Jamie Kirkland Art Studio

Let the beauty we love be what we do. ~Rumi ~

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I posted the picture of David Leffel on the convention stage giving a talk and demo on my Facebook page with the caption.. one of the most inspiring talks about art and artist life I have ever heard… My galleries here in Santa Fe, Karla Winterowd asked me why I felt that way.. I described to her watching this artist receive a lifetime achievement award the night before and despite age and some physical limitations this man was so joyful, humble, kind and forthcoming. I could tell he was taking great delight in sharing with us some of his most memorable experiences and encounters over his long impressive career. He continued to reiterate that you have to stay open and willing to learn. I sure aspire to have those qualities at 83. He said that they called the artists at The Art Students League in New York that could only adhere to strict rigid painting systems as “Masonites” …..

Here are some more quotes from David

“painting is a problem solving discipline”

“One piece of paint next to another piece of paint”

“If you think Its simple you’ll see simple solutions, if you think it’s hard, it is”

“Ask yourself, what am I not seeing, how am I not seeing properly?”

“Light is how we tell the story”

“Old Masters didn’t teach hope… as in I hope this looks good”

“Fear is the biggest problem creating us against us, we create the fear”

“Edges are the soul of the painting”

“everything you want to learn is right before your eyes”

“1500 Careless brushstrokes can’t add up to a beautiful painting”

This convention experience was one of kindness and generosity. Very inspiring and uplifting and I won a Strada mini outdoor painting easel!! My friend artist Anita Louise West won a prize too!! I got to see some old friends, Scott Gellatly and Dave Bernard from Gamblin Paint Company. They are so fun to paint with, and my painter friend from Utah the very talented Shanna Kunz. There were so many artist demos that my head is swimming with ideas to put o the canvas. Next year will be in San Francisco, Yeah!!!


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I wanted to share an inspiring phenomena that happens out here in the West. In meteorology, Virga is an observable streak or shaft of precipitation falling from a cloud that evaporates before reaching the ground. (from Wikipedia).

I find these delicate tendrils so fascinating, they are the opposite of the weather I grew up with in the deep south of very high humidity and torrential downpours. Because our climate is so dry in New Mexico we see everything with greater clarity and can watch a panorama of weather effects moving across vast amounts of space.

You really have to be in the right place at the right time to catch them. My favorites are from the West Texas plains and Ghost Ranch in Abiquiu, New Mexico. In this slide show are some of my inspiration photos and paintings.

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The dramatic vertical cliffs of Diablo Canyon Recreation Area make the area a hiking and climbing destination near the Rio Grande. The eastern cliff walls are on BLM-managed land and the western cliff walls are managed by the U.S. Forest Service. Diablo Canyon has been featured in movies such as The Missing, 3:10 to Yuma, and Cowboys and Aliens. The cracked basalt of Diablo Canyon offers some of the best multi-pitch tradition and sport climbing in New Mexico.

We drove out on Easter Sunday, a rare cloudy day in New Mexico. Traditionally plein air painting holds the challenge of fast moving, ever changing light. the sun moves quickly across the sky. Not so with flat light which invites all the lolly gagging you might want to do. We had a picnic a short hike did some photo reference shots all in good time.

Because of the location I brought a couple of colors for the palette that I don’t normally use in the studio. Transparent Earth Oxide and Indian Red. These colors added a richness to my earth reds.

I started with a light lavender sky. I thought it would be a nice compliment to the sandy yellow/buff foreground . I found a spot right away that gave me a vantage point of being above the pinions and junipers. The composition of the canyon walls seemed to call out for a square composition. I chose an 8×8 wind river panel of portrait grade linen. I prefer a really smooth surface. I  keep my compositions simple and more abstract. My main reason for the journey is to come home with an experience and a color study. I like allowing each plein air experience to filter thru my regular studio practice and observe the ways I am impacted rather than set out with a too specific goal in mind and push to make something happen.

When I think of what it is like to sit several hours in this kind of environment the word that comes to mind is eternity…. The rock formations, so imposing impact you with the reality that they have been there a really really long time and will be  there long after I am gone.. I find comfort in that idea. We enjoyed a conversation of imagining ourselves in a covered wagon and looking for native american indians positioned with bows and arrows up on the rim. This while we sat less that half a mile from the car sitting in our camp chairs having a picnic.

Now that I am back in the studio I will carry this memory and glance at my study and think of mixing the colors and see where is shows up in the work ahead.


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On the third day of our trip Mallory Agerton and I decided to explore every river crossing we could find all around Fredericksburg. We happened on this spot of perfection located just off the old Kerrville Road. This is where the Pedernales River intersects Bear Creek.

We immediately named this location The Huckleberry Finn Place. It is so picturesque. It looks like a Disney movie location. It was a joy to spend hours and hours there looking and listening.

For a painter it has such a unique vantage point of being able to comfortably sit and look down river. Typically you’re only option is looking across the river. This spring time the trees are lush and drape so gracefully across the water. The reflections are dazzling. We arrived at the crack of dawn and so enjoyed watching the sun come up to our left and glaze the treetops.

I am more of a studio painter than Plein Air Painter but I enjoy getting out and having the opportunity to study nature, especially with a my painting buddy Mallory, her enthusiasm inspires me to make the effort to be up early fortified with  Illy Coffee, lunch packed and ready to go before the light comes up.
This trip was the maiden voyage for my Strada Easel https://www.stradaeasel.com. It is lightweight and easy to set up. Valuable qualities for out door painting gear
I am tickled to say that my color study was purchased out of my studio in Santa Fe by collectors Jane and Drew Scott,  Texas expats.












