Sunday, December 25, 2016


Two women came into my gallery recently, went straight to a new work and then stood in front of it talking. It was as if a conversation was occurring that included the artwork. In the picture, a loosely defined person is seen walking toward us in relaxed manner. He is dressed in a robe that could have been worn a thousand years ago. We cannot tell where he is for the details are blurred. He seems surrounded by light that illumines an otherwise dark scene. Golden rays seem to fall upon him from on high. Illumination surrounds his head.
“What does that remind you of?” asked one woman to her friend. “Yes, I know, “ answered the other. “Footsteps.”

 Just then another woman walked in, and was asked, “What does it remind you of?” “Footsteps,” she answered.

I talked with the ladies a while and explained that the piece is a photo I took in the Himalaya Mountain region of Kashmir. I was coming down from a trek late in the afternoon and as my car with driver passed this fellow, I turned around, leaned out the window and snapped his picture. It had been a remarkable day and this moment was part of it.
I sold a print of the original to one of the ladies and learned that “Footsteps” is a poem, formally called Footsteps In The Sand, without a known author. I read it years ago but had forgot. Here is this poignant verse:

Footprints in the Sand

One night I dreamed a dream.
As I was walking along the beach with my Lord.
Across the dark sky flashed scenes from my life.
For each scene, I noticed two sets of footprints in the sand,
One belonging to me and one to my Lord.
After the last scene of my life flashed before me,
I looked back at the footprints in the sand.
I noticed that at many times along the path of my life,
especially at the very lowest and saddest times,
there was only one set of footprints.
This really troubled me, so I asked the Lord about it.
"Lord, you said once I decided to follow you,
You'd walk with me all the way.
But I noticed that during the saddest and most troublesome times of my life,
there was only one set of footprints.
I don't understand why, when I needed You the most, You would leave me."
He whispered, "My precious child, I love you and will never leave you
Never, ever, during your trials and testings.
When you saw only one set of footprints,
It was then that I carried you."

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Love Like A Shield

“Be safe,” “Safe travels”, “Take care”, were frequent Facebook comments when the post about my upcoming travel to Mexico, Ecuador and Bolivia arrived on the platform last weekend. I recently said the same thing to my daughter Sarah when she set out in a blizzard to go ski in Colorado. I wished her to take care so as not to come to harm. If I could I would envelope her with love like a shield.

I understand others concern behind the words, and am grateful for the sentiments. In part there is precautionary warning because life has many uncertanties. In fact, when I told my brother I was going to Mexico he said he recently cancelled his trip there with his Mexican girlfriend because it is alarmingly unsafe. A Mexican friend of mine, an undocumented worker who I have hired occasionally for years also warned me. When I said, “I am going to Mexico Sergio!” he looked into my eyes for a second and smiled, then looked down at the ground and said, “Don't go.”
Buddha boy at Angkor Wat, Cambodia, Christmas 2015

It reminds me of 2008 as I prepared to journey for a year around the world. I knew I wanted to visit Egypt. As the day approached to fly to the middle east, I had some dark thoughts because Islamic extremists from Egypt flew the planes into the world trade towers. I almost changed my plans but went anyway. Now when people ask what is my favorite place in the world, I often mention Egypt.

External threats are apparent on the news. But what of threats from the inside? Years ago I remember seeing a news article in the local paper about a woman and her sick daughter. A photo showed them together in their living room. The woman had a long syringe in her hand and forlorn look. She had to inject her daughter with medicine to relieve pain. I felt pity that these two lives had become so narrow and miserable. Little did I know that within a few years this scene would play out in my life. A serial killer lurked within my daughter's body. No one knows how long this beast stalked her, but it grew and made itself known, wreaking havoc. Within two years of our discovery of cancer, it killed Naomi. She did not have to set foot out of her house. The danger was within. (A Heart Traced In Sand).

I believe everyone carries malevolent germs and organisms that given an opportunity can cause death. Our body holds them in check. My cousin went to Cost Rica, picked up a germ and died of spinal meningitis within weeks of returning home. Early in life he had leukemia and almost died. Furthermore, our brains and nervous system are highly tuned. People can become unhinged, mentally “ill”. Quality of life is severely diminished from trauma. How many are on prescriptions?

I learned when Naomi fell ill that there is no safety in life. We assume there is, but there is not. So I will go on my work/adventure and realize that anything is possible. Even death. But my body knows that already. And I do not want to live without thrill and discovery. That is worse than death. During her time of ordeal, Naomi always looked to the positive, to beauty and light as powerful allies that would enable her to overcome.

