New Mexico Dreamscapes

I'm delighted to announce the details of my first Solo Art Exhibition. Here is a sneak peek at two of my paintings from New Mexico Dreamscapes

The red dirt terrain of New Mexico.

The red dirt terrain of New Mexico.

New Mexico. It is impossible to describe, but easy to feel. This collection of paintings is a record of my month-long artist residency at Elephant Butte Lake in Southern New Mexico. It reveals what I saw, heard and felt there. It is a transcript in colors and shapes of my deep conversation I had with that mystical landscape.

My art show runs from June 10 - 30, 2017 at The Martin Place, 1799 N. Graves St., McKinney, Texas  75069. 

My opening reception is June 10 from 6 PM to 9 PM. I will give a short artist talk at 7:30 PM.

Spirit of an Apache Crown Dancer inspired by petroglyphs I saw at the Gila Cliff Dwellings.

Spirit of an Apache Crown Dancer inspired by petroglyphs I saw at the Gila Cliff Dwellings.

Hope to see you there!

Conversation with the Landscape: My Artist Residency

Recently, I spent a month at the Elephant Butte Lake Artist Residency. I’ve heard about artist residencies, and I was eager to experience one. The theme of this residency was Conversation with the Landscape. This rural desert landscape and I had lots of say to each other!

Elephant Butte Lake

Elephant Butte Lake

 It was a big adventure to be sure. The first week I felt like a kid at camp – I was somewhere brand new, not knowing anyone and yes, I was homesick that first week but by the end of my four-week stay, I shed tears of happiness and appreciation for my amazing experience.

Strolling through Bosque del Apache Wildlife Reserve

Strolling through Bosque del Apache Wildlife Reserve

Although I’ve spent tons of time in northern New Mexico when I was younger, this was my first time to explore southern New Mexico. We all had our own casita overlooking Elephant Butte Lake which was usually full of vintage houseboats. We had no TV; cell phone service was very sketchy, but we did have Wi-Fi.

Casitas for the Artists

Casitas for the Artists

Houseboats on Elephant Butte Lake

Houseboats on Elephant Butte Lake

The nearest town was Truth or Consequences or T or C as the locals refer to it. It is a funky town known for its natural hot springs and its long name. My favorite spring was the Riverbend Hot Springs formerly a bait shop but now a relaxing spa overlooking the picturesque Rio Grande River.

Truth or Consequences, NM

Truth or Consequences, NM

View of the Rio Grande from Riverbend Hot Springs

View of the Rio Grande from Riverbend Hot Springs

This residency was self-directed. I was on my own. I could do whatever I wanted. No instructions. No critiques. It was like how I imagine Heaven being.

There were eleven of us from all over the country representing a variety of art forms including a documentary film maker, a potter, a paper maker, a photographer and visual artists.

We had a big space for our communal art studio. At times the studio was buzzing with activity. While other times I would enjoy the peacefulness of being the only one there. I enjoyed seeing what everyone else was working on. I tried to absorb as much as I could from the other artists. I was constantly asking questions. What brand of paint is that? Where did you get that brush? How did you do that?

One corner of our Art Studio

One corner of our Art Studio

We gathered each Monday morning to go over what was planned for the week. On Friday afternoon, we gathered again for HAPPY HOUR which involved lots of salsa and beer tasting.

We went on weekly excursions including trips to Las Cruces, Mesilla, Pueblo Ruins at Abo, Hatch and the ghost towns of Chloride and Monticello. I had two favorite places: the bird sanctuary at Bosque del Apache and the Gila Cliff Dwelling which was majestic and mystical. It was a long gorgeous drive through the mountains aptly named the Trail of the Mountain Spirits. I could feel every one of them.

I had many encounters with deers. This one is at Bosque del Apache.

I had many encounters with deers. This one is at Bosque del Apache.

