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musings from the studio and beyond ~

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

 

georgia o’keeffe & me

My first time visiting the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum was in 1997, soon after they opened.

Yesterday was my first time back.

Outside the Georgia OKeeffe Museum, Santa Fe. Photo by Dawn Chandler.

Did I mention the Georgia O’Keeffe museum is two miles from my house?

Yet it took me twenty-two years to walk through the doors again.

Two decades!

Georgia O'Keeffe 1988 MET retrospective poster

Yes. I’m pretty embarrassed by that. And really, I can’t tell you why it took me so long. There’s a list of poor excuses. Part of the blame may be because my first visit there — right when they opened — I was unimpressed.
With the arrogant air of a freshly minted MFA student who had experienced the massive 1988 O’Keeffe retrospective in a real museum in a real city, I was oh so quick to judge. This Santa Fe building? This museum? This was…. oh so quaint….

And, well…. I just never made it back. Which is kind of shameful for one who loves museums.

It wasn’t a decision not to go back.

It just didn’t ever happen. Part of that was the Truth that we so often don’t visit the sites in our own town. Why that is, I don’t know, but it’s likely because we figure we have all the time in the world to go, but then never make the point of going!

Then there’s lazy stinginess: If I’m going to pay $2 to park downtown, well, I have more urgent priorities ( like, ummm…. going herehere…. here…. and here ).

Then there’s the fact that somewhere in the middle of those two decades I read a biography of O’Keeffe that left me with a sour impression. I got the sense that the woman was kind of unpleasant. Really though, that probably reveals more about me at the time of my reading that particular bio than it says about her. Or maybe it says more about the tone of the biographer than of O’keeffe’s essence.

But mostly I hadn’t made it back to the O’Keeffe Museum because I felt I already knew a lot about her and was already familiar with her work. Seemed like everywhere you looked there was her art featured on a poster….

Georgia O'Keeffe poster for the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival 1978.

So I didn’t feel a particular need to see more of it in person any time soon.

Yet please don’t think these “negatives” mean I disliked her work. Quite the contrary, I had always rather admired her work. In fact, there was a time about a decade ago when, on the other side of the globe in an autumnal European City, Georgia O’Keeffe carried me back home to New Mexico.

Still, I didn’t go to the O’Keeffe museum.

Till yesterday. Yesterday I went.

It was splendid.

Museum exhibit banner of Georgia Okeeffe carrying a canvas outside

And I’m kicking myself for taking so long to get back there. Indeed, my sophomoric dismissal of the museum 22 years ago says a whole lot more about me and my snooty attitude than it served as a worthy critique of the fledgling museum.
Now, in the two decades since, the museum and its collection has grown into a marvelous center for viewing and exploring creativity in general and of one of the great artists of the 20th century in particular.

Walking into the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum was like walking into the salon of a friend — a sister. A compatriot. Simpatica.

I felt like she was speaking to me — directly to me — through her paintings, her sketches, her collections of brushes, tubes of paints and sticks of color; her desert bones.

Georgia O'Keeffe, 'Untitled' (Red and Yellow Cliffs), oil on canvas, 1940.
Georgia O'Keeffe, Untitled (Abstraction), black pen on paper, 1963/64
Georgia OKeeffe's paint brushes.
Rattlesnake skeleton displayed in banco at Georgia O'Keeffe Museum

Through her work she was saying to me It’s OK — what you’re doing with your work is OK — it’s all OK.

OK meaning perfect.

OK meaning just right.

For here is what struck me particularly, what I wrote in my journal there in the last gallery of the museum late yesterday afternoon:

Dawn Chandler's notes in her journal when visiting the Georgia O'Keeffe Museum

OK meaning keep doing what you’re doing.

OK meaning keep on looking, keep on listening, keep on noting, keep on painting.

I was struck by the fact that she didn’t seem to be haunted by critics pushing her to choose between styles and interests. That she painted her version of “traditional” landscapes with just as much studied interest as she painted her abstractions. If those critical voices tried to haunt her, she left them like bones to dry out in the desert.

OK meaning keep on with your “traditional” “representational” landscapes.

Georgia OKeeffe 'Black Mesa Landscape, New Mexico/Out Back of Marie's II, oil on canvas, 1930

OK meaning keep on with your abstractions.

Georgia O'Keeffe 'Blue-A' oil on canvas, 1959

OK meaning keep on loving and painting and celebrating your cranes. Your clouds. Your skies. Your words. Your sketches. Your hearts. Your everything.

OK meaning just keep on keeping on.

And, while you’re at it, sanctify your blessed, creative solitude, your focus. Turn off the phone.

Carry a sketchbook.

Always.

Honor your creativity. Your vision.

And Be.
Present.

Dawn Chandler's digital grid of several Georgia OKeeffe paintings from the Georgia OKeeffe Museum in Santa Fe.

psssst: To my Tuesday Dawnings subscribers — keep an eye out for my next edition for some O’Keeffe-inspired sketchbook musings!
Not yet signed up for Tuesday Dawnings? Go here for more info.

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Artist Dawn Chandler enjoying coffee and journalling time by the Rio Grande.

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.

