Studies of Taos
Two weeks in Taos, NM in April exceeded my expectations. I had visited years ago on a quick trip; I remembered liking the place. This time I breathed the air, ate the food, visited the historical sites, soaked up the ambiance, the color, the architect, and Oh Yes, did I mention the food? How could a quesadilla be so delicious? We ate in both the expensive tourist restaurants and where the locals hang out Where else could one experience so much vibrancy in such a quiet, laid back place? Driving down the main street, one would swear nothing is there. Buildings are low. Earth colors dominate. Window accents are bottle green. Everything is small; the dining rooms, the boutiques, and the shops. Yes, McDonald’s is there, but one hardly notices. Wal-Mart’s presence stirred up endless protests and letters to the editor still continue. Behind the foliage is an entirely different world. Sophisticated, design conscious, traditional and self assured. The trees are a feathery yellow-lime fairyland, against the subtle, smoky purple mountains. Clouds daily performed a rapidly changing dance, both threatening and intriguing. Taos is familiar, comfortable and a different world. It made an indelible impression in my mind and heart.
I painted while there. When I came home I painted more. Not scenes. Not places. Sensations, colors, and feelings. Taos Impressions is a series of twelve 12” x 12” paintings, capturing the colors I have internalized in my mind. Painted in acrylic, oil pastel and a little collage on paper, they are mounted on panel, framed in natural birch wood and archival sealed. Acrylic creates the under coat, blocking in the main shapes. Layer upon layer of oil pastels build up the mood, capturing the texture from the under paint and support surface. The paintings may be small, but it takes days to complete as the color dries between each layer.
This group of paintings sets the stage for a new level of painting in my work. I will never be able to go back to the generic rawness of my previous work. It is an adventure to see how such a memorable experience plays out in my work.
— Phyllis Jaffe