|Chaco Geometry, watercolor, 5 x 7, 140 lb. Fabriano Artistico cold press paper
'Chaco is all about geometry on earth and in the heavens.'Painting about, or at, Chaco Canyon in New Mexico is a challenge, and it was for me last month during my daily happy things watercolors. About six attempts were unsuccessful
I wrote about it, and intended to post the painting, but didn't, so unhappy was I at the "happy" subject.
I've painted at Chaco before, and Fajada Butte is a favorite. But painting the ruins of the Anasazi is intimidating, because the Anasazi deserve respect. A poor painting would not be worthy. The stonework is varied in a million shapes and angles and shadows, and if you get too detailed, you lose the effects of Chaco, and the emotion the painting carries.
As a detail-oriented person, that makes it almost impossible.
But last month, I wrote, after another attempt:
"Wanted to keep it abstract and failed. Chaco is all about geometry, on earth and in the heavens, and I've got to try again, keeping that in mind.
"But here's the attempt--failed because of the infinite geometry of the bricks--should have left them alone. "
|Failure Number 1
So today, I had to try again, keeping in mind geometry. "Paint what you feel, not what you see," said one art teacher.
"Paint shapes, not lines," said another.
Today's effort came from those thoughts. Better. I'm happy with this. It would not have happened without all those failures.
Here is the first failure, and what I wrote a month ago, and Don Strel's inspiring photograph below.
(I've written many times about Chaco, and if you search on the blog, you'll find lots of photos and comments and poetry.)
(From January 19, unpublished)"Chaco Canyon in New Mexico makes me happy, but trying to paint it is an exercise in frustration.
I was inspired to try again today, because Anne Hillerman, daughter of the late Okie mystery writer and journalist Tony Hillerman who wrote about the Navajo nation, will be speaking at Full Circle Bookstore tomorrow.
The book by Tony and his brother, the late Barney who was an OKC photographer, is Hillerman Country. I have a signed copy of it, signed by him when we inducted him into the Oklahoma Journalism Hall of Fame years ago (He's a United Press International vet, wrote A Fly on the Wall, set in the Oklahoma Capitol, and ran the UNM Journalism School.) I've read all his books.
|Don Strel photo in Hillerman's Landscape
Anyway, I'm going, thanks to info from a friend, and former student at OSU, Lynne Baldwin Matzell.
But I dug out the books and found this photo by Don. Had to try.
Wanted to keep it abstract and failed. Chaco is all about geometry, on earth and in the heavens, and I've got to try again, keeping that in mind.
But here's the attempt--failed because of the infinite geometry of the bricks--should have left them alone.
Frustration in happiness--Chaco Canyon."