Four states (if you count Texas)...19 days...4,558 miles...more than 900 photos...these are some of the numbers that sum up how my husband, David, and I spent most of July 2021. The trip was partly business, gathering reference material and inspiration for future paintings as well as visiting galleries; partly a postponed celebration from this past spring of 25+ years since saying our "we dos"; partly a gathering of David's family for a pandemic-interrupted memorial to honor their dad who passes away in early 2020; and finally some R&R for both of us.
If you've followed my blogs over the years, you know that I try to follow up trips with a "reflections" post of thoughts, memories and a few photos. If you haven't seen any previous posts and want to, just scroll down or go into the "Recent Posts" sidebar. Much of this trip was revisiting areas we've been before but we were also able to work in some new drives along the way.
This summer's trip began the day after Independence Day. Anyone who lives in or has visited Central Texas or the Texas Hill Country knows that any out-of-state road trip involves spending almost a day just getting out of Texas. We dropped the fur-babies at the kennel the day before and got an early start Monday morning so we were in Ruidoso, well before night fall. We spent two days in the area, enjoying drives around nearby Cloudcroft and our first visit to Sunspot Observatory, as well as a trip to Alamogordo, home to "the world's largest pistachio," which we've seen before but's always worth a stop when in the area.
Wednesday morning we packed up and started making our way northward with the next stop being Albuquerque for one night and then Ohkay Owengeh, about half way between Santa Fe and Taos. The location gave us an excuse to drive the Turquoise Trail with a couple of side trips that included visiting with a colorful character who runs his own equally colorful roadside attraction, and a drive up switchbacks of Sandia Crest Road to the top of the mountain.
One of the best known towns along Turquoise Trail is Madrid, made famous by the movie "Wild Hogs." As expected, it was packed with tourists so we passed through to the next town, Los Cerrillos. Located north of Madrid and off the main road, it was much quieter and more "authentic". We enjoyed exploring the beautiful 100-year-old St. Joseph's Catholic Church there.
After our stop over in Ohkay, we head west and northwest through the Santa Fe National Forest with Durango, Colo as our next layover. The drive from Española to and through Los Alamos was really special on several levels including the thrill of being stopped by armed security in order to pass through the Los Alamos National Lab. Yes, that's where they built the atomic bomb.
After passing through the forest, finding a cute pottery shop along the way in Jemez Springs, and then heading northward we made it across the border to Pagosa Springs and then to our stop for the night in Durango. The next morning we hit the Million Dollar Highway to make our way to Ouray.
I have to say it again: The Million Dollar Highway. What a drive! Heart-stopping in some areas (with no guardrails) oh but what spectacular views. After checking in at our hotel in Ouray, we still had time to explore the area both south, retracting some of the drive up, and north, with a visit to Ridgway where, we learned, the original True Grit was filmed.
From Ouray we drove north and then east and then north and, well you get the idea, with the goal of eventually getting to Glenwood Springs, our next stop for the night. A highlight and new experience was driving through the Black Canyon of Gunnison National Park only to be outdone by our first time on Kebler Pass, a 31-mile high-mountain pass that we picked up outside of Crested Butte.
Winding roads. Mountains. Aspens. Wildflowers. Oh. My. Goodness.
Back to the story. Spent one night in Glenwood Springs then we continued zig-zagging across and up, with a drive to Estes and then eastward following the Big Thompson River, which, by the way, is another awesome drive and one of our favorites. One more stop in Fort Collins for the next night 's stay before crossing the boarder into Wyoming.
Once we arrived in Casper, the next week would be spent there. David met up with his siblings (total of 7) for family time and to gather for their father's memorial. The Jacobsons lived in Casper for many years and still have extended family there. It was a time of solemn remembrance for both his mom and dad, and a time of celebration spent with his brothers, sisters and their families.
While I bowed out of many of the gatherings to give David time with his family, I did find something creative to keep myself busy. I found a coffee shop/art supply store in downtown Casper where I picked up some watercolor supplies and spent a few days painting from photos taken on the first part of the trip.
Since this was only our second time as a couple to be in the area (the first was 24 years ago), David shared with me many of his favorite parts of Casper including the nearby Casper Mountain and Garden Creek Falls, as well as Alcova Lake where his family spent many summer days. We also took a drive to Thermopolis, which is known for it's hot springs. We didn't do the springs this time but did get to see the herd of buffalo that live in the area.
At the end of nearly a week together, everyone said their goodbyes and we all began to make our way back home.
