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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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!
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.
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!
This rock wall looked painted, but it is actually the colors left from water streaming down the Canyon walls.
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
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!
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!
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
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. ❤️
“Intense Energy”, 20×20″ oil on canvas, part of my 2018 Fall portfolio, release date October 25th
October is the month of my birth. Last year I started celebrating the entire month, because, why not?! This birthday is the turning of the calendar to the last year of my 40s!!!!! I’m not ashamed to share my age, I’m proud to be where I am now. There were times in my life where I didn’t think I would make it this far. Just a couple of days ago my husband and I lost yet another friend barely 50. It makes me sad to think of friends who will never be 50. I’ve lost quite a few over the years. It never gets easier. I’m going to do what I can to honor those lives lost by living the rest of my life to it’s absolute fullest! I’m going to proudly share my real age. Why not? I’ve learned so much in my 49 years. I wouldn’t change a thing, but I also wouldn’t want to relive most of it. I’m grateful for it all. It made me the person I am today.
“Feminine Energy”, 12×12″ oil on canvas, original SOLD! Prints will be part of 2018 Fall portfolio
Aaron and I took the day off on Monday, after hearing about the passing of our friend, and took the truck out 4 wheeling and then went on a hike. It hit us both pretty hard. Needless to say, I’m a bit behind on my work this week, but who cares! Life is more important sometimes.
Friday I am taking a couple of paintings to Silver City for the Silver City Art Association’s Indy Artist show. The show runs Oct 6th-8th. I wish I could say I will be there with my art, but I’m leaving on Saturday to go to Denver, CO for an Artist mastermind conference. I’m really excited about it! I’ve wanted to take a workshop with Alyson Stanfield for about a decade. I finally decided this was the year. No more putting things off for this or that reason. No more excuses!
“Balanced”, 12×12″ oil on canvas, part of my 2018 Fall portfolio, release date Oct. 25th
I’ve finished all 23 paintings I was working on! Hoping to have them up on the website by October 25th(my birthday). I am giving one of these paintings away to one of my email subscribers on the 25th! I still haven’t decided which one. To enter, go to MY WEBSITE, sign up on my email list when the box pops up, and wait for the email announcing the winner! It’s that easy.
I will be out of the studio all next week, so I most likely won’t post a blog. I will be back to the blog the week of the 15th. Stay tuned!
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 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!
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 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.
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.
Aaron and I at the entrance of the cliff dwellings
I may have blogged about this before, but it must have been years ago! That’s how long it’s been since Aaron and I visited. I love being back in southwestern New Mexico. It’s a homecoming of sorts. Different town this time around. When I was a kid growing up in Las Cruces, we spent countless weekends and Summers camping, hiking and exploring the Gila National Forest.
Catching the first glimpse of the cave from the trail below
We brought visiting family and friends here to see the beauty of this vast wilderness. The Gila Cliff Dwellings is one of the most visited spots in the Gila. The other being the Catwalk trail near Glenwood.
The cliff face near the dwellings
When we go hiking with our dogs, we usually stick to trails without other people around. This past Sunday, we left the dogs at home. Mainly because dogs aren’t allowed at the Cliff Dwellings. They do have kennels for the dogs though, just in case!
One of the ancient rock walls of the cliff dwellings with it’s distinctive window shape
The road out to the site is a twisting, turning mountain road with no center line. Though it’s paved, it is definitely a back country road!
The hiking trail up to the cliff dwellings crosses over a small stream several times before zig zagging up the hillside to the ruins. The heat of the sun gives way to the cool of the cave as you climb the wooden ladder into the dwellings that haven’t been occupied in close to a thousand years.
Looking out into the canyon from within the cliff dwellings
It’s easy to see why the ancient ones chose this place, up high on a cliff overlooking a mountain spring. A view of the canyon, a source of water, a shelter from the weather.
Looking back as we head down the exit path.
If you ever find yourself in Silver City, New Mexico, I highly recommend you take the drive up to the Gila Cliff Dwellings. You won’t be sorry you did!