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celebrating grace: the art of migrating home

by | Apr 6, 2019 | Uncategorized

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,, 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.