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My husband Ralph and I recently drove from Santa Fe to New Orleans, La and back with stops in Baton Rouge, Austin and Fredericksburg, TX. I loved seeing all of the rich golden greens and Burnt umber shrubs and Burnt Sienna Grasses. I can’t remember the winters of my childhood being so filled with color. I speculated that because of a recent hard freeze in the area there many more deep rich browns that I could recall in the past. I love taking photographs when I am traveling especially as sunset nears . The way the fields are lit up by the raking light is very exciting to see. In this post I am sharing a couple of images that have been altered in the Paper Camera App. I am really enjoying the way this app abstracts the landscape into simple shapes.

I find these photographs so visually exciting. I can’t wait to get the paint out and start a whole new body of work.


A  recent Plein Air Painting trip to Fredericksburg, Texas with my painting BFF Mallory Agerton www.malloryagerton.com  resulted in so many painting inspirations.

Color Studies

Field Notes



Best of all time spent with a good friend talking about painting, where to paint, color palettes, times to paint, surfaces, tools and techniques. Dreams and Aspirations

After spending the first afternoon scouting locations Mallory and I got up before dawn every day to get out and capture the magic Hours of the dawn light. We took a break at mid day then ventured back out in the late afternoon for some amazing sunset and dusk painting motifs. There really is nothing more wonderful than sitting at the edge of the pasture watching the light move across the field ad listen to the sounds of birds and feisty sheep and goats and feel the breeze while silently recording it all.

We are both fortunate to have been invited to show at a beautiful new gallery in Fredericksburg Gallery 330 www.gallery330.com








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Back in September I had the opportunity to go out early in the morning with Scott Gellatly product manager of the Gamblin Paint Company and his cohort Dave. They were in Santa Fe to participate in Artisan’s Art Expo.
I suggested the Galisteo Basin Preserve

Although a bit of a drive it is so worth it for the long views, great skies and perfect privacy. My painter friend Bill Rhea introduced me to this painting location earlier this year. I always look forward to getting out here where it is so quiet and the light changes minute by minute.
I am finally discovering thru the use of a palette knife a plein air painting technique that does, I think give me the information I need to make a complete statement. This process is one of putting a lot more paint on the canvas than I do in my studio paintings. It is fun to experiment and think of my time outdoors as field study. In the studio I put many layers of paint on the canvas over days or months. It really is only after three or four layers of paint that I see the painting start to come to life.
It is winter now although the Plein Air Painters of New Mexico http://papnm.org have paint outs scheduled year round. I hope to participate in lots more of these and discover more of the natural beauty of New Mexico.

During a recent stay at Ghost Ranch we made reservations to tour Georgia O Keeffe’s house in Abiquiu, New Mexico, you can click this link for more info and to make a reservation
We were driven from our gathering place next to the Abiquiu Inn up to her house. The village of Abiquiu prefers that visitor disturbance is kept to a minimum so we caravaned up to the house nearby. We were not allowed to take photos inside the house. To get a better feeling for her lifestyle and aesthetic design I highly recommend this book available on amazon .
This book contains lots of photographs of her house in Abiquiu as well as he other house down the road at Ghost Ranch currently the house in Abiquiu is the only one open for tours, however I understand that her home at Ghost Ranch may be open to the public soon.
So many people are fascinated with the life that Georgia O Keeffe created for herself in New Mexico and the work that evolved out of this environment. Although not extravagant by any means her homes are definitely beautiful and she had a staff to help her maintain her chosen lifestyle. The pared down interiors seem almost sacred. They are organic, handmade adobe filled with light. It is hard to imagine that anyone would not be inspired in these interiors. Her kitchen is a particular favorite mine. It feels like she will come in any minute with a basket overflowing with vegetables for the cook to prepare. Georgia was a longtime advocate of organic gardening and loved growing her own vegetables. There is a large pantry filled with dated kitchen appliances that must have been exciting acquisitions at the time. There is a large window over the sink looking out over the Chama Valley and the path to the studio. The studio is filled with plate glass windows overlooking her favorite landscape. It is simple, clean with minimal clutter. She kept meticulous records of her paintings. The original binders are on display in the bookshelves along the “office” section of her studio. There is a separate small bedroom where she slept.
The tour guide was delightful. We even had an actress accompany us who read lines from Georgia’s letters and told stories. The tour is so worth it, to be in the actual environment of one of our most creative personalities.
Highly recommended!

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Our lodging was #10 Tumbleweed. It was perfect! Located up on the mesa above the main section of the property. Ghost Ranch offers a variety of accommodations for every budget.


I was very pleased with our newer room and bath. It afforded me the best panoramic views and motifs for painting. On our arrival we were greeted with showers moving thru. It was a challenge to try and capture the swiftly changing mood.Setting up I realized that someone else had my tripod so I improvised with a chair from the room nearby. On our second day we visited Georgia O Keeffe’s Abiquiu home. I decided to write about that tour in a separate post. We also had a lovely lunch at the Purple Adobe Lavender Farm. The food was fresh and delicious. It was a pleasure to sit outside and enjoy the lavender fields while we dined on quiche.


The third day I set up to paint just outside our bedroom door looking east toward Kitchen Mesa. I really enjoyed my high up perch and view of the rock formations. I was treated to full sun and vibrant colors.

Ghost Ranch reminded me of going to summer camp when I was a little girl. It felt safe to walk everywhere on the grounds and discover all of the painting options. We were fortunate to be there after a lot of summer rain and the landscape was unusually green.

I am looking forward to visiting again and observing the landscape with bare trees and snow on the ground. It is easy to see why this area was so dear to Georgia’s heart.

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