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from the summit of santa fe baldy

by | Aug 19, 2014 | backpacking, hiking, new mexico landscapes, oil painting, Santa Fe Baldy, summer

view from the summit ~ santa fe baldy ~ by dawn chandler ~ oil on panel ~ 12″ x 24″ ~ copyright dawn chandler 2014

In July two friends and I did a three-day backpacking trip to the summit of Santa Fe Baldy [elevation 12,631′]. Though the forecast was literally dreadful, with warnings of “Hazardous Weather” resulting in flooding throughout much of New Mexico and north Texas (some towns in Texas got something like 9 inches of rain in 6 hours one of those days). 

Despite the forecast, we decided to go for it anyway, fully expecting to turn around at any moment.

And in the end? 
In the end we had perfect weather.
When I say we had perfect weather, I mean it: We had perfect weather. 

Sure there were some clouds, but not til the afternoon, and rarely anything that seemed threatening. Not a drop of rain except at night, when we were already curled up in our sleeping bags, and then it cleared well before we got up in the morning. It was as though we had a halo of glorious weather followed us for the full 3 days.
I’ve never experienced anything quite like that. And because the forecast had been so bad, no one else was up there: We had the trail and the summit to ourselves. Unbelievable!

Here’s the first painting from a series of new ones I’m currently working on based on our trip. [With my Outback Series of mixed media paintings now on exhibit in Taos, I’m focusing for a few weeks on traditional landscape painting; feels good!] 

The view here is from the top of Santa Fe Baldy. And yes! thanks to recent rains, the summit grass is indeed that green. (Anyone know which direction I’m looking?)

The challenge with these paintings is the light: When you’re on a summit that’s barren of trees and made up mainly of grass and rocks, there’s not much to cast shadows — which add contrast and visual interest to a painting. But even if there were interestingly shaped things to cast shadows, in the middle of the day — here, literally, around noon or 1:00 — with the sun directly overhead, what little shadow there is is short and limited. The bright sun filtering through thin clouds washes out what little color there is in a mostly grey-green-blue-white landscape, making it a challenge. But heck, it’s a pretty good challenge!