FS 151

5″x7″ pastel on sanded paper

The road that runs between Christ in the Desert Abbey, and Ghost Ranch is one of my favorite places in the world. I love the canyon, the drive, the Rio Chama, and especially what lies at either end of this forest service road.

After lugging many pounds of heavy painting equipment around all summer, I came home and lightened my load! Check out my new travel set up. It is the smallest Heilman pastel box, which I carefully adapted with the help of my, clever and handy, Spanish exchange student. The box is made to securely hold pastels on one side, and carry paper on the other. As designed, there was no way to hold the support in the top half of the box so it kept sliding down. Second, the paper holder it came with didn’t work very well. After some brainstorming, we removed the stock paper holder and then added the 4 pieces of silver hardware you can see in the top of the photo. We made them adjustable, so they can hold the lid, and paper of varying sizes, in place. The trickiest part was carving out part of the box to allow room for the hardware so that the box will still close.

Today was my test drive, and I am delighted!

Desert Rain


“A Desert Rain”

The cool rain poured in sudden haste
Upon the thirsty sod,
And life throughout an arid waste
Rejoices, thanking God.

Each wild and lonely desert flower
Is royally arrayed,
As if in one brief, stormy hour
The world were newly made.

Where vagrant breezes stray and waft
The mesquite’s sweet perfume,
The green saguaro’s fluted shaft
Lifts high a richer bloom.

The palo verde blossoms glow
Like jets of yellow fire,
And every bird we love and know
Pipes in the tuneful choir.

The fair Altruria of the bees,
Beneath the orange boughs,
Hears whispered friendships of the trees
As sweet as lovers’ vows.

Wee desert folk from strife forbear–
Their deadly conflicts cease,
As if responsive to the prayer
For Universal Peace.

No more on thorns the linnet hangs–
Slain by the cruel shrike;
The coiled crotalus sheathes his fangs,
And does not care to strike.

Here blooms the world like Aaron’s rod,
New verdure clothes the plain–
The wondrous miracle of God
That follows a desert rain!
-Andrew Downing

“Dream-Seeking Trail”


“You cannot be wimpy out there on the dream-seeking trail. Dare to break through barriers, to find your own path.”
~ Les Brown

My husband is a runner, a trail runner. He loves to cover ground, through nature, on foot. We have many friends that also run trails, and they support each other through wild, rugged terrain. I am grateful for the friendships that have formed over the miles and years.

“Father John Tending the Hops”


In northern New Mexico, down a 17 mile dirt driveway, at the end of a canyon sits a very special place where 40 monks keep the hours and pray the psalms. That place is called Monastery of Christ in the Desert.

Here is Father John tending the hops, collected from local canyons, grown to make Monk’s Wit
Ale. Benedictine monks have been mixing a life of prayer, work, and study for the last 1500 years. I like to think it is a bit like traveling back in time when I visit this monastery. It is a contemplative monastery, and they respect a rule of silence. Deep in the desert, and off the grid, there no road noise, or buzzing of machines. I expected the silence to be oppressive, but I experienced it as a true gift. The quiet makes it easier to quiet one’s mind, and it makes their chanting that much more beautiful.

When I showed this painting to Father John he quoted John 15: “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. 2 He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. 3 You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. 4 Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.

5 “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. 6 If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. 7 If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. 8 This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.”

So I post this painting today to remember these brothers, especially today on St. Benedict’s feast day.

Beautiful Storm

10″ x *’ pastel on sanded paper Daily Painting #16

I painted this with an underpainting that I washed in with denatured alcohol. For some reason the drips were hard to paint over in places, but it seemed to work ok with the rain in the finished painting.