So far this summer I have visited and sketched or painted in some very distinctive places. The first was Taos New Mexico. Taos has long been a destination for artists and all lovers of beauty. I was happy to find that popularity hadn’t turned it into a theme-park version of itself. It seems like a town with a real sense of community, and good people who work very hard to make it a pleasant place to live for all levels of the society there. Unlike some other cities with lots of art, galleries in Taos are friendly and welcoming. Often one of the first things I was told as I stepped through the door was “these are local artists”, or New Mexico, or the region. It was great to be in a place where local art is so strongly presented and supported. Almost every gallery promptly recommended at least one other gallery as well. Kent and I make a point of greeting shopkeepers as soon as we enter their space, and in Taos that led to some very entertaining conversations!
I painted one morning at the Rio Grande gorge until sunburn made me stop. I was distracted by watching beautiful tiny tiny birds on the rocks. They were so tiny! Although the chain link fence was ugly, I have long-ago memories of a gust of wind blowing a watercolor down into a gorge in Colorado, so I appreciated its function if not its form.
The skies in New Mexico are beautiful, and the clouds move quickly. It was a good idea to start with a value study because the light changed dramatically in no time at all.
That same afternoon I painted a watercolor of the mountains from the much more comfortable vantage point of the Taos Mesa Brewing Co.. No great final result to show but it was fun. I am very aware that working plein air makes me slow down and observe in ways I simply don’t seem to do without colors to mix. Inside the Brewery was a poetry workshop, and outdoors we enjoyed watching a crew build a large new performance stage area. If we lived in the area I’m pretty sure this would be a regular stop. It has an air of continual creativity I find very attractive.
Our visit coincided with the annual re-mudding of the San Francisco de Asis Mission Church in Ranchos de Taos. It was very interesting to watch the all-volunteer crew at work maintaining this treasure. The church was begun as early as 1722, and besides continuing to be an active congregation in the Taos community, the building has been a popular subject for painters and photographers. Most people think of Georgia O’Keefe’s paintings, but Ansel Adams’s photographs of the same general time period are also very influential. I must confess my embarrassment at realizing I had driven right past it years ago- it is definitely not where I thought it was!
The reason for my visit was to attend the opening of “After Dark III“, a national juried show held at Greg Moon Art. This show focused on a wide interpretation of the theme, and I am proud to have had two paintings included in such a strong and varied show in such a beautiful place. I appreciate the opportunity and the good excuse to take a road trip to New Mexico. I hope we will be out there again soon.