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04.21.2013 ~ finding peace in art & nature

by | Apr 21, 2013 | backpacking, gila wilderness, landscape painting, new mexico landscapes, oil painting, trail-running

late winter shades of the gila ~ by dawn chandler ~ oil on panel ~ 12″ x 24″ ~ copyright dawn chandler 2013

When tragedy strikes, I retreat. My instinct is to withdraw; unplug from society and bandage my soul with space.



I turn to art

and I turn to Nature

So it was last week when a blue and yellow banner in a sea of joy in our beloved Boston became awash in blood and shrapnel and splintered lives.

After so many hours I needed, finally, to step away from the news.

I needed to do something to counter the choking feeling of helplessness. I needed to quell my anger and outrage. Or maybe I needed to go somewhere quiet and safe and let it seethe a while.
I wanted to hibernate.

So I did, in the late winter colors of the Gila* Wilderness of southwestern New Mexico.

Six weeks prior, in the final days of winter, a group of friends and I loaded up our backpacks and headed to that dry corner of New Mexico. Despite nineteen years of living in New Mexico, other than a quick drive through on an Arizona-bound roadtrip once, I’d never been to that part of the state. Little did I know how much I was missing.

I took over 300 photos of the Gila for painting reference. But I hadn’t gotten to it yet. Travel. Chores. Errands. Other Projects. It all kept getting in the way.

Then came the events of last week… and the muted colors of late winter in the Gila provided a tawny bandage for my soul.

*Pronounced “heel-a”

Below, some details of the paint textures and brush strokes….

Art and Nature
Nature and Art

They help.

…as does fitness. And community.
For a couple days after Patriot’s Day I ventured out on the nature trails closer to home, to further bandage my soul. I did so by joining thousands of other runners across the world in “Running for Boston.”