Tree Hugging Cowgirl, 9

Today I went where I could barely see the area where parcel 8138 is located. FrackMap

I pulled off at a campsite to do some painting. It was smoky today from a fire somewhere around here. There were lots of busy trucks zooming by up on the road. A few minutes after they passed by a layer of dust would drift over me and settle on all my stuff.

9BusyTruck

This truck’s driver is in a hurry, he’s zipping by in a cloud of dust.

This area is mixed aspen groves and meadows with oak brush stands. 9AspenGrove and meadow    Its pretty from above looking down but I know from riding horses and hiking experience that its a challenge to get through those thickets. But the deer and elk have made their historic trails and manage just fine.

While I was painting a worried deer kept snorting at me. She was about 50 feet away. Tova was ignoring her as she is a well behaved old dog. I wondered if that doe had a fawn bedded down somewhere close to where I was. I didn’t stay too long for that reason and also because the storm clouds were building up. I heard some rumbling and as I was in a pretty open meadow, along the edge, I thought it would be prudent to high tail it out of there.

On the way down the road to home, I took some photos of the areas 8390 and 8391 from up above. You can see some new roads carved into the oak brush on the right side of the photo.9GoodOverview

Keep up with the latest on Tree Hugging Cowgirl on my Instagram page at Plein Air Cedar

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Tree Hugging Cowgirl, 8

I went near the parcel 8390 and also 8391 today. There were a lot of new gates and fences put up since spring. I know it wasn’t ranchers because they don’t waste their money on clearing every thing that is living away from a fence for 25 feet. There were big piles of bulldozed bushes all along the fence lines. Many of the fence lines went up and over the hills and disappeared in the scrub. And there were the ever present “No public access” signs on the gates.      7NoPublicAccess

To get to that area, I had to drive through an area that already has been subjected to extractive industry, namely coal mining. The mine is closed down now but its effects will continue. They put up these signs along the road as it could collapse at any moment from all the mine tunnels underneath it. 8MiningWarning That is going to happen pretty much forever. What are the long term negative effects of oil and gas drilling going to be on us who will still be here after the boom and bust cycle is in the bust phase?

There were some ranchers checking on their cattle. They were not friendly and in fact downright rude and to be honest, real shits. I know that speeding drivers have run into and killed a number of mother cows on that road lately but they don’t know me and I was not doing anything but pulling over and checking out the view. I drove off to another spot after they rode away on their horses. My guess is that lots of people are in that area due to the fracking roads drawing ATV drivers and 4X4-er’s. And they like to go fast when ever they can.

8cattleThree

These curious cattle will come over and pester me when I set up to paint and am not paying attention to them.

I did find there were grazing cow calf pairs everywhere. My experience with cattle is that the cows are super curious and come up to you when you least expect it – like really concentrating on part of a painting – and knock over you and your stuff. And they freak out when they see my dog because she reminds them of a little angus calf, being a black lab. So I didn’t even want to deal with that. I just took some photos today and will do some studio paintings of that area.

Keep up with the latest on Tree Hugging Cowgirl on my Instagram page at Plein Air Cedar

Tree Hugging Cowgirl, 7

I went with to another location, parcel 8140. But it was on private land in the middle of the National Forest land. That type of land ownership is not that unusual and its called Checker Board. But I was able to set up really close to that parcel and do a painting. Iwas near the road that goes from McClure Pass to Overland Reservoir. It was very busy with lots of big white trucks loaded with all sorts of equipment driving by us. I noticed the existing drilling sites that had storage tanks painted green. There were also gas and water pipelines buried along the roads and trailing up hill and dale.

This is only part of the tanks that I saw.

I got a good view of the Ragged Range with Chair Mountain being prominent. I also saw all the way over to Capitol and Snowmass peaks. I knew we were up high but despite the altitude, it was pretty hot outside.

Me, painting away

Some of the big trucks stopped to ask me what I was doing. When I said “I’m an artist, I’m painting” the drivers smiled and drove off. I think I did not seem threatening to anyone. Probably because a short old lady painting isn’t the archetypal villain. But there were threats to the environment up there. There was a shop for oil and gas activities with lots of trucks and equipment.

Here is the fracking shop.

There were lots of tanks, big dark green affairs with posted signs with threats on them regarding trespassing. Every time I spotted a set of tanks and then it went out of view, another set came into view almost . It was depressing.

And people are not the only thing that are threatened up in that area. Some one or several ones have been shooting cattle.

What kind of idiot shoots random cattle?

And not just cattle are being shot according to the warning on the sign. I was glad to finish up my little painting and leave that area.

