Hand-painted color swatches specially painted by Dawn Chandler for her Enchanted Color Art Experience at Bishop's Lodge in Santa Fe.

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This is the fourth installment of a four-part series on my creation of my Enchanted Color Art Experience for Bishop’s Lodge Resort in Santa Fe.


Now the challenge was to create my own color-centric collage papers.

Somewhere in my research I learned that newsprint — the unprinted off-white paper used for newspapers and packing material — cuts and pastes really well. It also takes acrylic paint beautifully.

I started with green. It’s impossible for a painter to have a favorite color; I love them all. But if I were pressed by the Keeper of the Bridge of Death to choose my favorite color, it would have to be green. The color of forests, of trees.

A dozen sheets of forest green. Then a dozen more of bright sun-dappled light green. I mixed cerulean with viridian and cream and yellow: fifteen sheets of sage.

Next came blue: Horizon blue. Midnight blue. Ultramarine, phthalo. Back-and-forth with my paint brush across my work table pushing colors of clouds… horizons… Sky.

Earth colors next: Burnt sienna. Transitions of tan into orange. Hints of rose. Colors of adobe.

Mixing acrylic paint for hand-painted papers.

Yellow for daffodils and forsythia. Springtime. Purple for lilac and desert shadows.

Deepest red of apples, cherries…willow…blood. Dark grey for rain, for sorrow, for cozy wool slippers. Magenta for hyacinth. Teal — my mother’s favorite.

Soon my studio became a jungle of colorful papers. Hundreds of sheets of 16″ x 20″ hand-painted papers.
Eventually these would be torn into much smaller swatches.

Dawn Chandler's studio as freshly painted papers lie on racks to dry.
Stacks and piles of hand-painted papers in Dawn Chandler's studio.


The swatches were then stacked and divided into packets of several dozen colors each. The packets are distributed to my guests — my students — as we set out to explore color. Added to these packets are an array of other papers I’ve painted, multi-colored and various in visual texture.

Multi-colored hand-painted papers collage projects in Dawn Chandler's Enchanted Color Art Experience at Bishop's Lodge in Santa Fe.

Key among the exercises my guests and I do together is noting how colors interact with each other; how colors change. It’s a small bit of a wondrous Truth that has fueled and delighted my eyes all my life as a painter: Color is relative. Meaning it changes depending on what’s next to it, and what kind of light or shadow it’s seen under.
We’ll also notice the ways color has touched each of our lives personally, how we each carry within us an autobiography of color. to celebrate this, we’ll each fill a little book with these exercises — our own “color journal.”
And — close to my heart — we’ll consider the colors of landscape, how light and distance effect color. We’ll especially note the colors of New Mexico; the enchanting colors of the Land of Enchantment.

Maybe most important of all? We’ll be reminded that skill and experience aren’t necessary for creating art: all it takes sometimes is a bit of glue and few tiny pieces of paper.

And time, of course. Pausing in the midst of our busy lives and just doing it. Simply beginning.
Just as I’ve done these cold mornings away from home, by carving out a few moments away from distraction and filling myself with the warmth of creativity in gluing tiny bits of paper.

Sketchbook musing: Collage evoking birch trees in snow and a red cardinal, by artist Dawn Chandler

This is the fourth installment of a four-part series on my creation of my Enchanted Color Art Experience for Bishop’s Lodge Resort in Santa Fe.
I: how to teach your passion?
II: have art, will travel
III:
tiny little pieces

Some of the colorful materials used in Dawn Chandler's Enchanted Color Art Experience at Bishop's Lodge in Santa Fe.

Special thanks to the many friends who offered guidance, insight and encouragement as I developed Enchanted Color. Key among them: Joan Fullerton, Heather Snyder, Lisa Pounders, Ginnie Cappaert, Alexandra Merlino, Kathryn Wyatt, Cecilia Ciepiela-Kaelin and, of course, My Good Man. ❤️


Thank you for being here and reading my musings. If you enjoyed this post and would like to read more, I invite you to subscribe to this, my blog.

Meanwhile, find more of my stories, insights and art here on my website, www.taosdawn.com. Shop my art via my Etsy shop. And please consider joining me for Tuesday Dawnings, my weekly deep breath of uplift, insight, contemplation & creativity. You can find other ways to keep tabs on me here.

Stay safe. Be kind.

~ Dawn Chandler


Santa Fe , New Mexico
Free from social media since 2020

Pictured left: One of my favorite of my early collages made entirely of magazine cut-outs.