David and I headed southward having set aside 4 days to make the trip back to Texas. It would be a bit quicker and more focused than our trip up so most of the sightseeing was limited to the drives to get from point A to point B. After 2 more nights in Colorado (the second one being in Creede, one of favorite areas), one night in northern New Mexico and at last, a stop over in Lubbock to get us that much closer to home for the final drive, we were back in the Texas Hill Country by the end of the week. Here are a few random pic from the trip...
Yes, I sometimes paint trees.
I know. I've spent almost 2 decades building my reputation as the "Texas Wildflower Artist." But several years back when this native Texan finally got to travel and see something beyond our beloved oak trees, annoying-yet-pretty cedar trees, and those scrubby mesquite trees that I grew up with in South Texas, I fell in love with something completely different: Those trees with stark white trunks with the black markings.
First were the Birch trees of New England. Shortly after a trip to Vermont back in 2012, I began thinking of ways to capture on canvas some of the emotion I felt from seeing the white-and-black trees in their fall glory. But it was really a few years later, after getting to see the Aspens found in our travels through the mountains of New Mexico, Colorado, Wyoming, and Montana, that my creative juices really began to stir. The Aspens are amazing in every season, but especially dramatic in the fall when covered in golden yellow. Even parts of northern Arizona are home to these magical trees and my breath was taken away when I got to see them right after a snow fall while they still had their golden foilage.
In my naivety, I originally thought that the Birch and Aspens were related. Not satisfied with not knowing for sure, I began researching and learned that they two entirely different species of trees. They just look similar, especially from a distance. As explained on one of the National Park websites:
"Quaking Aspens are often confused with birch trees. Although aspen are somewhat similar in appearance to some species of birch, birch trees belong to an entirely different family of trees. Birch are famous for having bark that peels back like paper; aspen bark does not peel. Whereas aspen leaves are perfectly flat, birch leaves are slightly "V" shaped and more elongated than Quaking Aspen leaves."
And so I began to paint what I call my own interpretation of Aspen trees (but if they look more like Birch to a prospective collector, that's fine too). Several of these Aspen paintings have found homes over the years. A few months back, my largest painting of the trees to date, a 36x60 canvas titled "The Aspens are Calling" found its perfect home with new collectors from Austin. Then last month I received a commission for a 24x48 canvas from a Houston collector, who picked it up last week. I love happy clients!
So while I paint a wide range of wildflower-themed paintings and always will, every so often I have to paint more of those Aspen Trees! During a trip last fall, I began looking up to the tops of the trees and imagining them painted on a tall, skinny canvas. I took numerous photos for reference and finally had a chance recently to complete the first of what I hope will be several in a series. This canvas is 5 feet tall and 20 inches wide. In my mind, I can see it placed on wall with the lower third of the painting at eye level. A tall ceiling will be required as the trees almost disappear in the distance above. This painting is titled "Sky High Spendor."
To view all of the paintings currently available in this series, CLICK HERE for my "Aspens and Fall Landscapes" page.
"True Bliss," 12x12 acrylic © 2021 Linda Calvert Jacobson, shown unframed and then in mock-ups with wooden and golden frames.
"The Aspens are Calling," 36x60 acrylic © Linda Calvert Jacobson. A "floater" frame like this gives a large painting a contemporary, finished look without distracting from the art itself.
A question I often hear when someone is considering a purchase of my art is whether or not they should have it framed. Generally, my answer is that since the paintings are on on gallery wrap canvas with the colors continuing around the edges, they do not require framing. However, I'm quick to add, it is entirely up to the collector! For larger paintings, I often suggest that they consider a "floater" frame, which is how I have framed "The Aspens are Calling" shown here. It adds a finished look but has some space between the canvas and frame so you can still see the painted edges. Not only is it very contemporary in style, it creates the illusion of the painting "floating" in the frame.
Most buyers do not frame my paintings but I love seeing how it looks when they do. I've posted some photos below that collectors have been kind enough to send me. As you can see, the framing changes not only the look of the art but also the impact it has has on the wall. For these settings, it gives the paintings more of a prominence while creating unity with the other objects in the room. Not knowing where one of my paintings would end makes it nearly impossible for me to choose a frame before it is sold. Which is why I leave it up to the collector so they can match not only their decor, but also their own personal taste.
With that said, here are a few tips I would suggest you consider when you looking at framing any of my paintings.
