Wednesday, July 30, 2014

7.30.14 ~ from the outback series: interpretting my world in 64 square inches





outback meditations
Playing. That's how this all began

First I painted the land literally. Every day. Each painting was a pair of two pieces of paper — a diptych — each measuring 4" x 8" and paired to make a 4" x 16" image.



Why that size? 
Because that's all I had. 
The larger "art board" I'd ordered hadn't arrived yet, and the only other paper I had with me those first couple of days were 8" x 8" pieces of watercolor paper. I knew I wanted these 'literal' studies to be small. But 4" x 8" felt too limited. 
That expansive horizon line demanded a longer proportion! 
So daily 4" x 16" diptychs it was going to be. 





13 november 2013 ~ from outback meditations; detail ~ by dawn chandler ~ mixed media on paper ~ 4" x 16" ~ copyright dawn chandler 2014

And then I began to "play."
Just let loose with paint and ink and let the landscape emerge over the printed words.
I don't remember why I began these as squares. I think maybe I thought a horizontal rectangle would be too obviously "landscape," and since I was already going to use landscape features in these paintings, I was reluctant to be too "obvious."



capable of so much ~ by dawn chandler ~ mixed media ~ 8" x 8" ~ copyright dawn chandler 2014

the view was fleeting ~ by dawn chandler ~ mixed media ~ 8" x 8" ~ copyright dawn chandler 2014


quiet and vast ~ by dawn chandler ~ mixed media ~ 8" x 8" ~ copyright dawn chandler 2014


the limit beyond ~ by dawn chandler ~ mixed media ~ 8" x 8" ~ copyright dawn chandler 2014

You may begin to notice a few new symbols emerging in some of these: the black scribblings -- my attempt to capture to the flocks of black birds that flew back and forth over my studio between the old orchard and the pond (and who are frequent callers on my walks in New Mexico, too); and that thin blue-grey-silver-white-lavendar-pewter horizontal line -- a line that haunts me still: The distant mirror-line of Summer Lake.


willow ravens iii ~ by dawn chandler ~ mixed media ~ 8" x 8" ~ copyright dawn chandler 2014


when i escape ~ by dawn chandler ~ mixed media ~ 8" x 8" ~ copyright dawn chandler 2014


understand where we confide ~ by dawn chandler ~ mixed media ~ 8" x 8" ~ copyright dawn chandler 2014


wind swaying down softly ~ by dawn chandler ~ mixed media ~ 8" x 8" ~ copyright dawn chandler 2014


beyond myself and i~ by dawn chandler ~ mixed media ~ 8" x 8" ~ copyright dawn chandler 2014


and then it came~ by dawn chandler ~ mixed media ~ 8" x 8" ~ copyright dawn chandler 2014



a new sense of vastness ~ by dawn chandler ~ mixed media ~ 8" x 8" ~ copyright dawn chandler 2014


joy wonder  soul ~ by dawn chandler ~ mixed media ~ 8" x 8" ~ copyright dawn chandler 2014


The Outback Series: Mixed Media Paintings Inspired by the Western Landscape by Dawn Chandler is on view from August 2 - September 12, 2014 at Salon X, 226 Paseo Del Pueblo Norte, Taos, New Mexico, 87571
Opening reception Saturday, August 2, 6:00 - 8:00pm


Thursday, July 24, 2014

7.24.14 ~ the outback series: mixed media paintings inspired by the western landscape by dawn chandler ~ opening august 2, 2014

always be my home ~ by dawn chandler ~ mixed media ~ 24" x 48" ~ copyright dawn chandler 2014

The Outback Series: Mixed Media Paintings Inspired by the Western Landscape by Dawn Chandler

These paintings are the direct result of my desire to merge my two distinct painting styles of 'traditional landscape' and 'mixed media-abstraction" into a new visual language for myself; a language that  conjures the experience and memory of landscape, without being overly literal. Memories and impressions of flickers of light, deep shadows, textures, patterns, the calligraphy of bird flight, shifting horizons, reflections of sky and of self come together as a collage—a patchwork—of passages and expanses of color; of bigness and smallness, of sight and silence.
Incorporated into these images are words, inviting one to pause and ponder. Echoing memory, some words are ghost-like, some are clear; some are nonsensical, others poetic.



