Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Salinas Pueblo Missions


Mission Ruins at Quarai, 8 x 8, oils
In late August, I took a road trip with a cousin from Bakersfield, California to Joplin, Missouri. We took a day off to visit another cousin in the mountains of New Mexico. He wanted to show me some scenery that I might be interested in painting. In the morning we visited the Salinas ruins of Quarai and Abo. These were churches built in the 1600's by the Pueblo people under the authority of Spanish missionaries. The architecture was a synthesis of European and Pueblo. For example the church was cruciform but the structure surrounding it included kivas, round rooms that were used for spiritual purposes.

I painted this scene from inside the Quarai site based on photos. It's not a traditional landscape composition but I loved the interesting shapes of the light and shadow. Imagine how simple the scene would be without the breach in the left wall. The photo reference was cloudless blue but with such a low horizon line I had to add drama to the sky. It was a dreary late November day in Missouri when I painted this but with the sunny scene and a Tony Hillerman novel in the CD player, I almost felt like I was in the southwest.

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