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April 23, 2013 / pleinairman

Taos Plein Air Painting Retreat – Day 1

Below the John Dunn Bridge – 9×12 oil

We arrived in Taos Saturday to snow squalls.  By Sunday, though, the skies cleared, the cottonwoods budded with springtime yellow-greens and the sage filled the air with its heady scent.  Our participants – five painters from Tennessee, Ohio, Nevada and Colorado – arrived with Taos at its best.

Before they arrived, though, we did a quick tour of the area to remind ourselves of grocery options and painting spots.  I have a fairly detailed list of good spots, thanks to a couple of painting friends who paint here a lot.  We checked out locations just north of Taos, such as Arroyo Hondo and Arroyo Seco.  Taos is rich with great painting opportunities, and I’m sure it will be a good week.

Me, below the John Dunn Bridge

After a communal dinner of soup and bread, we laid out the plan for the week.  The way I run the retreat, we start off with coffee and breakfast, followed by critiques of the previous day’s work and a talk on whatever subject needs to be addressed.  After that, we saddle up and carpool or caravan to that day’s location.  Usually, we are out long enough to have lunch in the field.  Afternoons are free – participants can paint more if they wish, or they can take advantage of the town’s wonderful museums and galleries.  For dinner, everyone is on his own.  Some choose to go out, others eat in.  If we have some good light, we’ll paint the view from our house.  ( I did a demo from the back porch last night.) Finally, we tend to retire early, because painting out in the New Mexico sun is exhausting work!

Red Willows – 9×12 oil

On our first day, we had coffee and breakfast and headed right out.  The forecast was for increasing wind – what is springtime in New Mexico without wind? — so we went down into a canyon for protection.  The John Dunn Bridge, which is accessed from Arroyo Hondo by first pavement and then a couple of miles of dirt, crosses the Rio Grande where steep, basaltic walls rise up a couple of hundred feet.  Here, the river is shallow and slow and bordered by red willow.  The light was beautiful.

By lunchtime, though, the winds managed to dig down into the canyon.  At least two easels went over – mine did – and we decided to pack it up.  We had lunch in our cars and then headed back to the house.  The back porch of the house is, fortunately, on the lee side and is sheltered by a short wall, so I was able to take out my paintings and bring them to completion in comfort.



Robert (and Jim, not pictured)

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