I spent part of last fall working as an on set visual effects supervisor on a Netflix movie being filmed in New Mexico (not ‘Rust!) One night we were shooting in Corrales, near Albuquerque, and unexpectedly wrapped a little early. I drove the back way to Cerrillos and wandered around taking photographs a little before 5 am. This is the church of San Jose just a little ways off the main square. It’s a ways before sunrise, but the sky had just begun to lighten a little, and I was entranced by the quiet mood.
Nightfall, Springer NM
I was returning from delivering paintings to Lovetts Gallery in Tulsa, Oklahoma and took the back way home, as I often do. I drove through Springer, New Mexico just as night was falling and was struck by the mood there. I walked around taking photographs for a while as the light faded, then headed home in the dark. This painting is from that evening.I ended up painting it twice, as the first painting was destroyed in a van fire on my way to Cherry Creek Art Festival on Labor Day of last year.
This is a scene from last summer; I was walking the dogs towards sunset and looked over as the moon rose over a hill. Something was really arresting to me about the full moon rising with the evening clouds. Here’s the phases the painting went through:
El Rito Nocturne
This is an oil painting of the little town of El Rito northwest of Santa Fe, just as night was falling. I loved the sense of being a little out of time here, and was fortunate to catch a worker renovating the Martin’s building while he was taking a break. Here are some of the steps in the process:
Morning, Aspen Forest
In the height of the pandemic lockdown, I got an inquiry about a painting commission. A company called Better Place Forests, who buy forest land and create memorial forests as an alternative to traditional cemeteries – here’s a quote from their website:
“We want to change the way we talk about, plan for and create end of life experiences. Rather than cemetery grounds, we imagine lush, natural forest lands. Your legacy lives on in a memorial forest—for you, your loved ones, and the planet.”
They were making a new forest north of Flagstaff Arizona into a conservation memorial forest and wanted to have a painting of it for the guest center. I of course felt like I had died and gone to heaven. Because it was drivable, I was able to travel there during the pandemic. I spent about 2 1/2 days wandering around at dawn and late afternoon taking photographs. After going through and grading the photographs, we shared a group of selects and then slowly reduced it down until there was an image that was approved for a painting.
Since the forest was recently acquired, it hadn’t been groomed and turned into a finished conservation memorial forest yet. So grooming was added digitally; things like a path and a bench area, which were modeled after their other locations and on some existing buildings. I called up a friend of mine from the visual effects days who is a master matte painter named Rick Rische, and he agreed to help with that. Meanwhile I began painting, and left the areas where he was working until they were approved. Here are some of the phases of the painting:
Fall colors 2020
I recently went out and made some photographs in the Sangre De Christo as the aspens reached peak color, and then a few days later, headed north to the Chama River Canyon to see the cottonwoods. Here are some of the images from those trips:
This is an oil painting from a long – and beautiful – hike up to Conundrum Hot Springs near Aspen, Colorado. I looked back up the mountain on the way down, completely soaked, and loved the view up to the top with the mist still swirling from the rain. Here’s the stages along the way:
Cottonwood Trail Oil On Canvas 24″ x 36″
This painting is from a visit to Crestone, Colorado early last fall. It’s on the west slopes of the Sangre De Christo Mountains, and overlooks what was once the huge Lake Alamosa, and is now a large plain. The Cottonwood Trail heads up into the mountains and I was struck by this exquisite scene. The early sun was just starting to rise high enough above the mountains to illuminate the magical world I was in, and I decided to make a painting of it. It’s crazy complicated, but kind of perfect, and I was sort of entranced by the combination of landscape and light. Here are the stages along the way:
Aspen Forest in Rain Oil On Panel 36″ x 48″
This is a painting from a hike in the Pecos Wilderness in the summer. I was up on Hamilton Mesa and got caught in a heavy rainstorm, and ended up standing under a tree for over an hour waiting for the rain to abate. As usual, I fell in love with the image and the mood, and as I started working I realized how challenging it would be. But by then it was too late! I started this almost exactly one year ago, and just finished it. Here are some of the stages of the painting along the way:
Morning, Aspens in Autumn
Here is a little evolutionary study. I have been thinking for a long time about painting more the way we see and perceive; so that the center of the painting is clear and ‘realistic’, but the edges are less defined. I have, I suspect, many years ahead of working this out.