Art from New Mexico

Despite the sad news of the past week, Jean and I have been getting out to walk and do some sketching. New Mexico’s air is clear, the light is intense, and the landscape is dominated by oranges, blues, and greens of many shades. The landscape has been formed into varied shapes. Everywhere you turn there is something interesting to look at.

Here are a few pencil sketches that I did in the field. Click on the images to enlarge them.

There is a particularly interesting pinon stump in front of our house. It made me think of an abstract Don Quixote. I did a quick pencil sketch and two small paintings.

Jean also has been busy exploring the colors and shapes of the New Mexican landscape.



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Plaza Blanca

It has been five days since Pat, Jean’s sister, died. We have been comforted by this very spiritual place in a remote mesa-top house. The only sounds are from the wind moving around the house. The house itself has a very comforting feel as if it embraces us. There are few square corners here. Everything is rounded and smooth. We are feeling very thankful that we rented this house as others may not have provided the solace we are feeling.

Today we returned to Plaza Blanca that we visited briefly in yesterday’s post. This was an opportunity to spend time in Georgia O’Keeffe’s footsteps. The formations are very different that other southwest rocks – white/gray limestone. She painted these white monoliths beautifully.

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Georgia O’Keeffe’s “White Place”

Although the cliffs are limestone, the wash through which we walked was paved with rocks composed of all sorts of minerals and gemstones. It was a place Pat would have loved. A few rocks found their way into our pockets.

This time of year there is a great deal of green to compliment the red rock, the white rock, and the blue skies. Sprinkled throughout are colorful surprises of blooms on cacti, shrubs, and flowers.

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After hiking for a few hours we drove to El Rito for a late lunch at El Farolito restaurant. A couple we met in the canyon recommended it as the best Mexican food in the area. They were correct.

As you can see it is not large, but the food is fantastic. Everything is made to order. Their green chile is unbelievable. Their only advertising is matchbooks and word of mouth from very satisfied customers. This evening I checked Tripadvisor and see that it is rated very highly. Needless to say dinner tonight as very light.

Memorial Day weekend has begun. As the sun sets we see cars streaming north on the highway several miles east of us. The sky is pink, lavender and blue and we are nestled in for the night.


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Today we decided to do some plein air drawing/painting despite the 30 mph winds that have been howling nonstop for 2 days. Our primary target was the Chama River canyon that begins just below Abiquiu Lake. It is pretty to look at and away from the madding crowd. We did manage to do some drawing despite the winds.

The wind finally forced us to retreat to Bode’s Store in Abiquiu for a few supplies. Then we decided to visit Dar al Islam, a mosque out in the desert. The mosque itself was closed, but it sits on land called Plaza Blanca. The white cliffs of Plaza Blanco were popular subjects for Georgia O’Keefe. We have seen several of her paintings of these formations. We will return for some drawing/painting out there on a less windy day.

An added bonus at Plaza Blanco was to find the desert in bloom. We were in this area 15 years ago. painting with Jane Shoenfeld at Ghost Ranch, at the same time and saw the bloom. Desert flowers are remarkable.


Posted in Art, Ghost Ranch, New Mexico, Retirement | 3 Comments

An Evening Walk

It has been a difficult few days since Pat, Jean’s sister, died. Days are filled with phone calls to friends and family as well as exchanges on the internet with people who knew Pat. We still do not have specific plans for the service in Colorado Springs. Therefore, we don’t yet know when we will be driving up there. However, we have changed our route to return home through there so we can help deal with Pat’s condo and things in storage.

Despite sitting close by the phone and computer these last few days, we did manage an evening walk nearby. The adobe house we are renting is part of an of 5 acre lots, some of which have houses. It sits on a high mesa overlooking Abiquiu Lake to the East. We have ravens, elk, hummingbirds, and swallows for neighbors. It is sunny, very windy, and remote on a 2 mile dirt road.

One of the side “roads” leads to what is called the boat launch. Our house’s guest book describes a walk through some red rock formations at the end of the road. The term road is used rather loosely out here in the wilds. We drove as far as we were comfortable with our 4 wheel drive, then parked at the top of a steep rock gully and walked. We never found the red rocks or the boat launch, but the scenery was fantastic.

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Tomorrow I will report on my continuing experiments with painting if we aren’t traveling to Colorado Springs.



Posted in Art, Family, New Mexico, Uncategorized | 3 Comments

Sad Days

Yesterday was a sad day in our temporary New Mexico house. We received a call in the morning that Jean’s sister, Pat, had been found in her condo in a coma. Hospital tests revealed a massive stroke. Last night she died in the hospital having never regained consciousness. Today Jean has been talking to family and friends on the phone.

2016 at her Granddaughter’s Wedding

We are thankful that we just spent three days with Pat and celebrated her birthday a bit early. Yesterday was her 84th birthday.

Blowing out the candles.

