Seasons Along the High Road

 Please join us for a show at the Northern New Mexico College, in the Nick Salazar Center for the Arts building.

Seasons Along the High Road highlights the work of Sally Delap-John. The show runs from February 19 – March 15 2016.

The reception will be held on March 11, 4 – 6 pm

Artist Statement

“Upon moving to Truchas, New Mexico in 2008, I almost immediately loaded up a palette, grabbed a couple of canvases and set about painting all I could see. It was a new landscape for me, but an old landscape full of historic churches, adobes and the high desert.

The village of Truchas is a wealth of history. It’s historic church dominates the village as it appears to cling to the southern edge of the llanos. The spectacular Truchas Peaks are framed by the central village buildings as you drive east. Any season of the year provides it’s own special beauty. Adobes of all ages and in varying stages of repair line the road.

Spring comes late in this area of the Sangr de Cristos. Lilacs and fruit trees send out brave shoots, new leaves, flower buds and are often rewarded with a cruel frost. But if they make it, it’s spectacular.

Summer brings the monsoonal rains. These are channeled into the hand-dug acequias that wind down the llanos. wood piles are found everywhere. Wood gathering begins as soon as the roads are dry. You can’t have too much wood.

Autumn is when the warm days turn the landscape its most colorful. Chamisa fills arroyos. Sunflowers, purple asters, blue flax color the roadside. Aspen fill in between the evergreens. Streaks of yellow aspen flank the Truchas Peaks. Add in a sunset, some orange rain and a rainbow and you have a treat that may be repeated over and over.

Winter is hushed in the cloak of snow. Nighttime snow glows unbelievably bright. Besides the nuisance of it all, the beauty is worth every minute.”  – Sally Delap-John

Camino de la Sociadad.jpgCamino de la Sociadad, 20 x 16, oil




Charlee Newman Fine Art

Announcing the opening of “Charlee Newman Fine Art Gallery” in Ojo Sarco at 2296 State Road 76. Turn by the sign for Charlee Newman Landscapes following the lane for 200 yards through cottonwood trees along the acequia to the gallery.

Oil painting and pastels of atmospheric landscapes are featured. The gallery is open Wednesday through Sunday 10am to 5pm.

More paintings and pastels can be seen in Santa Fe at the Hilton Double Tree Hotel on Cerrillos Road and Rodeo Drive.

The Drama of New Mexico Storms

The Drama of New Mexico Storms, oil on canvas, 52″x30″, framed, $3,500

Chama River Butte

Chama River Butte, oil on canvas, 25″x21″, framed, $500

Morning Comes to Dream Lake, oil on canvas, 32"x32", framed, $2,000

Morning Comes to Dream Lake, oil on canvas, 32″x32″, framed, $2,000

August Afternoon Showers, oil on canvas, 58x32, framed, $4,000

August Afternoon Showers, oil on canvas, 58″x32″, framed, $4,000

Artist’s Statement

I began drawing at 5 years old. By 8 years old I discovered pastels and within a few years I began painting with oils. That calling never left me; however, my major in college was sculpture. The Sierra Nevada Mountains in California brought me back to painting, and there I found the best love. Then the light in the northern Sangre de Cristo Mountains cinched the directions of my paintings along with discovering the paintings of Wilson Hurley. Some artist said that light is all that is worth painting. Both oils and pastels have the rich ability for catching the lights and shadows for all to see. It’s just up to the artist to use it.



Charlee Newman is from south Texas. She received a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from the University of Texas and continued studying in San Francisco, California in the field of architectural illustration. She currently lives in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains of Northern New Mexico where she can devote full time to painting.

Charlee is currently showing work at the Hilton Doubletree Hotel in Santa Fe and will be showing paintings in her studio show rooms this summer in Ojo Sarco. Charlee has shown in San Francisco, the wine country of California, Carmel, Pasadena, San Antonio, Texas and several galleries in New Mexico. New Mexico Arts in Public Places purchased two of her paintings for the Farmington Four Corners Airport and the Albuquerque Development Center. She is a member of High Road Artisans and shows each year in the High Road Art Tour the last two weekends in September.

All her paintings are framed with clear, stained, and sealed pine frames made by the artist.

