Zapata Ranch

zapapta-18zapapta-2zapapta-1zapapta-11 zapapta-3zapapta-4zapapta-15zapapta-7 zapapta-6zapapta-8zapapta-10zapapta-9zapapta-17 On our way to New Mexico this past weekend, we stopped at Zapata Ranch, a dude ranch operation in Southern Colorado that borders the Great Sand Dunes. We finally had the chance to meet, Kate (@kateloveshorses) and Jessie (@owlfaceowlface), who both work on the ranch and have been Instagram friends for the past year. Always a treat to connect with digital pen pals! After we arrived, they saddled the horses and we had the great fortune of riding horseback through Medano Creek and into the dunes right at dusk–hands down one of the most amazing rides I’ve ever had. I was screaming and laughing with delight as we loped full speed through the sand. Later, we made tacos and drank whiskey by the fire.

The last couple of images are from Zapata Falls, just up the road from the ranch, where we hiked in before heading to Santa Fe for the week.

Flat Tops Wilderness: Part Two

FlatTops-part-two-5FlatTops-part-two-12FlatTops-part-two-v2-1FlatTops-part-two-v2-7FlatTops-part-two-v2-8FlatTops-part-two-v2-5FlatTops-part-two-v2-3FlatTops-part-two-v2-4FlatTops-part-two-11FlatTops-part-two-v3-1“The idea of wilderness needs no defense, it only needs defenders.”   Edward Abbey

What makes wilderness so special is that the only mode of transportation is by foot, giving the hiker unique access to raw, wild land, with minimal impact from humans. The Flat Tops Wilderness is the second largest wilderness in Colorado and was formed from volcanic basalt lava that flowed in the region and cooled millions of years ago. Over time, glaciation eroded the mountain range and formed their unique flat look. Geology is fascinating!

Devil’s Causeway is a narrow land bridge that gained its unique feature from two countering glaciers eating into the tough basalt rock from either side until almost meeting. The narrowest point of the trail is only 3 feet wide with a drop of hundreds of feet on either side, debilitating even the most seasoned hikers.

We intended to cross the Devil’s Causeway, continue to Causeway lake and connect with the trail creating a 10 mile loop. However, the approaching storm held us at bay, eventually forcing us to turn around and travel home the way we came. The trip out and back to the Causeway is only 6.5 miles and is now one of my favorite hikes in Colorado. We look forward to returning next summer for an extended backpacking trip.

You can see our fishing photos in the previous post, here

Flat Tops Wilderness: Part One

FlatTops-13FlatTops-1FlatTops-2 FlatTops-6 FlatTops-5FlatTops-7 FlatTops-8FlatTops-10FlatTops-12FlatTops-11FlatTops-9Last weekend we headed to the Flat Tops Wilderness in NW Colorado for four days of camping, hiking, fishing and being eaten alive by black flies. The Flat Tops are a unique range of mountains and is home to my now favorite hike, the Devil’s Causeway, a narrow land bridge with a sheer drop off of hundreds of feet on either side. Definitely, not for the faint of heart. I’ll post images of the hike in part two. Our first night, we fished the Bear River, a sweet little patch of meadow fishing below Stillwater Reservoir. I’m growing more confident with fishing and was able to practice my long casts and some roll casting. Fish didn’t take too much the first night, but any time on the river is a good time.

 

Grasslands

_MG_8466-9_MG_8430-1_MG_8584-7 _MG_8474-3_MG_8586-8 _MG_8521-4 _MG_8547-5On Sunday, we drove out to the Pawnee National Grasslands in Northeastern Colorado. The hike is easy and only around 4 miles round trip however, we detoured by exploring in the clay walled arroyos that skirt the Pawnee Buttes. For the past couple of weeks, we’ve been heading into the mountains to catch the last of the Winter snow. Yesterday was nice to be in the more arid landscape reminiscent of New Mexico. We’d like to go back later in the Spring once the desert plants are blooming.

All images are taken with my Canon 5D 

Moffat Tunnel

IMG_2968Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset Processed with VSCOcam with m5 presetProcessed with VSCOcam with m6 presetProcessed with VSCOcam with m5 presetProcessed with VSCOcam with g3 presetIt’s been a while since I posted. We’ve been gone almost every weekend during the month of March to make the most of the tail end of Winter. A couple of weeks ago, we ventured up to Moffat Tunnel, near Rollinsville, to hike in the snow. We didn’t bring snowshoes and were still able to hike 4 miles before we had to turn around because the trail became impassable. Between the blizzard and the pine trees draped in long strands of moss, the place reminded me of a forest from The Lion, The Witch And The Wardrobe.

All photos taken with iPhone 5

Thought: Parallel Practice

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I was recently asked to give a lecture to a small class of both BFA and MFA students at CU Boulder. The topic was on parallel practices and how it influences my career and personal life. Below is the lecture in written form that I would  like to share with you. Please let me know what you think and if you have a parallel practice of your own.

