I’m just back from a week in New Mexico. Most of the time I was in Santa Fe, but we did a bunch of day trips outside the city too. I have so many images in my head and things to say about my time in the area, but here’s some things that stood out for me about this trip.
So much of what I saw surprised me.
I guess you could say that about any place you visit, but New Mexico felt special and truly surprising. In the very best way. VLA was a perfect example: it’s one of those places that needs to be experienced. If you just read about it, you might say “How exciting can it be to go see a bunch of huge dishes in the middle of nowhere?”.
VLA is magical. To be standing among 27 gigantic dishes at dusk, on an ancient and now-dry lake bed, knowing that all those dishes are listening (looking?) into deep space. It’s the sort of magic you have to experience in person.
One moment I was standing there, drawing those still dishes as the sun went down and I looked up from my sketchbook for another glance at them… as the sun disappeared all the dishes, in unison, turned to face the setting sun. It was beautiful.
I couldn’t have had a better start to the trip. That magic, that sense of surprise, it was everywhere we went for the rest of that week.
My other, unrelated observation:
The older your kids get, the harder it is to sketch when you travel.
This seems counterintuitive: Shouldn’t it get easier? Over the last few trips I’ve been surprised by how hard it is to draw. (And I draw pretty quick) It’s all for a good reason: My kids are 10 and 12 and can travel and do stuff at an adult pace. So we don’t do long snack breaks and ‘run around in the park between museum visits’ breaks anymore. We see a lot more stuff, squeeze in a lot more into our trips. That just means there’s just less time to sketch.
I guess I’m just going to have to learn to sketch-note a lot more for the next few years and count on working on less watercolor sketches.
Among the many, many incredible places and things I didn’t sketch were:
Tinkertown Museum, a totally amazing, hard to describe place.
Meow Wolf, an immersive art experience that defies definition. (and the highlight of Santa Fe for our whole family) I did a wee bit of sketching inside, but not anything that captured the feel of the place.
The vegetation and rocks at Bandelier National Monument.
The skies in New Mexico (they’re something else!)
The fall colors, especially the aspens.
The Taos Pueblo.
Still, I did draw lots of other stuff we visited, and you’ll see some of the stuff I loved over the next few posts.