Category Archives: Living in the Land of Enchantment

Facing Defeat

In a manner of speaking anyway. I really wanted to make that huge, cool commercial space work for my studio. So much so that I let it become an obsession past the point of it making any sense. Yesterday was my realization day. A building filled with smoke hit me like the sign from the Universe I believe it was meant to be. Not that a clogged stove pipe is such a tragedy, it can be cleaned. It was the meltdown that followed that made me realize I was fighting a useless uphill battle that I didn’t want to fight anymore. I have a beautiful home in the Mimbres Valley with gorgeous views and plenty of room to make and store art.

My new studio, the whole building is all mine!
I’m giving up the dream studio!

At the point where I completely lost it, my sweet husband showed up for his lunch break. He calmed me down and suggested I make a pros/cons list to help make my decision easier. I have never been good at making decisions. I’m super wishy washy when it comes to having to chose one thing over the other. Thank goodness for my sweetie who always makes sense of my chaos.

I decided first, to go home to make my list. I needed to be in a place where I could breathe. A smoky room doesn’t really fulfill that need! After making the list it was very obvious what my decision should be. Funny thing is, it was the opposite choice from what I THOUGHT I wanted, but as soon as I saw it on the page? It was like a two ton weight had been lifted off my shoulders. I finally felt some relief from the anxiety and depression I’ve been feeling for over a month now.

I have a habit of putting undue pressure on myself. I’ve always held myself to this ridiculous standard that no one could ever achieve. I’m done. Time to love myself and let myself go with the flow for a change!

Photography

As long as I can remember, I’ve had a camera for taking photos. I got my first camera when I was 8 years old. My mom graduated from college that year and she received a 35mm camera for a graduation gift. I inherited her old 110 camera. Obviously, this was back in the film only days. I took photos of my life, friends, animals, scenery.

Sunrise in Mimbres
“Sunrise in Mimbres”, one of my favorites!

My maternal grampy was also a photographer. He was mainly a portrait photographer, his photos were of family, but he sometimes took photos for friend’s life events as well. I always loved his portraits, in fact, I painted a portrait of myself as a 2 year old using one of his photos for reference.

“Grampy’s Girl”, watercolor on paper, not a great photo, it was taken with my very first digital camera which was less than 1mp and cost over $500 at the time! (Around 2000)

In my first year of college at NMSU, I took a photography class so I could learn how to develop my own film. I had already spent time in my grampy’s dark room, but I was too young at the time to learn from him. My most vivid memory of his darkroom was the day I made the mistake of running out into his print shop and ran right into a paper cutter with my forehead. I had to be taken to the ER for a few stitches that day. I was 6.

“Desert Textures” poster, 11×19″ on paper

Back to that first year of college, I had originally signed up to be an art major, but after a boring Art 101 class and a very cool photography class, I switched to Photojournalism. About midway through that year, I decided to join the Army and my goal was to become an Army photographer. Unfortunately, that job was rare and I would have had to wait years to get it. Being the impatient person I am, I ended up giving up on that goal.

Sunrise in Mimbres II
“Sunrise in Mimbres II”, the sky is so gorgeous where we live!

While I was away at Basic Training, my husband (now ex!) decided to sell my 35mm camera given to me by my mom. He had a drug problem, he also sold my car! Needless to say, it was a while before I had a camera again. I honestly don’t remember when I finally bought my next camera, but I know it was years. I remember using those cheap disposable cameras at the time. I was heartbroken over the loss of my fancy camera, and went back to my art. A pencil and piece of paper were much cheaper.

"Reflection"
“Reflection”

Fast forward to now, and I still don’t have a good 35mm camera. I use my ipad to take photos, for now! My sweetie has promised to buy me a new digital camera soon. Even so, the ipad takes really good photos. I love all the functionality of it. “Live” photos, video, looping, etc.

Golden Moss
“Golden Moss”, my latest addition to the Textures series.

I have recently had several people ask me about purchasing my photos. I sold my photography in my etsy shop years ago, but haven’t really thought about it again until someone asked. It doesn’t hurt that I live in this gorgeous place where it’s super easy to get a GREAT shot! Needless to say, I will start selling my photography again this year.