I have suffered from ADD my entire life. I have a difficult time focusing and have struggled throughout both my personal and professional life. I have had to learn how to harness my energy and direct it. This is no simple task with someone with ADD and it has taken an enormous amount of time and focus, yet has become an invaluable step in advancing my career and my life.

When I was younger, I thought ADD was a hindrance as described by my teachers. However, when I became older, I started to embrace the chaos that is inherent in ADD and now believe that true artists are fueled creatively by the very symptoms of the “disorder.” For example, we are curious, spontaneous, energetic, creative, hyper-focused, persistent and sensitive.

Balance is key here. If I were to let the inspired mind or the ADD mind take total control, I would have ideas that would never see the light of day. Inspiration is only a small percentage of a project. Dedication, focus and organization is the other half if not more. It is a dance between two strategies that require each other for success.

Having a Parallel Practice is all about balance. Just like balancing the creative mind with the rational one is fundamental in maintaining harmony in your life and career, having two practices is essential in expanding your abilities as an artist and person.

For example, a runner is always stronger after a rest day. The rest day includes counter training but not running, yet he/she returns feeling faster. The same is true for the artist or designer. Imagine working on a painting or a sculpture or in my case design and you are experiencing creative block. We artists and designers are problem solvers and sometimes the solution is right under our noses. It is not until we take a step back that it is revealed. Switching focus from one practice to another, is the same as taking a step back. You give rest from one project while you focus on the other. This allows the mind time to reflect and tackle the creative block.

This has been a long journey for me to be able to achieve balance. I have many projects and it is absolutely critical that I recognize the patterns of procrastination or distraction brought on by ADD. This hyper awareness helps me navigate and direct my attention where it needs to be. I have mantras and post it notes that assist in bringing my mind back to reality. If not I would be lost in the clouds. Some of my mantras or reminders are: Check your calendar, Is what I’m doing right now helping me accomplish the task?, Focus Focus Focus.

One practice informs the other and vice versa. We all have learned this in our liberal art studies have we not? In one class, we are working with a tangible medium and in another we are examining the conceptual side of art and learning to articulate its meaning with the written word. Art and art history inform one another. Without this relationship, art loses its context.

By incorporating a parallel practice in your life, you create a relationship between the two no matter how different they are. Sometimes the most intriguing part is in the differences not the similarities. I started Stitch & Hammer out of the desire to work with my hands. I was exhausted from design and unsure of the direction I wanted to take my design career. I launched the handmade accessories company in 2011 and have worked as both a designer and maker since. I am more confident in my work now as a designer than I ever have been. Craft informs my design and vice versa.

I balance three disciplines including, design, craft, and photography with four outlets being Stitch & Hammer, Colorado Makers, Workshop Boulder and Tremper Design and Photography. I don’t recommend this to everyone. Two practices is enough for most people. If you are like me though, my cravings to create content and work is insatiable. This is the ADD in me. However, my drive to succeed helps me push the limits of my comfort zone like organization and self discipline, both which are imperative to improving as an artist, designer or your chosen field of study.

What I have learned so far that helps me grow as a designer, artist and person:

HARNESS YOUR ENERGY or in some cases provoke energy. We all have suffered from procrastination. One is from not having enough energy and the other comes from having too much. Both will stall your creativity. You must learn to control your mind and will your muse. I don’t believe in waiting around for her.

ORGANIZATION A quote by Gustave Flaubert explains it best. “Be regular and orderly in your life so that you may be violent and original in your work.” Spend a few minutes every morning cleaning and organizing your home and work space. Don’t let the physical and digital clutter take over your life and keep you from your work.

FOCUS Power Hours are helpful. I shut down my browsers, email, social media, etc. so that I can give my full attention to the  task at hand  for one hour or more. Your undivided attention even for short bursts of time will help you maintain quality and intention in your work.

DISCIPLINE is indispensable in anyone’s career if they want to be successful. When we are in school, discipline comes in the form of a syllabus and you have a guiding hand via classmates and teachers to keep you on track. Once you are on your own, you take full control over managing your time.

STRATEGY is helpful in maintaining self-discipline and focus. By making lists every day and prioritizing each task by its importance level for the day, week, month and even year, you improve the projects chance of being completed. By setting intentions and writing them down you hold yourself accountable to complete the project.

SACRIFICE To do great things takes great sacrifice. The good stuff, the meaty, juicy parts in your life and in your art lies within the outer edges of your comfort zone. I am always surprised by how much farther my limits actually  are when I push myself. I don’t always want to do the task at hand, but when I persevere and work through the struggle I am rewarded. Always take the high road.

All of this is important for anyone pursuing a career in art or design and is crucial when balancing a parallel practice.