First, look at other furnishings in the room. If you tend to have a lot of dark, natural wood then you may want to pick something similar for the painting. A good example of this are the first two photos here, "Bluebonnet Delight" and "Butterscotch Haze."
Another consideration is the color of the wall. If you want the painting to stand out more, setting it off with a frame can make that happen. "Amarillo Sky" in the third photo is a great example of using a frame with a fillet, a section of molding that fits between the frame and the painting, to help make the painting pop.
Of course, you need to consider what other art you have in the room and how to create a cohesive look. The collector of my "Don't Fence Me In" and "Prickly Poppy Paradise" chose to frame both paintings, which created both balance and unity for her display. As you see in the final two photos, framing "Crimson Tapestry" (top center of the photos) was necessary for it to fit with the wildflower-themed gallery wall of various framed paintings by different artists that this client has created in her home.
Finally, try different frames on the painting to see how it looks. If you have the ability to do so, you can even create a mock-up with photo-editing software like I've done with "True Bliss" one of my poppy paintings at the top of this blog. If that's something you can't do but you're interested, I might be able to help you out! Let me know which painting you are considering and we can go from there.
So, to frame or not to frame? Like the selecting art itself, is a personal decision that only you can make.
Like the wildflowers of spring, the fall colors come but once a year and I knew that if I wanted to soak them up, I'd have to hit the road again. A few weeks back my husband and I took a trip into Northern New Mexico and Southern Colorado in search of Aspens and Cottonwoods turning shades of gold. I blogged about that trip so if you scroll down to the previous post you'll see photos and can read about it.
Today's blog is about another trip that I took with my sister. We left on Oct. 16 with the Great Smoky Mountains of Tennessee and North Carolina as our destination. After putting more than 3,000 miles on the car and driving through a total of 6 states going and coming, we are back home. Mission accomplished! We were greeted with mild weather and a vast variety of colors as we drove the byways and back roads of the Blue Ridge Mountains. We were a bit early as the greens were still dominate in many areas, but that contrasted nicely with the reds, rusts, yellows and oranges that were peaking here and there. The scenery was so very different from the out west trip earlier in the month!
Heading toward the mountains, we took a few side trips, including a stop to see Elvis's boyhood home in Tupelo, Miss. We had stayed the night there and couldn't pass up the chance to see where the King's birthplace. Very humbling.
While there was something memorable around every corner and down every road, one of the most special discoveries was the Lake Lure Flowering Bridge. Located near the village of Chimney Rock, what was at one time a bridge to drive over, it had been converted into a long garden landscaped with flower beds and quirky outdoor art. I loved it!
As with all my travels, I return home with tons of ideas for future projects...paintings (of course), craft projects, and decorative elements for my patio.
Here are a few photos for you to enjoy!
I'm the painter of wildflowers but that doesn't mean that I don't love other seasons as well. Next to spring my favorite time of year is fall. I love the colors of fall! With that in mind, David and I took a week off in early October to travel up to northern New Mexico and southern Colorado in search of some fall inspiration. And we found it! We put in nearly 2400 miles, of course some 900 miles of that was in Texas going and coming. The rest was a mix of highways and back roads, both paved and gravel.
Our primary destination was past Wolf Creek Pass, north of Pagosa Springs, where we were booked for a few nights at Wolf Creek Ski Ranch. We were in the eastern San Juan Mountains and crossed over the Continental Divided several times during our day trips in the area.
From our base, we headed in different directions and explored the area. One of the most memorable trips was up to Creede, an old mining town that's transformed into lovely little artsy village that's very walk-able and fun to explore. Many shops and restaurants here and throughout the area were already closed for the season and would be reopening in 2021. But still we found plenty to enjoy, including the Quiller Gallery where I got to meet the artist, Stephen Quiller. What a treat!
As we left Creede, David decided to drive up the road toward the old mining area and we ended up taking the Bachelor Loop, a 17-mile drive through the mountains and past several old mine shafts. The bumpy, gravel road was a bit scary especially at the start where David had to get around some major ditches, washed out areas and random big rocks in the road. At one point we mulled whether we should continue or turn around. We knew what was behind us and decided to take a chance on what was to come. And we were glad we did.
Another awesome drive was up Beaver Creek Reservoir, which started out as a paved road but became gravel as we climbed the mountain. Not far from where we were staying it was a treat and the views and the golden aspens were amazing.
Wanting to explore a little further north, we set out for Gunnison about the third day into our trip. Again, the drive was pretty amazing but when we arrived, we ran into a bit of a problem.
