Desert Fun for real!

I drove out southwest of Santa Fe, hit true dirt roads, made a few wrong turns…teti1

Tetilla Peak, this is what I was aiming for. teti2

And this is what I found! I made a right (wrong) turn too soon and found myself in a “shooting range”! Luckily I was totally alone – and unarmed.teti3

I was very tempted to take the old oil barrel with me, but I found quite a few other fun “souvenirs” which I will use for my Desert Fun sculpture.teti4

I turned around and drove a few miles more until I entered land controlled by Santa Fe National Forrest.teti5

I left my truck and hiked up the side of the hill. No trail. I found some footprints from hikers who had gone before me – and lots of horse tracks. Lots. (To my untrained tracker eyes it did not look like they had horseshoes…?) Views to the east, Texas way behind those mountains.teti6

At the top! Stunning views in all directions. No wind. Silence! Solitude! Sandia Mountain and Albuquerque to the south.teti7

Santa Fe behind me. I am standing at 7165 feet elevation (2184 m) which is almost exactly the elevation of Santa Fe (7260 ft). The tallest mountain in Sweden, Kebnekaise, is 2106 m ( 6909 ft) and I doubt any person could go there now – extremely cold, windy, snowy, dark and dangerous. I was certainly not cold, enjoyed my lunch and the views.teti8

Suddenly I heard something! I knew I was alone, I could see my car at the foot of the mountain, no other car… I looked and looked. Then I heard it again – four horses! I started descending, trying to circumnavigate so I would have a chance of running into the horses, but they soon noticed me and started moving away.teti9

As I came further down, I could not see the horses and I moved along as quietly as possible, carrots ready. Suddenly I came out between a few trees and saw this beautiful black stallion suspiciously eyeing me. I was able to quickly snap this poor picture before they ran away.  I heard one horse much closer, hidden behind the trees to the right! I have to admit my heart was beating a bit faster for a moment! I wonder if they were wild horses? They were certainly not interested in me and my carrots.teti10

Back at the car. Graffiti. For a few hours it felt like I was in the wilderness, but I guess that was just an illusion. I had a wonderful time, though! Totally alone for several hours and felt content and thankful! I had enough water, enough to eat, and a car that started and took me all the way home. Nothing to take for granted in the desert. And I had found some fun treasures for my art project…

Diablo Canyon and more Desert Fun

Had a spectacular hike through Diablo Canyon, a short distance northwest of Santa Fe.diablo1

Entering Diablo Canyon. Hiking is easy in the arroyo. The volcanic basalt rocks are about 100 meters high, offering great rock climbing. Tempting!diablo2

Very interesting formations and patterns. Looks like something out of Lord of the Rings. Several groups of climbers were testing their skills this afternoon.diablo3

On the other side of the canyon the landscape opens up to vast views. In the distance Buckman Mesa and Otowi Peak. My company said this must be the antithesis of Swedish nature – we were walking in the middle of a dry river… Not a cloud in the sky! January.diablo4

Returning into the canyon as the sun is setting. A dramatic scenery, one of the most beautiful hikes I have made! Tempting to hike up to the top of the mesa.buckman1

After the hike we drove all the way down to Rio Grande. Behind the bend in the river the entire Buckman Mesa is visible. The peak to the left is Otowi Peak. I am looking forward to hike Buckman Mesa from this point in a few days, probably alone – Desert Solitaire. Better be careful. Bought a topo map today. Excited!

OK, I am working also (although my hikes are work too, collecting photos and inspiration for later projects):fun2

Finished building the sculpture and started painting it.fun3

The wooden structure is about 2,4 meters high (8 ft).fun4

I managed to paint the back before sunset – it quickly gets pretty cold. Have to decide on colors for the sides (probably red and yellow ochre – some of the oldest pigments used by prehistoric artists), more tomorrow. The color I used on the back is a really beautiful dark brown called Asphaltum (by Gamblin)! Have to buy some tubes and bring with me when I return to Sweden.

Let’s call it Desert Fun

I am playing. Going with the flow. Building a sculpture. fun1

Needless to say, I am going to paint the plywood. And then attach desert trophies. Just having fun. Why not? If I can create a smile on the face of another person, stimulate wonder, questions and imaginary answers – that would be nice.

A letter from home…

Received a cool (!) picture from home. Am posting this since I do not have much to show yet. Soon I am going to get really active…steel20

The New Mexico Pharmacist

I think I am going to rest my large landscape painting for a few days and let it dry properly, while we are going to Crested Butte, Colorado. Pictures taken in daylight.nmg7 nmg6 nmg5

Surprise! I enjoy painting landscape!

I have had a long and productive day! Have actually enjoyed painting this landscape. The plywood grain and color works to my advantage (as usual). I have a lot more to do on both the sky and the man.nmg3nmg4

The pictures were taken after dark and my “studio” light is not ideal, so the colors are not perfect. The clouds need a lot more work and maybe I will keep adding layers to the sky – have added one layer with Cobalt Blue mixed with Titanium White. The man needs more work on the helmet, skin color, buttons, etc. Maybe the coat needs to be a bit darker, we’ll see.

New Mexico landscape

Today I have painted for many hours. It does not look like so much yet, but I have added a couple of thin layers on the sky and worked on the man. The plywood is rather different from what I am used to in Sweden, it has a pretty “greasy” surface and I am also using Walnut Oil this time, so the paint behaves a bit different. Or maybe it is only because I pretty much don’t know what I am doing – at least that is how it feels right now. But somehow I will figure something out as I go along, that is part of the fun with the challenge of starting a new and difficult project.nmg1nmg2

Back in action again!

OK, now I can start painting again! WOW! I have built a huge easel with lights and a side table on wheels where I can have my paints, brushes, etc. and have set it all up in our living room. I have started work on a large (75 x 200 cm) painting of a strange New Mexico scenery. My temporary studio works surprisingly well even in the evening. During the day there is a lot of nice light in the room so it is going to be even better. The piece on the wall behind the easel was left by the previous owners – a Galisteo based artist, (forget the name now), coyotes on ceramic tiles.neweasel

Braving it at the White Ridge Bike Trails near San Ysidro, NM

Not much artistic activity yet, even though I am building a large easel, more about that later. Have been hit by a bad flu or food poisoning for a few days. Before the kids leave we wanted to do a cool bike ride and then I got sick! So, this morning I felt better and we decided to go for it, except Victoria who had to work on her Georgia O’Keeffe thesis. We arrived at the trails and the wind was howling and it made the bike ride both hard and dangerous. I even got off and walked DOWN at a few places, since I did not want to have the wind knock me off the trail and fall. At some places it was very steep. Simon, young and strong, completed the loop while his “old” parents turned around and took a safer way back, which was wise because I had pushed myself a bit too far. Well, if it does not kill me it’ll make me stronger, ok? A few pics:white1

Simon taking a break, waiting for his parents to catch up, pondering the great views while holding on to keep the wind from blowing him off the ridge! The trail goes all the way to the end of the ridge and around back to the right, outside the picture.white2

I am standing right at the edge. The bike trail can be seen to the right – not much protection from the wind and in some places a pretty hairy experience biking it in strong side wind. This is apparently a very interesting place, with petroglyphs, fossil remains of rare dinosaurs, plants and trees from the Jurassic period (large segments of petrified trees) some 150 million years old. We didn’t see any of it, just had to keep the wind from wiping us out. white3

Gearing up for another push. I guess it was a really “cool” ride. An adventure! We survived and hope to make it back another time with less wind and more stamina.