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musings from the studio and beyond ~

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

 

celebrating grace: the art of migrating home

Last week at this time I was sipping coffee while looking out across the early morning light glittering off a tributary of the Potomac River. I’d gone east to the land of water and trees to visit again the home of a beloved elder, who offered my spirit sustenance and solace during a long ago chapter of my life; a chapter of much growth and expression coupled with certain uncertainty. (My latest Tuesday Dawnings has some lovely pics from this trip.)

As I made this journey to a beloved homeland, there are others, now — hundreds of thousands of others — making journeys of their own across this beautiful and extraordinary country of ours. For it is Spring, and that means the cranes — the waterfowl, the migrating birds — are moving.

Sandhill cranes on Nebraska's Platte River. Photo by Dawn Chandler

You who regularly read these musings of mine know that for many weeks last autumn and early this winter I dedicated much of this blog to sharing my crane paintings — my mixed-media, semi-abstract, semi-figurative, imaginative paintings celebrating my infatuation with the sandhill cranes. Some of you wrote to me to tell me how much you enjoyed these weekly blog posts, and several of you generously decided that you needed my cranes to inhabit the walls of your home. Thank you.

'Secretly, Joyfully, Clearly' - a colorful deeply blue-purple painting by artist Dawn Chandler celebrating sandhill cranes.
“secretly, joyfully, clearly'”~ mixed media on panel ~ 8″ x 8”

In recent months however, my online presence has been dominated by my new creative project of Tuesday Dawnings. These weekly curations have been a labor of love. Yes, they are a lot of work. But they also fill me with curiosity and serenity. I’m loving the process of gathering beauty and sharing it with my Tuesday Dawnings circle, my TD tribe. Thank you to everyone who has joined me for these weekly journeys. I so value your openness and willingness to hear from me each Tuesday.

The welcoming image of a recent installment of Dawn Chandler's Tuesday Dawnings weekly series

Yet as I’ve gathered and culled my weekly musings this winter, I also made quiet time to work further on my crane paintings.

detail from 'Breath' - a mixed media painting by artist Dawn Chandler celebrating the Sandhill cranes.
detail from “breath”

Now though, as the seasons change and the cranes have left New Mexico for a spell, so, too, am I putting aside my painted cranes for a while. Other projects are calling to me.

It seems the crane paintings want to be my focus in the winter months, when my muse and I can look forward to when the cottonwoods turn gold, and the first wide spread of wings appear high in the sky.

And so here you are — the last of my crane paintings…. for now.

(These will be familiar to my TD Tribe, for you had a peek at these in March. 😉

'Into the Beyond' - a mixed media painting in cool shades of blues, greys and earth colors, by artist Dawn Chandler celebrating the Sandhill cranes.
“into the beyond ” ~ mixed media on panel ~ 16″ x 12″

These crane paintings all are made by building up layers of printed text, cut papers, and acrylic paint. As I build layers, I wait to see what emerges. I never start with a plan or known outcome. Rather, I just respond to the layers and shapes. Always I’m surprised by the figures — the people — who show up in these. Surprised — and delighted!

'Thawing, RIsing, Rejoicing' - a mixed media painting featuring a tree, bright light and soaring cranes by artist Dawn Chandler.
“thawing, rising, rejoicing” ~ mixed media on panel ~ 16″ x 12″
'Ready to Rise' - a mixed media painting featuring a radiant figure with arms open wide and a pair of blue sandhill cranes by artist Dawn Chandler.
“ready to rise” ~ mixed media on panel ~ 16″ x 12″

My personal journals — my written musings and reflections — are the source of the words ghosted in these paintings. Here’s a video of me in my studio one recent afternoon, reading aloud from one of these writings about my first experience going to the Platte River to witness the crane migration. Pour yourself a cuppa and come listen.

