Potato Cellar Outside Del Norte

This was a difficult painting. I don’t know why, but it was. It’s finished probably really though there might be something I see it won’t be a major change. It’s funny in a painting what you leave out. All around this potato cellar are old tools that would mean nothing to anyone looking at this painting even though in real life they’re interesting. To the left facing is an old wagon that, in this painting would look like two green stripes, again, meaningless.

In this painting I was very conscious of painting something that would say something. I realize that’s because this is a manmade thing and most of what I paint is just (just?) nature. Buildings say something different — I wasn’t aware of that when I started out to paint this potato cellar. I added the strips of turquoise paint. They are not actually there and I don’t know if potato cellars were ever painted with the turquoise paint that is emblematic of Hispanic buildings in America’s southwest. It was my way of placing this in Southern Colorado and identifying its cultural origin. I guess that’s artistic license. Other than that blue and the underpainting on the sky which is cerulean, all the colors are natural pigments. I used various whites.

Although the adobe potato cellars look “ancient,” they are structures from the 1950s and 1960s. Some roofs are sod. They are ideal for storing potatoes because adobe walls are dirt. The perfect potato cellar simulates potato’s home environment which is under ground. I’ve seen potato cellars in Idaho that are dug into a hillside.

These buildings are very beautiful and I hope to paint more. Fortunately, they made it to the list of Colorado’s Most Endangered Places so there will be some effort made to preserve them.

Potato Cellar 20 x 16 Oil on Panel


You can learn about these beautiful structures from Zoe Rierson who is an incredibly cool girl, a cultural anthropologist. In this video you can also hear the beautiful English spoken by Hispanic people who live here. It’s music to my ears.

15 thoughts on “Potato Cellar Outside Del Norte

  1. It’s a wonderful painting, very representative of what is shown in the video, and yet also of the rustic quality of the local agriculture. Thanks for sharing it!

  2. I love this painting. It has such a lovely texture to it, and I am sure it would be even more wonderful in real life. I also enjoyed learning about these great buildings.

    • Thank you! I think it’s kind of a hoot that people all over the world who read my blog know about potato cellars in the San Luis Valley and most people in Colorado don’t!

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