Monday, April 27, 2015

Santa Fe Painting Retreat - Part 2

Dog with a View on Delgado Street

One of the things I love about New Mexico, especially in the spring, is the unpredictable weather.  Who would have thought, with the lilacs and wisteria blooming, that we would have had snow our first morning?

We all noticed when we rose the heavy clouds hanging over the Sangre de Cristo mountains.  After a hearty breakfast, I checked the radar on Wunderground, and I could see rain spinning our way and snow already falling at higher elevations.  But it seemed spotty enough, so we geared up and walked from the house to a little dirt lane I'd discovered that led to several beautiful historic adobe homes.  It was only a five-minute walk to the location, so I knew we could scurry back, so long as we didn't get an all-out downpour.



We set up quickly.  It being early Sunday morning - about 8 a.m. - we took care to do so quietly to avoid annoying the residents.  There were a few cars parked here and there (I set up near a sporty Mercedes), and some orange cones marked someone's currently-empty parking spot.  We  had a great view of a massive lilac bush, beautiful in the moody light, and that became our focus.

Moody Lilacs 9x12 oil
by Michael Chesley Johnson

Within the hour, it began to spit rain.  I managed to get my painting to a finish and to pack up before it really started to come down.  We used our plein air umbrellas to ward off the rain, which quickly turned to sleet.  By the time we returned to the house,  it had changed over to snow.

It wasn't long before the a good coat of fluffy snow covered everything.  Wanting to make the most of the day, we decided to head over to the Georgia O'Keeffe Museum, where the current exhibition was ending this week.   We got there in time for a docent-led tour.  Usually, I find docent-led tours to be "beginner level," but this docent really knew her stuff and answered advanced questions from us painters.  We also got a good look at the work of some of Georgia's Modernist contemporaries:  Robert Henri, Edward Hopper (who didn't care for Santa Fe), Andrew Dasburg, John Marin, John Sloan, Alfred Steiglitz and others.

Mock-up of Georgia's Studio

Georgia's Paintbox
We returned to the house for lunch, but the weather wasn't improving significantly.  The others decided to go gallery-hopping, which is an excellent bad-weather day activity in Santa Fe, but since I'd already been here a week and had done the galleries, I decided to stay in and do a little paperwork.  But being a good host, I gave them my list of personal favorites on Canyon Road, most of which feature contemporary realist painters.   (Since you asked:  Ventana Fine Art, Sage Creek Gallery, Greenberg Fine Art, McLarry Fine Art, Meyer Gallery, Gerald Peters, Nedra Matteucci, among others.)

The others returned in the mid-afternoon, and the weather looked to be improving.  Still, a little rain was spitting down, so we all retreated to a variety of indoor or covered spaces.  Both garage and second-story porches were used to paint some of the views from the house.  I gave some advice, toned some panels for the next day, and encouraged everyone that the weather will certainly improve!

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