Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Painting, Cookies and Special Memories

 Yesterday was the day! Our son, DIL and granddaughter, Aubrey, spent the day with us and had Aubrey's second of three Christmas celebrations. They will continue on, weather permitting, to New Mexico to be with Aubrey's other grandparents for her third Christmas of the season. It was a special time since, at the age of almost five years, Aubrey is able to fully participate in all of the activities that Grandma had planned, and carry on lively conversations all the while. Here we have Aubrey and her Daddy assembling the desk/easel that Grandpa Tom found for her artwork. It took awhile to put together, but Aubrey pronounced that she "loved it" upon completion, so that was a good thing!
 We baked chocolate chip cookies and we did a super job because they were delicious! I have to say, though, that the sugar rush that resulted (and lasted all day) just about wore poor Grandma out by the end of the day.
No photos were taken of Aubrey and I painting, but we did paint for quite awhile. Grandma's Frig Gallery now has some new pieces of artwork added to the collection. She brought her brushes I sent her with her and pulled them out immediately upon coming into our house and said "let's paint, Grandma"! Later, we did paint and she painted what she said she was going to paint for me....a car and some trees.

For my background-challenged artist buddies you will note that around the trees she actually carefully painted a light blue sky!

Today she wants to make a bracelet for herself and paint some more. What fun this is!

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Happy Holidays!

I want to wish all of my blog followers and their loved ones a happy holiday season and the very best of new years. Since 2010 has been such a challenging time for so many of us, if you pray please pray for a healthier, happier and more prosperous new year.

I am thankful for all of my family's blessings, as well as my online friends (many of whom are like family to me) and send prayers for a special 2011 for them all.

May God bless us, one and all.....Susan

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Well past my anniversary

I just went back to my very first post on this blog, it was  October 11, 2006. So I am past my fourth anniversary with this blog! Time certainly flies. I look back at my first timid attempts at blogging and am thankful I did not give up back then and stop trying to blog. Soon after starting this blog, we started construction of my art studio onto our house. That was fun revisiting that process, although I doubt I would want to go through that again. Needless to say, the room looked much bigger then than it does now with all of my files (better make that piles!) taking up every available space in here. Sigh. Thankfully, it has French doors leading into it so I can just close the doors and the blinds on the door and my disorganization goes away. That is better than, gasp, cleaning and organizing it or something!

Not much time left before Christmas friends! We are as close to being ready as we care to get for now and will just take things as they come. This is not the year for big celebrations for us; we are just thankful that we are all still here and reasonably healthy and able to enjoy our families and friends. God is good.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Neglected painting

Alas, an entire week has passed and I have done nothing with  this painting. I have had muscle spasms between my shoulder blades and have had a very uncomfortable week. I could not even think of lifting a paint brush so there it painting is sitting with the temporary mat where I left it last Sunday. Maybe I should have tried to paint while under the influence of muscle relaxer meds...they might have loosened my painting style some? LOL

I will be keen to work with it when I can, although in this last few days before Christmas I am sure I will have other noteworthy excuses to offer of why I haven't been able to work on this. I still have plans and inspiration, though!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

La mesa de mi padre WIP 3

I decided to digitally crop this to see what I thought; not sure, still. That's the beauty of digital imaging, you can completely destroy the photo but not the painting before you act! I do like the tighter focus of this, though, so the final crop (with the scissors!) will be something similar, I am sure. I have added two more glazes to the stucco here, but didn't wait for the last glaze to dry before shooting the photo, hence the wrinkles in the wet paper. I will add at least one more glaze to the stucco and then start detailing the pots and table. At that point, most of those hard edges will be softened and it will start to come together better. That is my plan, anyway...we all need to have plans!


