We are in the thriving metropolis of Bluff Utah, it’s on the way to Monument Valley. We were late getting out of dodge, and it was getting dark so took the available camp site. It was nice, quiet and reasonable. We made a run of about 40 miles out to Monument Valley Park. It was like riding shotgun with the Duke and yelling at Shane to come back. It’s so huge it is an amazing ten miles before you even get there. Since we paid to get in we drove the road if one can call it that, through the park. Sweet bjezzes, what a rock infested bumpy rut mongering mess. The weird part is it was packed with tourists driving like they were on the Baja 500 cross country marathon. They must have all had rental cars. Stopped at Artist Point and viewed the spot where a zillion paintings have been done, easy to see why. Too damn many people. We stopped on the backside and I did this. I think it is called Totem Pole.
The cave dwellings were thought to have been inhabited by the Anasazi, but research has determined that they were ancestors of the Puebloan. The first thing you think of when you see this place is how the heck did they water their crops? There are no creeks on the mesas themselves. Well, they didn’t have to water anything, they were dryland farmers, and the soil on the mesa is the perfect balance of sand and clay to hold water very well and the winter’s snow pack is kept in the soil until the monsoon rains of July and August. So at least back then the weather pattern watered the crops. Some speculate that drought is the reason they abandoned the area. In three or four years any stored food supplies would be exhausted.
We would’ve have liked to stay on awhile longer, and do more studies. The subject is challenging and very exciting. When we arrived there were only tree days left of the season. The park closes Oct.20th. Luckily we were encouraged to apply for an artist residency next season. Fingers crossed!
Here we are at Ghost Ranch! The enchanted land of Georgia O’Keeffe, where she did the bulk of her work. There is a spirit here that goes beyond the relatively recent history of the western world. As recent as 210 million years ago this place was alive with activity. In 1947 Paleontologists found the largest fossil deposit of Coelophysis bones ever found. Artifacts of the prehistoric cultures of the Tewa and Gallina are evidence that the Chama River has been inhabited for a long time. We’ve noticed that ancient native cultures seem to have been drawn to anomalies in the landscape. Not far south of here are extensive cliff dwellings. Ghost Ranch is a hub of activity to this day. There are retreats of all kinds, workshops in Geology, Archaeology, Paleontology, Calligraphy, Jewelry, Photography, as well as Painting, Drawing, Writing, Poetry, Pottery, you name it you can find it here. Oh, and an O’Keeffe emersion class! It’s quite a place, set in a truly magnificent landscape.
I met some painters yesterday from San Diego. We decided to get together and paint, and had a great time. They are off to Santa Fe today, owners of a brand new painting! After we painted I offered to do a demonstration of some of the things I’ve learned over the years to help them along in their quest of painting en plein air. It was quick, with two large brushes and my advice: “Keep it simple, tell the story, then shut up!” They purchased the demo as well. That’s a good day in the field. Thanks folks!
Painted quick as I could…Pressed for time because we had an appointment to tour the great Georgia O’Keeffe’s home a bit later. This is my excuse for unintentionally leaving out a most important element in the composition, the three huge crosses that stand to the right of the holy place. I dove into the painting without sketching for size and see what happens? I was so dang excited about being this close to Georgia O’Keeffe! I’m going back to paint it again and as a thank you donate it to the local library if it’s good enough. Visit our FB page where we post most often!
Left Castle Rock feeling all warm and fuzzy after a week with the grand kids. We had a great stay and did a ton of chores that had to be done. Without Jason and Carol’s generous hospitality it would’ve been a very daunting task. We were so clogged up with paintings we could hardly function. We were also running out of critical supplies. We found a good art store in Colorado Springs and retooled. We processed 2 4×8 sheets of panel material. Priming them and renting a table saw to cut them into the varying sizes. We cataloged over 100 works of art titled, dated, and signed them. Then we wrapped, boxed and shipped them home. Our stay there marked the ¼ mark of our year on the road. It seems like we have traveled a million miles and seen the universe unfold before us in a heartbeat. I could go on and on and never touch on the thousands of noteworthy things that have become the norm living on the road. The great luxury that we have is we’re not in a hurry. We don’t have an agenda or a time table we are in this sense truly nomadic. We go where the wind takes us. We have kept to the back roads and small towns whenever possible. When we do find ourselves on the big iron snake, it is shocking, the roar and pace is daunting. We keep our heads down and head for the “two lane”
We came out of the storm and landed in Creede Colorado. It’s a very fine small town tucked into the San Juan Mountains. We’re in a little campground of only six sites. We ended up here because our good friends Eric and Aline from Humboldt County who were instrumental in helping us on our quest. They have been coming to this area for 30 years and thought we would like it. They were right. In fact we like it so much that they have moved on and we are still here. Thank you, Eric and Aline! This place is rich in beauty and history. Back in the day there were huge silver deposits found here and the relics of that era dot the landscape. The town itself is quite cultural. It has several galleries and is world renown for its repertory theater. We took in some of the plays they were excellent. We spend our days painting and finding places to paint. That and dodging the weather every day is an adventure. It’s cold it’s hot it’s cold again, then the wind blows like hell, the skies darken, thunder rolls and lightning strikes, it rains, hails, and the wind stops, then picks up and blows like hell from another direction and it starts all over again. And that is before noon. And then we get a day like today, it’s just lovely. I like the variety and change of pace. We’ve got it all. Thanks everyone for tagging along with us I makes it even richer.
Grizz by Rachel
We landed in Cody Wyoming on Aug. 1st. We had no idea how amazing things were about to get. We had it all. Camping was off the charts. We stayed along the north fork of the Shoshone river, in a camp called Big Game. At first we had’t realized that we were camped in a major fly fishing destination. Soon as we found out, Stock got a Wyoming fishing license and angled daily for our dinner. He landed Cutthroat Trout, Rainbow Trout, Brown Trout and Kokanee Salmon. We ate quite well during our 16 day stay at Big Game! We also enjoyed being 20 miles outside Yellow Stone Park, where there are Grizzlies, Elk, Big Horn and Moose just to mention a few. We finally saw a Moose and her calf, outside the park and that was truly amazing. It’s one thing to see animals in the park and quite another to see them wild and thriving in their natural home with the space they need…
The landscape is another story. Crazy crags, chimneys and spires that look strangely animated…we reverently referred to then as our ancestors. While we painted Stock would asked me to pinch him and I obliged, I’m sure it helped his grounding.
The Buffalo Bill Museum was great, food was great, skies-awesome! Thunderheads…omg! We lived a dream together and painted our hearts out. Thanks for the spark Wyoming!