'Spread Your Awkwardly Elegant WIngs" - a mixed media painting featuring a figure with arms wide and a family of blue sandhill cranes by artist Dawn Chandler.
“spread your awkwardly, elegant wings” ~ mixed media on panel ~ 16″ x 12″
'Breath' - a mixed media painting glowing shades of blue and familis of cranes rising through clouds by artist Dawn Chandler.
“breath” ~ mixed media on panel ~ 24″ x 18″

By the way if you’re on my REAL MAIL list, you’ve recently received (or are about to receive) a note card in the mail with this painting, “Breath” on it. Alas, the image on the card doesn’t accurately capture the radiant blues of the actual painting; this image above is more true in color.

{ Speaking of mail, if you would like the joy of receiving REAL MAIL send me your mailing address; I’ll gladly send you a thoughtful note a couple times per year. }

'Wings of Earth, Wings of Sky'  a mixed media painting featuring  sandhill cranes silhouetted against the sky by artist Dawn Chandler.
“wings of earth, wings of sky” ~ mixed media on panel ~ 18″ x 24″
'Angels of the High Plains' - a mixed media painting featuring an angel dancing across the plains as a sandhill crane soars above - by artist Dawn Chandler.
“angels of the high plains” ~ mixed media on panel ~ 12″ x 12″

Nearly all of these paintings are available for purchase, and I will be adding them one by one to my online shop over the next few days. If you can’t wait that long shoot me message to inquire about any of them; I’d be delighted to answer your questions and provide you with more details!



Artist Dawn Chandler in her Santa Fe home.

Thank you for reading my blog and appreciating my musings.
If you enjoy my posts and know others who might enjoy them too, please feel free to share this.
~ Dawn Chandler

You can find more of my stories, insights and art here on my website, www.taosdawn.com, as well as on Instagram and Facebook. Peruse and shop for my art here, and sign up for Tuesday Dawnings weekly deep breath of uplift & insight here.

how to paint yourself free

Have you wanted to travel to the unknown*?

Have you wanted to expand your boundaries*

Are you yearning for freedom*?

Photo collage of passages of several
Joan Fullerton paintings.

Then I encourage you to sign up for artist Joan Fullerton’s wonderful online painting class Paint Yourself Free. Take Joan’s class, and you will travel — joyfully! — to the unknown. You will expand your imagined boundaries, and you will be liberated — artistically, creatively, delightfully!

Many of you know that Joan is one of my BFFs — so there’s that disclosure. She and I became fast friends many years ago in Taos, thanks in part to similar artistic sensibilities. Over the years we’ve counseled each other through thick and thin, sought opinions from each other, cheered each other on, cried together, and laughed and giggled a whole, whole helluva lot together.

We’ve also painted a lot together (usually with a glass of wine in one hand and a plate of chocolate within arm’s reach) and exhibited our art together.

Joan is an exceptionally good artist.

Messenger contemporary acrylic painting of a crow by artist Joan Fullerton
Messenger ~ by Joan Fullerton
acrylic on panel ~ 24″ x 18″
Deep Serenity abstract landscape painting by artist Joan Fullerton
Deep Serenity ~ by Joan Fullerton
acrylic on panel ~ 24″ x 24″


She is also an exceptionally good teacher.

Which is why I dropped several $$ for her online class last year.
Yes, I wanted to support my friend. But even more than that, I knew her class would be excellent.
I knew I would come away with a wealth of information about new materials and how to use them.
I knew I would come away with new ideas for painting techniques — ways that I’d never imagined myself for how to make imagery.
I knew I would be reminded of painting concepts I once knew but that I’d unfortunately forgotten about.

Not Forgotten mixed media painting with house imagery by artist Joan Fullerton
Not Forgotten ~ by Joan Fullerton
mixed media on canvas ~ 14″ x 11″
Riding High abstract acrylic painting by artist Joan Fullerton
Riding High ~ by Joan Fullerton
acrylic on paper ~ 25″ x 15″

And I had a really strong hunch that after each of the modules in Joan’s class, I’d be unable to sleep at night because my head would be brimming with excitement from all that I’d learned. I just knew that once I immersed myself in her lessons, all I would think about and want to do is PAINT!

