That Time of Year 12×9 Oil

Fall can be beautiful in the Southwest.  The magical change in color changes first at the higher elevations, then descends into the canyons and waterways, and finally makes its way down to the flatlands.  This painting features Slide Rock State Park in Sedona, Arizona, in late October, when the color had made its way into Oak Creek Canyon.  One of my favorite spots!  In my fall plein air painting workshops, I’ll share places like this with students.

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High Desert, Secret Shadows 8×12 Oil

High Desert, Secret Shadows 8x12 Oil Landscape Painting by Michael Chesley Johnson

Secret Shadows 8x12 Oil by Michael Chesley Johnson

The Land of Enchantment (New Mexico) is filled with much beauty, a tremendous amount of it tucked away where the busy traveler, speeding to his next destination, won’t see it.  This is one such place in the Zuni Mountains in the western part of the state.  A scant hour off of Interstate 40, this is Mormon Country, with ranches and agriculture.  I love this area for its quiet calm and beauty.  We’ll paint places like this in my Paint the Southwest workshops.

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Secret Cliffs 6×8 Oil

Secret Cliffs 6x8 Oil by Michael Chesley Johnson

Recently, I returned to live in a part of the world where I feel a deep spiritual kinship–New Mexico.  I came here originally before I turned to painting professionally, but now that I’m back, I am discovering places I hadn’t dreamed of finding.  Near the Zuni Pueblo and on the shoulders of the Zuni Mountains at 7000 feet, my studio and home occupy a point in the universe where the air is clear; the sky. blue; and the sun, intense unlike anywhere else.  For me, it’s coming home, and I’m looking forward to painting more of this landscape.

The location of “Secret Cliffs” is a short, perhaps 15-minute, walk from my home, if I scramble down a cliff and through scrub oak and pinyon.  It’s better to drive there, and then it’s only 5 minutes.  The lake depicted had been dry for awhile but filled up over the last two winters from snowmelt.  When I went out to paint this, the sun was going down and the waterfowl were tuning up for an evening of birdsong.  The place is gorgeous this time of year, autumn, and there’s a peace that lays over the land.

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Up in Colorado 9×12 Oil

Up in Colorado 9x12 Oil by Michael Chesley Johnson

Up in Colorado 9x12 Oil

Few places in the world are more beautiful than Colorado in the fall. The mountains, quilted with pink, blue and gold, buoy up the heart. Hike up into some mountain meadow, and the splendor of aspens will wipe away the cares of the world.  I painted this piece just up the hill from Durango, somewhere in the San Juan Mountains.  You can read about my blog post on the workshop in which I painted it, here.

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Brining Shed (McCurdy Smokehouse, Lubec Maine) 9×12 Pastel

Maritime History: Brining Shed (McCurdy's Smokehouse, Lubec, Maine) 9x12 Pastel by Michael Chesley Johnson. Landscapes, maritime paintings, plein air painting workshops in the US and abroad Michael Chesley Johnson.

Maritime History: Brining Shed (McCurdy’s Smokehouse, Lubec, Maine) 9x12 Pastel by Michael Chesley Johnson

The brining shed in Lubec, Maine, is part of the historic McCurdy’s Smokehouse complex, now owned by Lubec Landmarks.  The group is trying to preserve these buildings, but this shed seems about to be taken away by the next storm.  At low tide, you can see the beautifully organic arrangement of pilings, draped by dark seaweed.

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High Desert Night 6×8 Oil

High Desert Night 6x8 Oil by Michael Chesley Johnson

High Desert Night 6x8 Oil by Michael Chesley Johnson

The “high desert” of New Mexico sits at 7,000 feet.  Here, the air is clear and the stars fill every corner of the night sky.  In some of the old Spanish villages, you can still find adobe buildings such as this one.  They are a welcome reminder of times gone past.

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