It all started when…
Baron and I were living on a gorgeous mountainside just outside of Taos, NM. We met working for Earthship Biotecture, an off-grid construction company that builds houses out of recycled materials. These houses catch, store and filter rain water, allowing you to reuse it for a second time to grow plants and a third to flush the toilets. They treat their own sewage and passively heat and cool themselves.
We were lucky enough to spend a year in the most beautiful off-grid mountain house, an earthship in the REACH community. Living in a small self-contained set of systems, where you can witness all of your own impacts is an absolutely invaluable experience.
It didn't take too long to realize that I wouldn't be able to wash a little oil paint off of my hands without sending the toxins straight to our vegetables. Apply that thought to fit a bigger infrastructure and I came to the conclusion that I didn't want to leave my oil paint footprint on the world anymore. I took a painting pause and just decided to enjoy the view.
The house was lined with floor to ceiling windows that overlooked the valley of Valdez at the base of the Sangre De Cristo Mountain range. You could see for hundreds of miles. In the summer there were rainbows every day and distant lightning storms every night. We’d watch them like fireworks for hours.
Some days we would wake up above the clouds, it was the most serene surreal feeling. We would drive to town, down the mountain, through the fog to the gloomy underbelly. Stormy weather was kind of the best because it felt like we had a secret magical getaway above the rain, like Jack and the Beanstalk.
Sometimes in the winter we would spend a whole day in the white hazy light of a snow cloud and wake up the next morning to a brilliant blue sky with a massive snowy patchwork quilt spread across the surrounding towns below.
There were brilliant unobstructed sunsets always.
We neglected to hang curtains. Many nights I would wake up to the full moon crawling across the sky. We watched blood moon eclipses from our perch, caught winks of shooting stars and ufos. Stargazing was always awaiting.
One day we came home to find that a yellow bellied finch had built a nest against one of our windows. Shortly after, the nest was home to 3 tiny eggs. Eventually the eggs hatched and we were fortunate to get to witness three of the most pathetically adorable baby birds grow from bald, boney bulges, to fuzzy with functioning eyes, and finally feathered tiny beauties taking off to fulfill their airborne destinies.
On my birthday, I was in the kitchen waiting for friends to arrive when a red-tailed fox walked in! Just walked through the front door to say hi.
Skunks greeted us at the bottom of our road, there were little lizards living in our kitchen, and cougar footprints in the driveway. Elk and deer frequented the trail behind the house, scraping their antlers on the trees. Field mice, chipmunks, squirrels and snakes always rummaging about close by. On a couple of occasions hummingbirds flew into our living room. Woodpeckers, magpies, finches and hawks. There were birds EVERYWHERE. All so charming.
I was honored at every interaction these animals chose to bestow upon us. I'm grateful for every glimpse I've been given into their worlds. I will forever cherish the time I got to spend amongst the New Mexico mountain life. It has fueled my passion for crafting these images, sharing the majesty of the wild.
So, why tiny?
After leaving the mountain castle, we moved into a little ‘76 Ford Motorhome (only 11’ of living space) with our newly adopted 50 lb Waffle dog. It left VERY little space for general movement. Everything had to shrink, art included! I traded my bulky bag of oil paints, and big brushes for a little box of Winsor and Newton watercolors. I swapped my liquin, galkyd, linseed oil, and turpentine for a shot glass of water. My canvases and about 100 pounds of wood were replaced by a small stack of 2" x 3" watercolor paper, and I started to paint tiny.
There's something about miniatures that seem precious and fragile. That's what I see when I spend time in the unobstructed outdoors, a fragile system filled with wonderful animals who are helpless to their own fate. The well-being of the world is in our hands, it seems appropriate that these paintings should fit too.