I leave January 11. The US State department lists travel warnings everywhere in the world. (See International Travel). There are many places in Mexico with warnings, but the place I am going is without apparent peril. From there I go to Ecuador for a month. I had planned to go to Bolivia for a world-class carnival but could not get a place to stay. It is so popular that people make bookings a year in advance.
Another time maybe.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

With My Heart Clear

I have a one-way ticket out of the United States. I decided to leave on my daughter Naomi's birthday, January 11. She watches over me from the next world. When I journey, I go without fear and she extends my heart to wonder. With my heart clear, the world opens like a rose.

I have known I would be going south soon, especially to Ecuador and Bolivia. Ecuador is famous for being a destination country for American people seeking comfort, beauty and less expense in living. As for Bolivia—years ago someone told me about a carnival there, full of heart in the poorest country in South America, in a town called Oruro. (See web article) It is a much smaller version of carnival in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, where I went in 2010.

I take my work wherever I go; painting, photographing and writing, and doing some business on the internet.

Two Latin fellows came into my gallery recently and we got to talking, especially about travel. Both men were warm, but Oscar was especially exuberant. He told me about a city in Mexico, Guanajuato City, where artists live amid colorful buildings in the mountains.“I guarantee you would love it!” he exuded. Oscar left me his card and info before leaving, promising to help me if I wanted. It is near another Mexican town that is famous for art and artists: San Miguel De Allende, where I have friends living full time.

After looking it up on YouTube, I could see how I just might love it like Oscar promised. (See pictures) I will go and stay for awhile. After that I will visit San Miguel De Allende and then Ecuador and Bolivia.

I look forward to getting “lost.” Then, I will search for my true brothers and sisters, my mother and father, Naomi and those dearest to my heart. I will seek and find my true family and burst with love when I do.

Sunday, December 04, 2016

Light In The Dark

Santa Fe Plaza, first night of Christmas lights
Last night I went to some art openings with Therese. There were four or five but we selected two photo exhibits. As we drove, she became excited at the Christmas lights around town. “I just love Christmas!” she said with a voice brimming with enthusiasm. I felt surprise.

We parked near a gallery, began walking arm-in-arm in the cold night air, and I volunteered a memory. “I was only four or five years old. Our family lived in a suburb of Chicago. I remember my mother bundling me up one cold night and taking me downtown on the train. It was only about a half-hour ride. We arrived among the tall buildings, and walked on the snowy sidewalks, holding hands. There were throngs of people and I sensed excitement and gaiety. We stopped in front of the big department store windows. They positively glowed with Christmas activity and carefully constructed holiday scenes; life sized Santa Clauses', elves that moved, realistic reindeer, indoor snow—with snow-dust that glistened and gleamed. Big train sets with moving trains. Colorful dolls all fancy and made up. Animals I had never seen; penguins and unicorns. Mother and I pressed our faces up to the glass and marveled. What I remember most was the light, creativity, cold night and loving warmth of my mother. It was special; just the two of us.”

The photo exhibit at Verve Gallery was remarkable. We found the subject matter to our liking. The photographer, Beth Moon, travels the world finding the oldest most wonderful trees with character and photographs them at night. She chooses specimens that are in places free of light pollution. Then carefully waits for conditions that allow for photos that show the trees with the backdrop of millions of stars.

Santa Fe Plaza, beginning of Christmas season
Everyone likes light in the dark; just like Christmas.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

An Empath

My two cousins in Dallas, Texas cut people open and chop out bones. They are orthopedic surgeons.

I could learn to be a doctor and perhaps do surgery, but I would have to overcome my sympathetic nervous system. I am a sensitive type—an artist, and also an empath. “The trademark of an empath is feeling and absorbing other people’s emotions and/or physical symptoms because of their high sensitivities. These people filter the world through their intuition and have a difficult time intellectualizing their feelings.” (From Psychology Today, Ten Traits of Empathetic People) I would “feel” some pain when cutting someone open, let alone cutting out their hip joint and tossing it in the trash. No matter that person is under anesthesia and asleep.

I could never be a bully because I sympathize with the other. I feel human anger, jealousy, fear and it hurts. I often will bend over backward for someone else at my own expense and have been taken advantage of by self-centered and unfeeling people. During times of peace and joy with another, I can feel elated. I replenish easily in nature, in wild fields, under open skies, among birds and beasts, by water.
I quickly tire of being in a crowd because I absorb too much. When I was young, if in a crowd or at a long meeting, I would often feel an urgency to use the bathroom—an escape mechanism. During eighth grade, the class elected me their president and I declined. 
Now, as I pass mid-life, I find I can travel alone for months, even a year or longer.

Too much togetherness can be difficult for me—I have been married three times. Perhaps I fear being engulfed and losing my identity and do not give myself easily to being a unit. Maybe I am not “domestic.”
Once when my mother visited me from her home far away, we were standing together in my yard and a terrible migraine came upon me, although I never get headaches. Mom always was tough—I felt I absorbed tension from a deep layer of being.
When my oldest daughter was seventeen, there came a time when I was waking at night with a feeling of dread, as if something was wrong but I could not discern what. Soon after, we discovered she had advanced cancer and would probably not survive. The cancer started in her hip bone, and for two years until the day she died I felt pain in my hip.

