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musings from the studio and beyond ~

dawn chandler’s reflections on art and life. . . .

 

celebrating grace: their return brings song ~ crane painting, v

 

Their return brings song to my heart.

 

 

Indeed.

As you read this I’ll be packing up to return to the Bosque del Apache, to witness sunset tonight with the cranes and geese.

 

Detail of - Their Return Brings Song to My Heart - by New Mexico artist Dawn Chandler - mixed media collage on panel - 12" x 12"

 

And maybe, just maybe, I’ll return there a few hours later for sunrise….

 

Detail of - Their Return Brings Song to My Heart - by New Mexico artist Dawn Chandler - mixed media collage on panel - 12" x 12"

 

And what do I — what do we — do when we go there?

We stand, silently, watching.

 

Detail of - Their Return Brings Song to My Heart - by New Mexico artist Dawn Chandler - mixed media collage on panel - 12" x 12"

 

We stand, silently, listening.

 

Detail of - Their Return Brings Song to My Heart - by New Mexico artist Dawn Chandler - mixed media collage on panel - 12" x 12"

 

We stand, silently, gazing.

 

Detail of - Their Return Brings Song to My Heart - by New Mexico artist Dawn Chandler - mixed media collage on panel - 12" x 12"

 

We stand, silently, grateful.

as all of the meanness of the world, evaporates for a few brief hours

with the soaring uplift of thousands of wings

as we stand there, in awe and wonder.

 

Their Return Brings Song to My Heart - by New Mexico artist Dawn Chandler - mixed media collage on panel - 12" x 12"

Their Return Brings Song to My Heart ~ by Dawn Chandler
mixed media collage on panel ~ 12″ x 12″ x .75″
This painting is available here.


 

Thank you  for reading my blog. If you enjoy my musings here, please feel free to share this post!

Also, I invite you to discover more of my stories, insights and art on Instagram, Facebook and via my Inside the Studio Notes — and of course here on my website, www.taosdawn.com

Blessings ~

Dawn Chandler


All photos & paintings are by Dawn Chandler unless otherwise noted.


 

 

 

let it be ~ sunrise east of the ranch

september sunrise at philmont - photo by dawn chandler

Sunrise Sunday morning, September 16 found me sitting in my car staring eastward from a shelf of land where the New Mexico mountains meet the eastern plains.

I’d come up here to paint.

I was feeling lackadaisical.

Too, I was hoping for the arrival of my friend who had hinted that he might be up for meeting me up here, and even bringing some coffee.the beginnings of a watercolor of a philmont sunrise - by dawn chandler

So I was deliberating whether to simply sit and stare and wait, or to actually pull out my paints.
If I was going to paint, I needed to get busy with it, soon, for any moment and the sun would be up — in fact, here it was coming already — and once it bumped over the horizon, the scene — and color — would change completely.

But pulling out my oil paints seemed like
s u c h   a   c o m m i  t m e n t… especially when sleep- and coffee-deprived.

But come on! I couldn’t just sit there — I mean, for Pete’s sake, I’m a painter, and that’s one reason I was there that weekend to paint!

Hmm….what about a sketch?

I pulled out my sketchbook and little travel set of watercolors, wet a page with some water, and plunked in some yellow and orange….

Well, that was all fine and good, but now I needed to let that first wash of watercolor dry before adding more color….

 

Hmmm…..

OH! What the heck! Just pull out your oils!

So……

dawn chandler's new mexico sunrise oil painting palette

…I did.

And after mixing a little color here and mixing a little color there.— BOOM! — the essence of sunrise captured!

dawn chandler's new mexico sunrise oil painting palette and plein air painting of 'sunrise east of the ranch'

 

Although this morning, my rare initial languidness at getting started painting seemed like a wee challenge, the bigger challenge — one which crops up all the time when painting — was knowing when to stop, when to let it be.
For always there are two muses in your head, one that says Keep going! Tighten it up! Make it more ‘realistic. And the other that’s urging you to hold back, No! it’s just right as it is! Preserve that immediacy & energy! Don’t overwork it!