All that proved true X 10.

Which is why I’m using valuable real estate on my own blog to promote another artist: Because Joan’s class is worth it.

Joan doesn’t need me to promote her class (nor does she even know that I am). I’m spreading the word about her Paint Yourself Free class because I know it’s a wise investment for anyone who has even dreamed of being an artist — and even for those who are well-established artists!

Joan’s Paint Yourself Free class is now available — but for just a few more days. You can sign up for it until February 28. Once you sign up, you’ll have all year to do the classes.**

Get more info about Joan Fullerton’s Paint Yourself Free online class here.

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Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go pour myself a glass of wine, grab some chocolate, raise a glass to my dear friend and go paint!

Very joyful artist Joan Fullerton during a workshop demo.
Just keep painting Because to paint is to fall in love again. You’ll fall deeper in love with your very own life.

~ Joan Fullerton, artist, teacher, mentor, friend.

* Titles of some of the lessons in Joan Fullerton’s online painting class Paint Yourself Free.

** That’s what I did: I signed up last January, but didn’t make time until October to watch the videos and do the lessons. This worked out just fine for me, but I didn’t get the benefit of the initial excitement of Joan’s Paint Yourself Free private FaceBook community, when all of the other students were sharing their coursework early on in the cycle of the class. Still, participating in the FB group isn’t required, but it can be a lot of fun as well as be very motivating and inspiring.


Artist Dawn Chandler in her Santa Fe home.

Thank you for reading my blog and appreciating my musings.
If you enjoy my posts and know others who might enjoy them too, please feel free to share this.

~ Dawn Chandler

p.s. You can find more of my stories, insights and art here on my website, www.taosdawn.com, as well as on Instagram and Facebook. Peruse and shop for my art here, and sign up for Tuesday Dawnings weekly deep breath of uplift, art & insight here.

being scared. but doing it anyway.

A few days ago I released to the world my latest creative project.

I put it out there not knowing if anyone would be interested.

That’s the scariest thing about being an artist: Putting your very soul into something you’ve made and not knowing whether it will be embraced by anyone.

It can hurt.

Silhouette of artist Dawn Chandler 'in the night studio.'

But some of us do it anyway, despite the fear of hurt.

Most of us create privately never intending to share what we make.

But others of us feel the call to share what we create, in hopes that maybe — just maybe — we might touch another; that our spirit’s expression might make a connection, a bridge to another soul.

This is the source of inspiration for me and my new endeavor: to create, as Krista Tippett so eloquently puts it, “a bridge that we can walk across occasionally to each other.”

The bridge I’ve made is this:

Colorful watercolor banner for Tuesday Dawnings.

Tuesday Dawnings is a curated email series of some of the beauty and wonderment I encounter and want to share.

I’ve so many photos….thousands upon thousands of photograph of this beautiful country of ours….

Trio of skyscape photographs by artist Dawn Chandler

And I’ve dozens and dozens of books whose words, when I read them, expand my heart and mind….

Some of Dawn Chandler's poetry books.

In my daily explorations, there are myriad lovely things that catch my eye and invite me to pause…

A montage of 'tiny beautiful things' artist Dawn Chandler encounters in her rambles.
A montage of red 'tiny beautiful things' artist Dawn Chandler encounters in her rambles.

And, of course, I’ve the joy of painting — of art-making — the act of which is an interesting and intriguing mystery to so many of you….

Plein air painting of Santa Fe by artist Dawn Chandler

All of these are sources of delight and wonderment for me.

So I have decided to share some of these with whoever wishes to receive them, whoever desires a “weekly deep breath of uplift and insight” via my Tuesday Dawnings.

And this past week I released to the world my first edition of Tuesday Dawnings.

The response has me blinking moist eyes.

While I had hoped — really hoped — there would be a few people out there who might be interested in this huge little project of mine, never did I imagine there would be quite so many.

