Artist in Residence Adventure ~

Stage 5:  Studio Days & Exploration…


So this residency adventure of mine is truly open ended with regard to how I approach… EVERYTHING!  By this point I have established a daily routine which helps me prepare for each day… I get up around 7:00 unless I’m really pooped, in that case the “light switch” of the sun coming over the North canyon wall awakens me!  Coffee, time in my journal and daily devotions, a look at the weather report and then settling on the plan for that day!


In the Studio ~

My initial studio days focused on watercolor and capturing the wildlife I had personally encountered.  I also initiated my artist journal to record the highlights of my trip experiences.


Exploring the Park ~

I’ve already seen so many things which inspire and impact me in this amazing location.  I’m realizing it will take significant time and intentional exploration of the variety of sights and environments this park offers in order to figure out my response and how I want to reflect that through my art.  So my first order of business is to get out into the park and explore.  I know this seems obvious, but at this point I’m realizing I will be exploring on my own now, a new experience for someone accustomed to depending on “buddies” to venture out with.  The park rangers reassured me multiple times that I would be fine so I just made sure to let them and my hubby know what my plans were when I expanded my adventures beyond the main Pueblo Loop Trail which I shared with you in an earlier post!


Tyuonyi Overlook ~

My first solo hike was up to Tyuonyi Overlook.  I ventured out mid-late afternoon (before daylight savings time started so it sun didn’t set until about 6-6:30) to the Juniper Campground near the entrance for the park off of Rt 4.  It was a beautiful, clear day with that amazing vast blue New Mexico sky and angled light of the afternoon sun beginning to head towards the South canyon wall…  The trail started amongst some tall ponderosa pines and meandered across the mesa through the sage brush, chamisa, and juniper trees.  I enjoyed sighting the birds and finding ancestral pueblo culture ruins for a multi-roomed dwelling and a raised Kiva site both made from the Tuff compressed volcanic ash rock.  I only encountered one other visitor on the trail and had it all to myself except for the family of mule deer that watched my progress.  I was super excited when I reached the actual overlook for peering down into the Frijoles Canyon and the Tyuonyi pueblo village ruins.  I realized I was standing above my favorite outcropping and gained a whole new appreciation looking down onto the switchbacks of the Frey trail which I hoped to navigate soon!  On my way back I found the turn for the rim trail and took that loop back to the car.  The sunlight angle was continuing to lower and the back-lighting of the trees and brush became magical!  YAY, victory! Solo hike #1 complete!


The Falls Trail ~

My next solo hike was the Falls Trail which follows the path of the Frijoles (Little Beans) Creek and heads East further down Frijoles Canyon towards where the creek flows into the Rio Grande in White Rock Canyon.  The original trail went all the way to the Rio Grande until the flash floods following the 2011 fire wiped out the path below the upper falls.  The ranger said I should have no problem on my own and only that it gets a bit steep at one point.  Cool!  Broke out one of my new treking poles, put water and my compressed puff coat in the sack for my back and headed out about 10:30 in the morning.  Another BEAUTIFUL day, this hike was magical!  The birds singing, the sound of the Frijoles Creek gurgling down at the bottom of the canyon as I made my way down the trail on the South side of the canyon.  The autumn colors were still in fine showing protected in this more narrow section of the canyon especially as the light sparkled down through the leaves… crossed over the creek a couple times, and the path continued to narrow, now heading back up with signage reminding parents to keep kids close!  Uh oh!  What will I find ahead?  A major PRECIPICE!  The path opened up as it rose again with a blind turn around the bend in the canyon wall and a shear drop off into the canyon below… The vista ahead was amazing… The Rio Grande sparkling in the valley ahead outside the mouth of Frijoles Canyon… ACK!  My precipice anxiety struck hard and I retreated to the juniper tree to get myself together…  three friendly gentlemen passed me by, I indicated I might see them down there or might not… Said my prayer, took a deep breath and headed up and around that bend!  I called down to the three gentlemen at the upper falls overlook, a small, almost level overlook “peninsula” where you could enjoy  360 degrees of amazing views… LOOK WHO MADE IT!  They cheered and took my picture as testimony to this next victory for solo hike #2 and overcoming the precipice anxiety!  I was giddy and the hike back was just as beautiful as the way to the Falls!