Garden Gate
“Garden Gate” my favorite part of the garden to photograph, it’s like the entry into the Secret Garden!

The plan is to release a photography portfolio of 10-20 images to start. It will be a part of my Spring 2019 Portfolio. Most will be landscape and skyscape photos, but I will most likely include my “Texture” series of abstract detail photos I released several years ago. There are two posters of images, one of “Desert Textures” and the other of “SW Forest Textures”. If you have followed me for years, you may remember them! I can envision doing more “Texture” photos in the future, they were so much fun!

Stone and Sky
“Stone and Sky” landscape in the Gila Wilderness

Some people have commented on my photos that they would make great paintings, and though this may be true, I see my paintings and photographs as totally unrelated. I see photography as an art in itself. I used to paint landscapes and it frustrated me. Mainly because it’s impossible to improve on nature, so why try? Not that I don’t completely appreciate a gorgeous landscape painting, but it’s not for me.

This is just a small sampling of photos I intend to make available for purchase. Stay tuned for more, coming soon! You can subscribe to my blog above, or go to http://www.paulamanninglewis.com and sign up for my email list to make sure you get my updates!

Happy New Year!

I’m so happy to be back in the studio! I had a lovely Holiday break, time with family, lots of snow and thankfully, some serious peace and quiet. I’m rested and ready to get back to work.

Enjoying the snow
Aaron and I enjoying the snow in front of our house!

I haven’t had the chance to paint just yet, so no progress pics to share. I figured it would be a good time to share some of my photos from the snow storm that hit just AFTER Christmas.

Our house in the snow
Our house from the back side, in the snow!

It was probably a good thing it snowed two days after Christmas, or our kids wouldn’t have been able to get home to Albuquerque! We were so happy to have all three of our sons, one DIL and one grandson down to visit for Christmas Eve and Christmas day. We had a great time playing “Cards against Humanity”, Jenga and “Speak Out”, a hilarious game everyone should play at least once! I haven’t laughed that hard in years!

Sun peeking thru the clouds
After the snow, when the sun finally started to peek out again!

We had planned on hiking everyday during our vacation, but the weather had other plans. We did take a couple of hikes in the snow, but once it started to melt, the hiking trails were way too muddy! While we enjoyed hanging around the house and watching movies and reading, the dogs were less than overjoyed.

Rock cairn in the yard
Rock cairn in the yard

Once the roads cleared up, (the mountain pass highway from I-25 to our house was closed for days!) we made a trip to Las Cruces and then to Cloudcroft to visit more family. I’m happy to report my art will soon be showing at a new Bakery/Coffee shop/Gallery in downtown Cloudcroft, Eight the Cake.

Hiking near the Mimbres River
Hiking near the Mimbres River in the Gila National Forest.

Hiking the Gila: Purgatory Chasm

Snow covered tree in the Gila National Forest

A couple of weeks ago it snowed here in the Gila National Forest. We had to go into town that day and while I was thinking, “we should take the long way home so we can see the snow”, Aaron was saying “do you want to take the long way home so we can check out the snow?” He’s really good at reading my mind. Not always, but sometimes we are just on the same wavelength!

I can’t resist a texture photo! Plus, I like the footprint!

Rather than coming home the regular way, we headed north on hwy 15 out of Silver City. It was so beautiful! Snow everywhere! We stopped a couple of times so I could snap pics of nature covered in the cold, white powder.

Looking back at the opening to the chasm canyon

By the time we got to the split with hwy 35 and started heading south in the Mimbres valley, the snow was gone and the sun was starting to peek out of the clouds. We decided then and there to stop at the Purgatory Chasm trail head. It’s a short trail very near Lake Roberts that we had never been on. I believe it’s a 1 mile loop. It’s one of those tourist type trails, short, level and gorgeous!

I’m also a sucker for a reflection pic! 😜

About a 1/2 mile in there is a split where the loop trail begins. We picked the left fork and shortly after we came to the chasm. The rock walls seem to pop up out of nowhere and suddenly, you are in a very narrow, tall canyon. The rocks on the canyon walls form hundreds of faces! It’s almost as if you can feel the eyes of the ancient ones staring at you and hear their whispering as you walk through.

