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.


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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.

Long time gone … Plein Air Fall 2017

I’ve been gone at Plein Air events for the last 3 1/2 weeks. We traveled and parked our camper at great people’s houses who were so hospitable to us. It made the events even more fun! Below are some shots of my work. Why am I not in any of them  you wonder? Well because Tova wouldn’t take a photo of me, she was busy snoozing.

Tova is holding down that rock at Fisher Towers, UT

This is at the Escalante Canyons plein air event. It was 11 days long! Whew

Painting hay fields in Escalante Utah. Red rocks, too!

The ones below are at the Colorado National Monument Plein Air, near Grand Junction, Colorado. That Plein Air event lasted almost a week.

Coke Ovens in early morning light.

Painting in full sunlight is tough on the eyes! Independence Rock

The 3 below are from the Red Rocks Arts Festival in Moab, UT.  That Plein Air event lasted over 8 days! Wow. I did a lot of painting in all types of weather from wind and snow to wind and sunshine.

Of course the famous Fisher Towers are behind me.

It was a cold and windy day but I kept on painting and the sun peaked out for a bit.

A smoky Dead Horse Point State Park!

I’ve cleaned out the sand and grit from my gear and have been resting the last day or two. It is good to be home but I’m ready to paint outside again. Just not so far from my bed and kitchen, ha ha ha!

 

"Mrs. Norris' Root Cellar" Plein Air oil, 9" x 12"

“Mrs. Norris’ Root Cellar” Plein Air oil, 9″ x 12″

I’ve been painting up a storm lately. Tomorrow we head out to Meeker for the Plein Air Meeker competition. Its in conjunction with their “Range Call” which is Meeker’s way of celebrating July 4th.

"Rocks and Wyethia" Plein Air study, Oil

“Rocks and Wyethia” Plein Air study, Oil 6″ x 9″

I’ve have lots of studies from places around Paonia so I’m looking forward to the change of scenery and alpine vistas in the White River National Forest and Flat Top Wilderness area.

"Pipe Organ" Oil, 8" x 15" en Plein Air

“Pipe Organ” Oil, 8″ x 15″ en Plein Air

I did paint at the Colorado National Monument on Friday, so I had a change of scenery for a couple days. But this is yet another change. Stay tune for more posts about the week in Meeker! Although I don’t know how I’ll be able to compete with the Meeker Massacre Pageant, Meeker Bank Robbery Reenactment or Jon Wangnild Memorial Shoot. Painting versus shooting weapons and pretending to kill people? Hum? At any rate, I am leaving for Paonia before Range Call to join in my town’s own July 4th celebration, Cherry Days, which honors the first fruit of the season to be ripe. Yep, shooting people or eating cherry pie, eating lots of ripe sweet cherries and drinking hard cherry cider,  my choice is for the cherries.

Plein Air season 2017 is beginning!

Plein Air Painting view of Mt. Lamborn

I’ve been painting every day the last couple of weeks to get in shape for the upcoming Plein Air painting season. On the 26th, I leave for Meeker, CO and the Plein Air Meeker competition. In August its the Red Brick Plein Air Festival in Aspen, CO.

I’m getting ready and will get my hat on, bug spray applied and set up my easel and umbrella and paint away!

Plein Air painting right near my house

Follow me on Instagram at Plein Air Cedar for the the latest news.

Cedar’s work in May at the Village Smithy

Back wall in the Village Smithy Restaurant

My work is in Carbondale, CO at the Village Smithy Restaurant, 3rd and Main, during the month of May. If you’re in Carbondale, grab a bite to eat from 7-2 and check out my paintings. Its a pretty setting and very vital and happening. And the baked goods are yummy!

This is the main wall in the Village Smithy Restaurant.

Western Colorado Center for the Arts 2017 Member Exhibition

 

 

"Elk Hay"

“Elk Hay” at the Art Center in Grand Junction’s 2017 Member Show.

"Zion Sentinel"

“Zion Sentinel” at the Art Center in Grand Junction’s 2017 Member Show.

These two paintings are on exhibit at the Western Colorado Center for the Arts or the Grand Junction Art Center as I like to think of it. There are over 240 works by 140 or so artists. There is everything from paintings to fiber to ceramics to some things that defy description.

I am honored to be included in this interesting and creative show.

Sketches are the bones of painting

Sketches are the structure on which I base almost all of my paintings.

Wild Horse Crossing Campground

Wild Horse Crossing Campground

I love to do sketches, even if they are tiny small thumbnail ones, of a painting before I begin.

Moses Lake baseball field, WA

Moses Lake baseball field, WA

So I sketch a lot.

Big Southern Butte, from Crators of the Moon National Monument, Idaho

Big Southern Butte, from Crators of the Moon National Monument, Idaho

I’ve included some sketches I did while on our trip through 5 states earlier this month.

Firehold Canyon Campground view, Flaming Gorge, WY

Firehold Canyon Campground view, Flaming Gorge, WY

Painting gets in a show: San Xavier in Tubac

St Xavier, en Plein Air Oil, 8" x 10"

St Xavier, en Plein Air Oil, 8″ x 10″

San Xavier (A-Vear) is a mission south of Tucson, AZ.  Ansel Adams made it famous in his photos he did mid 20th century. I painted it en Plein Air when I was at the Plein Air conference in April 2016. It has been accepted to the exhibition: “Wish You Were Here”. It is a national juried exhibit of art that focuses on Southwestern Arizona. The show opens July 29 through August 28, 2016.