Sunsets in my Mind

There’s something about the colors the sun paints across the sky at sunset. Giant watercolor masterpieces, painted with light and air movement. It’s so stereotypical, right, for an artist to find inspiration in the event that defines the day?

But look:

Sunset light on the Organ Mountains, Las Cruces NM. September 2019

I am fortunate to live in a place that has spectacular sunsets. Southern New Mexico is slow and quiet, with enormous skies. I love it here. My husband and I take bike rides at sunset as often as we can, and I spend most of the time looking at the colors and shapes, marveling at the edge lighting, luminosity, and endless random expressions of the light as it drains out of the sky.

“my favorite time of day” Watercolor. 2018

There is a road we like to ride along that runs along the edge of the desert. The Eastern end looks toward the Organ Mountains, which turn purple-red-brown at some point in almost every sunset. It is a color that raises the hairs on my arms, that sets a trembling current of wonder through my body.

Sunset on the Organ Mountains, Las Cruces NM. March 2019

The other end looks across the valley toward the West mesa, where the sun sinks below an impossibly straight edge. We ride our bikes into the light, coasting down a gentle slope, with the mesquite and cactus desert stretching away to one side like an ocean of thorns and sand. On nights where the air is clear and the colors are intense, I stand on the pedals and feel myself fly.

Sunset through the ocotillo branches at a NM rest stop. September 2019

Home is the destination, the place where we watch the last of the light drain away.

“destination” Watercolor and ink. 2018

If I could fly West at just the right speed, I could fly in perpetual color. I could live and breathe for hours at a time in a painting of nearly endless dimension. I could follow it beyond the ocean.

Sunset spread across two journal pages. 2019

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