And then there was sun…

We didn’t make it all the way around the loop trail. Somehow, we lost the trail and ended up looking down at the canyon. It was getting close to sundown, so we decided to play it safe and turned around to go back the way we came in.

The sun/shadows make the rocks POP! Can you see the faces?

That was about the time the sun came out and made the rocks really POP! So, even though it LOOKS like these photos were taken on three different days, it was all on the same day. You know what they say about New Mexico weather? Wait 5 minutes, it will change! Just for fun, I’m throwing in a photo I took at Emory Pass after the most recent snow on the mountain. I love the heart in the clouds!

This is the heart in the clouds, taken from the look out at Emory pass.

Hiking the Gila: Trees

Alligator Juniper tree

Hard to tell in this photo, but this is a HUGE tree!

I love trees! Shouldn’t we all? I mean, come on, they give us oxygen to live! When I was a kid, I loved to climb up into their branches. I even swung out of a tree with a garden hose once and had to get xrayed for a possible collar-bone fracture. It turned out it was just a bad bruise. I never swung out of a tree again after that day! I have climbed up into their branches again and again though.

Twisted Alligator Juniper with Aaron in the photo for scale!

Twisted Alligator Juniper with Aaron in the photo for scale!

Aaron and I went for a hike in the Gila Wilderness this past Sunday. We went back to Rocky Canyon since we didn’t make it far on the trail the last time. Actually, last time, we took a split in the trail to see a cave. This time, we hiked the main Rocky Canyon trail and I must say, the name is a bit misleading! The trail only stays in the canyon for about a half mile before climbing several hundred, possibly a thousand, feet up and out of the canyon. The trail then follows the ridge top for quite some time. We ended our hike after about 2 1/2 miles, at Brannon Park.

Alligator Juniper. This side shows the twisted trunk better

Alligator Juniper. This side shows the twisted trunk better

While on the ridge top, we encountered a massive grove of Alligator Juniper trees. Alligator Junipers get their name from the texture of their bark. It looks like the skin of an alligator. These specific trees have always fascinated me. They are usually old and twisted. This grove was OLD. The trees were HUGE!

Not sure what type of tree this one is, but I love it!

Not sure what type of tree this one is, but I love it!

One in particular was very twisted. It looked as if a giant had spun it from the top, the trunk had several parts to it and they were all twisted around each other. Even the branches were twisted. I wonder what causes this? My guess is the wind, but if anyone knows for sure, let me know!

Charred remains of a Ponderosa Pine. That must have been a big fire!

Charred remains of a Ponderosa Pine. That must have been a big fire!

It was quite obvious when we left the grove of Juniper trees. It was almost like a line had been drawn and the Junipers were separated from another grove of Ponderosa Pines. Brannon Park is where the pine trees lived and the park was at a lower elevation from the ridge top where the Junipers were. We came into the park as we came down the hill.

Alligator Juniper

Alligator Juniper

In Brannon Park where we stopped for our lunch break, there was a muddy stream bed that was drying out. Just enough water remained for the dogs to get a drink. As we sat eating we noticed there was a flock of Bushtits congregating around the dwindling water supply. We heard the squawk of a hawk, but never saw it. We don’t get to see much wildlife when we hike, thanks to the dogs. I guess that could be a good or bad thing!

I am so grateful to now live in southern New Mexico! It was a gorgeous, warm, sunny day! Hearing about blizzards in other parts of the country, I’ll take a sunny end of November day anytime!

Hiking the Gila: Rocky Canyon

Tree holding rock

I love the way it looks like this tree is holding up the rock! In reality, the rock is an overhang of the cave behind me and the tree seems to have grown around it.

It’s been too long since I’ve posted a hiking blog. That’s mainly because it’s been a while since we’ve been hiking on a new trail AND had the camera! I always say, that’s why I’m not a professional photographer, I ALWAYS forget the camera when I should have it. Last weekend we hiked for a couple of hours on Saturday and picked up a load of firewood on the way home. Let’s just say it was an exhausting day.

