The stacked square forms of adobe architecture and their nestled windows and doors fascinated me on my visit to Taos Pueblo and were the catalyst for two new drawings.
This composition features an alcove and doorway of the North House building of Taos Pueblo, called "Hlauuma," in the native Tiwa language of the Red Willow people who reside there. The North House building is one of the most photographed and painted buildings in North America. It is a beautiful structure to view from a distance and when exploring up close. Keeping the importance of a natural palette in mind, yet wanting to explore color, I decided to use both water-soluble graphite and oil pastels for the mediums of this composition, and created two separate drawings. This allowed me to shift the focus of each drawing to highlight different features of the exquisite adobe surfaces, and the relationship between architecture, land and sky.
Oil pastels are delightfully tactile and their ability to be layered allowed me to aggressively build up the surface with a variety of color and marks. Once an area of the paper reached its maximum carrying capacity for the pastels, I could scrape the surface back down before applying more pastel again. The evidence of previous layers of pigment remain in the lights and shadows of the ground and architecture, creating a splendidly textured artwork.
The oil pastels accommodated exploration of color and built up textures, but I also wanted to examine the possibilities of a more subtle medium that would reveal the natural relationships between the art materials, and the elemental connections between sky, architecture and land at the pueblo. Using water soluble graphite showcases the white color and textured surface of the art paper, the delicate drawn lines of natural lead, and the ethereal nature of water, which drips and blooms across the artwork. The consistent harmony of paper, graphite and water throughout the artwork parallels the symbiotic nature of earth, air and water in the pueblo landscape.
The water that billows to form the clouds also drips down the sides of the adobe building and across the stones and rocky ground. Together the water and graphite convey the natural aged texture of the building, and allow light and shadow to dapple across the artwork.
I continue to be fascinated by the architecture of ancestral Native Americans. Taos Pueblo is particularly remarkable because it has remained inhabited for more than 1,000 years. Though the entire North House is impressive to behold, I also enjoy the abstract nature of more intimate vantage points like this composition.
Both of these original artworks are 9 inches x 12 inches, and are matted to 11 inches x 14 inches. They are currently available in the Elysian Studios Etsy Shop- pop on over to see these pieces and more original artwork!