Usually I am healthy and without pains, but occasionally something will flare up for a short while. Yesterday I felt uneasy around lunch time—a bit nauseous and unsteady. I wondered at the unusual indisposition, but the discomfort passed as I focused on my artwork and gallery. Soon after, my dear friend and comrade talked with me and texted describing the sudden onset of her “stomach being on fire” and having digestion symptoms that necessitated medication. "Probably too much Thanksgiving leftover sweets," she said. "I am not used to the richness!"

Oh, and did I tell you that I often begin thinking of someone moments before they call me on the phone?

Sunday, November 20, 2016


A big wind knocked over a panel of sheetrock in my backyard. It struck a jade plant I had placed outdoors for the summer months. The jade is old—over forty years, and has sentimental value to me. Since it arrived as a twig in a pot, it has been with me through thick and thin over the decades, bearing silent witness to my life and changes. 

When the panel hit, it's main limb broke off, as if a person had an accident and lost their leg and arm. I grieved a few minutes, then determined to care for my plant and watch it reshape itself from its deformed state. I saved the broken piece to put in soil and see if it would live. 

 It has been several months, and both plants are living—the power of regeneration.

This is what I have had to do many times. The wind of fate breaks like a storm upon my life and though I feel crushed, even unable to move, something stirs within to regenerate and flourish again.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Hardships Can Make Us Stronger

Hardships can make us stronger. I do not have complete evidence of this, but believe that every situation has some good in it.  
-Naomi Boone, (Jan. 11 1980 - July 5 1999)

When my daughter, age seventeen, wrote those words in her journal, she had been diagnosed with cancer and given little hope of remaining alive. Naomi gathered her resolve and reached for an uncertain future. 
During the next two years she was to endure extreme hardship. Like coal under intense pressure, she harnessed the good, became strong and brilliant as a diamond but vanished, leaving a glimmering trail of stardust in her path.

With the recent election, I am feeling the same apprehension and grief come back.  My beloved America is torn and seems to be fighting itself—much like the cancer cells that tore apart my daughter's body.

Our current crisis has “some good in it” and can “make us stronger.” America is at a moment of truth. Our healthy cells must unite, recognize the unhealthy usurper ones and overcome them. Healthy cells cooperate and work for the good of all. Unhealthy ones simply take and multiply savagely.

Ultimately America must be altruistic, benevolent, kind, strong, patient, just, honorable. Furthermore it needs to have the well being of the planet at its heart and eschew being self-centered.

Another thing: the election being “rigged” is true. The system is broken. Too much vested interest, money and corruption holds sway—and has almost since the beginning. Why do we have a two party system? It needs to be remade. America is in peril. A new body politic must arise that is not based upon opposition but rather unity.

Sunday, November 06, 2016

Meet The Sun

The little room with yellow walls barely contained me. From its tiny balcony on the second floor I looked out over a field to a city street that curved and ended on the shore of the Ganges River at Varanasi, India.

One year ago, each morning before dawn, I dressed, gathered my camera and hurried outdoors in the dark to witness the chanting and prayer rituals of young men and women gathered facing the river. Dressed in shimmering silk and flowing cotton fabrics, the fragrance of devotion emanated from their being. Their gleaming hearts shone in the dark as they reverently performed their ceremony.

The Gange River is so holy it is deemed to be a goddess. In the darkness, girls sang and intoned with sweet notes of sacred love as the young men, in synchronized movements waved urns of incense billowing fragrance, blew into conch shells and created arcs of light with flames of lit oils. I stood nearby and watched, becoming more exhilarated until the conclusion when the first glimmering of daylight shone above the river.

I am typically not a morning person and usually labor out of bed around 7:30 AM.
But during my time in Varanasi the daily ritual of joining the group of devotees by the Ganges, worshiping something ancient, ever-flowing, and holy before turning to meet the sun as it rose above the horizon . . . well, it was not a chore but rather a blessing.

I miss Varanasi.

Sunday, October 30, 2016

White Rabbit

At 86 years old, Polly's energy arrived in short bursts and then would fly away like a bird that longed to break free from an old cage. It would come back but fly away again. Her habit was to take lunch at noon, then promptly go nap. In sleep or in visions as she lay on her bed in the afternoons, vivid wonders came regularly—vanquishing the thinnest of veils between worlds.

She had lost her dear husband years ago, and resided alone. Her son lived a thousand miles away. A few close friends visited regularly, bringing her books to read, and sometimes playing a game of cards. Recently in her dreams at night, and regularly in reverie as she rested in the afternoons, a lively and animated little vision would occur. The same four characters would arrive: a white rabbit, an angelic girl dressed in white, and two ballet dancers—male and female. Usually the rabbit appeared first, then the child angel with the dancers.