The Frey Trail ~

Frey Trail – My ascension up the Frey Trail switch backs from the canyon floor up to the mesa level occurred in several stages.  Early on, I ventured up just a couple switchbacks until my “precipice anxiety” started to hit.  I absolutely loved the trail and its views, but nibbled away at the elevation!  My next attempt got me to the first bench from which you could look down over the Tsyuonyi Pueblo ruins and also gave me a great view of this cool isolated ponderosa pine on a cliff in a niche about halfway up the canyon wall.  I returned to that bench to paint that ponderosa on a Thursday afternoon, about 3pm…  I figured noone would be out on this trail this late in the day but it wasn’t far off the Pueblo loop and the light was perfect!  I was floored to encounter 8 people coming down that trail while I painted!  One couple was kind enough to take pictures of me for the record!  Finally, one afternoon I decided to make my way all the way up to the mesa level!  There was a young family also making the ascent so I did not feel isolated!  With treking pole in hand and a conversation of prayer to overcome my lingering precipice anxiety, up I went!  The perspective of the surrounding area from the mesa level was so different!  On the way back down I stopped and “took it all in” at the two benches along the way and got amazing reference photos for the amazing glow from the North canyon wall on the Frey trail rocks!


Public Interaction Weekend #2 ~

So in addition to all of my “private” exploring and studio making activities…  I also had my public interaction activities for the 2nd weekend!


Watercolor Demonstration ~

Saturday I conducted a watercolor demonstration and Sunday I did my third public paint out “on the trail”.  As I thought through how I might best demonstrate my watercolor process I realized folks are not coming to the park to watch an artist demonstration for hours!  I decided to create a “process sheet” to share the major steps of my watercolor painting process in a nutshell so folks could enjoy it at a glance and also be able to paint the actual demonstration!  I’m really pleased with how it turned out and it is a reusable asset for other classes in the future!


Public Paint Out # 3 ~

For my public paint out I decided to paint the creek!   Although somewhat small width-wise, Frijoles Creek created this canyon!  So I decided to “feature this feature” for my 3rd public paint out…  I scouted out a few accessible locations and ended up selecting a view of a bend in the creek next to the main parking lot at the Visitors Center.  It was really fun greeting visitors in the parking lot on their way into the park and even funner sharing progress on the paintings with them when they were returning to their car!  It was a COLD day but the under-armour cold gear, down puff coat, and fingerless gloves did their job well!


Playing Tour Guide ~

My “base-camp” friend Mary came for a visit following my paint out to check in and see how I’m doing and for me to play Tour Guide and show her the highlights of the Pueblo Loop Trail!  It was neat to see the main attractions afresh through the eyes of someone who is seeing it all for the first time!


All of this exploration and recording of what I’m seeing and experiencing is creating a great foundation to begin going deeper and start responding to this sensory flood.  More on that next time!


If you’re interested in the other Bandelier Artist in Residence ~ Adventure  posts, here are the links so you can enjoy the full story!

  1. “Artist in Residence Adventure ~ Stage 1:  Travel & Acclimation…”
  2. “Artist in Residence Adventure ~ Stage 2:  Arrival at My New Home…”
  3. “Artist in Residence Adventure ~ Stage 3:  Explore & Initial Game Plan…”
  4. “Artist in Residence Adventure ~ Stage 4:  Field Trip to Valles Caldera…”
  5. “Artist in Residence Adventure ~ Stage 5:  Studio Days & Exploration…”
  6. “Artist in Residence Adventure ~ Stage 6:  Wider Explorations…”
  7. “Artist in Residence Adventure ~ Stage 7:  Seeds of Inspiration & Ideas to Pursue…”
  8. “Artist in Residence Adventure ~ Stage 8:  Focus for Final Push…”
  9. “Artist in Residence Adventure ~ The Artwork…”
  10. “Artist in Residence Adventure ~ Stage 9:  Wrap it Up…”
  11. “Artist in Residence Adventure ~ Stage 10:  Decompression Begins…”

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