Last summer we visited Taos, New Mexico for a few days. We always stay at the historic Taos Inn right in the middle of town. It’s an old place and was the watering hole for many artists of the early twentieth century Taos art society. Taos is up high, very high and you feel it when you are there. It feels like the top of the world when you drive up the Rio Grande gorge from Espanola popping out suddenly onto a huge plain with just the dark narrow slash of the river running through it. You feel like you can literally “see forever.” Where the wide plain leaves off the enormous sky takes over, also huge, infinite and clear blue.
After driving through the flat wide plain on into the little village, the contrast could not be more abrupt, moving from “wide open” to “extremely close” in the narrow streets, tiny spaces and earthen walls of the old town. This place has charmed visitors for years and years. You can walk all over the town in just a short time. The Inn has some inner courtyards, entered through dark tunnel-like adobe halls. They too open out suddenly on green hidden squares, with big old trees, the trunks of which are thick and gnarled. These are secret, hidden oasis spots. One such place contained a strange visual “trick” that I kept returning to, snapping photos of it with my phone. It was an area of flowers, shrubs and wild vegetation with a round pool of water shining up in the midst of it. It was an old birdbath, but it looked like an eye, shining in a face. It was round, shimmering blue and green, with dregs of old fallen leaves, brown and decaying around the edges. You could not see the base which held it up at all. In my painting above I added a terra cotta base just so that the picture would make more sense to the viewer. To me, I guess, this scene was a metephor for Taos, something hidden revealed. A hidden gem shining out in a sea of earthly matter.
Back home I tried to begin painting this image. It eluded me for months. I painted it over and over on the same canvas, starting with acrylic paints and finally moving into oils. It was so busy, yet needed unity. The dark/light shades and shadows were a tough assignment to express. And, the contrast of the foliage with the sudden gleam of reflected water was nearly impossible to portray. My painting above is the best of my effort to show this strange contrast. I finally quit painting. I hope it makes sense as you view it. You will notice from my previous posts that I have a special interest in WATER.
Taos Pool 30×30 inches, in oil