The air up here

It’s taken a bit of time to get used to the altitude and the dryness in Santa Fe. I wasn’t prepared for how quickly things dry here, most importantly the water on my paintbrush. It’s a big learning curve when you’re outside painting in the wind and the sun.

I spent a few days scouting locations for my MISA workshops. The biggest challenge so far, besides the climate, is figuring out what colours to use to paint the adobe walls. Some are brownish, some are pink, and some are putty-coloured. I’ve been experimenting with different pigment combinations but haven’t settled on the perfect mix yet.

The best place to hang out and draw is the Historic Plaza, and on the weekend it’s filled with musicians, vendors, tourists and dog walkers. It’s a great place for people sketching — lots of shade and plenty of benches.

It’s always been a dream of mine to paint in this beautiful city and the surrounding area, and as we happily enjoy the culture, the great food and all that pink adobe, it’s easy to forget that we are in close proximity to some raging forest fires. As we drove here on a shuttle from Albuquerque, we could see the smoke drifting across the mountains from the Cerro Pelado fire. There’s another one further to the north near Las Vegas, NM. So far, it hasn’t affected us here, but there have been several amber alerts on my phone for evacuations in the affected areas. Scary stuff indeed.

16 Comments on “The air up here”

  1. Chris Rusk says:

    Lucky you! We were in that very square a few years ago – and there was a man sketching a Palm Sunday procession – I wondered at the time if he was an Urban Sketcher 😉


  2. Elaine says:

    Beautiful painting ~ you’ll get the colors! It’s always been a dream to paint where you’ll be going with PACE. Our favorite place to visit & camp for many, many years. I’ve been so in love Taos, the Enchanted Circle and the High Road ~ the scenery, people and places. I am just heartbroken. Enjoy painting there – you might just fall in love, too. 🎨🖌🌲🌶


  3. Judy Sopher says:

    We lived in New Mexico over 20 years and spent many a day, or more ,in Santa fe. One of my favorite places. Enjoy your time there and send more pictures of your work. . This painting is perfect. I miss being there and miss NM so am excited to see more of your paintings .


  4. De says:

    Shari, your painting looks wonderful as this is one of my all time favorite cities to visit and roam about. So look forward to seeing places you discover because my mind is racing through all of the great places and sights to see. You could spend a month there and never run out of wonderful places to paint. Enjoy!!!


    • De, the more I wander in this city, the more I see that I want to paint. I don’t think I’ll get to all my favourite spots because I am teaching, but I will certainly try.


  5. Laura Kate says:

    It’s so interesting to see your work and the subject at the same time. I’m always trying to figure out what details to leave out and what details to add. Having been to Santa Fe many times, I enjoy seeing familiar places in your paintings.


  6. Mary Duncan says:

    I just love your paintings and you have captured Santa Fe beautifully ! I lived in NM at one time and Santa Fe is an interesting fun place !


  7. Donna says:

    Thanks for bringing back memories of a good trip years ago. Your people sketching is so colorful. It’s a shame that so much is on fire out there. Hopefully it won’t affect you too much. I’m sure you will come up with many shades of “adobe’. Looking forward to seeing the results.


  8. TimC says:

    The cathedral of St. Francis and the oddly gothic Loretta Chapel are two great structures. Your San Miguel looks great. Enjoy all that adobe.


  9. Northern Traveller says:

    Shari, this is beautiful! I love how the leaves haven’t come in yet, lending spareness to the painting. Have always wanted to visit Santa Fe – enjoy the desert landscape and All Things Georgia O’Keefe…… :).


  10. Yep, the moisture in the air (or lack there of) and the sun and heat make a big difference when trying to figure out the correct water/paint ratio. Bobbi and I struggled with the opposite problem in Santa Barbara. We are use to very dry air here in Northern California (like in Santa Fe) and lots of sun and heat so the moist air in Santa Barbara and cooler temps drove us nuts the first couple of days. Love your people! So fun!


  11. Nice paintings of the people and Spanish Architecture. Interesting painting of the trees and garden next to the Spanish Mission. I also like your study of the people and dogs, you really captured their profiles very simply without getting too caught up in the details, and it really works. Its hard to believe that Adobe actually built hardware, and structures back in the day. Joking aside, these turned out really well!!


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