Rico, Rico, Rico

IMG_5140 Rich, Rich, Rich. As in Inspiration!  We head up to the mountains for our annual Colorado fix. IMG_5154 Rico is a cozy x-mining mountain town, full of mining history and outdoor recreational opportunity including plein air painting and sketching. Before I get started in Rico, I take a drive up the road to Lizard Head Peak and meadows for the most expansive views. IMG_5171 The light is changing so fast, I can’t focus on just one painting, so it’ll be a study of light and shadow on the peak. I draw out six of the same scene in charcoal and tape off my canvas paper. Mr. Pepe is companiero… IMG_5167 My set up is mostly on the ground as I didn’t bring an easel, plus there are some strong gusts coming off the prevailing thunderstorm headed in this direction. I am painting these 5×5 inch squares with a three foot long paint brush! Try it! IMG_5170 Pirate Jack cracks the whip/waits patiently… IMG_5173 IMG_5176 Anything to hang out in such a beautiful place for hours at a time… IMG_5174 Pulling out of the meadow, we head further up the road to check out Trout Lake. IMG_5181   IMG_5190 The road takes us all the way around the lake and back to Lizard Head meadows. IMG_5205 Past the old train trestle. Try drawing this…next time. IMG_5203 Back to Rico. Next morning on the daily dog walk, I start to think about another painting project and scout for a good spot/theme. IMG_5210 How about the river, or some local color. IMG_5214 IMG_5229 or the ever present boys, after all. IMG_5225 IMG_5256 Too frisky for plein air, methinks. On that note, a dogs-butt-eye-view? IMG_5260 Nah… I decide on the river. The thought of sitting next to the fast flowing waters is very pleasing. I think I’ll do a 12 hour 12 painting study of the water flow (thinking…can get you into trouble), IMG_5267 sitting right out on this rock bank, IMG_5268 looking at this. IMG_5264   IMG_5277 …or this view…what was that about painting river scenes? Always upriver or downriver? IMG_5283 IMG_5285 More West Rico scenic arrangements… IMG_5288 telephone pole, wires, suburbans, fire-hydrants? IMG_5290 cute cabins? IMG_5297 No, the river beckons. I decide to make some studies first. I don’t normally plan so much. But, I’ve decided to go for 12 hours of painting so I make 12 drawings of the scene. I make 4 on-site drawings and map the rest from the on-site studies. This time saving effort is a mistake, and I know it (yes, time saving cancels out creative spontaneity), but the weather is turning and the Rico 4th of July “duck race”, is coming down the river this afternoon. Don’t want to upstage any ducks. IMG_5329 I assemble the 12-tych and wait for the ducks to be apprehended by the Fire Department…this is an annual Rico event, where the first so many numbered ducks to be scooped up yield prizes for their donors…spa, cruise, I should of bought some ducks! IMG_5314 see those little yellow dots=ducks. IMG_5315 As I drew, I made color notes by pulling out my color squares to see if anything jibed. These grids are very useful. IMG_5334 IMG_5336 Pepe et Jacques wait semi-patiently for the project to unfold…what am I saying? It’s either doggie-food or walkie-time. IMG_5339 Oh, and, here we have a firework! It is the 4th afterall. IMG_5354 Next morning: Here we go, 12 paintings today, I’m ready! But, hey, it’s raining…better at least make an effort. I start by flipping thru my grids/swatches. I’ve promised myself to use no more than 3 colors for each painting, to see if there will be an obvious color cast or scheme to each painting for each hour of the day…. I start at 8:30 AM, a little later than I’d hoped, it’s the thin desert blood, part reptile, hard to get going here in the cold/wet. IMG_5358 IMG_5360 IMG_5362 On to the next hour. After four hours I am chilled to the bone and stuck to this rock, so it’s time to warm up and come back tomorrow. IMG_5380       IMG_5381 Next morning: Hello sunshine! So much for my 12 painting continuation. The weather conditions are so different my project vision is not going to work. How about having some fun with aspen leaves instead. IMG_5386 I zoom-in for positive/negative space balance with overlapping simple geometric shapes, a formal exercise that can be as complex as desired. IMG_5387 I pick a simple palette of Quin Red, Diox. Purple and Sap Green, colors (aniline dyes) rarely used (by me) in Tucson for plein air. There is a lot of purple up here in the mountains. IMG_5396 IMG_5402 IMG_5398 IMG_5394 IMG_5397 I make four studies and then see if I can create a balanced composition by rearranging them, like solving a puzzle. IMG_5406 another arrangement: IMG_5407 It would work better to alter some of the values of the shapes, and open things up, by wiping and scraping paint away, staining the canvas and brightening the already dull mixtures of pigments. IMG_5410 It would also help a great deal to see this from a distance and with some time elapse. I will wait to continue in the Tucson home-studio. Next morning: We take a final walk. IMG_5425 Our walk turns wet so we find respite in a tin shed. IMG_5417 Rain doesn’t last long and soon we resume to the beaver pond. IMG_5432 IMG_5441 Active, healthy beaver pond, good sign. IMG_5438 IMG_5442 Little dog: Bear Bait or…expert wildlife detector? IMG_5449 IMG_5463 History abounds all around, very picturesque. Enamel+Chrome+Weeds=Textural Wonder. IMG_5466 On the way out of town, I pass by my favorite “fixer-upper”, affectionately called, “the gray box”. Someday, little gray box, someday. IMG_5482 Sixty miles downstream, a stop at The Depot for a bite in the slightly warmer, dryer, town of Dolores. IMG_5483 IMG_5484 Colorado bids adieu with a perfectly appropriate rainbow. IMG_5489 But, first, a visit to the Durango Art Center to pick up a form for the annual members exhibit. I am inspired to make something out of all of this weeks’ work for their themed show: IMG_5536 Stay tuned. The Arizona road home takes us thru Holbrook. IMG_5495 Mr. Pepe is pooped. IMG_5497 Up out of Salt River Canyon, we hit some quick, big drops and then a flash of red, IMG_5509 just off to the right, IMG_5514 the Salt is running red. IMG_5524

Rico Booty


Six Lights of Lizard Head, M.Milstead


Down Dolores, 8-9 AM, M.Milstead


Down Dolores: 9-10 AM, M.Milstead


Down Dolores: 10-11 AM, M.Milstead


Down Dolores: 11-12 PM, M.Milstead


Apsen Violets, M.Milstead


Hillary’s House, M.Milstead

7 thoughts on “Rico, Rico, Rico

  1. oh yeah, your best blog ever. 🙂 good to see the sled dog team is in good shape. I’m coming up there next time!! Love all the studies, you have amazing vision! take care my friend, g

    • Kudos to you Maestra! When does your show open in The Big City??

      Many thanks and Oh yes, training is ongoing for the Chihuahua Iditerod. Can’t tell when tho.

  2. Great blog. You always impress & inspire me. Still have not picked up a palette knife or stick of pastel. Started writing a book though. Does that count?

  3. Really wonderful to see all your painting adventure- traveling vicariously from remote south texas. thankyou thankyou

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