Friday, November 07, 2014

my october: a mink, two moose and a baldy eagle

a pair of wyoming moose. photo by dawn chandler

A mink, two moose and a baldy eagle.

That’s who I spent my October with.

They, and seven of the best creative minds  I could ever hope to meet.
We were living at the mouth of a small valley, where the open range-land ripples as it abuts the nearby mountains, and the valley narrows to a short rocky neck, before opening again to vast hidden fields. A large, wide and mellow trout stream courses along the base of pinon-studded hills, filling our days and nights with river-song, its water seeping into willow marshes, nurturing colonies of cottonwoods and drifts of aspen. Each day for twenty-four days, I meditated along this water, sketched under these golden canopies, explored up these arid draws, and stood in awe of these eery outcrops of rocks.

They climbed through the stony landscape, limestone beds eroded by wind into fantastic furniture, stale gnawed bread crusts, tumbled bones, stacks of dirty folded blankets, bleached crab claws and dog teeth — Annie Proulx, The Half-Skinned Steer

If quiet and still, I might catch a glimmer — and be blessed by — a rare animal spirit. Mink. Moose. Eagle. Hawk.

Other times, I might ramble, or sit and share with new friends; their laughter and tales humoring and inspiring me.

Mostly though, I painted.
And painted.
And painted.

For I was an artist in residence at the Brush Creek Foundation for the Arts.
Located on the west side of the Medicine Bow mountain range fifty-some miles west of Laramie and sixteen miles southeast of Saratoga, Brush Creek Ranch and the Brush Creek Foundation for the Arts sprawls across 30,000 of prime Wyoming range-land and hill country. A working cattle ranch as well as a luxury resort, Brush Creek Ranch established its artist residency program in 2009.

Home to four beautiful fine art studios, two writers studios, and two music studios — plus comfortable accommodations — “Artist Camp” is its own little ranch resort of creativity, with meals, lodging, and studios provided free of charge for its artist residents. Invited to stay for 2-, 4-, or 6-week sessions, we are each encouraged to live and breathe Wyoming; to hike and explore, read, dream and imagine, make new friends, and let our creativity soar.

With a network of trails coursing the ranch, we were welcome to explore by foot or bike. Most times when I did this — which was daily — I saw no one; not a soul. But for the trails and fences, I came to feel as though this place were mine:
My river.
My path.
My cottonwoods.

the mellow brush creek of wyoming. photo by dawn chandler

How to capture it? I spent 24 days trying to do just that, with some 2000 photos, 20 sketches and 30 paintings to show for it. Still, I’m perplexed and moved and haunted by this land of Wyoming. I’ll be sharing much of this in the coming days, but for now, here’s a little slideshow I’ve put together to try to convey a sense of the Wyoming landscape I all too briefly got to call home.
slideshow: a wyoming october — four weeks at the brush creek foundation for the arts. 
click on the image to view the slideshow.

Heartfelt thanks to the staff and founders of Brush Creek Foundation for the Arts, who provides all of this for free to select artists.
And special thanks too, to my fellow residents:
Writers Helen Hooper and Ira Sukrungruang
Musicians/Composers Jonathan Kolm and David Dominique
Fine Artists Maren Jensen, Karrie Hovey and Susan Grinels

It’s been — truly — a pleasure.

And a special note to my Blog readers: It's good to be back. Note though that in just a few days I'll be moving my blog away from Blogger, to WordPress. More news about that to come. But I'm pretty darned excited about the change, and hope you will be, too. With deepest appreciation I thank you for reading me here; your attention to my words and thoughts is precious. I hope you'll continue to follow me over on WordPress.


Jay said...

2000 photos!

Dawn Chandler said...

About 100 of them are good! ;)

John Larkin said...

My former brother in law has a cabin in Ryan Park, WY. Loved visiting his family there. Beautiful country. Saratoga springs are fun to sit in the hot water and relax. Blessings to you, John

Dawn Chandler said...

NICE, John! I, too, enjoyed discovering the hot springs of Saratoga. Charming town and beuatiful country, indeed.

Anonymous said...

So glad you got to enjoy such a special place with other like minded people and endless nature. Look forward to seeing the new paintings and new blog. Looks like the new camera is working well. Have a great late fall.

Dawn Chandler said...

Thank you, Linda! And you have a great late fall as well. :)

itri2 said...

Thank you for blessing us with your words and art, Dawn.

Jane Thompson Hasenmueller said...

Beautiful pictures and thoughts! Can't wait to see the paintings!

Dawn Chandler said...

Thanks so much, Jane! :)

Dawn Chandler said...

Thank you for reading my Blog, itri2! :)

Ira Sukrungruang said...


Dawn Chandler said...

IRA SUKRUNGRUANG! Thanks so much and for checking out m'blog! :)