Pathways & Precipices ~ An Artist’s Return to Awe and Wonder

Pathways & Precipices Gallery Introduction


This body of work is the visual testimony for my journey related to this Artist Residency adventure at Bandelier National Monument in the Fall of 2022.  The words that accompany the artwork and exhibit amplify this testimony by describing my experiences and how they impacted me.  May my sharing this journey with you inspire you to shed the shackles of “normal” and “expected” and follow the nudge to explore what makes your heart sing and let it renew you, body, mind, and soul!


“Living with fear stops us taking risks, and if you don’t go out on the branch, you’re never going to get the best fruit.”  ~  Sarah Parish

“You’ll Miss the best things if you keep your eyes shut.”  ~  Dr. Seuss



The exhibit catalog captures images of all 55 pieces of artwork displayed during the Exhibit and includes all of the supporting narrative, context, and inspirational quotes. It is available for you to order if you would like to share it as a gift or to have your own personal copy…

CLICK HERE TO ORDER Your Copy of the “Pathways & Precipices ~ An Artist’s Return to Awe and Wonder” Catalog!

Public Plein Air Painting on Trails



– Inspiration: My contribution to the park as part of this Artist Residency was public interaction since they had no room to take on a piece of artwork as many residencies require. After scoping out several spots near the Visitor Center and on the main Pueblo Loop Trail in Frijoles Canyon, I set up my plein-air kit (backpack with tripod, tray, palette, paints, brushes & palette knives, water, paper towels and stool) on the trail where I could paint without blocking foot traffic but also be able to easily interact with the public. For each scheduled paint out, I set up in one spot on the trail and painted two different views from that spot. Interacting with the visitors was an absolute blast, whether it was explaining what I was doing, sharing progress on their return, and even memory making photo ops!

– Techniques: I painted on small gessoed panels or watercolor paper with either palette knife or brush. I used either gouache paint (an opaque watercolor) or acrylic paint. I use weekly pill boxes to transport the paints, this allowed me to open only those colors I am using so the others will not dry out! I stuck them to my easel tray with poster putty so they wouldn’t slip!

– Take Away: Painting directly on scene is challenging but immensely rewarding and was a primary way for me to explore and capture what struck me most in the diverse landscape. Sharing the experience live expanded the impact of these paintings by sharing the landscape through my artist’s lens while viewing it together.

“Art isn’t complete until it’s shared.” ~ Seph Lawless


Public Demonstrations



– Inspiration: Similar to the Public Plein Air paint outs on the trails, I also interacted with the public through demonstrations of the three primary techniques I used; watercolor, mixed media collage, and my personal Acrylic Layers technique. Since visitors were there to explore the park, I knew I needed a way to communicate my processes quickly since few would want to hang out for hours watching me paint! So, each technique is represented here with a technique explanation, a six step process visual overview, and a completed piece of artwork started during the residency at the actual demonstrations.

– Take Away: Making art is a joyful thing, sharing that joy and bringing others into it is even better! It was exciting to see how visitors’ curiosity was piqued and appreciation increased with unexpected insights into the processes.


“What an artist is trying to do for people is bring them closer to something, because of course art is about sharing.
You wouldn’t be an artist unless you wanted to share an experience, a thought.” ~ David Hockney


Record & Respond



– Inspiration: It surprised me that beyond scheduled paint outs and demonstrations, I didn’t make much artwork until almost two weeks into the Residency! That is because I needed to get out into the park and experience what it had to offer first; to see what captured my attention, my interest, and my heart. This exploration took several forms. I walked the main Pueblo Loop Trail in the canyon almost daily, seeing it at different times of day. I took increasingly challenging hikes on the other trails, several solo (which was a huge leap for me) and two major ones with my “base-camp buddy”. I also took “field trips” with the Residency coordinator up to the Valles Caldera and to Georgia O’Keefe’s Home, Plaza Blanca, and Los Luceros with my “base-camp buddy”! In this initial set of “Record & Respond” pieces initiated during the residency you will see three major things that captured my heart… wildlife sightings, the unique light and glow, and the magnitude of the landscape.

– Techniques: The first two paintings I initiated are the squirrel and mule deer in watercolor. The other pieces incorporate textured colorful under-paintings, collaged papers I created to establish major shapes and color schemes, and my Acrylic Layers process with various mixed media.

– Take Away: Taking the time to thoroughly experience the place was key to letting it inspire my creative ideas and begin to transform me personally.


“I felt my lungs inflate with the onrush of scenery—air, mountains, trees, people. I thought, ‘This is what it is to be happy.’„ Sylvia Plath


“Cherish these natural wonders, cherish the natural resources, cherish the history and romance as a sacred heritage, for your children and your children’s children. Do not let selfish men or greedy interests skin your country of its beauty, its riches or its romance.” ~ Theodore Roosevelt


Visual Integrations



– Inspiration: I often use juxtaposition and windows within a piece to combine facets of a subject or idea to express the intention more fully for the piece. As part of my original proposal for the Artist Residency, I wanted to create some paintings reflecting multiple facets of Bandelier National Monument including combining wildlife and their associated ecological environment or more conceptual combinations of wildlife, landscape, and historical cultural presence. These pieces were all initiated during the Residency.

