Expedition: Silver City, New Mexico

Here we are on the slopes of Grant County at Gay’s cabin in Silver City, New Mexico. The weather is perfect. Classic NM red dirt contrasts with olive green juniper and oak.  I take a walkabout in the early morning, getting a feel for the light

After some deliberation, two dramatically different but no-less-inspiring subjects present.  The site is full of surprises.


We start with the Yucca. The stalks catch the morning rays. Light bounces around in the dead and live fronds intensifying the hues therein. Reds are intensified in the morning light.

My initial palette consists of the tetrad (4 hues): Violet, Yellow, Red-Orange and Blue-Green.

I lay in the background first and leave the gray green tone of the paper for darks.

I maintain the initial tetrad but increase the value range as I progress.

Ak! Pastel attack…back off you varmints!

El Jefe is overseer.

…and we’re done.

Gay works in oils. Teresa looks on.

She paints the same yuccas I pastel,  but from a different point of view.

Jefe gives us the “thumbs up”.

…a little shy.

Now, not so much.

Coffee break with Amy and back to work. I oogle the wash tub again, returning later in the day to complete the drawing.


We take a drive in the afternoon to check out the local attractions. The Gila Wilderness is close by as well as rustic art galleries, taverns, good green chile and the Santa Rita Mine, still in operation 24/7.



Sunset on the mine from town, pretty spectacular.

Next morning we walk down to the arroyo, not far.

I decide on two images; one close up of the apache plume blooming in front of my nose, and another , about 30 feet away of the the rock face covered with lichen.

I pick two differently colored surfaces; one a tone of red-orange and the other a shade of red-orange.


I start with the background first on the apache plume because the foliage is so lacy and will be the last addition.

I take a break from the botanical detail to work on the rock piece.  El Jefito is ever-present.

Gay with Quiggly and Watson in the shade.

continuing on the blossoms

sans dog.

Later that night Amy and I try an agave in the sunset.
And why not the sunset too.
We’re up early the next morning to travel to another site where a wash cuts through fields of native grasses. The stream bed is lined with blue green bushes and old Cottonwoods.
I choose a bush with sunlight coming across the field.
I block in light shapes first and then choose a palette.
I consult with Gay, she concurs.
I work up the pastel on a black surface. It really effects the mood of the piece.
Not fully satisfied, I make another with more attention to the plant-forms in a simple harmony (one complementary combo plus two analogous).
Cool wildlife.
Gays painting of the wash.
Amy works the abstract with bold coloration.
Time for lunch and a bit of R and R. Plenty to work on inside the cabin. Antique bottles, bit, book  and fresh wild apples.
Anyway, you know what they say about all good things… We pack up to head home early next morning.
The drive is pretty nice with cool cloud forms and colorful geology.
Thank you Gay, for your hospitality and inspiration.
Until next time…
Happy plein-airing!

4 thoughts on “Expedition: Silver City, New Mexico

  1. Meredith,

    You inspire me as an artist, but I have to say that you and Jefe influenced me just a bit to adopt Lily from Pima Animal Care Center at Tucson Meet Yourself. I hope she’ll be my plein air companion!



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