Ghost Ranch Sheep, oil on canvas, 28"x25", framed, $1,500

Ghost Ranch Sheep, oil on canvas, 28″x25″, framed, $1,500


Charlee Newman Fine Art

A Taste of NM: Watercolors in the Northern Mountains

The following article was originally written for and published in the newsletter of the Northwest Watercolor Society (April/May, 2015, pp. 19-21) by High Road Artisan Board member, Donna Caulton. It is reprinted here with permission of the Watercolor Society.

By Donna J Caulton, NWWS Signature Member

New Mexico seems to draw artists who, once they have been here, can’t stay away. The attractions are many, but expansive sky and light, diversity in the natural landscape and a vibrant cultural mix surely top the charts. Watercolorists, when coming here, often change their primary medium, as I did, to make the shift required to accommodate all this “brightness.”

Note, for instance, the differences between a watercolor I made during my final year in Seattle, “Mandala for Peace” and an acrylic painting I made during my first year in New Mexico, “Natural Order” the first in a series I call Mandalas of the Natural Order.

Caulton-Mandela     Natural Order

These two paintings are structurally the same and the palette is made up of the primary triad: red, blue and yellow. The two biggest differences I see are in the intensity of color and the stronger sense of place in the New Mexico piece. “Mandala for Peace” is a metaphor; feed the world to gain world peace, and could have been painted anywhere. The New Mexico piece is far more direct and specifically immediate, reflective of the strong visual environment. It says, “Hey, look at the life cycle going on in my own back yard.”

For the purposes of this article I have chosen two painters who now live in Northern New Mexico, but who migrated from other parts of the country. Unlike me, they both retained strong watercolor voices after coming to these mountains. Both artists clearly demonstrate two key qualities in their newer works, intensity of color and a sense of place, that help label them as “Southwest artists” and, indeed, as artistic voices separate from their previous environments and from the rest of the US.

When Nancy McLendon moved from east Texas to New Mexico, she was influenced by an article in New Mexico Magazine about the High Road to Taos (where she now lives in the village of Penasco) and Spanish Colonial Villages. Nancy clearly states how the strong sense of place here translates into her work. “…although marvelous to get to know many of the things that attracted me here, it was not the people, nor their adobe buildings, sacred rituals, time-honed skills of wood carving and pottery-making that I wanted to paint. It was the lack of interference with the land that allowed me to spend hours of intimacy with the ‘rocks and roots’ I had always professed to love and preferred to paint.” And in greater depth, “….public lands provided a wonderland of moss-covered stones, unexpected springs and creeks, flowing rivers, arroyos and timeless pleats in the foothills of the lower Rockies. I’d never dreamed I’d be foot-to-earth in this immense version of the scarce little valleys and viny havens I’d found in east Texas.”

Dance with the Moon

It easy to see how Nancy’s love of subject matter carried over into her new environment and what happened to the expression of that in New Mexico’s brilliant light. The two pieces shown here both depict those microcosms of rocks and roots Nancy loves to paint. In the misty light of east Texas, as shown in the painting “Dance with the Moon,” the world is more diffuse. The mistiness even disguises whether this scene occurs during day or evening. A piece with very similar subject matter, “Red Mystery” in New Mexico’s bright light and colorful landforms, clearly says, “I really want to be seen; notice me.”

Red Mystery

Paula Reid, an Espanola, New Mexico artist, was drawn here by similar attractions as was Nancy. Her work, although still done with watercolors, changed immediately in every other way imaginable. “In New Mexico I am captivated by the traditional Hispanic and Native American life ways, so I paint the everyday scenes and villages here… Ohio it never occurred to me to paint landscapes, but in New Mexico, everywhere one looks there is a gorgeous painting.”

Old Mailboxes, near Pecos

Horseless Carriage near AalcaldeThese two paintings are some of Paula’s New Mexico works. Although Paula has no documented work for comparison from her painting days in Ohio, her words tell all: “My subject matter (in Ohio) was all over the place, but not many scenes from life. When I painted realism, I painted true and ho-hum colors.”

