In the Footsteps of Georgia O’Keefe

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Muffy Clark Gill “Chimney Rock” pastel sketch 5 x 7 in

Three years ago on a previous RV trip I had spent a week at Ghost Ranch taking a watercolor workshop. When an opportunity arose to return for a Fourth of July weekend I took fulll advantage of it.

To bring you up to date Ghost Ranch, located about ten miles northeast of Abiquiu, New Mexico and 90 minutes north of Santa Fe was the home for many years of artist Georgia O’Keeffe. Today Ghost Ranch is owned by the National Ghost Ranch Foundation and operates as a retreat center that provides educational workshops and events. Recently they had reopened after being closed during Covid and were starting to offer workshops again. One of their traditions was an annual Fourth of July Festival. This four day event featured hiking, tours of the ranch,canoeing on nearby Abiquiu Lake,

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a parade of farm tractors and equipment and even a sunset balloon glow!
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We stayed at the campground and rode our bikes all over the ranch to attend meals in the dining hall as well as being able to sightsee without driving the Roge Mahal. I created several travel sketches while there of the beautiful red rock landscape.
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Georgia O’Keeffe had purchased a seven acre parcel in the middle of Ghost Ranch where she had been vacationing as one of two places in Abiquiu to live and paint the amazing landscape of the Colorado plateau. She was so in love with the landscape that a large body of her work featured the red, white, gray and multicolored rocks of the world around her
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O’Keeffe was so connected to this landscape that she even had her car customized so that she could swivel the driver’s seat of her car around and paint while having the shade of the car protect her while painting!

We discovered these unusual tales while taking the Georgia O’Keefe Landscape tour offered daily by Ghost Ranch. Our guide took us to parts of Ghost Ranch so that we could view the subjects Georgia Painted alongside reproductions of the paintings she created. It was fascinating!

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(One of the scenes that Georgia painted)
While we were staying at the ranch we drove 13 miles along an unpaved rutted forest road along the Rio Chama to visit the Monastery of Christ in the Desert. You don’t want to be on this twisty and winding road when it rains! This beautiful church is run by Benedictine monks who allow visitors to see their lovely chapel designed by George Nakashima. The windows of the chapel look out at the red rocks towering above it. Twice a day visitors can attend mass and hear the beautiful chanting of the monks. They also offer a gift shop with some of their own products.
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We returned to Abiquiu two weeks later and this time camped on a hill overlooking Abiquiu Lake and Cerro Pedernal—Georgia’s favorite mountain and where her ashes were spread. I did a lot of hiking and painted a watercolor of my own while I was there.
I was very sad to leave this enchanting area but plan to come back again!
Cerro Pedernal

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