This time I listened to the latter.

And just in time for coffee! When my java delivery arrived, I tossed my paint box in the back seat, invited my pal to hop in, and turned the car around so we could admire the view to the west.

looking to the tooth of time from highway 21 on an early september morning

 

As we sat there sipping our steaming (and delicious!) brew, discussing all manner of things, and wondering aloud when we and our other friends there that weekend might unite here again, we were joined in our admiration of the morning’s view..

 

a hawk perches just a few feet away from where we're gazing at the tooth of time

 

dawn chandler silhouetted against philmont's tooth of time one early september morning

Sunrise East of the Ranch is one of several original landscape paintings I’m offering up for auction on eBay.com this month — just in time for the holidays! The auction for Sunrise East of the Ranch went live Wednesday evening, November 7th with a starting bid of $1 and will run until Saturday evening, November 10. Check out the auction here.

'sunrise east of the ranch - philmont' by dawn chandler, oil on panel, 5" x 7" is now available for auction bidding

Sunrise East of the Ranch – by Dawn Chandler, oil on panel, 5″ x 7″ is a Philmont sunrise.

And if you’d like to be notified when each November auction goes live, shoot me a message at studio@taosdawn.com and I’ll add you to the Early Bird auction community!


Thank you  for reading my blog. If you enjoy my musings here, please feel free to share this post!

Also, I invite you to discover more of my stories, insights and art on Instagram, Facebook and via my Inside the Studio Notes — and of course here on my website, www.taosdawn.com

Blessings ~

Dawn Chandler

 

walking into the storm with arms open wide ~ crane painting, iv

That thing you’ve been avoiding?

That thing you’ve been putting off, ‘been skirting around?

That thing you don’t want to do is the thing you have to do.

That thing you fear?

Time to face it.

Do it. Do it now.

Go walk into that storm with your arms open wide.

 

'walking into the storm with arms open wide' mixed media painting by New Mexico artist Dawn Chandler

 

detail of 'walking into the storm with arms open wide' mixed media contemporary landscape painting with sandhill cranes, by new mexico artist dawn chandler

 

detail of 'walking into the storm with arms open wide' mixed media contemporary landscape painting with sandhill cranes, by new mexico artist dawn chandler

 

 

…and you may discover a couple of angels along the way….

 

 

 

'walking into the storm with arms open wide' mixed media painting by New Mexico artist Dawn Chandler

Walking Into the Storm with Arms Open Wide ~ by Dawn Chandler
mixed media collage on panel ~ 8″ x 8″
This painting is available here.

 


 

Thank you  for reading my blog. If you enjoy my musings here, please feel free to share this post!

Also, I invite you to discover more of my stories, insights and art on Instagram, Facebook and via my Inside the Studio Notes — and of course here on my website, www.taosdawn.com

Blessings ~

Dawn Chandler

sandhill cranes arriving at the Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge - photo by New Mexico artist Dawn Chandler

celebrating grace: their wings fill my heart with prayer ~ crane painting, iii

 

There are so many layers beneath this painting…. so many ways it came in and out of being. So many hidden shapes, hidden colors.
But that spirit figure… see her? She remained throughout.

She wouldn’t be hidden by the layers.

Always she was there.

Always she is there.

And then the cranes came, revealing themselves, emerging out of a cloud…..

It’s as if she channeled them, imagined them into being.

Or perhaps they channeled her….

 

Their Wings Fill My Heart with Prayer — crane painting, iii, by New Mexico artist Dawn Chandler

 

Their Wings Fill My Heart with Prayer — crane painting, iii, detail 01 — mixed media painting celebrating sandhill cranes by New Mexico artist Dawn Chandler

 

Their Wings Fill My Heart with Prayer — crane painting, iii, detail 02 — mixed media painting celebrating sandhill cranes by New Mexico artist Dawn Chandler

 

Their Wings Fill My Heart with Prayer — crane painting, iii, detail 03 — mixed media painting celebrating sandhill cranes by New Mexico artist Dawn Chandler