Pat’s two children live here in the southwest and we will be joining them soon for a service to remember her life and share memories. Pat led a peripatetic life, living in places like Level Green Pennsylvania, Adrian Pennsylvania,  Buffalo NY, Oklahoma City, Roswell New Mexico, San Diego, Tempe Arizona, Alexandria Virginia, Seattle, and Colorado Springs. She also worked many different jobs to which she applied what often seemed like boundless energy. When she moved to Arizona Pat became an avid rockhound and spent many years roaming the desert looking for minerals and gems. Once she even hiked to the bottom of the Grand Canyon with her rock collecting friends! A proud achievement was completing her bachelor’s degree at Arizona State University.

She is survived by her daughter and son, Denise and Greg, their spouses, Doug and Alicia, two grand daughters, Meagan and Erin, their spouses, Sam and Steve, and her great grand daughter Evelyn, also known as. Squeakers. Pat had been living close to her daughter in Colorado Springs for a few years.

Pat, you will be missed.


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First Day At Spiral Shaped Adobe

Last evening we enjoyed the delicate colors that the high desert uses to paint the mountains and skies.

I had a rather uncomfortable night with back spasms and other aches and pains probably from unloading the car. Artists do not travel light. However, I finally emerged from my bed-ridden state and managed to fit in a walk and some sketching.

We walked down our road toward Abiquiu Lake. It is a winding route through the mesas and we never reached the lake. I thought it  best to stop after a mile in deference to my legs and back. However, along the way we enjoyed the high desert in bloom and a memorial to someone’s grandmother.

And yes, JP, we did some drawing today. I have set myself the goal on this trip to explore line, value, color, and shape. How does one begin? How do these interact? Can one be used without the others? What is foremost? Does it change with the subject? Yesterday a particular stump of a pinon tree caught my eye as a great subject for my first experiments. I began with line, but quickly decided that I needed value to make a portrait. All of my attempts with this subject I will call Quixhote’s Ghost.

Jean entered into the fun and drew the same stump with water soluble graphite.

Next I will try shapes and colors to see what happens.

This evening we sit in our mesa-top home looking east to Lake Abiquiu and the  mountains beyond. Soon the sun will sink and we will have those wonderful colors that I showed at the beginning of the post.

Life is good.


Posted in Art, Bandelier National Monument, Ghost Ranch, New Mexico, Retirement, Santa Fe, Taos, Travel | 2 Comments


We arose to clear blue skies this morning. The roses around our condo were laughing in joy.

Soon we checked out of the condo, left our car there and walked into old Santa Fe to visit the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum.

After a great visit and a quick lunch at a food cart in the square we picked up our car and drove to Whole Foods. Grocery shopping was high on the agenda because there are few stores out where our house is. After stocking up we drove one hour north to Abiquiu. Then we turned onto a state road and soon onto a dirt/gravel road that led to our temporary home sitting alone on a mesa top overlooking Abiquiu Lake. It took us an hour or two to get settled. Here are a couple of shots of this beautiful house.

After a quick dinner it is time to settle back and relax.


Posted in Art, Bandelier National Monument, Ghost Ranch, New Mexico, Retirement, Santa Fe, Taos, Travel | 3 Comments

Escape From Colorado

Yes! We successfully escaped the snows of Colorado today! Here is our parting picture of Pikes Peak as seen from our niece and nephew’s house.

Last evening we celebrated Pat’s 84th birthday with a dinner of steak, chicken, or hamburger (eater’s choice), roasted brussel sprouts, cheesy potatoes, a wonderful cabernet sauvignon from Napa, and caprese salad! It was topped off with a flourless chocolate cake – chocolate on chocolate. I’ll bet you can’t guess Pat’s favorite.

Here’s a hint:  for a birthday present she also received a box of See’s chocolates from Seattle and a box of gourmet cookies (many chocolate). Jean also gave Pat one of her paintings of flowers.

This morning we enjoyed a big breakfast and hit the road at 11:00. The drive down I-25 over the Raton Pass into New Mexico was wet and windy. We saw lots of antelope and one herd of elk along the way. Once the road turned west we hit a headwind that reduced our mileage to near 15 mpg. Normally we make 25-30 mpg. Once again we were forced to act quickly to find gas about 20 miles from Santa Fe.

Dinner tonight was in our favorite Santa Fe restaurant, Casa Chimayo. I had green chile pork stew with corn tortillas and Jean had pork tamales. We finished with a goat cheese flan that was fantastic! We may have to make another trip down here for dinner in the next month.

Tomorrow we take up residence in our rented home near Abiquiu, the starting point of the Old Spanish Trail. Then it will be painting, playing ukulele, and relaxation.


Posted in Art, Bandelier National Monument, Ghost Ranch, New Mexico, Retirement, Santa Fe, Taos, Travel, Ukulele | 2 Comments

What A Difference A Day Makes

This is today’s view of Pikes Peak.

Yep it’s snowing in Colorado Springs. We hope it melts by tomorrow so we can get over Raton Pass to New Mexico.


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Pikes Peak Morning

The view from our niece and nephew’s deck this morning. Pikes Peak is shining.


This will soon end. Snow is expected Friday, the day we hit the road again.

Last night we had a great dinner prepared by Denise and Doug and conversation with Jean’s sister Pat. Got caught up on family news.

Today we are doing some chores in Pat’s condo.

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