I am mulling it over to crop the la mesa de mi padre WIP before I continue with it so, in the meantime, thought I would share this sunset photo from two nights ago. This is looking toward the west (obviously, it is a sunset photo!) from our neighborhood. I especially love the sunrises at this time of the year here, but this sunset caught my attention as being worthy of a quick photo.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

La mesa de mi padre

 This is the sketch and underpainting of my next project. I am using another of Roch's excellent photos for this painting. It is of a portion of his patio, and shows a table hand-made by his father when Roch was a young boy. His father has passed and he cherishes this table, crooked though it is. It sits among a colorful set of Mexican pots and, as his photos usually do, has great light-dark contrasts. I intend to maintain these contrasts as much as I can throughout the painting.

As I have been doing lately, I am working on starting paintings with a purple grisaille underpainting. I want to explore this technique more fully to see how it works for me. So far, so good.

This is the next WIP, which shows the first glaze of color over the masking fluid applied here and there. There will be many more glazes to show the stucco and flagstones as they need to be, as well as the very dark shadows enveloping the pots.

As very often happens I see, now that this is on the computer screen, that I have drawn and painted the table top incorrectly. So, thanks to my trusty Mr. Clean Magic Eraser (MCME) I will attempt to correct this so it reads better. What was I thinking? When it comes to drawing, who is just wrong!

For those whose Spanish is better than mine, please advise if I have incorrectly titled this...I am trying to say "The Table of my Father"

Monday, November 29, 2010

Top Watercolor Blogs Award!

I received word today that my watercolor blog had been recognized as being among the top watercolor blogs on the Internet! This was by an online graphic design school,  Online Graphic Design Degree. The announcement read as follows:

Dear Susan, 
Congratulations! Amanda here, and your blog, Watercolors by Susan Roper, is 
an essential part of our resources! 
As a website dedicated to help those consider a career in graphic design, 
we only provide the best information available.  Whether it's a resource 
that explores the art of sketching, or provides inspiration for your next 
painting, we provide them for those seeking to obtain this information. 
This is why we've featured your blog, as it is one of the best to teach our 
You can see your blog and others at:  

How cool is this? My good friend, Rhonda, announced she had received a similar honor this morning for her great art blog from another online design school, now I see she is considered among the top watercolor blogs for this same online school as the school that recognized my blog. I see other familiar names, also, so I feel I am in exalted company!

Like I said, Cool!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Sunset Ruin - Final

I have taken the suggestions of the Watercolor Workshop group, gathered my courage and finished this on this Thanksgiving Eve. I pondered and pondered, and every time I looked at it I wanted a stronger sky. So, that is what I did. For better or worse, this is finished!

Today, I am smoking a turkey and making dinner rolls to take to my family dinner, so welcomed the chance to sit and paint for awhile.

I want to wish all of my US blogees a wonderful Thanksgiving  holiday, stay warm, safe and enjoy being with friends and family.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Sunset Ruin - WIP 4

Here is the second-to-the-last WIP for this painting. I have submitted it to the Watercolor Workshop for critique and will wait to see what, in addition to what I want to do, should be done to this to finish it. I want to strengthen the sunset mood of the sky, I think I quit too soon on that part, so will work on it. I can't believe I have gotten to paint quite a bit this week. It was so nice to do that!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Sunset Ruin - WIP 3

Just taking another break from this painting so I will show what I have done - not much, just darkening some of the inside of the building, lifting a few more highlights, adding a mountain along the horizon to define that better, etc. I am not getting the golden yellow color I want on the landscape surrounding the ruin so will glaze some color there. I do want to glaze on the reddish shadow side colors over the purple underpainting on the darkest side of the exterior building before I do much more though, that will determine how much more highlights I want up next to the finished outside. I hope that makes better sense than what I just typed!

I am so enjoying my painting time this afternoon. It is a great day, temps in the mid-70's, sunny, cool inside the house and just an overall great day to be painting. If I had the gumption, I would move my painting stuff out onto the patio; but that would seem to waste time I could be painting. So I will be satisfied to stay in my studio and have the doors open. Life is good!