When we drove into Gunnison, we had no phone service. We had ran into this when we were "out in the middle of nowhere" but when we got into towns it had not been a problem. Later I would find out that AT&T had been having problems that day so it wasn't just us. Like just about everyone else these days, we have become dependent on our devices to map our trips, find places to eat and book rooms for the night. In this case, none of that was an option. As we drove around a bit getting a sense of the town, David looked over at me and asked the question "Did you hear that?" He pressed on the brakes and there is was...a grinding noise. Between the challenging mountain roads and the number of miles on the vehicle, we were due, perhaps overdue, for some brake work. With no way of "looking up" a brake repair in the area, we drove toward the main drag in hopes of finding someone to ask. The next block over I saw some sort of shop looking place. As we got closer I read the words "tires" on the sign and then under that "brake repair." What are the odds? A very nice mechanic, likely the owner, did a test drive and yes, they were grinding and it was bad enough that we needed to get them fixed. We were OK to drive around town a bit but no more than that. He had to order the parts and they would not be in until the next morning. He was kind enough to let me use his wifi password so I could find a motel for the night, which ended up being about a quarter of a mile from the shop. Our Guardian Angels were certainly working over time to keep us safe and comfortable!
David delivered the vehicle the next morning and walk back over the motel. AT&T was back so I was able to call Wolf Creek and let them know what happened and that we would need a late check out. Within a few hours the brakes were done and we were back on the road by noon. Praise the Lord!
We were past the mid-point of our trip and it was time to start heading back toward Texas. We stayed the next night in Pagosa Springs. While we didn't get to soak in the hot springs, we did get to drive and walk around and enjoy them. That will be on a future to-do list!
As we headed back into New Mexico, I was was amazed at the color of the Cottonwoods changing for fall. I told David that they needed better PR. Aspens were getting all the publicity but the Cottonwoods are just as spectacular.
On the way to Abiquiu, we drove past the entrance into Ghost Ranch. Another place on my future to-do list. Yes, we were in the heart of Georgia O'Keeffe land! After a few photo stops and brunch, we head for Taos and then Santa Fe for our last night of the vacation (and a little fun at the casinos there) before heading back into Texas and then home again.
As I always do with these posts, I'm sharing a few of the photos, some just for the fun and others that I will be using for inspiration for future paintings. I never know what comes from the memories and experiences of trips like this but I'm looking forward to getting back into the studio to see what develops!
Near Wolf Creek Pass, South Fork and Creede, Colorado...
Creede, Lake City, Slumgullion Pass (on the way to Gunnison)....
Georgia's New Mexico...
In late July 2020, David and I found a way to escape the heat and humidity of Central Texas as well as some of the realities of the on-going pandemic to spend a few days in the "cool" mountains of Colorado and northern New Mexico. Once again, traveling fed the spirit and provided inspiration. We made our way to Amarillo for the first night's layover. Having gotten an early start, we arrived in time to take our first drive through Palo Duro Canyon. Had to secure a day pass online in advance and I was glad I could and did! It really is Texas' own little "grand canyon" and worth a visit! Unfortunately, the lighting was not great for getting photos but I have my memories. Got an early start again the next morning so we could make it Estes Park by nightfall. There, we stayed in a cabin just a mile from the entrance into Rocky Mountain National Park. Day passes into the park were limited and difficult to get but we soon found out that if we entered before 6 a.m. when the kiosks opened, we could drive in and spend the day, which we did -- twice. It was a first-time visit for both of us. What a spectacular place...as you can see from the photos I'm posting! A few days later, we packed up and sadly said goodbye to Estes and began to make our way southward. After a couple more nights in Colorado, including a memorable and artsy stopover in Alamosa (check out the public sculpture project in the photos I'm posting), we took a scenic trip to Chama, New Mexico, and then headed east through Carson National Forest, making it to our next stop: Taos. The next morning, we checked out, took a drive up to Taos Ski Valley, soaking up the mountains, pines and aspens along with the cooler temperatures one last time. Spent most of the day in area, doing much of the Enchanted Circle before leaving the mountains to head toward Texas again. Once back in Texas, I put myself under a self-imposed 14-day quarantine before starting back to teaching. But I did spend some of that time in the studio, inspired from my travels to paint.
David and I recently returned from a road trip that took us into some new territory. While we've traveled Texas and neighboring states of the Southwest between here and the California coast, made it up through Colorado and Wyoming into Montana several times, headed due east from Texas along the coast line to Florida, did a drive along the blue ridge parkway through North Carolina, spent a magical week in Vermont and, of course, explored Manhattan on several occasions when exhibiting at art and licensing shows in NYC, there's still so much to discover in this great country of ours.