just to stay ~ by dawn chandler ~ mixed media ~ 8" x 16" ~ copyright dawn chandler 2014

The text I've used are the responses to my query: What have you learned from your experiences in nature? Over the course of the last year, people of all ages and from all over the country have responded to this question posed on my website as well as on postcards that I've distributed. A good many of the responses came from teenagers—participants in Philmont Scout Ranch's Rayado Program, an intense three-week backpacking experience similar to Outward Bound.
Why not use my own words, my own answer to the question? Partly because I was curious to see what kind of a response such a query would elicit. Partly, too, I knew my own words might be too subjective--too precious--and I therefore might be reluctant to disrupt them. Further, I hoped that others' participation in this process would inspire me, and infuse the work with a soulfulness different than were I working from my imagination alone.



quiet and vast ~ by dawn chandler ~ mixed media ~ 8" x 8" ~ copyright dawn chandler 2014




wind swaying down slowly ~ by dawn chandler ~ mixed media ~ 8" x 8" ~ copyright dawn chandler 2014

My work on this painting series began in earnest in November 2013 when I was an artist in residence at Playa Creative Residency program in Summer Lake, Oregon—the heart of the dramatic, desolate Oregon Outback of central and eastern Oregon.
For five weeks there I watched the sun rise each morning, and then walked in the early sunlight, enthralled by the shimmering light, the immense clouds and curtains of dust that formed above the always-changing alkali Summer Lake. I watched the sunlight across mudflats and prairie grass and mesa-like ridge-lines; watched crows and hawks and ravens and geese and gnarled orchards and golden willows; watched deep purple shadows lengthen and recede and golden light cut across reflected blue sky. If you think I'm mistaken and am describing instead the landscape of my New Mexico home, you're not far off. For I was stunned to discover these two states more than 1,200 miles apart are akin in their breadth and majesty.

Each morning I began my studio practice by painting a small "traditional" landscape based on the views from my studio window. These are collected together in the work, Outback Meditations:

outback meditations ~ by dawn chandler ~ mixed media ~ 72" x 48" ~ copyright dawn chandler 2014. Daily diptych (pairs of two) paintings created each day for 30 days while at Playa. They flow in the sequence of days from left to right, beginning in the upper left corner.  

From there I attempted to "abstract" the landscape, onto panels I'd prepared first by gluing them with printed text—the responses to my above-mentioned query. As I worked with paint and ink and layers of paper, words were concealed and then revealed through layers of color; whole sentences disappeared, and then words and fragments of phrases would emerge, forming an unexpected poetry. The same, too, with the landscape itself, as the painted geography would shift, be concealed, reconfigured, and revealed again:



water's edge, ii ~ by dawn chandler ~ mixed media ~ 8" x 16" ~ copyright dawn chandler 2014




edging on knowing ~ by dawn chandler ~ mixed media ~ 8" x 16" ~ copyright dawn chandler

Please join me in sharing this exciting new work.

The Outback Series: Mixed Media Paintings Inspired by the Western Landscape by Dawn Chandler is on view from August 2 - September 12, 2014 at Salon X, 226 Paseo Del Pueblo Norte, Taos, New Mexico, 87571
Opening reception Saturday, August 2, 6:00 - 8:00pm

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

7.15.14 ~ psa silver sage acceptance speech (philmont)

I am bowled over by the congratulations I've been receiving on FB and via email.  
Thank you—all of you—so very much.

A number of you have requested to read my acceptance speech for my Silver Sage Award, which was presented to me this past Saturday; I share it below. 



Silver Sage Acceptance Speech

There is no way that I would be here tonight if it not for Kathy Leach and Nancy Wells.
They led the way for me and all women working at Philmont on its trails and in its backcountry.
I owe so much to these two women, as well as the pantheon of inspiring, kick-ass women who followed them and further lead the way for me and countless others—women like Joyce Schroeder, Carol Fowler, Cathy Hubbard, Sioux Roberts, Mary Stuever, Laurie Hines, Kathy Makela, Peg VanValen.
To my eyes these women were goddesses, and they left me—and anyone they encountered—in awe. They were strong, they were smart, they were upbeat, they were more than competent, they could hike the pants off of anyone, and they each shone with their own light. 