– Techniques: All but the purely watercolor piece started with collaging with papers I created to establish the major shapes and underlying color schemes. I then used my Acrylic Layers process with other mixed media such as graphite, charcoal, colored pencils, acrylic paint, and acrylic pens to build texture and visual interest.

– Take Away: A place such as Bandelier National Monument presents a wealth of diversity of wildlife, environments, geography and history which makes it challenging to capture in its full breadth.


“In every walk with Nature one receives far more than he seeks.” ~ John Muir


“There is a way that nature speaks, that land speaks. Most of the time we are simply not patient enough, quiet enough, to pay attention to the story.” ~ Linda Hogan


Presence ~ Then & Now



– Inspiration: One of the reasons I love Bandelier National Monument is the access and immersion amongst the ruins left by the Ancient Puebloans. You are surrounded by evidence of what was there then and is still there now; be it the enduring landscapes, the same wildlife, ruins of communal structures and dwellings, or petroglyph artwork pecked into the rocks. I was struck by the sense of timelessness of this special place where I could stand, walk, climb, see, and feel now, something of what ancients experienced as they lived and worked in these environments.

– Techniques: Each piece in this collection was created on a reflective mirror-like first layer in order to actually include the viewers’ reflection in the images as a way to bring the viewer into the timelessness of the place, the wildlife, and historic evidence. I then created underpaintings using acrylic spray paint preserving the desired reflective areas with masking. Finally, I used my Acrylic Layers process to begin adding texture and physical visual dimension between the layers of media.

– Take Away: Bandelier National Monument and places like it were and will continue to be sacred ground to the Native American cultures. We are privileged to have access, and the criticality of having the utmost respect for the places and their preservation is clear. The challenges of preservation come to mind, seeing modern footprints on ancient trails and next to ruins despite “stay on trail” signage. The access and opportunity to imagine what life was like is a gift not to be taken for granted. The balance of public access to enhance the public’s appreciation and preservation with respect to what the land, wildlife, historic places, and remains mean to our Native Cultures today is an important and challenging cause.


“To us, these petroglyphs are not the remnants of some long-lost civilization that has been dead for many years… they are part of our living cultures. What is stored in the petroglyphs is not written in any book or to be found in any library. We need to return to them to remind us of who we are and where we came from, and to teach our sons and daughters of it.” ~ Herman Agoyo (Kaafedeh), Former Governor, Ohkay Owingeh & All-Indian Pueblo Council Chairman


Unforgettable Vast Vistas



– Inspiration: Each vista reflects a personal victory during the residency where I systematically faced and conquered my fears related to cliffs and sheer drops. These timeless scenes are wild, rugged, stark, and intense… One feels small, vulnerable, and exposed, with heightened senses trying to take it all in. The expansive views are alive with the intense and constantly changing light, undulating like waves over the diverse textures. In every case I was hesitant to leave… Following the residency, I continued to read and learn more about the region and ancestral Puebloans, and learned these landscapes and ecosystems held and continue hold deep meaning to these Native American cultures.

– Techniques: Each of these large pieces consists of two large, raised panels secured together to create even larger panels. They all started with underpaintings of acrylics and collaged paper to establish the main shapes and lights and darks. Some also include the use of my Acrylic Layers technique to build physical textures and additional visual interest.

– Take Away: Take the risk! Be bold and step out into the new and never done before. We have one life to live here, and we shouldn’t waste it! GO, LOOK, SEE, FEEL, LEARN, DO… live the adventure of life and the experience the amazing wonders this amazing created world offers.


“It is a wholesome and necessary thing for us to turn again to the earth and in the contemplation of her beauties
to know the sense of wonder and humility.” ~ Rachel Carson

“I have taken a moment here to rest, to steal a view of the glorious vista that surrounds me,
to look back on the distance I have come.” ~ Nelson Mandela


Lasting Impact & Transformation



– Inspiration: This experience was life changing, requiring me to do so many new things outside of my comfort zone and beyond the temptation of everyday life to fall into numbing sameness of life patterns and conveniences. It was also life giving through the transformations I personally experienced physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Stepping out to do something new in strange places; to explore, discover, learn, grow self-awareness and appreciation; was a once in a lifetime gift and experience.

– Techniques: These pieces are all conceptual so a diverse application of mixed media techniques was employed based on each unique intention. I enjoyed creating a most of the papers to use for the collage elements in each and employing my acrylic layers to create organic textures.

– Take Away: We don’t have to physically die to become dead and numb inside. It is NEVER too late to reclaim your precious inner child; the hope, the enthusiasm and excitement, and expectant anticipation… Without it the world and all its cares overtake our ability to explore, experience, and embrace all that is good and beautiful. It is also never too late to embark on new adventures and facing the “I could never’s” head on to get unstuck to glean all we can on this life journey… filling our cup so we can fill others’!

“Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself.” ~ Leo Tolstoy


“You can’t get there by bus, only by hard work, risking, and by not quite knowing what you’re doing. What you’ll discover will be wonderful: yourself.” ~ Alan Alda



The exhibit catalog captures images of all 55 pieces of artwork displayed during the Exhibit and includes all of the supporting narrative, context, and inspirational quotes. It is available for you to order if you would like to share it as a gift or to have your own personal copy…

CLICK HERE TO ORDER Your Copy of the “Pathways & Precipices ~ An Artist’s Return to Awe and Wonder” Catalog!

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