When Polly was six years old her parents brought a white rabbit home for their daughter, and her father made a cage where it lived in the backyard. It ate greens and carrots and was content, especially when allowed out to hop around the yard. Polly loved to stroke its long ears and feel its twitching nose on her tender fingers. It was so long ago! Whatever happened to it? She could not remember. 

Her mother was an ardent lover of ballet and often booked seats whenever a ballet group came to town. Polly had many fantastic youthful memories of blissful nights seated next to her mother and father, watching famous dance companies. She had seen some of the greats perform; including Rudolf Nureyev and Nadia Nerina. Now, the pas de deux ballet memories came through the mist like whirling dervishes arriving from afar to entrance her mind and lift her heart. 

A tragedy had occurred in her home when Polly was just thirteen. Her best friend visited after school. The two were playing jacks on the hardwood living room floor. Polly got up to get a glass of water and when she came back her friend was choking. Mother was summoned as the girl was turning blue in the face and not able to breathe. Frantically, mouth to mouth resuscitation was attempted but the child expired. Minutes later, the girls father rushed through the front door and gave out a wail of grief seeing his lifeless daughter in Polly's mother's arms. An autopsy revealed that the poor girl had one of the jacks lodged in her windpipe. For many years afterward at random moments of work or play, Polly sometimes fleetingly glimpsed her friend—as if she was not gone at all, but just transparent.

The foliage on the trees outside the living room window were changing colors. The days became shorter and the air chilled. Polly felt a tinge of remorse anticipating the cold coming. One day, she sat in her rocking chair, gazing for hours at the leaves falling, before suddenly getting up.  She went to the refrigerator and pulled out a pot of soup and heated it for lunch. She ate slowly, put the dishes in the sink and feeling tired, went to her bedroom. Outside, the sky was overcast, with bits of sunlight puncturing the clouds. Kicking off her slippers, she laid down in bed and felt her energy gather like a bird and fly out the window. She followed it. It flew and careened past the trees to a field not far away that was bordered by woods. Suddenly on her feet at the edge of a meadow, something white caught her eye. Rabbit stood at attention, one eye cocked toward her, watching, ears standing straight up. With a little hop, he was in the woods. Suddenly, by Polly's side the girl angel appeared and took her hand, pulling her to follow the rabbit. A path became apparent. Rabbit ran ahead. Polly heard footsteps and holding to the angels hand, she looked back to see two dancers, man and woman, in ballet costume coming up fast behind them. Rabbit hopped to the right. Everyone followed and entered a tunnel of earth and vines. It became dark but smelled wonderful. Polly squeezed tight the child-angels's hand who squeezed back and in a second, the darkness gave way to light as they entered a plush theater. Light dazzled from spectacular chandeliers hanging above. Rabbit disappeared. 

The dancers bounded past. An orchestra was tuning and a ballet company waited onstage for the arrival of the two celebrated dancers. Finely dressed people were arriving. The child-angel leaned softly and whispered in Polly's ear, “Look down there darling!” She gestured toward the front row. A lovely couple seated in the middle turned, and beaming with smiles beckoned to Polly. Her parents had an empty seat next to them and waved excitedly for Polly to come join them. Suddenly, Polly's energy came back to her, as if she was not 86 years old but 16. Joyfully she rushed down the aisle to join them. 

Nora, 80, Polly's neighbor, knocked but got no answer. The morning paper was at the doorstep and it was almost noon. She took the extra key Polly had given her and unlocked the door. “Polly, are you all right?” The home was silent. Nora went to the bedroom and opened the door. Polly's hands were folded on her chest and she lay with closed eyes, not breathing. Nora walked to her side and looked close. Polly seemed to be smiling but she was certainly dead. Nora peered tenderly at her friend. "OH! You rascal!” was all she could say.

© 2016 Steven Boone ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Sunday, October 23, 2016

A Bizarre Thought

Political Hangups oil on linen, 18 x 24 inches
It all started with a bizarre thought that came to my mind many years ago in 1993. A couple of faces hanging from a clothesline like laundry hung to dry. I had no idea where the mental picture came from or why it arrived in the moment. I was driving on a lonely road on the way home from working at my art gallery. Another odd thought arrived on its heels; that I must paint it.

The painting I made promptly exhibited and sold. It was all so curious that more were created. Most arrived in the span of a few years. During twenty years over thirty paintings came. Many sold, but they were on the verge of madness and often took quite long to be bought—if at all. I remember having a show at my gallery, called Hangups. The entire front room was filled with them. 

A young woman worked for me and had an uneven temperament. She could drink heavily at times but was quite brilliant. The show lasted for two weeks and she worked at a desk in the same room. The day the paintings came down and were replaced with landscapes, she almost cried tears of relief. I was surprised, and to this day remember her reaction. They are not easy paintings . . .
I had to quit at one point because I was becoming mentally unbalanced. I discontinued showing them but made a collection.