Here is the quick little color study I did.

Keep up with the latest on Tree Hugging Cowgirl on my Instagram page at Plein Air Cedar

The creation of a Tree Hugging Cowgirl.

My “Tree Hugging Cowgirl” series explores the impact of fracking and other damaging events on the environment. Earlier this year, I saw that more parcels were up for oil and gas extraction near where I live and I wanted to do something about it. I did the usual letter and email sending but wanted to do something that I was good at. I saw the BLM map (at my town’s July Fourth celebration called Cherry Days) of the parcels up for lease sale at the Western Slope Conservation Center booth. I decided right then and there to go out to as many of them as I could and paint what I saw. I am familiar with the areas as I have ridden horseback through a lot of it and other areas I’ve gone into to do search and rescue. I wanted to do this Tree Hugging Cowgirl series to inform people of the places that will be affected if gas and oil production is allowed to occur and expand. I was also inspired and influenced to paint the smoke-filled West I experienced on a vacation this summer.

Chipko movement in India in the 1970’s following a tradition since 1730.

According to Earth Island Journal, “The first tree huggers were 294 men and 69 women belonging to the Bishnois branch of Hinduism, who, in 1730, died while trying to protect the trees in their village from being turned into the raw material for building a palace. They literally clung to the trees, while being slaughtered by the royal foresters. But their action led to a royal decree prohibiting the cutting of trees in any Bishnoi village. And now those villages are virtual wooded oases amidst an otherwise desert landscape. Not only that, the Bishnois inspired the Chipko movement (chipko means “to cling” in Hindi) that started in the 1970s, when a group of peasant women in the Himalayan hills of northern India threw their arms around trees designated to be cut down. Within a few years, this tactic, also known as tree satyagraha, had spread across India, ultimately forcing reforms in forestry and a moratorium on tree felling in Himalayan regions.”

I’m not that brave, but I did decide to go out to areas where there would be gas and oil production workers. They are not usually know for their delicate ways or polite manners.

I’ve been making art since I was small. When I was about 5 years old I remember being asked, “What do you want to be when you grow up?”I said, “A cowboy and an artist”. I later learned I was a cowgirl. And I have always loved trees! They are some of my best models and I love painting them.

I went out and created sketches, plein air (French for outdoors or outside) paintings and photographed the scenes. Many of the plein air paintings are here tonight. Some were used as sketches to form the inspiration for many of my studio pieces. I also collaborated with WSCC and they helped me with advice and technical support. I am donating 50% of the profits from the sale of the paintings in the Tree Hugging Cowgirl series during the 2 exhibits to the WSCC.

I went out and painted places on BLM land, in the National Forest and looking over fences onto private lands. Some of the landscapes were beautiful. Some were not, as the gas production was already occurring there and marred the natural beauty of the area as well as affected its health. I am not sure how many people have gone out to areas already being extracted. Gas and oil production tears up Mother Earth. There are sets of pipelines bringing water in and taking gas out. I wondered who sold their water rights to the gas and oil companies? I wondered how safe are the pipelines going out? They are everywhere if you drive out Colbran Road off of Hwy 133 just outside of Paoina, CO. So are green tanks on their sterile graveled rectangles. Do they spray Round Up on those gravel pads to keep the plants from growing? There are also green gates with welded pipe fences connected to them. No rancher I know would spend that kind of money on gates and fences. Barbed wire is just fine. Who put those up and did they have permission?

I noticed a sign in this heavily extracted area put up by the Forest Service saying that shooting cattle was a crime. I wondered when that went up as I hadn’t seen it before. I used to ride horses and mules in these areas in the past 8 years. I figured all the new roads into the area was bringing in a surly sort that shot at cow calf pairs for some cruel reason.

When I was out painting by myself, with my dog and some bear spray for protection, I thought about my safety but not a lot. I can’t say anything exciting or dramatic happened while I was outside doing my plein air painting for Tree Hugging Cowgirl. I spent a lot of time looking at the landscapes.

Why did I create Tree Hugging Cowgirl? I want to have people become aware of the areas that are up for fracking. Most people worry that some abstract concept of Nature is going to be destroyed. Some people go out on hikes or back country skiing or hunting in the forest. But most people look at the images of these places on a screen or magazine page. I went out and looked for hours at a time. I want to share my experience with others. I believe that looking at a painting will raise peoples’ awareness in a positive way. I want people to feel good about helping. I am hoping people will be inspired to do good for Mother Earth after looking at these paintings. I want people to advocate for Nature and be moved to do healthful action.