I am blown away.What this tells me is that there is a need out there for light, for joy, for beauty.
That I am not the only one in this tense 21st-century who desires to slow down and give their spirit a place to rest — even if only every few days.

To you who have signed up with me on this weekly Tuesday Dawnings excursion: Thank you.

Thank you for the trust — the privilege — of letting me into your world with a little bit of the beauty I have found in mine. The generosity of your interest means so much to me.

So much.

If you missed the first installment of Tuesday Dawnings, here is the link:

Tuesday Dawnings ~ Tuesday, February 12 ~ Volume 1, Issue 1

There you’ll learn more about this labor of love of mine. You’ll also be able to subscribe, if you think Tuesday Dawnings is something you would enjoy. And when you subscribe, you’ll receive a little gift from me — details in that link above.

Meanwhile….

For those of you joining me on the Tuesday Dawnings journey, I look forward to sharing with you this coming Tuesday!

A panoramic view photographed in the Cerrillos Hills.

Thank you for reading my blog and appreciating my musings.
If you enjoy my posts and know others who might enjoy them too, please feel free to share this.

~ Dawn Chandler

p.s. You can find more of my stories, insights and art here on my website, www.taosdawn.com, as well as on Instagram and Facebook. Peruse and shop for my art here, and sign up for Tuesday Dawnings weekly deep breath of uplift & insight here.

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the grace of trivial projects

Snow has been falling for hours. And though there doesn’t seem to be much accumulation — it’s too warm — it’s been beautiful to watch. Beyond quenching the earth and sogging the dirt roads, mostly the snow has served to bury my To Do List.

There’s so much I planned to have done by now, the second week of the new year. So many new ideas I intended to embark on.

Oh, but I’m not giving myself enough credit for all that I’ve accomplished in 11 days, all the plans I’ve made progress on. In fact, if anything it’s been a breathless new year, a breathless pace, and in a couple of weeks, if all goes well, I’ll have an exciting announcement to share with you. As a result I’ve been rather glued to my computer these first days of the New Year, my mind spitting rapid fire ideas as my fingers on the keyboard have become cramped from too much activity!

And so that’s exactly why I decided today to let the snow bury my intentions and instead, in the soft grey light of a sunless morning, to work quietly contentedly on the perfectly pleasantly mundane task of organizing my note cards and stationary. Of all the unimportant projects to work on…..
I didn’t plan on it…. it just happened as I sipped my tea and gathered together the bulging stack of notes and cards I’ve received recently and just fell into a kind of quiet trance as I rifled through my large collection of cards to share and decided which ones to send to whom, and further organized the remainder into themes. Was I wasting precious time on a trivial project? Perhaps. But I sure was enjoying myself. And my mind surely enjoyed the break from thinking so hard about more complex projects.

Once that task was done, and I had finished deciding which salutations to send in the coming weeks, I thought of avoiding screens for the rest of the day. For I do so cherish an “unplugged” day…..

But I also wanted to look through my recent photos….

Recall that when last you heard from me — back in the last year — we (my Man & I) had had to postpone my customary birthday celebration, as well as our customary new year celebration due to inclement weather. But a few days later — last weekend — we were able to revel once again in that spectacular country where we love to celebrate life on this earth.

And what we saw there was indeed spectacular….