Trail of the Mountain Spirits

Trail of the Mountain Spirits

Gila Cliff Dwellings

Gila Cliff Dwellings

We artist were good at balancing our work time and play time. For fun we would have a potluck, watch a film, go for a soak, or make a run to Casa Taco. The best brisket taco in the world can be had at this place. Seriously! Everyone was respectful and understood when you just needed to chill in your casita by yourself.

In this remote and isolated creative sanctuary, I found myself craving time to be with the land rather than in the studio. I marveled at the wide-open expanse and how the ever-shifting light constantly changed the colors on the lake.

Patio outside our Art Studio overlooking Elephant Butte Lake

Patio outside our Art Studio overlooking Elephant Butte Lake

 I did lots of creative thinking and soul reflection while hiking. My creative practice shifted from creating finished work to keeping a sketchbook of ideas and impressions. I wanted to listen and absorb all that the land had to offer. It was a time to learn and be. The studio work would just have to wait.

In my next journal post, I’ll share some pages from my New Mexico Sketchbook and thoughts about my creative process.

Mr. Rooster Is Up for Bids

McKinney is a chicken friendly city. Each April our town hosts an event where chicken owners open their backyards to visitors and poultry enthusiasts. It’s called the McKinney Tour de COOP. I always enjoy seeing the variety of chicken coop designs people come up with. Some are quite fancy with chandeliers and stained-glass windows while others are simple and rustic.

Mr. Rooster, acrylic on gallery wrap canvas, 16" x 16" 

Mr. Rooster, acrylic on gallery wrap canvas, 16" x 16" 

This year, there is an online auction of chicken coop inspired art benefiting McKinney's Historic Chestnut Square. The auction is open through April 30, 2017.

This event inspired me to paint a colorful and playful rooster!

Backyard Sketchbook

I have a confession to make. I’ve always wanted to keep a daily sketchbook, but was never able to do it. What got me over the hump was an online class taught by the very talented Scottish artist, Jemma Derbyshire. I have finally met with some satisfying success.

Quick warm-up sketch

Quick warm-up sketch

Charcoal sketch

Charcoal sketch

Learning to see through observational drawings, value studies, color studies and explorative mixed media pieces with a playful and inquisitive spirit was the main objective in keeping a sketchbook. The expectation was to create a daily habit, even if for just 10 minutes a day.

Arbitrary color study of my pond in oil pastels

Arbitrary color study of my pond in oil pastels

Enlarging one of the color studies

Enlarging one of the color studies

I chose my backyard as the subject for my first sketchbook. I chose this theme because I have an emotional connection to it. I’m also inspired by the variety of shapes, colors and light at different times of the day, even when the Texas heat makes it unbearable to be outside.

Trying out a new color palette

Trying out a new color palette

Some of the sketches were further developed on large sheets of papers. At first I found this intimidating. Sometimes it worked and sometimes it didn’t. By cropping a drawing that wasn’t quite working made it suddenly work! I also discovered that changing the color palette can make a dramatic difference. I discovered a few tricks that help me become a better artist.

This oil pastel sketch was a section from another sketch that I enlarged

This oil pastel sketch was a section from another sketch that I enlarged

I cropped the sketch of the Flowers into two sketches with works much better

I cropped the sketch of the Flowers into two sketches with works much better

Original colors of a sketch that I cropped to make it work better

Original colors of a sketch that I cropped to make it work better

Sketching the same scene in different colors

Sketching the same scene in different colors

Cropping the scene to make the composition work

Cropping the scene to make the composition work

Now, I intend to paint a new series called In My Own Backyard. I owe this to the inspiration I got from keeping my sketchbook.

Do you keep a sketchbook? I’m eager to hear about your experiences!

Welcome to My Journal

Hi! I enjoy the camaraderie that artists create online. I enjoy taking online classes, participating in Facebook art groups and following blogs written by artists. These online experiences have enriched my own artistic exploration, providing me with loads of encouragement and insight.

Often, I am filled with deep appreciation for artists who have been so generous in sharing their challenges, struggles, inspirations, processes and techniques. 

I aim to follow suit.

Cheers!