The Easel

Yesterday I drove along the 18 miles of Road T in Saguache County Colorado. That was after some 20 miles on the US Highway 285 and before another 15 miles on paved Saguache County Road T. Saguache County is the first county north of my own, Rio Grande County. I was heading to the old mining town of Crestone — now arty-farty spiritual center — to buy my easel.

Nothing notable about the deal — except getting a $500 easel for $100 — but driving toward the Sangre de Cristo Mountains takes my breath away. They resemble the Alps in the way they rise from the valley floor, rugged and young.

The easel is large and it was a struggle to get it into the house, but I did it. But then — as happens — I realized I had to move stuff out of my studio and THAT led to moving stuff out of my living room. It’s interesting how when you get a small piece of new furniture you might end up re-arranging everything and cleaning.

I don’t know yet if in this picture the gray will turn to blue…

I haven’t figured out everything about it yet — the main thing I still have to work out is adjusting the up/down of the tray on which the painting rests. I see how to do it, I just haven’t been able to do it! I’ll make it work for this big painting, but it won’t work for a smaller one but if I never manages that, a cool thing about this easel is it can go flat, like a table.

Now my little studio has three work “surfaces.” A dedicated drawing table, the table of all work, and an easel. Pretty up town, I’d say.

OK, this isn’t much of a video, but I thought, since I have this fancy new upgrade I should try it…

Crestone Studio Tour

First, my foot did fine, and I didn’t wear the heavy hiking boots. It struck me I need to break them in before I head out for a day. I wore my light hiking high topped boots and they were perfect. The cane was very helpful, and I even went up and down stairs, walked on uneven terrain. I walked 3/4 of a mile. 🙂 I only felt pain when I had to stand for a while, BUT during those moments, there was a dog named Max who hung out with me and relieved the pain by being a dog.

We had lunch at a pretty new cafe called “Food is Art.” I had a health food meal straight out of On the Road though I think Kerouac usually had apple pie and ice cream. I went for the next best.

The menu was typical of this arty-farty somewhat cosmopolitan town with things like Thai chicken tacos. The cafe was cute, the people friendly and all was well.

We then proceeded to look for some place we could get the catalog of the show and finally went to the townhall. A very nice man was freezing inside working on a computer. It was a lot warmer outside. We got the catalogs and all went out together. The deer had been feasting on the plum tree beside the building and the evidence of their high fiber diet was all over the lawn. There was, also, in a juniper tree, a very amazing nest made of juniper branches.

No idea who made this but they did good work. Possibly the juniper titmouse.

From there we went to the gallery where I met a woman I liked very much, Jennifer Thomson. I loved her paintings, too. We had a great conversation artist to artist which isn’t always easy. When it happens, I savor it. She had a painting of a Swiss mountain I would have bought if I had any money. She told us how it came to be — it was a painting she did as a student and she told us about those days in her life. The painting below is gouache and seeds and ink — it’s really spectacular in real life

She also teaches art and I bought her workbook — I don’t know that I will do it as a workbook, but it has many of her paintings in it and a lot of her philosophy. She was influenced by Goethe’s theory of colors so, you know…

From there we went to see the work of a quilter, then a photographer (by mistake) named Peter Ismert. He had an amazing photo of Shriver/Wright along the Rio Grande, (where I love to take the dogs) at night, under the Milky Way. The photo took my breath away. I got his card. Maybe he has a small copy. 🙂

From there we went to a house that had three — maybe four? — artists. The one that struck me most died five years ago, the wife of one of the artists I met today. Her name is Robin Ross and her work is mysterious and beautiful, I think. You can learn more about her here.

I especially liked this one:

Coyote Blue

She had written a poem to go with it, but to me it sounded — I mean the painting sounded — like a poem by Paul Valery:

“Patience, patience,
patience in the blue.
In every atom of silence
Is the chance for ripe fruit.”

Patient, patience,
Patience dans l’azur!
Chaque atome de silence
Est la chance d’un fruit mûr!

Crestone itself is an interesting town — dilapidated buildings city-dwelling lovers of western movies would think were a set from a film nestle beside art galleries and yurts. This eclecticism and art is backed up against the Sangre de Cristo Mountains which I really saw today for the first time. I don’t have a great photo, but they go something like this:

The Foot

Excepting a couple of trips to the store, I haven’t been away from my house in 10 days, not since I reinjured my foot. This doesn’t mean I’ve stayed off my foot, though. A couple of days ago I raked leaves and covered the garden and there are chores. I’m not a sedentary person by nature or inclination. Luckily — as I’ve written before — my main form of exercise is a stationary bike, fondly dubbed The Bike to Nowhere or I’d be stark raving mad by now.

It puzzles me that I don’t need more human interaction — but I think some of that is supplied by the Internet, this blog, Facebook and talking on the phone with friends.

I’ve accomplished a lot — set up the book launch party for Baby Duck. Designed a 3 fold brochure advertising all of my books that are in the Narrow Gauge Bookstore in Alamosa where the event will be held. Made a complex slide show as entertainment for said event. Planned the party — and the party favors. All that’s left is going to the store and dealing with the physical logistics. I’m having the party while the store is open. Why not? There are not so many people in this valley that the place will be packed with humanity AND anyone who goes there is interested in books. My goal is to get the word out that I write pretty OK most of the time and would like to sell books.

BUT…my friend Elizabeth is, I think, maybe, a little concerned for the state of my mental health. That’s fine with me. She’s a wise person, and I both trust and love her. We’re going out into the world tomorrow to the mountain town of Crestone in the Sangre de Cristos, the mountains on the east side of the San Luis Valley. I have only been there once and never in the town itself, but to a very lovely hot spring, Valley View which, among other things, is the only place in Colorado where you can see fireflies as well as an amazing collection of bats.

Crestone is famous as a spiritual center, and there are probably more religions practiced formally there than in most places in the world. There are many artists and the goal tomorrow is a studio tour. The term “spiritual center” always leaves me a little edgy and bewildered. Is there any place on this earth that is NOT a spiritual center? It strikes me that this whole planet is as holy and sacred as anything could possibly be, not to mention the universe that contains it, but yeah. I just have to shrug things off. BUT the Episcopal church in Crestone is a log cabin which is pretty cool.

I have hiking boots and I will wear them to splint the bad foot, but I’ll take a pair of shoes in case the boots prove more than I can handle.

I got them on eBay. I wanted old-school leather hiking boots like those I wore for years and NEVER injured my feet. My boots — those I have had for a while — are serious mountaineering boots and weigh about 3 pounds each. Way more boot than I will ever need again in my life. The boots arrived yesterday, like new, Italian leather boots, but stiff and a lot heavier than approach shoes or trail-running shoes which I’ve been wearing since the early 2000s. We’ll see. I will also take my cane which will help me take weight off my hurt foot, and the deal is that if I can’t stand it, we’ll come home.