These are the women whom I wanted to emulate. These are the women who, with so many others, represent the very best of Philmont.

And there are others— Others who, maybe weren't pioneers, and who maybe haven't held the "glamorous" jobs, but who have been just as dedicated, just as inspiring, just as kick-ass and just as crucial to not only my successes at Philmont, but to the success and operation of this entire Ranch. 

I'm talking about the women who—without much glory—do so much of the essential work of this place, from the Dining Hall to the Trading Post, from the Museum to the Health Lodge, from CHQ to PTC to Admin and all points in between and beyond. You women have helped me—and everyone. Every one of you is important. 
Every one of you has made a difference.
You sisters ROCK.

But of course it's men—trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, cool, incredible—men who make up the majority of the Philmont staff.
It's the men of Philmont who hired me 31 years ago to be a Ranger.
It's the men of Philmont who finally woke up from their stupor and decided to hire women in the backcountry.
It's the men of Philmont who, 40 years ago, had the brilliant idea of the Philmont Staff Association.

And it's largely those same men who, sometime later, decided to hire a waitress with an art degree to be their first executive director.
For three decades you men have supported, encouraged, inspired and befriended me.
To each and every one of you — I am grateful.

And yet, all of this talk of men, of women.... in the end we're all simply people. We're a family of people who, despite political, spiritual, educational, vocational, social or gender differences, share something elemental—something that may run even a little bit thicker than blood:
We share a passion for this extraordinary place;
a passion for this unique, quirky, wonderful community of souls;
and a passion for this land that haunts us in our dreams all the rest of our days.

I'm happy to be a part of this quirky, wonderful, passionate family.
And I'm honored—and deeply touched—to receive this award.

Thank you.

Dawn Chandler
12 July 2014

Monday, July 14, 2014

7.14.14 ~ silver on the sage...



This past weekend I had the honor — and I mean honor — of being awarded the Philmont Staff Association's Silver Sage Award.

First awarded in 2005, the Silver Sage Award is presented annually by the Philmont Staff Association in recognition of distinguished and exceptional personal service or contributions of an important and lasting nature, by any individual or organization, for the benefit of Philmont Scout Ranch, Philmont Program participants, and/or Philmont staff.

Here's why the PSA generously voted to present me with the award (and why so many of my paintings are of the Philmont country, and so many of my art patrons have a connection to Philmont!)

Dawn Chandler served six years on the Philmont staff. After spending four years as a ranger and training ranger, in 1988 she became the first female backcountry camp director in Philmont's 50-year history. She returned in 1989 for a second summer as CD at Abreu before going on to complete a master's degree in fine arts. After moving to Taos to become a painter and artist, Dawn returned to Philmont in 1997 as the PSA'a first executive director. In her six years in that position, she quadrupuled the association's membership, established its first office on the ranch, transformed its magazine, and earned the respect and acceptance of ranch management. Now an established Santa Fe artist, Dawn continues to capture the magic of Philmont in paintings of its scenic grandeur.  (From the Silver Sage Award program, July 12, 2014)

Sharing the stage with me were two extraordinary women: Kathy Leach and Nancy Wells. Through most of the last century, women were not allowed to work on Philmont's trails or in its backcountry. That started to change in 1972 when Kathy and Nancy were hired to be Philmont's first female Rangers.  Forty years later and these pioneering women are still inspiring, kick-ass goddesses in my eyes.

My friend Mark Stinnett — a former president of the PSA and the one who actually hired me to be the executive director all those years ago — introduced each of us. He put together a top notch slideshow for each of us, and in mine included many of my paintings of Philmont and Wheeler; it was fun — and touching, for I wasn't expecting this. 


Wonderful, too, to have so many friends there. Thank you, all of you.

A highlight yesterday morning was spending time talking to Kathy Leach and her husband — and adding them to my list of art patrons. They took home with them the painting below: Monsoon Season in Baldy Country (below). It just seems right that a former Ranger would want a painting representing the depths of Philmont's backcountry.


Philmont and the members of the PSA made me feel like a rock star this weekend. Thank you all so much. I remain deeply moved.



monsoon season comes to baldy country ~ by dawn chandler ~ oil on canvas ~ 12" x 18" ~ copyright dawn chandler 2014