Monday, November 8, 2010

Like Lazarus

I have had many collaborations with musician Don Richmond over the years. He has honored me with including my artwork on four projects so far: two for his solo projects and one for a release with Hired Hands. The latest is a piece I did for his latest solo project “Like Lazarus.”

We had talked for several years about this album - as he gelled the tunes together the cover image came to him as well. Pivotal in both projects was his miraculous comeback from life- threatening cancer. It is truly a gift to us all to hear him sing and play this collection of music, much of it born from his magical adventure. To quote another musician- long may you run!
He wanted imagery relating to rebirth. The resurrection of Lazarus with the help of Jesus is a very iconic template which he refers to in one song. He wanted me to portray the newly revived Don gazing out at the world from the portal of the tomb- eyes blinded by the magnificence of a first morning.
I had a first version that was more in tune with my naturalistic portrayal of the landscape but it wasn’t quite “acid” enough- a reference no doubt to movies we have both seen.
So I cranked up the chroma and color intensity as well as the magic as well.
This allowed me to push my envelope and go where I don’t usually go.
In a word Fun.
The coyote was adorned with an aura and the halo around Sierra Blanca was revealed to all.
So enjoy this image and bug Don to see the original- its bigger than the CD cover.
Pick up this very fine collection of music and even better try and find the time to see Don perform in person. He is having several CD release events and you can check it out by the link provided. Thanks for reading!

The painting: "Like Lazarus" oil on linen 16"x20"

To check out Donnie's Doings go to

Sunday, July 11, 2010

At the Oasis

I was invited to enjoy and paint the Medano and Zapata Ranches here in the San Luis Valley at the base of Sierra Blanca and near the Great Sand Dunes. This was the second year I have participated in this event sponsored by the wonderful Phillips Family and the Nature Conservancy.

They invite an interesting mix of artists from various perspectives and media. Plein-air painters, etchers, sculptors and too many more to list. The focus is to “gather material.”

This year there were 29 artists including local friends Coni Grant and Sue McCullough.
So that was the set up. I was amused to see the artists wandering about in this magical part of the world, like children let loose for recess. Lots of wide-eyed looks and statements that usually end up with trailing adjectives. Me included. Even though I live close–by, there is a special wonderment in being in intimate day-to-day relation with the meadows, cottonwoods, looming peaks and enigmatic dunes. Not so much with the mosquitos…
And the bison- 2400 of the grunting beasts, with hundreds of calves. You could drive through a herd of several hundred animals in the morning and in the afternoon return to find them gone and nowhere to be seen for 10 miles along the flat horizon. Like ghosts or dreams. The trampled ground and poop piles testifying to their reality.
Found in this terrain are campsites from 12,000 years ago, where ancient people hunted ice-age bison, twice as big as the modern animals with 6 feet spanning between their horns atop their huge heads.
There is a poetic continuity in keeping with the bison theme for millennia. The modern animals were brought in to repopulate the herds exterminated in the 1800’s- a short break in the long timeline.
I feel blessed by people with money who invest in the retention of this landscape to keep it in tune with its ancient rhythms.
I only wish I could paint it better! Oh well- one more special opportunity to wander.
the pictures:
"Magic Morning" plein air oil , 12" x 9"
A bison herd on the Medano Ranch
Coni and Sue painting

Friday, June 4, 2010

Painting the Land-- For the Land

There is a potent combination for me as an artist and a conservationist when you get a “double hit” on an art function. Such an event is currently on stage with the collaboration between artists and the Rio Grande Land Trust (RIGHT) to raise money for each other. The trust has been actively negotiating easements on San Luis Valley private lands to ensure they remain open space into the future.
Some of the artists involved in this multiple event project are concentrating on celebrating these protected vistas through varied interpretations. Other artists will offer their art of other subject matter. All artists are donating a piece to be sold by RIGHT and also a percentage of sales on all other works. The culmination will be the " Keep the Rio Grande Grand" art sale in South fork on August 14.
We recently had a paint-out on the Gilmore Family Ranch near Alamosa. Nearly a dozen artists showed up to paint the fantastic scenes on this spectacular property and to display available works. Shown here are two pieces I did on the ranch that are for sale.
It is thrilling to know that a century from now the artwork we produce will still depict the scenes that are there today.
There will be another on site event at the Sowards Ranch above Creede on Saturday June 12. with fellow artists participating, Steve Quiller, Sue McCullough, Coni Grant, Charles Ewing and Rita Roberts to name a few. For directions and further information go to the RIGHT web site.
TOP: "Ranch Slough" oil on linen 12x16
LEFT: " Ranch Morning" oil on linen 9x12

Wednesday, April 21, 2010


The painting featured here was done from the covered boardwalk near the historic home of Kit Carson in Taos. A pleasant spring afternoon after an overnight dumping of wet, spring snow. Many passers-by stopped to engage in discovery and sharing of experience. The painting was near completion when I felt the piece had a certain lack of energy.
As I surveyed my subject I noticed that I had left out a pair of saplings in the courtyard. I had also overlooked or had taken for granted the presence of a robin that had been lazily roosting in the tree almost the entire time.
When I put these in, it seemed the painting had more spark.