Although many watercolorists paint scenes from county life, there is nothing about the colors in Paula’s or Nancy’s present work that could ever be described as “ho-hum.” Many who have never spent time in New Mexico see Southwest art in general as garish or exaggerated in color intensity. As with much artwork, the intensity of color is a reflection of the light in the natural surroundings. And this light and the vastness and clarity of space in which to see it, are the two things that contribute most strongly to these regional characteristics.

And what is it about the light? Ask Paula. She professes not to know, but read on. “There have been scientific attempts to explain the factors like altitude plus latitude plus whatever. All I know is that there is a warmer, golden, sometimes pinkish light here that not only feels wonderful to be in, but that enlivens the already colorful and deeply formed landscape all year long. Even a cloudy day is special.”

Does Nancy see this natural drama in the same way? Well, not quite. “There is a freedom of dancing with paint and lively color since I moved to New Mexico. The light at these altitudes of 5,000 to 12,000 feet creates incredible contrasts on the dips and surges of the land. It is entirely possible to use a faint glaze and the deepest saturation of dark hues side by side with absolute credulity. Vibrant colors can step lively or even stomp through a painting, creating the spirit of Pueblo feast days, holy processions, wedding dances, hay-hauling trucks, shouts from horseback and men with sticks moving cattle from summer to winter and back.”

If you are under the illusion that these artists must go out seeking subject matter for their work, that would be an erroneous assumption. We are not considering, in this article, all of the Southwest. In the mountains of North-central New Mexico, time has stood still in many ways. Here at the foot of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, the southernmost chain of the Rockies, much of what we see in the everyday has been just that way for hundreds of years. The majority of the cultural presence is Native American and Spanish. The mountains, of course, dominate the landscape, the sky is omnipresent, and the adobe architecture brings land forms, people and handiwork together as one. Those happenings that Nancy speaks of in relation to vibrant colors are not the unusual; they are the everyday norm. Any artist who has spent extended time in this area absorbs this world, finding a place in the natural rhythms of time gone from so much of our greater culture. Paula, in describing her art process, takes strong notice of the way this timelessness has settled into her nature: “the beauty of it here, and the color and patterns of the local traditional folk art, bring out the medievalist in me. What a happy discovery!”

Just before moving to New Mexico I recall expressing to myself and others, “I am NOT going to be one of those New Mexico painters who paint everything in blue and orange!” Well it turned out that three of the first four paintings I painted after moving here used just that palette. The sky, the most prevalent feature of our world, is often referred to as a “turquoise sky.” It is contrasted by the land and architectural forms which are dominated by orange/red/sienna hues. Because the natural expanse is so unobstructed and huge, it is nearly impossible to avoid responding to it when painting. And why would one wish to do such a thing?

It is also true that Nancy McLendon’s watercolors, at times, take on that orange/blue opposition. In this painting, called “Vigil,” Nancy’s expression of rocks and roots, for example, is completely characteristic of her signature way of working

Vigilwhich she describes as “wet, color saturated, loose yet controlled, pointedly organic, abstract.” It is also painted primarily in blue and orange. She describes a strong relationship with her subject matter in this way: “I spend time examining the intricate patterns and colors of rocks, moss, lichen, the knots and twists of limb or root. I use my senses to intimately experience my subject. I rely on my memory of ‘intimately being with my subject’ to guide my painting.”

If you take a good look at Paula’s work, drawn mostly from the scenic world around her, you will find blue and orange make up the essential palette of nearly every piece. That color choice, however, is more evident in some work than others, as in this piece called, “On the Chama near Abiquiu.”

On the Chama near AbiquiuPaula describes her signature way of working as “half wet, half dry, foreground to background. I rely on the merging of colors and lights and darks.” There are other things, however, that lead one to recognize “Paula” in her work. Unlike many artists, she does not take herself too seriously. “Color is so playful. Some words that come to mind about my work are color, busy-ness, and decorativeness.”

Generally artists don’t refer to their work as decorative. Paula, however, in an entirely professional and thought-out manner, uses acrylic paint to create the frames that house many of her watercolor paintings, matching them to the color schemes and sensibilities of the paintings.