Sunset Ruin - WIP 2

After looking at this photo on the computer screen I am thinking I have a lot of nerve posting something in this stage. However, I do have a plan and will remain true to my commitment to post everything I am working on, warts and all, to this blog.

While I have not been painting on this after last Thursday, I have been studying it and have figured out that I got confused about what was the glowing, crumbling stucco and adobe that we see inside the window and what was in the deep shadows outside, which made the left (our view) of the window look wonky. Okay, it still looks wonky, but it is a ruin, after all! I have not finished deepening the sky where it needs to be, nor defining the horizon line in the few places it is shown, and will finish that soon. I see lots of areas that are not what I want, but hopefully I can work my way out of this corner I have painted my way into.

I still love this reference photo and hope to achieve half of the glow that is photographed so well by Roch.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Sunset Ruin

I am getting a bit gun shy about posting WIPs on my blog since the last few times I have done that I have failed to complete the paintings to my satisfaction (my Iris on Yupo being the last failed painting) so I don't post the completed painting. I may or may not wash that one off and start over, I just never can re-create a painting and like the second version.

Anyway, here is my latest work in progress. The photo that inspired this is from my friend, Roch of NM Jeep Tours. He has access to such wonderful areas of New Mexico and is a great photographer. This ruin has no roof and the light was streaming in at sunset and created such a glow through the window opening that I will try to capture that. This will require more than the two glazes I have applied so far, also some lifting after the glazes are applied.

Additionally, I am trying again to lay in the darkest shadows, etc. first with acrylic ink. That seems to provide a good skeleton for me to start fleshing out a painting. So far, so good. I also will darken the sky as I go along.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010


Twice in one week I feel like winner! My painting of the Giant Argentinean was chosen for the home page for this month of my beloved Watercolor Workshop group! It is such an honor! Forgive my exclamation marks, but I just discovered this after receiving messages of congratulations from the group, so I am truly excited.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Some Days You Lose, and -

- some days you WIN!!!!! A few weeks ago, I entered a blog give-away offered by a blogger I follow every day...Lisa Crone of A Bead a Day. I love her daily blogging because it always contains the latest news of beads and things that everyone is trying now. She was giving away one of her new books on beading and jewelry making, so I entered a comment on that day. As Fate would allow, I was the winner! So, I am now excitedly awaiting the shipment of my great new book. I'll post a review of this when I get it and read it. It is so exciting to have your name drawn above all the others who entered!

Friday, October 29, 2010

Iris on Yupo - WIP 1

This is where I remembered to take a photo so I could share another WIP series. This is a painting that was requested to be "just like" one that had sold at our Oktoberfest sale recently. Well, I hope this person will settle for something "kinda like" since I don't think it is humanly possible to paint an absolute replica of any painting. Maybe I am not disciplined enough, or can't remember what I did to get an effect in a prior painting, but I just know this will have to be similar to the first one.

The second WIP photo I took will not be submitted here since I will wash off what I did in that step. I think I was just enjoying the fellowship so much of our large group of watercolorists yesterday that I let my hand do the painting instead of listening to my head. Since it is Yupo I should be able to correct what I did and do not like. You'll just have to stay tuned to see how that turns out. I'm still lovin' the Yupo.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Nuthatch SWAP Painting

It's swap time again, and I received this charming, cute, sweet, masterfully painted nuthatch from my partner this time, Lenora from West Virginia. Isn't this just great? With my limited knowledge of ornithology, I at first thought it was a bird standing on a log, but Lenora corrected me by saying it was a nuthatch, which run up and down the trees looking for bugs. So, I rotated it to show correctly. This made it even cuter!

My painting arrived to my partner and I received mine, life is good!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Giant Argentinean - Final-ly

This is the same Giant Argentinean that I started last Spring, before Tom got sick. It has sat on my easel, waiting for me to finish it, since then. As often happens when I don't get back to a painting very soon I find that I have lost my enthusiasm for the project when feel guilty enough to try to finish it. That happened here, but I did do as much with it as I care to do and call it finished now.