 Snowgeese rising en masse at the Bosque del Apache sunset 5 January 2019, photo by artist Dawn Chandler
 Snowgeese rising en masse at the Bosque del Apache sunset 5 January 2019, photo by artist Dawn Chandler
 Snowgeese rising en masse at the Bosque del Apache sunset 5 January 2019, photo by artist Dawn Chandler
 Snowgeese rising en masse at the Bosque del Apache sunset 5 January 2019, photo by artist Dawn Chandler
 Snowgeese rising en masse at the Bosque del Apache sunset 5 January 2019, photo by artist Dawn Chandler
 Snowgeese rising en masse at the Bosque del Apache sunset 5 January 2019, photo by artist Dawn Chandler
 Snowgeese rising en masse at the Bosque del Apache sunset 5 January 2019, photo by artist Dawn Chandler
 Snowgeese rising en masse at the Bosque del Apache sunset 5 January 2019, photo by artist Dawn Chandler
 Snowgeese rising en masse at the Bosque del Apache sunset 5 January 2019, photo by artist Dawn Chandler
 Snowgeese rising en masse at the Bosque del Apache sunset 5 January 2019, photo by artist Dawn Chandler
 Snowgeese rising en masse at the Bosque del Apache sunset 5 January 2019, photo by artist Dawn Chandler
 Snowgeese rising en masse at the Bosque del Apache sunset 5 January 2019, photo by artist Dawn Chandler

The savvy birders among you know that this massive flock of winged beings is not of cranes, but of snow geese. The geese at the Bosque are more numerous and much more raucous than the cranes. But their white plumage glows like moonlight when the light is dim, and, at certain times of day, they make the sun seem to dance across the sky in astonishing ways

It’s funny — and maybe a weak analogy — but it occurs to me that these photos represent a bit of what my new year has been like so far: A mass of projects and appointments and To Dos that seemed to rise out of nowhere and overtake me, leaving me breathless, only to then scatter and diminish, giving me a chance to catch my breath as I single out a few to focus on.

 Cranes flying toward the setting sun at the Bosque del Apache 5 January 2019, photo by artist Dawn Chandler

Which brings me back to my humbly blissful task this morning of sorting my stationary: Some of you who are reading this took the time over the holidays to write me a hand-written note. I can hardly think of a more lovely gift than that of a hand-written communication. Thank you for taking the time to take pen to hand to paper and writing to me; I cherish your gift.

.

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… Okay, enough of screens for now … it’s time to to make a wee bit of art…

details of one of artist Dawn Chandler's mixed media crane paintings in progress

…and then on to packing…. for we’ll be heading back down to the Bosque this weekend…. Our time with the snow geese and cranes is slipping away too quickly. For February approaches and by mid-month, their beautiful wings will stretch and lift away from us, as they head northward again.

snowgeese and sandhill cranes at the Bosque del Apache at sunset, january 5th, 2019, photo by Dawn Chandler

Despite the government shut down, we are grateful that the Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge has remained open (though the Visitors’ Center is closed.) Thankfully the Refuge is just far enough off the well-traveled highway that park abusers have kept away, and the people who have ventured to this oasis remain respectful and appreciative.


artist Dawn Chandler's shadowed silhouette against the canyon wall at Bandelier

Thank you for reading my blog and appreciating my musings.
If you enjoy my posts and know others who might enjoy them too, please feel free to share this.
Blessings ~
Dawn Chandler
p.s.: You can find more of my stories, insights and art here on my website, www.taosdawn.com, as well as on Instagram and Facebook.


Montage of images from artist Dawn Chandler's recent blog post 'new year musings'

celebrating grace ~ she paused to listen . . . .

Santa Fe sunrise - 28 December 2018 - by artist Dawn Chandler

As I write this, a gorgeous snow is falling in the soft grey light of dawn. This is the second of two snow storms to move across New Mexico this week: The first arrived mid-morning of the 26th blessing us with four inches of snow. This storm arrived last evening, and when I looked out into the dark silence of midnight, already there was at least half a foot of a fresh blanket.

Two weeks ago, the mountains had already received more snow this season than they had all of last winter.

My heart is bursting with gratitude as I think of the replenishment of mountain streams and forest roots, as I imagine spring wildflowers embroidering across last summer’s black burn scars.

 

photo montage of Santa Fe snow 28 December 2018 - by Dawn Chandler

 

My intention was that as you read this morning’s musings, I would be standing shivering (joyfully!) in the early morning shadow of ten-New Mexico roads map from midday December 28 2018thousand geese and cranes rising. For today is my birthday, and my favorite way to celebrate this day (as you surely know by now if you are a regular reader) is to witness the sunrise wave of wings down at the Bosque.