The last time I made one was over six years ago. This year, with the election heating up here in America, and the two candidates, Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton seeming to be ubiquitous and constantly in the news, I ventured to make another Hangup painting with the two of them. Now that it is done, as people see it they laugh. It breaks the serious fighting that has been part of the issue of these presidential elections . . and casts the whole matter in a humorous if not morbid light. 

I am sure some people will not find the new painting funny. That has been true all along. The paintings cause reactions—either you laugh or get mad.
Click on the image above to see the book!

Sunday, October 16, 2016

When Summer Passes Away

A girl paddling on Lake Dal, Kashmir, India
During my daughter Naomi's eighteenth year, death was encroaching upon her so forcefully that she despaired thinking of her future. She wrote in her journal that she wanted to do volunteer work, but had a superstition that she would die when her work was accomplished. 

Naomi sensed her life was drastically condensed—shortened by her cancer. Nagging suspicions plagued her and she hated them. Death continually whispered into her ear, “Darling, you're life is ending! You only have weeks and months to live, not years and decades.” She found herself wary of accomplishing goals because her purpose would be fulfilled and life would abruptly end.

This is how death, when it touches us—not as an abstract thought but as an dominating force, can play with the mind.

Death signifies ending. When summer passes away, plant life goes dormant. When a bird dies, its song ends and it falls to earth. Nations and people expire, species go extinct; even great powers like stars in heaven die. Once the purpose for life has been realized, death is sure to come. 

Is anything eternal? Does anything exist that does not die? For this we must go beyond the material worlds. We must touch God, the Uncreated Creator of All. His unborn, undying Spirit inhabits and informs the spiritual realm. What lives there by His grace and love is preserved from decay and death. Naomi knew this and wrote, “I want God to know that my life is in His hands and I know this. If He decides it is my time to leave, well then that is His choice. What I want God to know is that I truly love this earth.”

Naomi Boone, 1/11/1980 - 7/5/1999

Be thou watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die; for I have not found thy works perfect before god. The Bible, Reveleation 3:2

To read my book about Naomi, go to: A Heart Traced In Sand

Sunday, October 09, 2016

Stand Side By Side

I see on the news so much destruction in the world. How odd it is people can't be friendly! These conflicts occur at every level of human civilization; within and between families, tribes, localities, nations, races, and practically every stratum of mortal life. Other animals get along better. Zebras don't fight each other. Bees cooperate. Dolphins love one another in the big oceans.

Recently, I have trekked with friends up in the mountains that rise above Santa Fe. The elevation rises to about 13,000 feet (3960 meters). As the seasons change, so does the landscape. This time of year, our summits have broad swaths of aspen trees that turn a brilliant golden yellow. An entire mountain side can suddenly turn from green to gold. The display lasts a couple weeks and attracts crowds of hikers who amble underneath the gold. Above all is the bluest of blue skies.

Aspen spread roots in the earth and from the roots arise other trees, called clones. The root system is a colony and can live for tens of thousands of years. One tree dies while another is born. Individuals live 40 – 150 years. Aspen support various animal and insect life. I find great peace among them. 

"Joy of Autumn" 24x36 inches, oil on linen

Imagine that human beings all spring from the same root. We are made of the same substance, feed from the same earth and metabolize together in the same way, using the sun as our source of generation along with the elements. We stand side by side, and grow together under the same great cosmos. Why do we turn against one another? There is something to learn from the simple aspen tree.

Sunday, October 02, 2016

Red Leaves

Deep within the vault of my memories, full now with six decades of life, is an episode of rapturous wonder, thrill, and happy connectedness. Veiled and buried with so many other memories, once in a while it comes to mind, as it did the other day.

Late summer is now shifting into the autumn season, and the colors have been summoning me to paint outdoors. Temperatures begin cool and become balmy. One day I drove about an hour out of the city to one of my favorite places; the Rio Grande Gorge. Following the twisty, softly flowing river through volcanic rock canyons, I found a scenic area by a bend. I climbed out to scout for a scene to paint, and took my camera. Amidst tall reeds at the river edge, the only sounds were the gurgling of water and paddling of ducks congregated on a log by the other side. Among the green shrubs and brilliant yellow blooms, I spotted some crimson leaves—a sure sign of the autumn. It was the red foliage that jarred loose the buried memory, so pleasant and nostalgic.