 

(If you’re wondering about the writing — where all the words come from — they come from the pages of my own journals, my poems, my memories, dreams, reflections…)

 

Their Wings Fill My Heart with Prayer — crane painting, iii, detail 04 — mixed media painting celebrating sandhill cranes by New Mexico artist Dawn Chandler

 

Their Wings Fill My Heart with Prayer — crane painting, iii, detail 05 — mixed media painting celebrating sandhill cranes by New Mexico artist Dawn Chandler

 

Their Wings Fill My Heart with Prayer — crane painting, iii — mixed media painting celebrating sandhill cranes by New Mexico artist Dawn Chandler

 

Their Wings Fill My Heart with Prayer ~ by Dawn Chandler
mixed media collage on panel ~ 16″ x 12″
This painting is available here.


 

Thank you  for reading my blog. If you enjoy my musings here, please feel free to share this post!

Also, I invite you to discover more of my stories, insights and art on Instagram, Facebook and via my Inside the Studio Notes — and of course here on my website, www.taosdawn.com

Blessings ~

Dawn Chandler

 

a crane family flying across a December sunset at the Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge; photo by New Mexico artist Dawn Chandler

 

 

photocollage of New Mexico artist Dawn Chandler's cranery imagery

painting process: the aspen pillars of my cathedral

New Mexico landscape painting Dawn Chandler demonstrates how she paints aspen trees in oil, en plein air. Here, grid of several photos of the phasesYesterday a friend shared with me that she’s recently taken up painting, and that she’s “learning and loving it.” (how cool is THAT?!) She further revealed that she’d really like to shadow me at my easel — and that reminded me that over the past few months I’ve taken “process” pics of paintings I’m working on, but I’ve yet to share them.

So I thought I’d do that now, and since I’ve been a bit infatuated by aspen trees (obvious to anyone who has been following my Dawn Chandler Fine Art FaceBook page lately) I’ll start with a little painting called The Aspen Pillars of My Cathedral, the finished painting featured in my most recent edition of my Inside the Studio newsletter**  .

Here we go!

This cluster of photos below — all taken during the course of my painting session — gives you a sense of the challenge I faced when I sat down in the aspen forest early that September morning. Although none of these is precisely the view I painted, they give a sense of the constantly shifting light, color, and endlessly repeated shapes of the aspen forest. ‘Pretty easy for a painter to be intimidated and overwhelmed!

grid of four photos of a New Mexico aspen forest in September, by artist Dawn Chandler

The key then is to simplify: Find something to focus on, and ignore ‘most everything else.

Now, on to painting! Note that I’m using a pure white panel, which is unusual for me. Normally I like to stain my panels (as I explain here). But when I gathered up my paints in the wee predawn hours of the morning, I had no stained panels, no time to stain new ones, and so decided “screw it — I’ll use a white one.” Usually I avoid using a pure white panel or canvas, just because it’s so blindingly and intimidatingly pristine.

New Mexico landscape painting Dawn Chandler demonstrates how she paints aspen trees in oil, en plein air. Here, phase 01.

I started by putting in most of the lightest colors first — which is also against my usual tendency to “block in the darkest darks” first. But this scene is so much about the light through the leaves, that I wanted their bright color to radiate and not get mucked up with darks.

New Mexico landscape painting Dawn Chandler demonstrates how she paints aspen trees in oil, en plein air. Here, phase 02.

 

Then I focused on the cool bluey-purple-grey backdrop of the distant mountains peeking through the trees…

 

New Mexico landscape painting Dawn Chandler demonstrates how she paints aspen trees in oil, en plein air. Here, phase 03.

 

Then, the foreground lights….

 

New Mexico landscape painting Dawn Chandler demonstrates how she paints aspen trees in oil, en plein air. Here, phase 04.

 

…and mid-ground shadows, noting that while they were a similar bluey-purple-grey of the distant mountains, they were a darker shade.