It is on a full sheet of Yupo and will be framed under glass ASAP.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Maroon Bells - Final

I finished two paintings yesterday afternoon, but for some reason I am not photographing the second one very well so will wait until there is better light outside for that one.

This is from the Maroon Bells area of Colorado. I really played up the maroon colors in this, but another artist saw it yesterday and asked if it was of the Maroon Bells since he had been there and recognized it. That made me feel very good!

This is a combination of acrylic ink, transparent watercolor, gouache, and finally acrylic. It was an experiment so I am not sure I accomplished much after using so many different approaches. At any rate, it is finished!

Friday, October 15, 2010

I haven't worked on this as much as I thought I would but have gotten it this far in two more sessions. I have switched to acrylic paints for this and feel very far out of my comfort zone. I cannot remember doing the darks first and then the lights! Anyway, I will keep putting paint on this, trying to make something happen so I will like it better. It may end up weighing 50 pounds before I toss it but I want to keep trying. I will still push those mountains back more as well as add more pine trees on the mid right side.

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Maroon Bells Experiment

Last week I took this whole-sheet painting to my art group and did this loosely organized underpainting of the Maroon Bells area of Colorado. The photo is from and I loved the composition of it when I first saw it. My plan was to do a transparent watercolor underpainting and then do the detailing with gouache. As I attempted to do the gouache part I just didn't care for the appearance of the dull gouache so yesterday I took the painting outside and gave it a shower with the garden hose, let it dry, and have changed my plan of attack to using acrylics. I have lots of acrylic paint and will take my Stay-Wet palette to my art group this afternoon and see how this goes. If all else fails, I will try something else, I feel like I just HAVE to paint this scene since I like it so much.

Maybe,....gasp, an acrylic on canvas?

Monday, September 27, 2010

Canyon de Chelly

I forgot to stop and take WIP photos of this as I was working on it but here it is in the almost done stage. I will let it dry well before softening some of the edges, lifting a few more highlights and a few more calligraphic lines. Not too much more to be done on this one. What to paint next, I wonder?

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Canyon de Chelly WIP 1

This is my underpainting, using acrylic ink to establish my shadows, for my SWAP partner for the upcoming painting swap. I am not revealing for whom this is being painted, I just hope that he/she will like paintings of the Southwest!

We'll see how this grisaille approach works on this one. Life is more fun when you take a few chances? Like I said, we'll see.

Reference photo provided by a Grand Canyon Tour Guide, Marvelous Marvin.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Charcoal Portrait!

Last night was the first Arizona Artists Guild meeting of the "season". As usual, I drove a van load of artists to the event and it was a fun ride. The program demo was by Bill Lundquist, who is a wonderful artist in all media and especially I love his watercolors (big surprise!). We were there early and he was looking for a live model for the demo. I was asked by a program committee member if I would like to sit for the demo. When told I could keep the portrait I said yes. What an honor! All I needed to do was to sit and hold a pose for 2 20-minute sessions during the demo. That turned out to be more uncomfortable than I thought but I am so glad I did this, I love the portrait. He said to choose a facial expression I could keep constant so I chose not to smile. I agree that my countenance does look a bit severe here, but I do think he captured my likeness well in the short time he worked on this.

Bill used a variety of charcoal....powdered, pencil and vine charcoals. In the beginning he wet a large brush, scooped up some powdered charcoal with it and blocked in areas of dark. He then used a hair dryer and used vine charcoal to establish the eyes. I couldn't see any of this process so my friend, Ann, used my camera to do step-by-step photos.

This is after the first 20-minute session, during which I had five minutes to stretch my legs, etc. Interesting!

This is the final portrait after about 45 minutes of work. I love it, even though I do look a bit dour here. But, it was an experience to have my portrait done by such a great artist as Bill.

