This is my tribe. My paint buddies. The people who speak my language, make the journey more fun and we help make each other better painters.

The views kept getting better and better as we headed to Ghost Ranch on a rainy morning. The hills got bigger and the red rock cliffs came into view, taking our breath away. We were five artists in a van, seeking spectacular sights and hoping the weather would be clear enough to paint them.

Ghost Ranch 1

The clouds were magnificent and ever changing on this day spent at Ghost Ranch. I very quickly recoded the clouds and sketched in the foreground to work on in the studio at a later time.

By the time we got to the ranch, what was clear was that we would have no trouble finding a view to paint. The weather was taking a turn for the better, and our excitement was building. The rock cliffs, against a backdrop of mountains, were awash in red, yellow, orange, green and a soft purple, their forms so unusual and exciting. We eagerly hopped out of the van and were off to find our painting location.

Ghost Ranch 2

Our first painting done at Ghost Ranch. It is not finished, but I painted all the information I need to finish it up at home!

We painted near a river valley facing the formation called The Three Sisters. There were wind chimes blowing in the wind and birds singing us a soft song. The sun came out and then dashed behind the clouds again and again. At one point it even snowed, though it was 50 degrees out. The Californians in the group were not amused. But we persevered, painted on, and finished up with plenty of time to paint another. Our goal: to find shelter from the whipping wind.

We found another gorgeous view up a bit higher with a building to protect us. What a find!  The sun was shining bright by this point and the sky was magnificent.
This opportunity was all possible because I was attending the Plein Air Convention in Santa Fe. This means you’re surrounded by fabulous painters who are faculty. For most of the week, we watched demos and presentations by renowned artists and went out in the afternoon to try out what we had learned. While painting, we had faculty nearby to help us along and push us to be better painters.
Ghost Ranch 3

The most finished painting I did at Ghost Ranch. I might tweak it a bit, but this looks very much how the sky felt!

But the grand finale was on Friday, when we got to paint all day at Ghost Ranch, was the highlight and truly a touch of magic. This is why we plein air paint: to be outside and commune with nature and, when we are lucky, we get to do it with our friends. It’s just such a joy and a privilege!

Tune in next Monday for more on the Plein Air Convention and some of what I discovered. I’m on a plane headed back to my home and my boys (Marc, my husband, and Muchacho, my fur baby) as I type, and still processing the experience and lessons learned. It was a very full week and reflection will be an important part of the learning, I suspect.
What have been your favorite lessons learned at a workshop or convention? In life or in art? Because the more I study art, the more convinced I am that art imitates life and vice versa. Let’s chat about it over on Facebook and Instagram.
See you next week!

It was a fantastic group of wacky wonderful painters. The blue hats represent faculty. These are the people we owe a great deal of gratitude to for their commitment to making us all better more joy-filled painters. Thank you, Charles H. White and Eric Rhoads.