This most recent trip took us into Arkansas and the lower Ozarks. While we were a bit early for the fall color that the area is known for, it was nonetheless an inspiring trip. We found that both nature and human creativity thrives...and we only scratched the surface.
From stately mansions that have been standing the test of time for more than a century to quirky and colorful "sweaters" wrapped around the trunks the trees from a recent "crochet in the park" event, creative expression can often be found in the most unlikely of places. I couldn't help but to think about the tenacity that it took to turn steep hillsides into communities: clearing the forests for roads, laying foundations for buildings, harnessing the natural resources (like the hot springs) to create both places for people to live and work, and popular destinations for tourists who would arrive by horseback and wagon, then train and finally by car. The first 3 photos below were taken in along Bath House Row in Hot Springs, Ark. The "Mona Lisa" was in a gallery window in Hot Springs. The crochet on the trees was found in a little pocket park in Eureka Springs. In researching things to see and do and recalling conversations with folks who had been or lived there, I came across something call Thorncrown Chapel and put it on my must-see list, which is shown in the last photo for this grouping. Located outside of Eureka Springs, it's an amazing glass church in the woods. As you can imagine, popular for weddings!
When it come to art and architecture, a highlight of the trip was a tour of Quigley's Castle. The creative spirit behind the project was Elise Quigley. How I would have loved to have met this amazing woman! If you are so inclined, I suggest you read about her and her "castle" when you get a chance. And if you're ever in Eureka Springs, take the drive south down AR23 and see it for yourself. In the meantime, here are a few photos.
Quigley's Castle combines art and nature, but of course, I'm always on the look out for colorful and interesting landscapes, from wide sweeping hilltop views to intimate details of leaves on a tree. And Arkansas had no shortage...even if we were too soon for much in the way of fall colors (but did find a little here-n-there).
And, last but not least...flowers! In the country, in towns, in cities, we found many varieties in bloom. Inspiration for future paintings, no doubt!
Thank you for taking this "trip" with me. I hope you enjoyed reading about our travels and getting to see some photos.
A few months back, I began experimenting with something just a bit different, but still in my wildflower theme. Once I got started, I couldn't stop and now I have 9 new paintings in this series, ranging from 5x7 to 30x40. I'm calling this my "Motley Meadow" series and, as always, prior to making them public I registered the copyrights on this new body of work. Some are still drying in the studio before they can be varnished and then will need some additional curing time before then can be shipped. The rest are ready to go and can be seen in person at Wildflower Art Gallery in Wimberley. If you are in the Austin/San Antonio/Texas Hill Country area, you can also arrange a in-home viewing. I hope you enjoy looking at — and collecting — these as much as I did painting them! Like the style but need a different size or dominant color scheme?
P.S. Let me know and I'll see what I can do! E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or give me a call, 830-221-7676.
It's hard for me to NOT paint this time of year! I've been soaking up the images of wildflowers blooming on the roadsides and in pastures for weeks now and found myself to the point of overflowing...time to PAINT! Below are the results of my time in the studio and at the easel since early March. As of now, all are available and can be seen at Wildflower Art Gallery ... or in your home! Contact me to set something up!
What a glorious wildflower season we've had this year ... and it's not over yet!
I didn't realize that it had been 4 months since my last blog post. I do try to get in several a year but the first quarter of 2019 kept me busy, even busier than usual if you can believe that!
Starting in early March, the wildflowers start blooming in South Texas as they make their way northward. Since it generally warms up in the south sooner, the color generally pops sooner. Then as it gets warmer in each region, they begin to bloom. It's call the March of the Wildflowers and this year was one for the records!
Although I've had a full schedule teaching at my studio, I found time for a few road trips, plus have been taking time to soak up the views on my daily drive. Between the images in my memory and the ones stored on my iPhone, I soon found myself so overflowing with the inspiration that I had to find time to create some new wildflower-themed paintings. Over the last month or so, I found time and energy to sequester myself in the studio and paint, paint, paint. The new paintings will be ready to share soon.
Lubbock Arts Festival
While we are doing fewer shows this year, I was thrilled to be invited back for the 2019 Lubbock Arts Festival. Held April 12-14, the festival was a well attended and well organized. Two of the paintings that stayed behind were "Sky Dancers," and "Day Dream," both purchased by Katy, my newest collector.