Now I have to learn how to spray this and with what to preserve it so I can frame it. Cool!

Thursday, September 16, 2010


I finished (maybe???) this painting of Monument Valley this afternoon while with my art group. We were discussing the naming of paintings and we all felt bereft in this department. I thought, first, of Monument Valley 5since I have painted that many painting of this scene, or something else? I said that since this is of the "Mittens" area maybe it should be Monumental Mittens? Well, this was not accepted so I decided on just Mittens. I am trying to stay mostly loose and impressionistic and think I have done that, but am not sure I am finished. Any thoughts out there?

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Monument Valley WIP 2

I spent just a little while laying in some colors to this, couldn't wait to do that! I still have lots of edges to blur and clean up in the background and middle ground, but I'm satisfied so far. I am mainly using quinacridone colors since I love their vibrancy and transparency. As the paint dries on that far left butte I can start to see some of the earlier acrylic shadows emerge through the colors.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Monument Valley WIP

I have been toying with the idea of using some of the acrylic inks to set the values and shadows in a painting before I glaze on color and, after seeing Vicki Green's lovely waterfall painting started in that way, I was convinced I needed to try that.

I used my shadow color ink to do the darkest darks and mid tones and will start adding color next.

PS...I neglected to say that when I arrived at the SCG art studio to start this painting yesterday I realized I had left my reference photo at home. No problem, I thought, as I have looked at so many photos I have taken of Monument Valley that I should be able to start this without the reference photo! Well, after unearthing the photo this morning, I see a few places that will need better modeling shadows so will work on that with the purple ink first and then post again with the second WIP.

Saturday, September 04, 2010

Cool Study

By the title of this post I mean cool temperature colors, not cool as in I think it is a cool painting! It is a quick study for the Watercolor Workshop project this month to paint with cool colors. I did it as a quick study while painting with the watercolor group at the art club this past Thursday. I chose clayboard for the ground and seemed to have forgotten that the colors have to be a bit creamier for this ground as it soaks up the pigment more than watercolor paper. All-in-all, not one of my best but it served my purpose well, I did something for the project this month as well as got to paint with my buddies.

I also started an Alaska painting and will keep working on that to see if I can remember how to paint's been too long!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Another One!

Yes, believe it or not, I finished another painting this week. I was in the mood for something that didn't require a lot of detail and was more impressionistic so chose this Yucca grouping for my focus. When I go away from realism I always feels as if it is undone, but I know if I keep futzing with it the result will not be impressionistic; but, rather, poor realism. So, finished I declare this!

I so enjoyed painting with my Thursday afternoon watercolor group today. It had been too long! I find the painting to be so therapeutic for whatever ails one! While I am so pleased with my husband's progress in his rehab after his many health issues this summer, I still find myself needing to have another focus for my own mental health. Painting and jewelry-making does this for me. I created a wrapped cabochon pendant yesterday and that was exhilarating, also. If you would like to see the pendant, click here. So, you see, I am gradually returning to the creative things so dear to me.

What will be next? I am sure the Watercolor Workshop elves are planning what will be our project for the month of September, so I will await that and see if I can't particiapte in the monthly challenges for once.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Complementary Iris

I am posting this finished painting mainly because I want to show I actually finished something during these past three months. While I am not particularly proud of this one, I am glad to have stuck with it and gotten it done during all the stops and starts I had to work on it. I think a few of my creative muses have started returning since I am planning my next painting now...a larger desert landscape.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Anvil Cloud

I've seen photos taken by others of anvil clouds, but could not remember ever seeing one for myself. Well, today was the day. While driving home from some necessary errands, I saw this anvil in the northeastern sky. I pulled into a parking lot and tried to get the best shot of it with no palm trees intruding in the shot. I was curious about what phenomena causes an anvil cloud to form and good ol' Google led me to this explanation:

Anvil clouds, which are mostly ice, form in the upper parts of thunderstorms. They get their anvil shape from the fact that the rising air in thunderstorms expands and spreads out as the air bumps up against the bottom of the stratosphere. You will often see streaks of snow falling out of the edges of anvils. This light snow usually evaporates as it falls through the relatively dry air surrounding the upper part of the thunderstorm.