When I was but six or seven years old, beginning school in La Grange, Illinois, (a suburb of Chicago) the class went on a field trip at the beginning of Autumn. We drove out into the country to a nature preserve. The weather was perfect—blue skies and the lingering warmth of summer coming from the earth. Colors of nature were already changing. Several teachers watched over the group of children from various classes. A sense of happiness and love pervaded the day. Something thrilled me and touched my soul with wonder—to be out of the confines of a classroom, yet with adults who took pleasure along side of me and the other children. The sky seemed so blue, like I had never seen before, perhaps because the colors of the trees and fields were burnished so brilliantly orange, red and yellow. To walk in the grass almost up to my waist and hear it swish, while smelling the aromas of plants and fertile, moist earth . . .
I came upon an oak leaf that had fallen onto the path at my feet. It's red color surprised me and I became aware how color could arouse my senses. I still remember that leaf.

Later the class went among tall reeds and cattails by a pond. It was there that I saw a snake slither by, gliding in the water, wriggling rapidly while holding its head up. I thrilled at the sight and also the slight danger of something foreign, mysterious, and alive arriving out of the deep dark water.
The visit was over after a few hours and we went back to school. I do not remember the school as clearly as the sights and sounds of that day in nature.

At the Rio Grande, as I relished the nostalgia of that memory, I stopped to gaze at the red leaves, while listening to the river flow and feeling the sun warm on my skin. Hiking back to unpack gear and make a painting, I trampled among sage bushes. They released an indelible pungent aroma that had a medicinal effect on my senses and mind. 

The painting flowed through me the same way as the memory.

Rio Grande Gorgeous, oil on linen, 14 x 18 inches

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Something Enchanting About A Road

Two roads diverged in a wood and I - I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference. -Robert Frost

There is something enchanting about a road that starts under my feet and leads out toward a horizon and disappears. My earliest memories of drawings are doodles I made in school when I put pencil to paper and drew a horizontal line in the middle and then two lines begun on either side of the page that ran side by side together vertically—getting closer until they disappeared at the horizontal horizon. How magical that something under foot can continue forward and disappear even as you stand upon it. It beckons curiosity. And sometimes, as on a long journey, it continues extending in front, offering surprising panoramas along the way.

Any environment that stops me, including tangled jungles, cities with dead-end streets, subdivisions that curl in on themselves, labyrinths, jail cells, will make me uncomfortable. I notice I get uneasy at the ocean after awhile. There is no road into it! It is impassable and stops me in my tracks. Perhaps the great ocean explorer Jacques Cousteau, (French: 11 June 1910 – 25 June 1997) would take exception and say, ah, but there is a way in, but no road!

I am not easily confined. Maybe I've inherited tendencies from my ancestor, the famous American explorer and outdoorsman Daniel Boone, (November 2, 1734 – September 26, 1820). If you see the only known portrait of him, we look alike!

In my work I also break confines. Frequently I will make something entirely new and out of character. When people come in my gallery, a common remark is surprise how one person has made such a variety of art.

I have started upon the imaginary road I drew as a child and kept going—traveling completely around the globe twice now.  Moving in one direction, I arrive back to where I started, and that is magic.

Roads and paths continue to show up in my art and photography. In some ways, my writing too.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Be Like A Butterfly

Since arriving back in the United States in February, brought home by the unexpected death of my mother, I have been unusually subdued and reclusive. Now, the late summer vibrations are strong here in the high plains of New Mexico—and I have been drawn out of a cocoon to be like a butterfly, free to flutter in the broad expanses. 

Last year I opened a pop-up gallery on the historic Santa Fe Plaza for two months. It was a success. So this August I opened and will stay three months. I have been working the gallery alone. Now the magic outdoors is calling me to go out and paint in "plein air." I've hired a dear friend to assist several days a week. After living here for forty years, I know where to go outside of the city to find just what I want.

I drive north in my van through a couple small towns. I either go to the Rio Grande Gorge, or to the area known as Ghost Ranch, near Abiquiu, where the famous artist Georgia O'Keefe spent her last years. Both have spectacular scenery and and are not crowded. 

The first day I went to the Gorge and made a painting from slightly above the Rio Grande River, looking toward a tall mesa with the river in the foreground. Chamisa shrubs are just now coming to bloom and added a splash of brilliant yellow in front. When I finished I found a nice spot higher up that looked over the canyon walls to the river below. I got my cooking supplies and food out to prepare dinner, but then could not find a frying pan. I forgot it! So I drove home.

The next day I went to Ghost Ranch. Along the way the scenery was so spectacular that I had to stop several times to take pictures. The clouds especially added immense drama as they billowed and danced in the deep blue sky. Past Ghost Ranch with its red rock formations I found a dirt road that goes toward Christ In The Desert Monastery. I pulled off near some pastel bluffs and set up to paint. Then the beautiful clouds began letting loose raindrops! No worry, I knew it would pass, so I gathered my gear and laid down in the van, listening to raindrops splash against the roof. A half hour later and I was up and out, resuming painting with the fresh aroma of sage filling my nostrils. 
"Ghost Bluffs," Oil on canvas, 20 x 20 inches

 A few hours later, as I strove to finish my painting amid the changing light, I thought, “Wow! How much easier it is to just take a photograph!”

