Category Archives: photography

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!

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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.

 

Calendars are Here!

Front cover of the 2019 ART Calendar

Front cover of the 2019 ART Calendar

Last week I mentioned I was working on my 2019 art calendar. Today, I picked them up from the post office! I tried a different format and of course different images for the 2019 calendar. The size is 8 1/2 x 13″ when open, which is a bit smaller than last year’s calendar. The plus is that I can sell it for $10 less than last year’s calendar. You can purchase your 2019 calendar on my website for only $15!

Image from the August page

Image from the August page

Only a couple of days left to get signed up for my email list and be entered to win a FREE original 12×12″ oil painting from my 2018 Fall Portfolio! Everyone on my email list will be entered in the drawing. I plan to announce the winner here on the blog and on social media this Thursday, the 25th. This is also the day my 2018 Fall portfolio will be available to everyone on my website.

Image from the April page

Image from the April page

I ordered 3 large 36×36″ canvases yesterday, by next week I should be getting started on a new painting. I’ve been so looking forward to painting large, it’s been too long! It’s been over a week since I’ve painted at all. Something about having business to take care of!

Stay tuned for the announcement of the free painting giveaway winner!

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. ❤️

My Latest Studio

What I'm currently working on, 20x20

What I’m currently working on, 20×20″ abstract oil painting in progress

Friday afternoon I signed the lease for my new art studio. After 5 months of working in my home studio, there is no doubt in my mind. I need a studio outside of the house! While I LOVE our new house, I’m going stir crazy being in the house all the time. Not only that, but it’s very hard to separate work time from off time.

All that said, I’ve not had an easy time finding a studio in our new location. I wanted a studio in downtown Silver City, but it wasn’t meant to be. Recently, I dropped Aaron off at Central Elementary in Santa Clara where he teaches. As I was driving back out to the highway, I noticed a commercial building for rent on the main street. As a matter of fact, it is on the corner of the two main roads into Santa Clara. The sign said For Rent with a possibility of buying with a small down payment.

My new studio, the whole building is all mine!

My new studio, the whole building is all mine!

Of course, I took down the number and figured I would call later. I thought about it for a week or so. Aaron and I talked about it. I really wasn’t thrilled about taking a studio outside of Silver City, but Santa Clara is closer to Mimbres and it is also closer to the schools where Aaron teaches.

I finally decided to call on the building last week and we met the owner on Thursday so we could see the inside of the building. The outside of the building has been renovated. Fortunately for me, the inside is still unfinished. I say fortunately, because that is the fact that makes the rent affordable! I have agreed to do the finish work on the inside in return for cheap rent. The other benefit being any money we put into finishing the inside will be applied to our down payment when/if we decide to buy the building. I’m pretty sure we will purchase it. I would love to stay here forever. I’ve moved my studio over 20 times in 20+ years. I’m ready to stay somewhere.

Looking in from the front door

Looking in from the front door

The inside is HUGE! The one main room has 10 foot ceilings and measures 24 x 28 feet. I can paint BIG here! The framing, electrical and plumbing work has been done inside with a small bathroom, office and two storage rooms. Basically, I have to do the insulation, dry wall, flooring and install bathroom fixtures. There are also a couple of windows needed.

One of my favorite things about this building is all the empty wall space on the outside. I will definitely paint several murals in the future. I’ve now reconciled the fact that my studio will be outside of Silver City. I once promised myself I would never have a retail gallery again. This location makes that promise much easier to keep! lol! I do plan to participate in the local open studio tour and we will probably have an event or two a year, but this space will mainly be a working art studio. And storage! Lots and lots of storage!

Looking out the front door from the back

Looking out the front door from the back

I need to go order some LARGE canvases now! Stay tuned… 🙂

Hiking the Gila: Back to Spring Canyon

Aaron in the middle of this photo gives you an idea of the scale of the canyon, awesome!

Aaron in the middle of this photo gives you an idea of the scale of the canyon, awesome!

Sunday we went back to Spring Canyon to hike further up the trail. What a gorgeous canyon, though calling it a trail is a stretch. The trail is marked on the Gila National Forest map, but there are no markings on the road to let you know it’s there. We like trails like this, because we are usually all alone hiking them. You can tell the trail was washed away years ago. There are places where you can see the trail that once was.

Looking up at the rock face from the same spot in photo above, we still had a little way to go!

Looking up at the rock face from the same spot in the photo above, we still had a little way to go!

There is a lot of climbing over dead trees and bush wacking to get up the canyon to a awesome shear rock face with a stream of water running down. Next time, we will have to go without the dogs. Osa slipped several times and with her bad knee we decided it would be best to explore further without the dogs.

The water was spiraling through this bowl in the rock, I couldn't resist the sparkling of the sun in the water!