"Courtyard" 12 x 9 oil on linen

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Performance Art

Unless you are very skilled at being antisocial and reclusive, painters who work on location often interact with the public. My personal experience has been for the most part very positive. People are in general very curious about the artistic process and are excited to actually see the very rare event of a painter painting. Kids especially.
Most children are very active drawers, colorers and of course dabble in the ultra-sensual finger painting. I think it enlivens them to see the possibility of taking all that outdoors and interacting with their surroundings.
For adults, it is a pleasant upgrade from seeing courtroom artists sketching you at the defendant's table, as I have so often personally experienced.

These are pictures taken of me painting on location on Kit Carson Street in Taos. I was in front of the Walden Gallery, which shows my work. Walden Fine Art

They were taken by my friend and fellow painter Coni Grant
Coni grant

I will back in Taos doing some more street painting this Saturday, April 24,from 2 to 6 pm. so if you are around check it out.

Next up: the actual painting from this performance!

Monday, March 22, 2010

A Walk About in No Man's Land

I went down south of Alamosa and met up with my ol' friend Don Richmond in the old town of San Luis. We proceeded on many back roads to the vicinity of the large round mound now known as Ute Mountain.

I wanted to take Donnie to some petroglyphs that were near this mountain. We followed a now dry creek bed and shortly after where this ancient stream started to cut into the volcanic bedrock to form a gorge that leads to the Rio Grande there is a special sunny spot facing south where people have lingered for many generations.

On the south facing cliffs etched into the dark and burnished rock faces of basalt are numerous drawings pecked and scraped into the surface. These were laid down in ancient history by artists that we can only speculate as to their clan and circumstance.

There are several styles of petroglyphs here; some abstract, curvilinear with oval shapes and interconnected rounded forms. In one alcove there are three prominent human like figures. One of them is a distinctive representation of a man who appears to have only one arm.

It seems that both Don and I had a long winter because with the pleasant weather, the abundant sunshine and the peculiar quiet of the outback we became suddenly inert. We hesitated after a quick site-see and leaned up against the rock faces soaking up the sun like cold-blooded lizards.

As we drank in the atmosphere of where we were in a shallow gorge, far away from people and their trappings, we sampled various spots along the cliff face and whether it imagined or not became recharged and revitalized by the energy we seemed to pick up there. Some spots seemed to warm our hearts while Donnie commented on another spot where he felt he had grown roots into the depths of the earth below us.

We then headed down the canyon after lounging for a long time. The side walls became steeper and steeper very rapidly. We were probably at least a couple of miles away from the deeper gorge on the main Rio Grande channel.

We soon turned around and climbed back out on top to witness the open spaces the huge sky and the horizons filled with the round volcanoes and distant jagged snow covered peaks that are the hallmark of what Don calls No Man's Land. This is indeed exactly the sort of field trip I love to take. Breathtaking vistas, weird rocks, a strong presence of Indian heritage and a good companion.

Another great way to be paid to wander.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Dunes Tapestry

I challenged myself with this piece. I wanted to portray the staggering variety of landscapes and environments in the Great Sand Dunes National Park in a small format. I witnessed this view- ready made. When I saw this, I new I would have to break several compositional rules- such as the need to break through planes using vertical devices. Trees are usually good for this. Instead I chose to feature how in a single vista you can witness the many transitions from high desert to 14,000 foot peaks. When I finished the painting I noticed that this piece was almost like a weaving or a tapestry wrought on a loom.
Dunes Tapestry 9 x 12 oil on linen

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

High Valley Ranch

I have noticed two genres of pioneer structures in the San Luis Valley that seem to be culturally determined. The first variety is the log cabin which is usually associated with immigrants from northern Europe and their descendants.
The other is the adobe structure which derives from Hispanic and Pueblo Indian heritage. There is also a hybrid of these two types made of vertical poles and then stuccoed-over called jacal.
This view is of some early buildings made of felled logs on the Zapata Ranch in the San Luis Valley.
A storm was just clearing to reveal the huge massif of Sierra Blanca with a fresh dusting of June snow.
"High Valley Ranch" 9 x 12 oil on linen

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Bloom time

Spring in Taos is always accompanied by fruit trees in bloom. This is one well-established apple tree in Arroyo Hondo on the road to the Gorge. The Sangre de Cristos still hold patches of winter snow that will soon vanish under the approaching rain showers.

"Bloom Time" 16 x 20 oil on linen

Friday, March 5, 2010


My wife and I walk by this view several times a week along with our dog. It is an old meander of the Rio Grande that now holds fluctuating water levels throughout the year. A constant feed is from a warm artesian well that flows through ditches from a mile away.
This is one of the rare sources of open water in the winter. A clue that the seasons are changing is when we notice the spread of the thaw start to grow- a harbinger of Spring approaching.
"Harbinger" oil on linen 9 x 12

Monday, March 1, 2010

First Blog

Well, here goes. Someone asked me what my ideal job would be. I thought about what I would like to do- in a sense of doing absolutley nothing-- and get paid for it! I thought with great affection on how I have always loved to wander and explore the wilds and backroads of the rural Southwest. To just drive around, get out at a point of interest and start to wander.
This is probably why I enjoy plein air painting so much.
So I will post as things happen including art and what ever else might pop up.