Oil painting of white cliffs in the distance, grasses and a path in the foreground

White Cliffs
16 x 20 in.
Available through the artist

Barbara Coleman: “I painted “White Cliffs” from a plein air study completed during my artist-in-residency at Ghost Ranch, New Mexico, a landscape made famous by artist Georgia O’Keefe. My father was in the Air Force, and as a child we moved frequently, living in France, Germany, and Washington D.C. My mother’s family settled in New Mexico during the 1900s, and when I was twelve we moved to Albuquerque. The landscape here was an “acquired taste” for me. Growing up in lush green forests, it took me a few years to see how beautiful it truly is here.

“Early one morning during my residency, I set out from Ghost Ranch, stalking a painting. A water moon hung low in the sky, reminding me of the scarcity of water in this high desert landscape. The colors of the sky and land mirrored each other in mauves and turquoises, shimmering oranges and dusty yellow ochres. The air was still and cool. I turned my car toward the north, heading towards the Chama River and Christ in the Desert Monastery. I could have stopped a thousand times to paint, when I was bedazzled by rays of stray sunshine striking white cliffs in the distance, like a fairy-tale castle suddenly revealed. Round, dark piñon tree soldiers marched back towards the cliffs, grouped like defending battalions. The light was fleeting as clouds regrouped in ever-changing patterns in the sky. The silence was pronounced. The vast expanse of the desert, the towering clouds, the stray mysterious rustle of sage brought me to the edge of myself.

“The practice of paying attention is a rare gift, allowing us experience the beauty and mystery of so-called ordinary things. We can only love what we stop to observe. Transiently empty of mind chatter, I was filled with the silence and Presence of this place. Its vastness held me close as I painted, trying to express what I felt in colored pigments. “White Cliffs” was born from that morning.”

Coleman is an award-winning artist who has shown her work nationally and internationally. She has Signature memberships in Oil Painters of America (OPA), Pastel Society of America (PSA) and Plein Air Painters of New Mexico (PAPNM), and is an Associate member in Women Artists of the West (WAOW).

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