Colors of Summer

A few months ago I showed you an atypical Sketch of the Week that depicted color fields based my drive home from Las Vegas, New Mexico. I can't help but notice the varied colors of the desert whenever I'm outside, so I've continued to render them in my sketchbook with the intention of incorporating them into my monotypes, ceramics, or both. So far I've been observing the summertime landscape with its effervescent flowers, but I plan to continue the exercise throughout the other seasons.

A lot of these fields are based on vistas I'd observed during my long drives. Here's one based on the Las Cruces scenery. The dots are shorthand for shrubs:

From bottom to top: yellow field, purplish mountains, and blue sky

I drive to Santa Fe on a semi-regular basis, so I've got a few based on Route 285:

The soil in some areas actually resemble these colors.

Earth and sky.

Patch of soil south of Vaughn, NM. The contrast between the reddish soil and the green plants growing from it was very striking.

The majority, however, are based right in the Roswell area itself, so for anyone who thinks the area is nothing but brown flatness, I beg to differ with these:

Stormy evening looking through the neighborhood trees.

Full moon at Bitter Lakes.

Purple and yellow wildflowers I noticed growing along the road during a bike ride.

And of course, there's Bottomless Lakes:

Verdant shrubs and grasses punctuated by wildflowers.

Along the shore with the water leading up to red rocks. The colorful bars represent fish.

The landscape surrounding Bottomless Lakes as you drive there.

Fine, fine, you're thinking, I get it, New Mexico can be colorful, but what's the point? Why do you keep harping about this? 

I consider it my way of pushing back against our culture of dissatisfaction. Every day, we're told not be be happy with what we have. That's not surprising; a consumerist economy and society depends on insatiable desire. But beyond simply buying things, it affects our perception of our surroundings as well. No place is ever good enough; the grass, as they say, is always greener on the other side.

Or is it? I'll be honest, I miss Vermont and my old haunts there occasionally, but New Mexico is a beautiful place too. It's a land with bright red soil, explosive wildflowers, and endless, amorphous skies. When I drive outside of town on a clear night, I get a more spectacular view of our galaxy than I'd get anywhere back in New England. Whether you're looking at the ground beneath your feet or losing yourself in the stars, there is beauty if you're willing to look for it. 

So these color fields are my way of telling you to find the beauty in your everyday world, because in the end it's a matter of perception and deciding what you choose to see. Instead of pining for something we don't have, I say let's relish what we've got.