Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Taos House

"Mabel's Pink House"
8x10, oil, en plein air

If you're a painter visiting Taos, it's hard not to catch the fire. You're surrounded by so much art. Visiting Walt Gonske and strolling through the galleries really makes me want to pick up the brush. So, yesterday I did.

I went over to Mabel Dodge Luhan's house to paint one of her houses. If you don't know Mabel, she was a New York socialite who moved to Taos in 1919 and then enticed many of her artist and writer friends to move to Taos or at least to visit. D.H. Lawrence, Georgia O'Keefe and Marsden Hartley are some of the luminaries who came. (Dennis Hopper wrote the script to Easy Rider in her house, but that was after Mabel died.)

I painted the "Pink House." O'Keefe stayed there for awhile. It caught my eye because it is a bit more ramshackle than the main house, which is now run as an inn and conference center and is well-maintained. (For more on Mabel and her place, visit

The day was mostly cloudy with fleeting glimpses of sun, and as we are not yet into spring here, the vegetation is still looking a bit tired and beat-up. For this sketch, I used a hardboard panel with three coats of Blick acrylic gesso, which makes an unabsorbent and slippery surface that allows for some nice, transparent passages. I used just one brush and worked out of my 7-day pill box (filled with my 6 colors) to make clean up easier.

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