Cool, huh?

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Getting back to normal

As we are slowly emerging from our difficult past few months here, I am realizing how truly blessed I have been to have such a supportive group of online friends who care about our struggles. I received a message from Barb Sailor that contained this little message at the bottom and I thought it particularly pertinent to my thankfulness to my online buddies, so will share it with you.

Have a good Saturday, all!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Got my hubby back!

I am pleased to announce that my husband has returned home after far-too-many days and weeks in hospitals during these difficult past two months. There may not be too many free minutes for artwork for the near future, but at least I will have everything at hand to steal a few hours here and there painting, at home, instead of sitting around hospital rooms. It has been a difficult time, but we are both committed to Tom's making a good recovery and staying away from hospitals!

Friday, July 30, 2010

Complementary Iris - WIP 2

Due to hubby's health issues I have not been able to work on painting much lately, but I managed to paint with my art buddies again yesterday afternoon and made this much progress on this painting. I, obviously, will not make the July 31 deadline for this group project, but I like it well enough to finish it for its own sake (and mine!). Leaving it untouched for over a week does not make for a fast finish, but I enjoy working on it as I can.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Complementary Iris WIP

Due to my husband's two hospitalizations, I have neglected my artwork for quite awhile. I did paint with my buddies Thursday afternoon, though, and started this painting of an iris. This will be my entry into the project files for the Watercolor Workshop this month. We are to paint something using complementary colors, and this photo was one of the projects for last month that I did not participate in, so I thought I would combine both months and use yellow and purple for my two complementary colors.

The cactus painting I started so long ago is nearing completion, but I felt I needed to start something else and work on that while I consider what else needs to be done. I dislike letting paintings sit for so long because I lose my enthusiasm for the project, but it couldn't be helped this time. I will post it when I get it finished.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Why I have been AWOL

I have not been attending to my blogs or e-mail lately, I apologize for that but life keeps intervening. My husband is back in the hospital, and my focus has been on him. He is doing fairly well at this point, and we are hoping he can regain enough strength to come home and stay out of the hospital!

Yesterday, I decided I needed a "mental health" day and I spent two hours painting with my watercolor group at the art club. I truly love my art buddies! It did a world of good for me and I got started on an iris painting. I'll post the WIP when I get a photo of it, or the final if I don't get that done. The good news is that I am painting again!

Friday, July 02, 2010

Quick Note

Hi everyone...this is just a quick note to explain my absence from all Internet/Art related things for quite awhile. Twelve days ago my husband awoke me at an early morning hour having a seizure. While in the emergency room he was noted to be having some serious heart arrhythmia's which necessitated his being placed in the ICU, where he was told he needed a pacemaker. He was transferred to a hospital which performed those procedures and had that done. Complications followed, it was a rough course, but I finally brought him home Wednesday afternoon. This, after 10 days in the ICU.

All of my artwork has been placed on hold while I try to help him deal with all of this during his recuperation. We are handling things as they come and doing fairly well with the impatience of a slow recuperation. I promise to participate more fully ASAP.

Friday, June 11, 2010


I, happily, want to report that all is well with Tom's arm fistula for dialysis. The surgeons were able to open the blockages and we will begin dialysis again tomorrow with newly-flowing vessels. We are both tired, but relieved, that we made the correct decision to return early from our vacation and get this taken care of before it became a lot more difficult to repair (as our surgeon confirmed as if we had waited 24 more hours).

We remain committed, however, to dialysis in the motorhome as we travel and will follow our instincts and the advice of our support people through NxStage and DaVita and continue in our travels. We hope to return to Chama to our favorite RV park ever, Sky Mountain RV Park, either later this summer or early in the Fall (when the colors are supposed to be magnificent) and regain more of our vacation experience we missed this time. In the meantime, we are taking care of business dialysis-wise and everything else that has to be done and will resume traveling as we can.

