Rustic Adobe, Sedona


#194/365 Paintings

The sky here is like a tribe of people with changing moods and personal agendas. It moves from the purest blue and then suddenly a symphony of clouds, rain — emptied out to the wonderful smells of coolness in the air. The adobe structures are built to enjoy the continuous theatre that is Sedona and the Southwest.


Project notes: This is my last painting in Sedona. Off to Santa Fe to paint many wild horses. And a few adobes for the rest of the month. Wild.

Tlaquepaque, Patio De La Capilla, Sedona


#193/365 Paintings

After the “high” of meeting with Monty Wison at the El Portal (see painting 192), I walked around the beautiful Tlaquepaque  arts and crafts village. I took as many photos as possible. I was most captivated by this patio. The arch entrance really made me feel like I was walking into a hidden pocket of Barcelona. So lovely and intimate. Of course, being on a trajectory with destiny, I ended up talking to goats at the farmers market. But on the way, each architectural experience was it’s own world.


To new subscribers: In case you missed the announcement, I’m taking weekends off 365 as I travel this summer. Sometimes you’ll have 2 paintings as I catch up here and there. Just FYI. Thanks.

El Portal Authentic Adobe Hotel


#193/365 Paintings

I met with Monty Wilson at the El Portal Luxury Hacienda in Sedona. Monty is an adobe home craftsman/builder — and has been for 35 years. It took him 2.5 years to build the El Portal.

To say that my curious mind was satisfied over breakfast with Monty is an understatement. A true craftsman, he cleared my mind about why adobe homes simple feel so good. Authentic adobe bricks are made of mud, silt, sand, clay and other natural materials not only gives off negative ions but the the adobe is the same temperature as the air. It doesn’t pull your body heat. You exist in harmony with the natural temperatures in the air. So that’s it. That makes perfect sense. Kind of like creating an outer body — additional skin.

As we chatted thermal/solar mass, picking up the views with the design, city bureaucracy, beam design, etc… I began to wonder what it would take to have my own authentic adobe home built. Monty then blew it all into perspective. This might seem obvious to some, (but not me) but an adobe structure in the purest sense begins with hand built bricks. For a 1k square foot home it takes 3k bricks. This takes approx. 2-3 years more labor and 25% more costs. No wonder the ratio is about 5% authentic adobe homes. The difference is palpable. When Steve Segner, the owner joined our conversation (with his super duper cute Beagle) and then gave me a tour of the hotel, the feel of the adobe walls was like silk. Cool, comfortable, effortless.

I asked Monty for his vote of what I would paint. He pointed to this courtyard, but not just the courtyard… the cactus and wisteria woven into the steel reeds upstairs — the railing of the rooms. He summed up the emotional landscape in these words:

I like the how the prickly bits of cactus are softened by the texture of the wisteria and grounded with a strong foundation. ~ Monty Wilson

So human!

John Reed’s Adobe {1843} Mill Valley


#184/365 Paintings

Do  you know how challenging it is to paint the ruins of an adobe home that is so the opposite of ruined in history’s imagination? In fact, the ruins just fleshed out as I painted — filled in with clay and color with every new learned fact. Paint is a magician that way.

I spent some quality time in the history room in the Mill Valley library recently. The women who work there are nothing short of fabulous. Though this adobe home was in ruins most of it’s short life, it is the event that founded Mill Valley. I am captivated by this story. It’s complexity — the lacy skein of love and loss in a time when Mexico was taking measures to expand into California.

John Thomas Reed, an Irishman landed in Sausalito by ship in 1826. He obtained thousands of acres in a land grant from the Mexican government by 1834. Mill Valley, Tiburon, Strawberry. In 1836 He began construction of a saw mill in Mill Valley to construct this adobe house on Locke Ln. for his sweetheart Hilaria Sanchez, daughter of the commandante of the Presidio in SF. This saw mill is now a historical landmark, Old Mill Park and is the genesis of the name Mill Valley. He died before the house was complete in 1843. The adobe burned down in 1884. Though the ruins have sunk into the earth and have been built upon a few times over, the women in the library had a glint in their eye as they filled me in about the archeological dig in the works that will hopefully uncover more history inside the clay and burnt embers of this epic adobe. Buried or not it’s not dying anytime soon.


Those Blue Doors


#182/165 Paintings (1/2 way point)

Have you ever wondered why the blue doors in Santa Fe are so embedded in the architectural landscape? Yes, the turquoise emulates the light at certain points of the day, and blue is SO blue in the sky. But there are some folklore tales that portend that blue warded off evil spirits when the Spanish settlers built adobes. And, the sky determines much in New Mexico. But for most it is simply a vintage welcome. Welcome to our sky in our home. Welcome to our proud color.


I know I promised you more historical stories on Reed house the 1800’s adobe house in Mill Valley. However, that was before I spent a day getting lost in San Francisco and was too late to my second visit/meeting today to visit the Presidio historical notes on early adobe architecture in the Bay Area and Reed house. So, this is coming in the week. I’m just a puppy dog lapping up all of the color opportunities right now. I’m so excited about this theme.