Excursions: Ghost Ranch

A few months ago I took a week off from work in order to explore northern New Mexico. After all, many of the artists in our collection hailed from the northern part of the state, and its mountainous landscape is radically different from Roswell's relatively flat plains. In order to get a sense of place then, it only seemed appropriate to venture north.

One of the places I visited was Ghost Ranch, best known within the art world today as the home of Georgia O'Keeffe, post 1940. Nowadays it's a spiritual retreat, but you can still go there to do day hikes and other solo activities. There are O'Keeffe-related tours available as well, but I preferred to spend the day exploring on my own.

It was easy to see why O'Keeffe was so drawn to this place. Hiking about the meandering red rocks and a bright blue sky, I couldn't help but feel an inner tranquility. In several of the vistas, I could see the inspiration behind a lot of her paintings.

I also did a little sketching myself, but I'll admit, sometimes a landscape is so stunningly beautiful that any attempt to draw it seems a folly, so I only drew a couple of scenes.

What I did sketch in greater numbers, however, were fossils. In addition to its art historical links, Ghost Ranch is also notable as an important site for Triassic paleontology. It's especially famous for its Coelophysis, a small type of dinosaur that happens to be New Mexico's State Fossil. There's a little museum devoted to paleontology on the ranch, so I spent some time here sketching the skulls and skeletons. After all, I'm always on the lookout for visual source material, and I thought they'd make for great mugs.

No matter how far I venture, it seems my work is never too far from my mind.