Yesterday was a pleasant day of painting. The subject this time is a little Chapel in Contrabando. I saw a photo of it by my friend John Hoyt, a photographer friend who graciously allows me to paint from his images. Then I googled a bunch more of that small town beside the Rio Grande. I decided that when Cheryl comes to visit next month we will go and paint there for two days, in the big bend park. Alas that is not to happen! Reading more I learned that Contrabando was never a town, only a movie set built about 1985. So it was just an illusion, not really real. Then the river rose in flood and after a few more years the chapel and all but one building were bulldozed and taken away, so more of a dream than ever, visible only on the screen in Lonesome Dove and a dozen other western pieces of make believe. How do I convey that sense of ephemera, for the little chapel only seen in memory or a dream or when the moonlight makes it almost visible again?
The whole western mystique evokes the view of a time that really never was as we remember it in folklore. I do not seek reality in my painting though it is representational. It represents a private internal response to what I see or think I see.
Frank Tenney Johnson painted so many western nocturnes. I am studying his palette for moonlit scenes.
Here is the image from John Hoyt. To see more of the buildings and surroundings, google Contrabando movie set. Another photographer friend, Rey, has promised to share some shots he took of Contrabando. There were many appealing little adobe buildings to paint there, I wish I could go back in time to paint there for a few day, but photos will have to do.
I will leave it on an easel in the kitchen, there are always little touches I want to make. e