The water was spiraling through this bowl in the rock, I couldn’t resist the sparkling of the sun in the water!

Another reason I love these hidden gem trails? No trace of man having been there. No discarded Bud Light cans (it’s ALWAYS Bud Light) or cigarette butts. Who smokes and drinks while they hike? Seriously.

It feels like you’ve walked through a wardrobe into Narnia, a place where there is no time. It could just as easily be 1878 as it is 2018. It’s these hidden places where I feel most grounded and connected to nature. Nature in it’s most pristine state of being.

I could have spent all day photographing the multiple crevices in the stream where old logs have become part of the waterway. Ahhhh, nature!

I could have spent all day photographing the multiple crevices in the stream where old logs have become part of the waterway. Ahhhh, nature!

I use photography as a source of inspiration for my art. Lately, I’m visualizing landscape still life snapshots as abstract paintings. I must have hundreds of photos like the one above. I love how nature composes these perfect little abstract works of art. Installations of logs, rock, mud, grasses and flowers, waiting for someone to come along and appreciate their unique beauty.

This area had a large forest fire burn many of the trees about 5 years ago. Even in this state they are majestic against the deep blue sky.

This area had a large forest fire burn many of the trees about 5 years ago. Even in this state they are majestic against the deep blue sky.

Places like this are what gives New Mexico it’s name the “Land of Enchantment”. I’m so grateful to Aldo Leopold for preserving the Aldo Leopold and Gila Wilderness areas for future generations. I pray it will continue to be preserved for generations to come.

Hiking the Gila: Random Forest Roads

Meadow at the bottom of the canyon, looking towards the side canyon

Meadow at the bottom of the canyon, looking towards the side canyon

We’ve passed the hidden dirt road hundreds of times. If you aren’t paying close attention, you will miss it. There is a stretch of highway 152 where the road is high up above a scary cliff. I usually avoid looking down, mainly to keep from getting car sick. I’m not afraid of heights, but that particular cliff has quite a drop to it.

Now that my car sickness is getting under control, I have to move WITH the car on the turns to avoid it, I have looked over that edge to see the amazing, deep canyon below. My first thought was, I wonder what’s down there? My second thought was, HOW do we get down there? Our next few drives by, I looked and looked, trying to find a road to take us down for exploration. That’s when I saw it, just past the stretch of road on the cliff, the hidden entrance to the dirt forest road that leads into the canyon.

Swimming hole where we soaked our feet

Swimming hole where we soaked our feet

On Saturdays, we go down the hill to the local organic market in Mimbres. They have a small farmer’s market on Saturdays and we have started a weekly routine of stopping by the market for fruits, veggies and fresh eggs. The clerk who works the market on Saturdays is a friendly local guy and we’ve spoken with him at length about different hiking trails in the area. He told us about that hidden trail a couple of weeks ago.

Last week, we decided to check it out. The first time, it was later in the afternoon and quite hot out, we only hiked down the road about 10 minutes. The road is basically straight downhill. We turned around acknowledging that we would need to start earlier and have a full day to explore this trail.

Going into the side canyon, pools of water were everywhere! Wonderful that we've had so much rain!

Going into the side canyon, pools of water were everywhere! Wonderful that we’ve had so much rain!

Sunday we decided to take a longer hike to see where the steep hill lead. Another hot day, but thankfully, the Sun was in and out of the clouds. The further we went, the more the clouds covered the Sun. It was obvious that it had rained recently, as the trail was quite wet and even muddy in some places. I could not wait to get to the bottom to see where the water had flowed.

The hike down to the bottom of the canyon took about 30 minutes. We followed the trail as far as we could, back tracking several times after losing the trail. The stream bed at the bottom was not only running with water, but there were several large pools. We stopped to soak our feet and cool off in one of the larger pools of water. The water was so deep, we could have had a swim! If only I had brought the right shoes, I ended up cutting my foot on a rock because I didn’t want to get my brand new running shoes wet. I usually wear my “lake” shoes if I know there will be streams to cross.

Side canyon oasis

Aaron and the dogs in the side canyon oasis

We were told the trail went on to connect with another trail we’ve already hiked but, all we found were dead ends, so we decided to turn around and try again another day. On our way back, I noticed a side canyon I hadn’t seen on the way down. We decided to follow a vague path to this side canyon and found a wonderful rock and water oasis. We didn’t follow the canyon too far down, but saved it for another day. That is the joy of living here now, we can always go back for more another day! Not to mention getting to know the locals and finding the great, hidden spots in the Gila National Forest. So much to explore, so little time! Stay tuned, or subscribe to my blog, to read/see more about our adventures!

Until next time! :-)

Until next time! 🙂