I am a Tree Hugging Cowgirl. I always have been.


Tree Hugging Cowgirl exhibit in Paonia, CO

My series “Tree Hugging Cowgirl” will be exhibited next week, Nov 30 from 5 to 8 at the Western Slope Conservation Center. That’s at 204 Poplar in Paonia, CO. I’ll be giving an artist talk at 6pm.

This series explores the impact of fracking and other events on the environment. My plein air and studio oil paintings follow my journey this past year (2018) where I went to sites that are up for oil and gas exploration in the North Fork of the Gunnison area in Western Colorado. This series also includes my journey from Colorado to British Columbia and Alberta and back and the fires I experienced while on this journey. I collaborated with the Western Slope Conservation Center in this series. They were so very generous in helping me put on this exhibit for our community.

I look forward to sharing my paintings and the experiences I had while creating them with you. I hope to see you all there!

I’ve sent out a MailChimp postcard, which you can view by clicking on the following link: Cedar’s Postcard. Thanks!

Tree Hugging Cowgirl, Part 11

I’ve been working on my series, Tree Hugging Cowgirl, and have been doing a few paintings of these green gates that keep popping up in the areas of forest and grazing lands near where I live. The gates are always these big green ones and there are welded pipe fence on either side of the gates. Some of the pipe fences go for a long ways, others go for 20 feet or so. Either way, these are expensive. Ranchers might put up a gate but it would be a stretched barbed wire gate over a cattle guard. With a little side gate where a truck, ATV or people on horses could get through. They just don’t fool around with fancy expensive gates like that. Who belongs to these gates? And why do they seem big enough to let a semi trailer carrying extraction materials through? A lot of them have new wire fences with a really wide road cut running along it and disappearing into the forest or over a ridge.  These and other questions are needing answers.

My plein air and studio paintings were scheduled to be show in Paonia and Crested Butte during December (yes, that is less than 3 weeks away). However the owner of the space, The Cirque, where I was supposed to hang about 25 paintings and have an opening on November 30th called me earlier this week to say she had made a terrible mistake and double booked the date and space. We had agreed about a show early this summer and I’d kept going in there, measuring wall space, asking questions, etc. She had already signed a contract with the other artist just recently and didn’t know what to do. I suggested that the other artist (who makes willow stick frames with a piece of flat rock with a petroglyph painted on it inserted in the center of these stick frames) collaborate with me. We could hang half our works, each taking 1 of the 2 wall spaces. We could do that in December and in January switch wall spaces and bring in the other half of our work. The other artist refused to collaborate. And the owner of the Cirque told me I could have January or a month during the summer instead. I had already started marketing for the show and was glad I didn’t give the go-ahead on any printing or ads. I have been working with the Western Slope Conservation Center, they helped with maps, suggestions where to go, and were excited to be a part of the opening and exhibit. I was also going to donate a percentage of the profits to them from the sale of the paintings during the run of the exhibit. I was pretty upset but figured when live gives me lemons, I just make a Kamikaze.

My new showing will be one night only at WSCC’s offices in Paonia.  Here is the press release with the details. It was great that the staff and the Board of Directors from the Western Slope Conservation Center jumped into help. And my friends were very encouraging as well.

Cedar Keshet’s “Tree Hugging Cowgirl” series explores the impact of fracking and other events on the environment. Her plein air and studio oil paintings follow her journey this past year (2018) going to sites that are up for oil and gas exploration in the North Fork of the Gunnison area in Western Colorado. This series also includes her journey from Colorado to British Columbia & Alberta and back and the fires she experienced while on this journey. Cedar collaborated with the Western Slope Conservation Center in this series.

Join Cedar on Friday November 30, 2018 from 5-8 p.m. at the Western Slope Conservation Center’s offices, 206 Poplar in Paonia. Artist’s Talk will start at 6 with WSCC information and Q&A to follow. Light refreshments will be served. 50% of the profits from this one night’s exhibit will be donated by Keshet to the Western Slope Conservation Center.

I hope to see a lot of you on Nov. 30. That is also our town’s Final Friday, so other galleries will be open. Including the Cirque where I was supposed to be exhibiting. Not like I’m bitter, but just saying its been a challenge. Glad I am a positive person and have found a way to share my art adventures with the community.

Carbondale, CO Exhibit

These are some of the oil paintings on display

Twenty four of my plein air and studio paintings are on exhibit at the Village Smithy restaurant in Carbondale Colorado from now until December 2, 2018. The Village Smithy is a long time feature in Carbondale where folks go for good food and also to see the revolving exhibits of local Western Colorado artists. I am fortunate to have my second year showing my paintings there. Its on 3rd and Main.