Back to the Desert

We had to return early from our time in Chama. Tom's dialysis fistula needed to have a procedure to open up the narrowing of the vessels so we made a fast two-day trip home and he will have the procedure this morning. I miss Chama already! It was so hot while unloading the motorhome yesterday, although it was warmer than usual in Chama when we left, 80-degree heat differs quite a bit from 110-degree heat!

We plan on returning later this summer, so please wait for the travelogue to continue.

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Painting, At Last!

With all of our exploration days, train trips, etc. this month I have not painted very much. Yesterday and today, however, I did work on this painting. It is for my SWAP (Sharing With Artist Partners) partner coming up later this month. I am showing this here, now, but don't tell anyone I did that. I will keep the recipient's name secret until he/she receives the painting. I love these swaps, I receive lovely paintings in return as well as having a secret for awhile.

Monday, June 07, 2010

Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad

On Saturday night, before our train trip on Sunday to celebrate our fortieth wedding anniversary, we were treated to this wondrous sunset. I took this photo without any special settings, it just had this glow on its own.

Here Tom and I are, enjoying the open car of the train and the special scenery. We had wonderful weather the entire day. This was a special treat for our anniversary. The other passengers, the great docents who narrated our train trip and provided entertaining and interesting information, the great lunch provided at Osier, and just spending the special day together made for a wonderful celebration for us.

On a horseshoe turn I was able to photograph the front locomotive and a few of the front cars. This is a coal-powered, steam engine from the late 1800's; restored and used as a tourist train for the past forty years.

As we neared Chama on our return home, no more steam was needed as we had crested the highest point and it was all downhill from there, so the engineer released a huge jet of steam to clean the deposits left in the boiler from the minerals in the water. This was an impressive sight to see.

They had such a great snow pack and wet winter here that the wildflowers are in great form. These are wild irises, which made for many photos from the train.

All-in-all we had a wonderful day and now, when we chase this train from the highway, we will have special memories of what it was like to be on the train. I was able to photograph all of the trestles we have taken photos of the train passing over, only this time it was from the train!

Saturday, June 05, 2010

Chaco Canyon

Thursday we traveled to Chaco Canyon, south of Farmington, NM. This is a canyon which contains the ruins of the Chacoan people, who inhabited the area and built communities from A.D. 850-1450. They must have been wonderful engineers and workmen since their architecture showed such great skill and beauty. My photo program is not cooperating very well with me in creating a panorama of one of the Great Houses so I can't show you that here, but this photo shows some of what their ceremonial areas contained.

Paula Devereaux

While shopping at the local grocery store here in Chama, I saw a very attractive lady wearing a gorgeous southwest necklace. I spoke to her and told her I admired her necklace, she said she liked mine too! I was wearing one of the neck rings with a pendant that I had rock hounded and polished. We got to talking and discovered that we were both artists and we exchanged business cards. We talked for about 10 minutes right in the aisles of the store, had a lovely conversation. She has invited me to her studio here in Chama, which I hope to take her up on before we leave.

In looking at her website, I was awe struck by her talent. This is no hobbyist artist, she has been a professional artist for 35 years, working in bronze and wood sculpture, painting and pottery. Do check out her website, her work is amazing!

Snow Run-off

Wednesday we spent the morning exploring some of the roads we have not traveled so far and one road that we wanted to return to and see if the snow had all melted. Well, it had not! There will be run-off for quite some time if the drifts we saw are anything to go by. This vista is on top of a mountain, on a road designated as "Spruce Hole". We had wondered what that might be and it is a large valley where it is protected as a birthing area for elk, peregrine falcons, etc. No hunting allowed. As you can see, one can see for miles atop this mountain. We were at the 10,800 foot elevation.