Note, too, that the contrast of light vs shadow here is also a contrast of colors: Yellow & purple are opposites on the color wheel, and therefore compliments. Mother Nature knows what she’s doing when it comes to dazzling color by pairing these together.

 

New Mexico landscape painting Dawn Chandler demonstrates how she paints aspen trees in oil, en plein air. Here, phase 05.

 

Now to break up that big band of mid-ground shadow with a suggestion of the many aspen trunks and bits of light peeking through. I definitely didn’t want to paint every single aspen tree — that would be distracting and make the painting much too cluttered and busy. Rather, by painting just a few, I suggested many.

 

New Mexico landscape painting Dawn Chandler demonstrates how she paints aspen trees in oil, en plein air. Here, phase 06.

 

NOW things started to get interesting. For the focus of this painting was to be the aspens in the foreground — which at this point I hadn’t even added to the composition yet!
Normally right from the beginning I would have sketched in at least the shapes of their trunks and worked around them. But that just seemed kind of tedious. So I tried something a bit daring, and with a brush wet with solvent (Gamsol), I simply washed out the paint where I wanted to place the foreground aspens. I did this initially by dipping a clean brush in Gamsol, getting it good and wet with the solvent, and then wiping away/removing the paint from where I wanted to place the larger foreground aspen trunks.

 

New Mexico landscape painting Dawn Chandler demonstrates how she paints aspen trees in oil, en plein air. Here, phase 07.

 

After brushing the trunk areas with solvent I went in with paper towel and wiped the trunk areas, removing even more paint.

 

New Mexico landscape painting Dawn Chandler demonstrates how she paints aspen trees in oil, en plein air. Here, phase 08.

Once I wiped out the underlying paint, I went in with fresh paint to build up the foreground aspen trunks, all of which by this time of day were mainly in shadow.

The perpetual challenge when painting aspens, of course, is trying to ascertain what color the trunks are — especially when they are in shadow. Although we think of aspen tree trunks as pure white, in reality they rarely are. Indeed, since the trunks photosynthesize, often they are tan or muted green. All of them though, because they are light-colored — especially the “white” ones — reflect all of the colors of the forest around them, making them in reality a myriad of colors.

(With a shadow cast across my painting, it appears below much darker than it really is — yet another challenge of plein air painting!)

New Mexico landscape painting Dawn Chandler demonstrates how she paints aspen trees in oil, en plein air. Here, phase 09.

 

At this point the painting was really coming together, and I got so absorbed with painting that I forgot to keep taking photos of the changes!

(Have you been paying attention to what’s happening on my palette? For I delight in the transformation of the colors on my palette as much as the transformation of the painting!)

I decided I needed to push the background further back, so I lightened the distant purples a bit more, as well as muddled the distant and mid-range foliage a bit, once again thinking about giving the suggestion of forms and space rather than getting caught up in details.

Occasional details though — added at the very end — really help make a painting sing. So a few distinct leaves and bright highlights on the tree trunks go a long way in adding to the sense of light — as well as visual interest.

New Mexico landscape painting Dawn Chandler demonstrates how she paints aspen trees in oil, en plein air. Here, phase 10.

 

Et voila! The final result! You can see that the painting really isn’t dark at all like it appears in the last couple photos above. Although I kind of like the drama of the painting in the photos above, in reality the painting radiates much more light than those would suggest. Turns out the white of the panel adds a lovely underlying glow to the painting.

New Mexico landscape painting Dawn Chandler demonstrates how she paints aspen trees in oil, en plein air. Here, the final painting: The Aspen Pillars of My Cathedral, oil on panel, 5" x 7"

 

The Aspen Pillars of My Cathedral ~ by Dawn Chandler
oil on panel ~ en plein air ~ 5″ x 7″
This painting is available here.

 


** Gratitude to all you Inside the Studio subscribers out there!


 

Thanks so much for reading my blog. If you enjoy my musings here, please feel free to share this post!

Also, I invite you to discover more of my stories, insights and art on Instagram, Facebook and via my Inside the Studio Notes — and of course here on my website, www.taosdawn.com

Warmly ~

Dawn Chandler