___________________________________________________________

working & walking in the new mexico mud

I had in mind an altogether different blog post for this installment.

But then something happened to me today.

On my early morning run through my neighborhood I noticed a sign….

Mud Day sign at the Frenchy's Park labyrinth in Santa Fe. Photo by Dawn Chandler.

I like labyrinths. In fact I’ve even written about labyrinths before on this blog, about ten years ago.

But as far as labyrinths go, I admit that I’ve always thought the dried mud one at my local park to be a sorry excuse for one. Twenty years old it’s rarely used (that I’ve noticed). Neglected, dusty and weedy, it looks forlorn. I’ve gone by it nearly every day for five years, but rarely have I been tempted to walk it; it’s just never seemed appealing there in the dirt. I’ve hardly even photographed it — and that tells you something.

And yet … sometimes when the sun is low an the earth is aglow, the labyrinth transforms into something nearly beautiful. Kind of like Charlie Brown’s Christmas tree.
And the peace flags that hang in the simple, rugged awning… Well, they beckon me with my camera frequently.

Peace flags at the Frenchy's Park labyrinth in Santa Fe. Photo by Dawn Chandler.

So when I saw that sign this morning as I ran by I thought, Maybe I should go help them… Maybe if I work on the labyrinth, I’ll care more about it.

Ohhhhhhh, But…. I had so many things to do today… My long list included painting, and computer work and painting and household chores and painting and errands and painting.

Yes. But, I don’t get out and volunteer nearly enough.
And I don’t really know my Santa Fe community very well.
This would be such a great chance to be involved, to help out, to be a good neighbor.

BUT…. I finally had a day in which I could paint ALL MORNING! Something I was planning on and VERY eager to do!

So NO. I would stay home and work in my studio as I had planned and as I had looked forward to doing.

First though I needed to get out of my running clothes and take a shower.

And then one of those better-angel-voices in my head chimed in: Before you change out of those smelly fitness clothes and get cleaned up, why not just run down to the park and just help them out for a little while. 30 minutes! An hour MAX! THEN come back and clean up. THEN paint.

I filled my thermos with coffee, grabbed a water bottle and work gloves and drove back over to the park.

.

..

….

I returned home four hours later.

Worn out. Satisfied. Blissful.

And with a new appreciation for our beautiful earthen labyrinth.

What had I done during those 4 hours?

I shoveled dirt.
I hauled water.
I tamped mud
— all to the vibrant rhythm of a live and joyous marimba band.
And most important of all, I met and worked side by side with my neighbors.

Volunteers working on remudding the Frenchy's Park labyrinth in Santa Fe. Photo by Dawn Chandler.
Live marimba music to enliven the remudding work on the Frenchy's Park labyrinth in Santa Fe. Photo by Dawn Chandler.

And when we were finished with our labor, I gathered with them in a circle around an earthen heart shaped by caring hands, and with a wish for peace joined them in lining the heart with stones.

Volunteers and muscians gather for Mud Day at the Frenchy's Park labyrinth in Santa Fe. Photo by Dawn Chandler.
Neighbors gather stones to place around the earthen heart at the Frenchy's Park labyrinth in Santa Fe. Photo by Dawn Chandler.
Neighbors gather stones to place around the earthen heart at the Frenchy's Park labyrinth in Santa Fe. Photo by Dawn Chandler.

We then nourished ourselves with conversation over a potluck picnic.

And at 1:00pm, as three harpists under a nearby cottonwood tree strummed magic from their strings….

Harpists serenade the walking of the Frenchy's Park labyrinth in Santa Fe on Mud Day. Photo by Dawn Chandler.

and as our fellow labyrinth walkers in the Midwest of our country were winding down their silent walk, we joined thousands of others across the mountain states in walking in silence.

And when we concluded our walk, sojourners on the west coast stepped out together on their own paths.

Neighbors gatherto walk the Frenchy's Park labyrinth in Santa Fe. Photo by Dawn Chandler.
Neighbors gather to walk the Frenchy's Park labyrinth in Santa Fe. Photo by Dawn Chandler.

For it turns out today — the first Saturday in May — is World Labyrinth Day. And when we walked the circuitous path in silence together, we joined thousands of other labyrinth walkers across the Earth, walking for peace.

On this day we are united
with past pilgrims,
current sojourners,
and future seekers.

We invite this labyrinth walk
to un-strange us from ourselves,
un-alienate us from one another here,
and un-wall us from fellow pilgrims far away:
let all who truly seek
truly join.

From “Meeting the World in My Walk”
by Mary Ann Wamhoff of Santa Fe.

The earthen heart at the Frenchy's Park labyrinth in Santa Fe. Photo by Dawn Chandler.

I learned today that this labyrinth revival & walk in my local park was sponsored by the Labyrinth Resource Group of Santa Fe who encourage the creation and use of labyrinths as a path of healing, inspiration, and peace — a community I wasn’t even aware of!

Oh, but I am now. And so very grateful to be.

May the Fourth be with you!

Peace flags at the Frenchy's Park labyrinth in Santa Fe. Photo by Dawn Chandler.

Want to walk a labyrinth? Find one near you here.

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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.

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.

.

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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