Rocky Canyon walls with grass growing on top of moss

Rocky Canyon walls with grass growing on top of moss

This time we drove a bit further into the Gila National Forest and hiked on the Gila Wilderness side of the forest. In case you are unfamiliar with the Gila, there are two Wilderness areas within the Gila NF. The Gila and the Aldo Leopold. There is one main road that takes you up through the middle of the Gila NF, this road is what splits the two wilderness areas. Main road is a bit deceiving as this is still a dirt forest road. In fact, it’s recommended that you take only a high clearance 4 wheel drive vehicle on FR 150. There are some hairy areas, but we have taken our Subaru on the road with no problem.

Mountain stream in Rocky Canyon

Mountain stream in Rocky Canyon

Rocky Canyon is the hairiest part of the road. There is a campground and a hiking trail that heads east from the campground. We had driven by the location before, but this was the first time we stopped for a look around and a hike. Every single other time we have driven through the canyon, it was bone dry. This time? Water literally everywhere! The canyon stream was running full force and there was water seeping from rocks as well as swampy areas on the trail. I cannot tell you when the last time was I saw this much water in the Gila! We have received a ton of rain this year, thank goodness!

Small ledge cave hidden in the rock canyon

This small ledge cave was hidden in the side of Rocky Canyon. It was just big enough for us to climb into, though it was filled with mouse droppings, so we jumped right out!

I probably took over 50 photos that day. There was so much green and so much water, the forest was gorgeous. There were rocks with fresh, green moss with grass growing from the moss. The bright green of the moss on the rocks was so cool.

Faces in the rocks

One thing I’ve noticed about the Canyons in the Gila, there are faces everywhere! This one even has a moss beard!

The Gila is located in the desert southwest part of New Mexico (again, for those who don’t know). It’s an oasis of trees, springs and wildlife. When it’s dry, it’s beautiful, but when it’s wet, it’s an amazing paradise! It’s one of the many reasons New Mexico is called the Land of Enchantment. It’s also one of my favorite places in the world. I’m so grateful to call it home!

Painted rocks

This rock wall looked painted, but it is actually the colors left from water streaming down the Canyon walls.

 

Let’s get this ball rolling!

Aaron and I standing in front of my art at the Common Ground Gallery in Silver City. The art show has been extended for the whole month of October!

Aaron and I standing in front of my art at the Common Ground Gallery in Silver City. The art show has been extended for the whole month of October!

I had a great time in Colorado last week, though it was cold and rainy the entire time I was there. I am so glad I went to the Artist Mastermind Workshop, it was worth every penny! I am loaded up with goals and a new planner, ready to take on the Holiday season.

Me with my art at the gallery show in Silver City

Me with my art at the gallery show in Silver City

I have so much work to get done in the next couple of weeks. I’ll be putting together my 2019 calendar today. It will be available to purchase sometime next week. I have a new portfolio of paintings to release by October 25th. Everyone on my email list will get a preview of the new collection by the end of this week. I’m also giving away one of the originals from the collection to one lucky person on my email list. Sign up for my list on my website to be automatically entered.

So many cool rock formations in the Gila National forest!

So many cool rock formations in the Gila National forest!

I won’t be painting this week with all the business stuff I have to accomplish. I will share some of my favorite photos instead. I’ve been thinking about putting my favorite photographs on my website. I’ve always loved taking photos and there is so much material for excellent photos around here!

Our new truck in it's happy place, Gila National Forest!

Our new truck in it’s happy place, Gila National Forest!

I’m working at the house as much as possible this week. We are experiencing an early cold front in southern New Mexico and my studio is not yet insulated. Luckily, I have a wood burning stove, but it takes hours to warm up the whole space. At least the sun is out today, it’s supposed to be back in the 60s by the weekend.

One of my favorite wild flowers, purple Asters

One of my favorite wild flowers, purple Asters

I’m so grateful for everything in my life! If someone had told me I’d be here at the end of my forties, I would not have believed it. Thank you so very much for your interest in my art and my blog! I appreciate each and every one of you! Life is good. ❤️