Nizhoni Landscape

This summer, we migrate to New Mexico to beat the heat. I find myself at about 6,000 ft. living in the middle of a grassy pinion forest near Silver City. A perfect place to immerse in plein air painting. Nizhoni translates to “beautiful”.

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Here are the fruits of the first week on the hillside.

As you can see, I like plants. In the wild, plants need each other to get started and mature. Groupings like this are called “guilds”. In the Sonoran desert we have the Saguaro Guild, which combines a palo verde tree and a saguaro and other smaller shrubs. The saguaro seedling uses the shade of the palo verde to get started and eventually grow up through to direct sunlight.

I use my plein air painting skills to observe plant relationships. Here I see guilds, not with saguaros, but pinion and oak trees. While observing plants, many wonderful animals drift through: elk, deer, turkey, many birds, lizards etc. definitely not lonely here.

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Even though the temperatures are cooler, the sun is still pretty intense.

Sunny selfies for ya!

I can’t end this post without a plug for the upcoming Silver City Blues Fest, memorial day weekend. http://www.silvercitybluesfestival.org.

The Mimbres Region Arts Council (MRAC) and Silver City Arts Association (SCAA) are putting on a plein air painting competition during the blues fest and I signed up!

Find out more at http://www.mimbresarts.org

It all takes place in Gough Park, 1201 N Pope St, Silver City. Gough is pronounced goff.IMG_7936

Here, I’m practicing on the pagoda, and liking more the morphology of the Park’s trees:

But I really rather prefer the view behind me for the quintessential New Mexico feel.

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Hey, wish me luck!

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 carpe mañana

 

Plein Air New Mexico with Cows

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We head east to New Mexico. Our pastel group is participating in the BRAI (Black Range Artists Inc.) plein air competition to benefit St. Judes.

We are lucky to have friends in the area who find us a cool ranch right off the Gila River.

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Our funky wood cabin is like a secret hideaway surrounded by still and flowing waters.

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Very old irrigation ditch runs right below the front door. Nice white noise and frisky cool air.

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We explore the area and pick our favorite subjects to paint/pastel.

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Mikaela Quinn, pastel

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I try out this old wagon but the flock of duck-geese disturb the water with such irregularity I can’t get a good reflection..maybe if I worked from a photo? Noooooo, ahhh.

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Continuing on our walk, we meet Sam, a very friendly brown mule. Sam is fat from treats and cannot get enough.

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As we near the the river, the trees grow ever more expansive.

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The “style” stairway at the ranch/wilderness border.

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Little up and over.

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On the other side, a tangle of trees and wildflowers, wild animal (bear!) and bugs.

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This river flows almost all the way to the gulf of California mostly underground now, to Yuma, AZ, where it pops up briefly to join the Colorado, 600 miles.

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Back at our cottage. Pretty Peacock stained glass.

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and rustic kitchen. Yes, this is our only stove. Better than camping.

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Precarious steps up to the second floor.

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To the Princess Turret Boudoir…my room, by default. Nobody wanted to try to navigate these steps down in the middle of the night. Smart people. I love it.

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Next morning we start in the midst of outbuildings right down the lane.

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Bearpaw Buildings, 12×12, oil, M.Milstead

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Mikaela Quinn, pastel

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After a couple of days of painting, I prepare my booty for the show. I have an evening to relax…what to do?

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Take even more pictures? Nooo.

Hey, how about one last painting.

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I set up to a grand view of the Gila Mountain Wilderness in the sunset but quickly attract the attention of Ann, the black Mule.

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Can’t resist.

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Whoa! Big Mule…don’t hurt me.

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Don’t eat my paint..she is going for the blue.

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Awe….and then we go on our separate ways.

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But, wait, now a longhorn heifer. Very pretty cow. I am parked right where the herd crosses into the field behind me so I am entertained by many animals over the next hours.

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This particular cow would not pass, so I hide in the bushes for her. See my palette set up there on the little hillock.

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After communing with the cows I start a fire…when in doubt…IMG_7004

and discover a chilled bottle of chardonnay in the fridge…Many thanks to Denyse, I think.

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Nice end to three days in the field.

Next morning we cruise on down to Deming to the BIG SHOW.

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After a tour around the fair, I find my fave booth with this scruffy little Yupo Watercolor chihuahua. Pretty red collar and soft brown eyes remind me of little Jack.

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The BRAI booth has about 27 paintings on display. Judge Beth Ray from Green Valley, AZ, makes her selections.

Best Of Show

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Krystyna Robbins

First Place

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Denyse Fenelon

Second Place (moi)

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The Path Up, M.Milstead

Loise Sackett’s painting of our little cabin-with the red roof.

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Beth generously gives us each a critique of our work.

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Becky Neideffer, fearless leader of TPS, with her work, very ambitious size and subject matter.

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We had a good time and learned a lot. Now we are all ready for the next competition. Bring it on!