Posts Tagged ‘Mesa Verde’

One point most artists agree upon is the wisdom of painting a favorite subject again and again—as a series or a lifetime of renderings, as evidenced in Monet’s many water lily paintings.  If the subject is something we dearly love, it will always hold our interest and we can capture this love in a plethora of colors, aspects, viewpoints, and styles. 

From little on, I have been fascinated by the vanished culture of the cliff dwellings in the four corners—Colorado, Utah, Arizona, and New Mexico—and other parts of the “Grand Circle” surrounding Mesa Verde where these states meet.  The history of the area is fraught with enigma, unanswered questions, and infinite speculation concerning how the people lived and why they abandoned their cities in the cliffs.  The area itself abounds in beauty which borders on the bizarre.

Although the term “Ancients” has been applied to many past cultures around the world, and even to fictional space aliens, the “Ancients” who capture me are those historic people who maintained a working civilization in the Grand Circle from approximately 1200 B.C. to 1300 A.D.—the Anasazi (meaning “ancient”), or Ancient Pueblo Native Americans.  Many sites in the Grand Circle are named after these people, who are generally referred to as “The Ancients”.

I have traveled in the Grand Circle, and I never tire of reading about the area—its history, cultural ruins, and theories as to what life may have been like for the cliff dwellers.  In recent years, my interest in the Southwest USA has intensified from reading many novels by Louis L’Amour set in that locale.  Not only does this author describe the region in painterly paragraphs which virtually pop off the page and into one’s imagination, but he creates an aura of mystery about the people who lived there—and fictionalizes this mystery into “cliff-hanging” plots which have kept me reading far into the night on several occasions.

Given my love for the Southwest, and my love for Louis L’Amour’s books, it is not surprising that aspects (usually dreamed up and fictionalized) tend to fall off my paintbrush onto paper.  The above, “hot off the palette” piece is titled Lost Amethyst Mine of the Ancients.  This is pure fiction.  I have no knowledge that the Ancients did any mining, or that there is amethyst quartz in the area.  Thus far I have found no online documentation that mining may have been part of that ancient culture.  I simply capture what comes to my mind when I think of Western mines and the culture of the Ancients.  I also love the color of amethyst!

I’ve been painting the Southwestern theme for months—and my zeal shows no indication of flagging.  Awhile back I produced a “favorite” which I named Lost Canyon of the Ancients. I may have posted it before, and a cropped version of it appears above in the header, but in any event here it is again:  ↓

This above bit of fantasy is now framed and hanging over our (electric) fireplace. 

Margaret L. Been, ©2012


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Many a night, I’m too weary to do any more serious reading.  I normally read for 2 to 4 hours every afternoon.  My reading—plus frequent piano practice and knitting—provides plenty of detailed work for these old eyes, which are ready to rest in the evening.  There are some things I can do without reading glasses, things that are easy on the eyes such as spinning, painting, and sketching!

I love to hunker in bed with my sketchbook.  Sketching is a purely relaxing, no-particular-goal type pursuit.  I mainly sketch from memory:  my gardens, our lake view at our northern home, our condo lane dotted with ornamental crab trees, the nearby pond, the forest beyond our park, my doggie, and cliff dwellings.

I’m passionate about the region of the four corners (Colorado/Arizona/New Mexico/Utah) and the cliff dwellings there.  I love the landscape and colors of the surrounding miles—the red buttes, striated mesas, grotesque rock formations of towers and arches, the dusty expanse of quinacridone gold and burnt sienna earth, the fragrant pinion pines and desert sage, the adobe buildings, the turquoise sky, the entire scenario of the American Southwest.

Along with pencils, sketchbook, and a kneaded rubber eraser, I keep a jar of Sharpie® markers next to my side of the bed.  What a glorious way to savor a long winter evening!

Margaret L. Been, ©2011

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