Can a painter make paintings anywhere? Well, of course. Are some New Mexico watercolors difficult to differentiate from paintings painted elsewhere? Again, of course they are. All New Mexico paintings are not as characteristically different as those of the painters chosen for this article. The fact that these painters moved from elsewhere, though, and indeed did have their work change after coming here is telltale of the strong influence of region on imagery. It is the painters who interact with the world, light and surround in which they live. Generally artists are not here, however, by happenstance.

The sense of place is so strong in this particular work because it is the place that drew the artists here to begin with. Nancy McLendon states it so beautifully in these few short words: “Many paintings done in New Mexico visually portray New Mexico. I think my paintings may have a sense of the universal, but I could have painted them only in New Mexico.” And that really says it all.



Nancy spent much of her adult life teaching in the public schools as well as teaching watercolor classes privately.

She says of her teaching style: “I teach basic techniques of traditional aquarelle and design. I teach what I think is essential for any watercolorist to know before he/she is able to innovate and create, experiment.”

She also is owner of Walking Woman Gallery in Penasco, NM, where she displays her work and that of several local artists. Nancy also shares some of her writing on her blog,



Paula has been a teacher of remedial reading at Northern New Mexico College in Espanola. She paints in her home studio.

Her first two years of Fine Art studies were at Ohio University (1967-69). She completed her BA at the College of Santa Fe in 1985. Paula also worked extensively with a group of local painters who were for a time under the tutelage of Jan Hart (see HotPress, Jul/Aug2014).

Paula has resided in New Mexico since the 70’s. She also loves to travel, “I would need several lifetimes to paint all of what this earth and its peoples have created”. (


Art for the Heart

32 AFTH Scan10001

Art for the Heart – the name says it all. A wonderful community resource, Art for the Heart (AFTH) is much more than your typical art space. It began 1996 as part of a series of community health initiatives that had been going on since 1982. First there was an ambulance service committed to this remote area in southeastern Taos and Rio Arriba Counties. In 1986, a project called, The Laugh Staff was started as a stress relief tool for emergency medical staff. In 1988, La Comunidad was formed to support the health and wellness of the community in whatever forms that may take. Mostly focused on recycling, it also provides a Re-Use Center for sharing and recycling clothing in the community. Its newest project is Celebracion de Cultura: Estamos Aqui Familia y Tradiciones, a multi-cultural celebration of Peñasco and the surrounding communities which is designed to showcase the area’s rich history and traditions and to support community pride.

From here, it’s a short jump to providing a place for community expression through the arts. AFTH’s mission is “to foster health through creativity.” Its gallery sits in the heart of Peñasco along the High Road to Taos. AFTH offers free creativity sessions for the public, a weekly Hersday women’s art and support group, monthly workshops, and summer youth programs. AFTH is often called on to help with creative projects such as school projects, murals, and so on. In the AFTH gallery you’ll find – for sale – the crafts and arts created by the community and a variety of established artists. There are paintings, watercolors, pottery, sculptures, jewelry, mixed-media pieces, wood carvings, and furniture, as well as loomed items like blankets, rugs, bags, and clothing. The gallery is located downstairs and out back of Walking Woman Gallery. AFTH boasts a lovely garden setting where visitors can sit and enjoy the flowers and surroundings while they ponder all that AFTH has to offer. 

Daffodils           daffodilscopy

Daffodils, $350 framed, 18 x 22

AFTH runs a few small projects beyond the gallery. One is the Glam Trash Fashion Show, an almost annual event in Taos since 2001. It is a fun and engaging runway show that encourages reuse and recycling as well as creativity, innovation, and fashion design. It is educational, for all ages, and raises awareness of social and environmental issues. Another project begun by AFTH but now a stand-alone business, UpCycled Fashion uses discarded and donated clothes to create new artistic one-of-a-kind fashions. Its goal is to be a green cottage industry that creates local jobs, saves clothes from the landfill, and provides cutting edge clothing with a conscience. As well as “art for healing” and environmental health, UpCycled Fashion promotes economic health, a very real health need in northern New Mexico.

If you’re interested in purchasing “Daffodils” for 10% off, or if you want more information about AFTH, contact them at, or call 1-505-417-0155. Visit their website to see more examples of beautiful works at AFTH: