Plein Air Journal – Ghost Ranch

This past weekend I had the pleasure of painting the famous Ghost Ranch scenery with other PAPNM (Plein Air Painters of New Mexico) members Mary and Marilyn. As I had a bit of a longer drive than the other two, by the time I arrived at the ranch they were already lost in the landscape. It only took two minutes up the rough gravel road past the campground to find them though. Their reflective umbrellas stood out in the pale yellow grassy hills. Both painters were already hard at work, absorbed in laying down the outlines of their pieces at their shaded easels. I commenced to set up my not-so-professional camping chair with a purple polka-dotted umbrella bungie-corded to the back. hahaha.

My not-so-professional, yet very cheerful painting set-up.

My not-so-professional, yet very cheerful painting set-up.

It was an excellent morning that started cool and warmed up quickly. By noon we were all a bit too warm and after lunch headed down to paint from more shaded areas. I set aside my painting of the giant rocky cliffs and planned to pick up where I left off in the cool of Sunday morning.

Mary and I chose to paint from the portico of the worship building. Our view:  Cerro Pedernal, locally known as just “Pedernal” is a narrow mesa in New Mexico. The name is Spanish for Flint Hill. The sky was doing amazing things with big dramatic clouds sweeping over the mountains while the cottonwood trees flamed a brilliant yellow.

Mary and I chose to paint from the portico of the worship building

the portico of the worship building

closer picture of where we painted from

closer picture of where we painted from

Pedernal, oil on board, 11 x 14"

Pedernal, oil on board, 11 x 14″

Marilyn set up under the large shady trees near the dining hall. Not too long after she began painting we could see from our portico another painter had set up near her and I can understand why. The view of rolling hills and mountains in the distance was really captivating. All the yellow in the trees and scattered leaves also lent the whole scene a decidedly autumn feel, something that hasn’t reached Portales yet.

The dining hall surrounded by shady trees dropping yellow leaves

The dining hall surrounded by shady trees dropping yellow leaves

After the ladies finished their second pieces Husband and I bid them farewell, ate fajitas in the dining hall and retreated to our adobe abode to read and collapse.
The following morning we enjoyed breakfast in the dining hall again and it really felt like we were kids back at summer camp. What a nice feeling! I got myself a hot apple cinnamon tea to go and headed back up the hill to set up my painting again.

Morning walk down to breakfast in the dining hall

After breakfast: heading back to the Coyote building where we stayed

Finishing the rock piece from the day before

Finishing the painting of the cliffs from the day before

Painting the rock

Painting the rock

Ghost Ranch Rocks, oil on board, 11 x 14"

Cliffs at Ghost Ranch, oil on board, 11 x 14″

Elliott and I after breakfast

With my biggest supporter

We'll be back here...

We’ll be back here soon…

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