3 plein air paintings with a studio painting, all oils

Many of these paintings were created en Plein Air (outside in French) and done Alla Prima (all in one session). Several are studio, some done from Plein Air studies.

These paintings are perfect gifts for the holidays for your loved ones. Or even those you don’t love but like and need to get a special gift for. Just a bit of my silly humor, there! All are specially priced to make gift giving a pleasure. Give a gift of fine art from a local artist!

Tree Hugging Cowgirl, part 10

I’ve been busy getting ready for my exhibits coming up in December in Paoina and Crested Butte. I’ve put in the press release I’ve sent out below. Also here are some of the images of the paintings that will be in the shows.

No Public Access, oil, 16″ x 20″

Tucked In The Trees, oil, 6″ x 8″

Tree Hugging Cowgirl

Heidi “Cedar” Keshet was raised in El Paso, Texas/Sunland Park, New Mexico. She spent many hours in the desert of southern New Mexico, near her family home, on her horse, with a sketchbook in the saddle bag. The light, colors in nature and huge expanse of sky was being infused into her artistic psyche as a young person. Keshet feels a deep connection with the land. She received her BFA in 1999. She has been creating art since she was five years old.

I paint as a way of distilling the feelings of completeness and joy I experience from the landscapes of the Western United States. When a viewer of my work feels a connection to place, then I have succeeded in my work. I believe that painting the beauty of the West documents and supports these lands. I hope this will move others to recognize these amazing places and advocate for them as well.”

Keshet live in western Colorado where she creates art, rides horses, hugs trees and dabbles in Biodynamic farming.

Keshet is collaborating with the Western Slope Conservation Center in Paonia on this series of paintings to raise awareness about the parcels of land that are up for a lease sale by the BLM in December that are in the area where she and her family live, the North Fork of the Gunnison River in Western Colorado. The WSCC has helped her with technical details and information about where and what the BLM has planned for these parcels of land up for oil and gas production lease sales.

Keshet has gone to many of the places that are up for lease sale by the BLM in December. These leases are for gas and oil drilling a.k.a. Fracking. They are very near to her home and studio in Paonia. There are already many roads and fences installed even before the permission has been given to purchase the oil and gas leases. She speculates that the oil companies follow the adage that its easier to ask forgiveness than to ask permission.

Cedar wants to document what the areas are like before they are forever altered by fracking. She has referred to a map from the BLM which shows the areas up for lease sale, much of the area is already under production. She relates that makes her extremely sad and keeps her from sleeping at night when she thinks about the environmental damage done to many of these beautiful areas. She plans to raise people’s awareness through this series of paintings and her posts on Facebook and Instagram at Plein Air Cedar. She is also blogging about her experiences while painting this series.

Keshet is using many of the plein air studies as references for larger paintings to be created in her studio. Both plein air and studio pieces will be in at the December 2018 exhibits in Paonia at the Cirque Cyclery and in Crested Butte at the Piper gallery in the Crested Butte Center for the Arts. The Western Slope Conservation Center will be joining Keshet at the Cirque. The exhibit at the Cirque in Paonia opens on November 30 and runs through the month of December. The Piper gallery exhibition opens with a reception on December 7th from 5-7pm and closes on December 30th.

I hope I get to see a lot of you at one or both of the exhibits in December.

Tree Hugging Cowgirl, 6

So this has been kind of depressing for me, going out to areas up for lease sale and plein air painting. I paint and think about fracking and destroying our environment and the disrespectful treatment of our Mother Earth.

I have decided to share some images of some of the silly things that go on when I go out to paint. I had to wear a bug net at one place because the mosquitoes were so thick. Then later on in the morning, I had to tuck my sleeves into my gloves to keep out the biting deer flies.

My dog is my best plein air assistant anyone could ask for. She has been faithfully laying on my gear and in the shade of my umbrellas for years now. She is getting kinda gray but with that comes her experience. And of course, being summer in Colorado, there is always some road construction. But a look in my rear view window shows more than a long line of waiting vehicles. There is a great view of the Ragged Range.

Keep up with the latest on Tree Hugging Cowgirl on my Instagram page at Plein Air Cedar

Tree Hugging Cowgirl, 5

I went plein air painting near lease sale area 8320. The end of the road was not very welcoming so I went back to the Hawsapple campground by the Paonia Reservoir. It was empty of people. The boat ramp was closed and I did see one person with a fishing boat driving out as I was going in on the road. But the water was so low in the reservoir that I don’t think it was safe for boating, thus the closure.