Thursday, April 19, 2018

Road Trip: Painting Retreat, Part 1 - Ghost Ranch, New Mexico

Ghost Ranch and Chimney Rock

The wind follows me everywhere.  First in Ramah, then at Ghost Ranch.  Fifty, sixty, maybe seventy mile-an-hour gusts?  Whatever it was, it blew the roof off the historic Ghost House and filled the canyon with dust that laid down a fine layer of grit on painting and palette.

The Ghost House

View from the Ghost House

The Ghost House is the centerpiece of New Mexico's Ghost Ranch.  Home to the cow-rustling Archuleta brothers, relations went bad as they often do among cow-rustlers, ending in one brother killing the other.  Some of the locals, having endured much thievery by the deceased, saw fit to hang his corpse from the old cottonwood in the casita's dooryard.   Later, Carol Stanley's husband won the house and the adjoining acreage in a raffle, and she turned it into a dude ranch.  Tiring of all those dudes, Stanley sold the house to Nature writer Arthur Pack, who invited not just dudes but also writers and artists to visit.  (Georgia O'Keeffe never lived in the house, but in the one next door to it.)  Later, Pack transferred the ranch to the Presbyterian Church, which runs it today as a spiritual retreat and education center.  You can read the full history of Ghost Ranch here.

Our first stop on our annual eastward trip back to Campobello Island was Ghost Ranch to lead a painting retreat.  It's a beautiful place to stay and paint, wind notwithstanding.  (By the way, it wasn't just the wind but also smoke from the wildfire in the Zuni Mountains that followed us there.  I reported on the fire in my last post.)  We had some very productive painting sessions, got to tour Georgia O'Keeffe's Abiquiu home, and also painted at O'Keeffe's “The White Place”, also known as Plaza Blanca.  As I write, we have finished our days at Ghost Ranch and are now in Santa Fe for the second half of the retreat.

In this post, I share some photos from this part of the retreat.  I won't present any finished paintings here—the grit still needs to be picked out of the paint—but will do so in a future post.

Painting the dust-filled canyon

Pre-breakfast coffee and critiques

Skull on the Ghost House


Hunkered down out of the wind

The long view

Painting the view of O'Keeffe's Pedernal

Georgia once sat here for a photo

Afternoon painting of Kitchen Mesa

Evening hikes

Georgia's "White Place" - find the painter!

By the way, on the way from Ghost Ranch, I stopped in at the Plein Air Convention and Expo.  I didn't think I'd have time, but organizer and PleinAir magazine publisher Eric Rhoads extended the invitation to me, so I made time.  I'm glad I went, as I got to catch up with some good friends there.

Eric Rhoads and me


Now I'm in Santa Fe, hunkering down under another high-wind warning.  I'll have a report on Santa Fe once we're done here.

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