However heavy snows and treacherous road conditions are causing me to put off this particular form of celebration — for now. Just for now.

But as I wait to witness wingsong again, the ribbons of the Rio Grande are recharging their life force. The shallow waters where the cranes roost are deepening; the fields where they feed are being nourished. And so winter weather cautions me to wait.

I do so patiently.

If I cannot watch the wings this day, then I shall conjure them here, in my little sanctuary of creativity, and let them come to life, lifting and rising from pages of paint and paper.

 

sandhill crane musings by artist dawn chandler 28 december 2018

Meanwhile…. Happy New Year to you good people. You’ve helped make this 54th year a wonderfully good one for me. I appreciate you and count you among my many blessings.

As a small token of my appreciation, and in celebration of my special day, I’ve a small gift for any of you who wish to make use of it ~ 54% off all of my art. Just for today ~ December 29, 2018.

Here’s the coupon code: DAWNROCKS54 ~ Or simply click here for the direct link for the coupon offer.

Come December 30, the coupon will expire (sorry, no exceptions) and come the new year, some of my prices will be going up.
So today’s your chance to get that piece you’ve been longing for…

 

Oh… But what about my crane paintings?

It’s been a while…. so here ~ I can think of none better to share on my favorite day of the year than this one….

 

mixed media painting 'She Paused to Listen - They Were Coming Home Again' by artist Dawn Chandler

 

One of the intriguing aspects of painting for me is that I never know how a painting is going to turn out, or rarely even what it is going to be about. The exception is with my “traditional landscapes,” where I have a general expectation that ultimately it’s going to look (at least somewhat) like the scene I’m trying to capture. But when it comes to my mixed media, collage, and more abstract works, I rarely, if ever, have an end goal in mind. Rather,  details of mixed media painting 'She Paused to Listen - They Were Coming Home Again' by artist Dawn ChandlerI’m open to what evolves from juxtaposing color, shape and line, and seeing what emerges.

I don’t even remember how this painting began. Likely with complete abstraction. I’d bet that once I added light blue, I started seeing sky.

But this figure of the woman…. She is so literal… I imagine she emerged from several white abstract brush strokes… and then I started seeing the suggestion of a female figure in a white dress….
I drew her out with more paint… delineated her shape a bit more, then added a sash of blue…. blue reminiscent of a river, a passage of sky…

The cranes were the last design element I added. I recall my heart quickened when I added them. Whenever that happens, I know my Muse is happy.

I suppose many people see a female figure in a white dress and instantly assume she’s a bride.

Or perhaps she’s a ghost.

So often the first place where my mind goes with a woman in a long white dress is Emily Dickinson.

Our female figure here in this painting may be any of these.
Or all of these.
Or none.

Surely, though, she’s a dreamer.
And a poet, dressed in the colors of cloud and sky….
And a lover of winged beings, one whose pulse quickens with the first sound above of them returning home again.

 

mixed media painting 'She Paused to Listen - They Were Coming Home Again' by artist Dawn Chandler

She Paused to Listen – They Were Coming Home Again ~ by Dawn Chandler
Mixed media on panel ~ 12″ x 12″
This painting is available here.

 

 


An incredibly accurate portrait of artist Dawn Chandler by her incredibly talented nephew Alex Chandler, December 2018Pictured left: A strikingly accurate portrait of artist Dawn Chandler* (“Anty Beebs” ) by her nephew, up-and-coming rock-star artist, Alex Chandler, age 10.

* Note the crane earrings…


 

Thank you for reading my blog and appreciating my musings.

If you enjoy my posts and know others who might enjoy them too, please feel free to share this.

Happy New Year!

Dawn Chandler

p.s.: You can find more of my stories, insights and art via my Inside the Studio Notes — and of course here on my website, www.taosdawn.com, as well as on Instagram and Facebook.

 


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