There were many run-off streams we found, most of which had tumbling water. It made for great photography opportunities.

There were quite a few places where the water was streaming below the still-frozen snow drifts, forming an ice bridge. Here, you can see where the water is rushing down on the upper right and exiting the bridge at the lower left.

Photographing water of any kind just fascinates me, I think that comes from being a child of the desert, where there is little water.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Another Day in Chama!

We are having a quiet day here today. Yesterday afternoon was a rainy and stormy one but no big problem, just thunder/lightening/heavy bursts of rain. We had a dialysis session and hoped that the power would not cut out part way through the session, and it held just fine.

Good news to report...Bill, one of the owners here at the RV park, returned home from the hospital yesterday! We are all glad for his recovery and it was good to see him this morning.

The day before yesterday we spent the day in Alamosa, CO. No exciting details to report for the trip, just a nice day and we got some needed shopping done. On the way back, we passed by the Trujillo Meadows entrance. Just last week, when BIL Jim was with us we had tried to go past this point and the whole area was covered in fairly deep snow. What a difference a week makes! The snow run-off streams are still running, but I suspect they will soon dwindle, as will the roaring Rio Chama. At this point it is running swiftly and high.

BTW....we did book a ride on the Cumbres & Toltec train for our 40th wedding anniversary on June 6. We wanted to do something special on that day and it seemed like the perfect thing while we are here in Chama. We will ride the bus up to Antonito, CO (the eastern terminus for the railroad) and then ride the train back to Chama. This way we can see everything from a different angle than when we were train-chasing. I'll be sure to post photos from that trip here!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Bill/Mollie and Tom

I have some good news and bad news to report! The bad news is that Bill, one of the owners of our favorite park, was hauled off to the nearest hospital following an attack of acute appendicitis. They, when operating, they found that that he had a leaking, gangrenous appendix and, thus, is confined to the hospital until at least Saturday. Everyone, including Julia and her father and mother, and his brothers who are arriving this weekend for the Memorial weekend, are working to make his absence less noticeable around the RV park. Tom, who loves Mollie, their dog, decided that he could help by exercising Mollie with a golf club and tennis ball in Bill's absence. So, they played together for well over an hour this afternoon. I don't know about Mollie, but Tom is still "napping" after his romp with her and the tennis ball in this high (almost 8,000 feet)! altitude!

Weather is still good, all temp variations considered. The wind has subsided, somewhat, so we are happy about that. We explored some, but will do more tomorrow, stay tuned!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Snow in the Mountains

Tom's brother, Jim, has arrived safely back home yesterday. Here is one of the photos we took while exploring the snowy mountains near here. The Spring run-off is exciting to see. Where, last summer, there were no streams exist now many streams...some quiet and some roaring with whitewater. We went as far up the mountain as we could in our 4WD vehicle and then could go no further as the road was covered with ice and snow. On our way down the mountain, we found this stream with the snow drifts covering part of it. I discovered, to my chagrin, that the stream ran underneath the snow and when I tromped over the drift to get the perfect angle for the photo my leg sunk straight down in to the water! Who knew?! Anyway, I got my camera dried off first, before worrying about my wet pants leg and all was well.

More to come....

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad

As we did last summer, we took Jim on a train-chasing jaunt this morning, the first train run of the season. We had great weather, great fun, and it was such a lovely experience to be doing this again.

This is the steam engine for the railroad and it is truly spectacular when it leaves the station, belching black smoke and steam. This shot was taken near the tracks on its first crossing over the highway.

This is the train coming toward us through the aspen groves. Jim was standing ahead of me, taking photos, and I caught him also.

As many times as we went past this point on the highway last year, neither Tom nor I noticed this additional trestle. So, we made sure we caught the train going over this today. Cool, huh?

I have taken so many photos, and of course, will no doubt take many more so stay tuned for new adventures. Don't give up on me if you don't hear from me here for a few many things to see and so little time!