As you drive into Ghost Ranch in northern New Mexico, an old cabin sits in a high spot along the road. Left over from a movie set, it has a 360 view of the "Piedre Lumbre" - valley of the shining stone.
From here, I look across Abiquiu Lake toward the Pedernal, Chicoma, and Polvadera Peak. I've hiked up in that territory, and love looking at this horizon across the lake.
As I turn, I feast on views of the golden and rose colored mesas of Ghost Ranch. Cloud shadows drift across them, illluminating canyons and layers invisible during full sunlight.
Eventually, my eyes land on Orphan Mesa, standing on its own away from the line of mesas behind it.
All of these places are beautiful to my eyes, and challenging to paint. The colors are intricate, the light constantly shifting as the sun moves through the heavens and clouds mysteriously appear.
One morning I went to paint, hoping for sunlight, only to discover a line of cloud moving up from behind the Pedernal. (This was a favorite mesa of Georgia O'Keeffe's; she is quoted as saying that if she painted it enough, God would give it to her). The light was unusually soft and gentle, even as the clouds were filled with potential stormy winds and rain. Of everything I was surrounded with, this had to be painted today.
I did 2 small paintings before the light was gone. Going out to paint is often about being flexible. I'd wanted to work on a large canvas I'd begun looking across the lake; however, these small gems were my gift for the day.