Sunday, September 11, 2016

All The Same Charm

Pet parade, Fiestas de Santa Fe, September 10, 2016
It brought back memories buried in my past. So far back that I don't recall how many years, but I vaguely remember arriving at a big parking lot a couple blocks away from the Santa Fe Plaza early on a September Saturday morning. I had my little girl and our dog with me. We were participating in a children's pet parade—part of the annual Fiestas de Santa Fe. I felt a bit awkward amidst the other adults and children with their animals. The animals were sometimes almost wild with excitement at the mass gathering of beasts . . . and I reveled at some that were in costumes! 
1949, by P Stackpole

The procession started. Clutching my girls' hand and holding the dog leash, we weaved our way around the plaza amidst all the onlookers. It felt primitive, unabashed and wonderful.
"Genuine Hot Dog"1949, by P Stackpole

Today I arrived alone to witness the same event with an all new cast of characters. I felt glad to watch among the throngs sitting and standing along the street curbsides. It had all the same charm. 

Pet parade, 1949, by P Stackpole

Sunday, September 04, 2016

I Will Take That One

With my gallery open each day, most people come in to simply browse and look. It is like a museum experience with free admission. But of course, someone has to buy something because I am not a charitable institution and need to make a living. This happens just enough that I can stay open, continue painting and entertaining everyone.

It is only a few people who can afford good original art in their home. Thankfully, museums exist to bring important art to everyone. Much of the art in museums comes from collections donated by wealthy art lovers.

Artists need buyers. Unfortunately, not many people can collect paintings and sculpture. Art is a luxury, so clients must have disposable income to buy expensive belongings for their home.
"Casweck Window," oil on canvas, 20 x 16 inches. Boone painting bought by a collector from Dallas, Texas

During the renaissance, one powerful family in Florence, Italy, the Medici's, commissioned and collected some of the most fabulous art ever made. By doing so, great artists such as Michelangelo, Botticelli, and more, flourished and produced masterpieces. Now those same famous artworks are in museums.
"The Birth Of Venus," by Sandro Botticelli.  Created mid 1480's.

Last week, two women were standing outside my gallery discussing some of the art in the window. I invited them inside. Within five minutes the two were comparing a couple paintings side-by-side. They concurred on the one they liked best, and one of the women said to me, “I will take that one!” It was two thousand five hundred dollars and she said it would be going in a house she is building north of Dallas, Texas. I was impressed with how quickly and deliberately she made up her mind. And of course, grateful. 

She is my “Medici.”

"Pieta," (1498–1499), sculpture by Michelangelo Buonarroti,

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Feeling The Rapture

I have been an artist for thirty years now. It has been my work, and I have not had to take other jobs to support myself. Thousands of my paintings are in homes across the land. Even now, I think of this and almost have to pinch myself to see if I am not dreaming. 
Steven, painting a still-life

When I paint and show the work, I am sharing what I love, and the product. Lately, I have been giving lessons in painting. While teaching, I am sharing what I love and my knowledge of the practice.

Whether painting or teaching, I say a prayer beforehand for the highest outcome. 

Today I taught. We gathered at the beautiful estate of one of the students and finished work from a previous session, making a still-life painting of a vase with sunflowers on a table with fruit. We worked outside on a covered patio. During earlier classes we made landscape paintings using only a palette knife to apply the oil colors to a panel. This time, I wanted to teach something different. We first drew a sketch and made an underpainting of our subject, then this week we finished by applying color—all with brushes.
All of us, being creative.

Only one student has had instruction before my class. All of us are over sixty years old and so I am heartened that my students are willing to learn and try something new and difficult. Everyone made beautiful work and felt a thrill in doing so. Each person's painting revealed their uniqueness and special way of seeing and experiencing the world.
Working in sync.

After class, someone shared a quote that he had recently read: “People say that what we're all seeking is a meaning for life. I don't think that's what we're really seeking. I think what we're seeking is an experience of being alive, so that our life experiences on the purely physical plane will have resonances within our own innermost being and reality, so that we actually feel the rapture of being alive.” - Joseph Campbell (American, March 26, 1904 – October 30, 1987)

Part of feeling the rapture is being in the activity of pure creation while in the world of nature.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

The Heartbeat

I am very close to the heart of my city, Santa Fe, New Mexico, USA. Now that I have a gallery again, I am in the center of town—on the plaza. (See Boone Gallery). I feel the heartbeat and watch the ebb and flow of humanity as tourists enjoy their sojourn here. 
Boone Gallery, party during Indian Market.

