This Land is My Land

This Land is My Land


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Monday, June 29, 2015

Galisteo Basin Preserve

The Galisteo Basin Preserve is planned as a 13,522-acre, stewardship-oriented, conservation-development initiative located 13 miles south of Santa Fe, New Mexico, in the central Galisteo Basin. The Galisteo Basin is internationally celebrated for its scenic, cultural, and wildlife habitat values. Commonweal Conservancy, a nonprofit conservation-based community development organization, is leading the initiative.
In collaboration with representatives of Santa Fe County, conservationists, archaeologists, professional planners, and neighborhood groups, Commonweal Conservancy is working to purchase, plan, and protect the Preserve, previously known as Thornton Ranch. The approximately 20-square-mile property is considered a "high-risk development area"—one whose subdivision into widely dispersed "ranchettes" would threaten the scenic, wildlife habitat, water, public service (e.g., schools, fire fighting, police), historic, cultural, and traditional economic resources of the central Galisteo Basin.

OK - OK too much verbiage - Soooooo if you don't want to read about the Basin, skip down to the painting demo :>) 

To protect the property's most significant environmental and cultural resources, Commonweal Conservancy negotiated an agreement to purchase the Preserve in five phases. Rather than allowing the property to be subdivided into 12.5-acre and 40-acre home sites, Commonweal has proposed a carefully sited, environmentally sensitive village development known as Trenza that will accommodate mixed-income residential and community-serving land uses within a 300-acre development area. Village design and construction standards will exemplify the values and principles of low-impact, resource-efficient, sustainable development.
The majority of the Preserve—more than 13,000 acres—is planned to be permanently protected as open space. An extensive trail network will allow access across the preserve to adjoining public land holdings.


Following is a painting 18 x 24 of my interpretation of one of the many, many magnificent scenes in the Basin, using 3 different sized palette knives and lots & lots of juicy acrylic paint.
I did this painting as a demo for a young lady my wife and I met in Santa Fe NM when we returned there a few weeks ago to prepare our stored "STUFF" for movers to bring to Florida.  In talking to her, her mother and sister we found out that she likes to paint.  Not knowing her level of skill, I did this demo using 3 sizes of palette knives.  Palette knives are fun to use and although this is a simple landscape, it does require the feeling of emotion for the land and surroundings of this area.
I do not paint what I see!!!!  I paint what I feel from the emotional connection that the subject gives to me.  When painting Southwest scenes, I listen to Native American flute music - the combination of the emotion I feel from the land and the emotion from the music I paint what I feel.  This was painted to a CD of native American flute music by R. Carlos Nakai - the album is titled "Canyon Trilogy".  I feel paintings need to express emotion and those emotions need to be passed onto the viewers.

A few pointers - Most "new painters" tend not to use enough paint.  That said, about 20 years ago a friend who is a professional painter told me "Use paint like you are a millionaire"!  I follow that advice and when using palette knives, globs and globs of paint are used.  If you do not use enough paint - brush of palette knife - your paintings will look "wimpy"!  When using a brush or a palette knife you want to paint with your ARM not your HAND!!  Free swinging motion of the arm is important as it gives a painting life - never use a brush or palette knife like a crayon trying to stay within the lines.  Free flowing strokes with determination and gusto - take command of the painting surface - then paint and let your emotions flow!
I always start a painting out with a straight horizon line and that horizon line can be high or low but NEVER in the middle!  NM is known for its massive impressive skies so I decided to make this horizon low.  In this piece I put the horizon line up 6 inches from the bottom - 1/3 the height of the painting surface.  If I had wanted a high horizon I would have put it 6 inches down from the top of the painting surface.

I've darkened some to the photos so lines can be seen.

Next I pencil in what I call "directional lines" - in this case it is distant mountains that may of may not end up being - but at this point it's just an idea of where things may go.

REMEMBER - lots of paint and I mean globs and globs!!!  I start throwing in the sky with the biggest palette knife - darker at the top and lighter as it goes down to the horizon area.  Remember NM has great skies - lots of activity in these skies so use free flowing strokes using the full swing of the arm.  LOTS AND LOTS OF PAINT AND FREE FLOWING PALETTE KNIFE STROKES - I continue doing this with several colors of blue - white and grey and purple until I'm happy with the results.

Next using the middle size palette knife I throw in the "indication" of mountains/hills, making them a bluish purple so it makes them recede to the viewers eye.

Next I throw in some land - the desert floor - again, globs and globs of paint.  I use earth tones of paint as this will make this area come forward to the eyes of the viewers.  I want a lot of texture (thick paint) as well as this is the very foreground of the painting.

Next I throw in indications of desert grasses and other "ground clutter", trying to use all combinations of paints used in the painting thus far so that the entire painting will be "tied together" via common color.

When I say "I throw in" - I really mean that - nothing in my painting style is pre-planned and pre-positioned - as I say - I paint from the EMOTION I feel ----- in this case the LAND & the MUSIC.

Galisteo Basin
18 x 24


I squirt out blobs of paint onto a piece of tin foil to use as my palette and just scoop up blobs of paint with my knife as needed.

I hope the young lady I did this demo for found it of use and if she has any questions she can feel free to contact me.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Native American Pottery

While living in Arizona for 7 years and in New Mexico for 5 years I became very interested in Native American pottery.  I managed to collect quite a bit of it - mostly directly from the artists on several Pueblos.  I was also fortunate to photograph ( with permission ) several very old pots that were excavated on several of the Pueblos.

Following are two paintings I did - one of them a new pot that was done by an artisan in Arroyo Seco - just past Taos the other was from a photo of a very old pot excavated on a Pueblo just south of Santa Fe.

30 x 24 on MDF panel - Semi abstract Pot

24 x 30 on MDF panel - Antique Native American Pot

It's been several years since I painted pots and after a recent trip back to Santa Fe and the Taos area I plan on generating some more pot paintings.  They are both a challenge and very interesting to create.

Hope you enjoyed.

JR     :>)