon; you charmer....

Thank you, Joan Fullerton, for the idea, inspiration, encouragement, professionalism, friendship and — most especially — your good humor and downright sassiness!

And most of all, thank you my dear late parents....for everything. I miss you.

the 'spirit series' by dawn chandler ~ oil and mixed media on panel, each panel 8 x 8 inches ~ copyright dawn chandler 2013