Santa Fe is often in magazines and newspapers across the country. It is an attractive city with great hotels, restaurants, music, opera and of course, art.
Boone, painting in front of the gallery

Summer is when major events occur. The biggest splash is made by Indian Market. It began this weekend and is just now concluding. Here is an excerpt from Wikipedia: “Santa Fe Indian Market is an annual art market held in Santa Fe, New Mexico, USA over two days on the weekend after the third Thursday in August and draws an estimated 100,000 people to the city from around the world. The Market was first held in 1922 as the Indian Fair and was sponsored by the Museum of New Mexico. In 1936, the New Mexico Association on Indian Affairs took over the event.
It is now organized by the Southwestern Association for Indian Arts (SWAIA) and showcases work from about 1,200 of the top Native American (American Indian) artists from various tribes across the country. The market features pottery, jewelery, textile weavings, painting, sculpture, beadwork, basketry, and other traditional and contemporary work. It is the oldest and largest juried Native American art showcase in the world. The economic impact of the Market has been calculated at more than $19 million.
Artists display their work in booths around the Santa Fe Plaza and adjacent streets, selling directly to the general public.In order to participate, all artists must provide proof of enrollment in a federally recognized tribe, and their work must meet strict quality and authentic materials standards. Art experts judge the work and distribute awards and prize money in various categories. On the evening before the Market's opening, members of SWAIA may attend a preview of representative works by the artists as well as the winners in each category. It is a way for potential buyers to see the winning artworks as well as what will be sold the following day. Many buyers make a point of arriving downtown very early in the morning, and it is not unusual to find artists having sold out within a few hours.”
Three Native Americans. Pictures taken during Indian Market.

Indian market can be a mixed blessing for many businesses. Despite the crowds most of the sales are going to Indian vendors. This year I have been blessed by people buying my art too.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Be Surprised

A Tale of Love, Mixed Media, 34 x 24 x 4 inches

I like to be surprised by my creations. That is, to be so involved while creating, I “disappear” in the work.  When I re-emerge to take a look, I might be amazed.

I can be astonished by other peoples reactions as well. This happened recently. I have a new art gallery in a mall off the main plaza in Santa Fe. It has big windows so pedestrians can see inside and view the art hanging directly in front of them. When I first opened, I hung my new work of mixed-media pieces in front of the windows. I hoped that they would make an impression. Later, friends came by and suggested I put my better known landscape paintings in the windows. I obliged. 

After I made the change, a fellow came in and introduced himself as a partner in a business down the hall. “I am glad you made the change,” he said. “There was a piece in the window that was creepy. Where is it?” Then he walked to the backside of the panels and said, “Here it is! Ugh This really creeps me out!” His skin crawled as he pointed to the dolls. I had to laugh, because it never was “creepy” to me.  (I am laughing to myself now, as I write, just recalling this.) 
The next day a woman came in and went right to the same piece and spent considerable time studying and admiring it. 

So why the different reactions?

I claim a piece a success in as much as it gets strong reactions. Weak or badly done art does not warrant reactions worth talking about.

Four Hangups, oil on linen, 28 x 30 inches,
Some years ago I made a series of paintings called HangUps. They always elicited responses—some highly positive and some negative, but always a reaction. One of those paintings is now in a museum in France. 

VanGogh All Hung Up, oil on linen, 22 x 24 inches,
In the collection of Foundation Van Gogh, Arles, France

And that is art.
Diana's Song, Oil on canvas, 24 x 20 inches

For more on the mixed-media pieces, see my previous post: Walk A New Path

Sunday, August 07, 2016

A Gorgeous Summer Evening

Couple, admiring the sunset.
I am a sunset aficionado. I have painted them often and taken scores of photographs. They are fleeting and when the conditions are right, it is nature at its most dramatic. I can sense a good sunset before it happens. 

Tonight as I made dinner a thunderstorm struck and I thought if there was light on the horizon later, a good sunset would occur.

It was cloudy and stormy with scattered rain drops as I got in my car and drove to my friend's house. She had surgery on her foot recently and hobbles around the confines of her small home. After awhile, as we were relaxing, she pointed outside and said, “Oh, look at the sky!” The clouds blanketed the top but near the horizon a fiery golden glow emitted. We checked the time and realized we had about twenty minutes. She grabbed her crutches and put the protective boot on her foot and away we went. I drove to a little park at a location in town that looks out over the city. A small crowd had already gathered to mingle and watch. 

My excitement was palpable as I grabbed my camera. She said it was okay for me to run ahead to a good vantage point. The sun was sinking below the horizon as a brilliant glow stretched across the lower part of the sky. Dark clouds accented the space above.

Santa Fe sunset
As I regrouped with my friend, she spoke to a stranger nearby and said, “It is so good to live here and have this!” The other person grinned and said, “Yes, and you even came out on crutches to see.”

And that is what a gorgeous summer evening and the promise of a great show of light does.

"Heartfire", 48 x 36 inches, oil on linen by Steven Boone