Less is More – Taos Work


Back from a week at Sas Colby's summer workshop in Taos – and it was everything I had hoped it would be. Lots of art making, new and old friends, cold, limey, salty margaritas at the Taos Inn, starry nights and the magic that is northern New Mexico. As you know, I can't resist these traffic mirrors…so another Taos self portrait.


The theme this year was "Less is More". And I tried to follow this mantra all week. I brought fewer art supplies and kept my workspace spare, which was very instructive. 

We began with some "drawing with scissors", as I call it. We had some reference photos to choose from and the assignment was to (without drawing first) cut shapes that we saw in the photo to create a new composition that went straight to the wall – on the right. With the scraps of negative space we were to create a new composition straight to the wall – on the left. 


It was interesting, and somewhat scary, to work so freely in the present moment with scissors, black paper and shapes. But the compositions were all very interesting and seeing everyone's interpretations was inspiring.


After we took them down they got glued to large pieces of paper. Charcoal, matte medium and paint followed.


Shapes were enhanced and outlined and filled in – new work altogether emerged.


My pieces turned out large and tribal. I also worked in some smaller book formats on the table from our last day's presentation.


We also did some altering of postcards for someone in the group. We were to bring a post card that we liked very much and then they were randomly drawn to be altered. 


This, and the photo above, are of the one I did for Neva. The theme of the week was less is more. I tried to obey. This is a 5 X 7 post card and it was hard to ignore the voices in my head to fill it in. But I think it worked out better this way.


One extraordinarily hot afternoon (like 93 desert degrees) we headed down to the Rio Grande river for a little drawing. Late in the afternoon the shadow of the river canyon was slowly creeping towards me (not fast enough) as I plunked myself down on a tiny spit of sand on the rocky river shore to draw. A cool wading moment gave way to extreme baking on the shore. But…if I can draw there, I can draw anywhere.


These river stones became my focus and I let the pencil and my eyes guide me. So distracted by the heat, I just had to focus and look.


This little one is just lines that I saw in the grey of the rocks…


This one more of a study in positives and negatives…


…And this one a little water color. Drawing has always been a bit of mystery to me, but I had kind of break through in this workshop and just really got the connection between really seeing and the experience of trusting my mark on the page. It was actually fun and joyful. Even in the unrelenting heat.


After about 90 minutes on the bank of the Rio Grande this bowl of turqouise rimmed water awaited us at our dinner stop. Lovely and cool and filled with color, it was a beauty that cooled and filled our parched souls. 

More to come later…Taos Nomads and Rancho de Taos.


5 Responses to Less is More – Taos Work

  1. Gwen says:

    I love your less-is-more work. I have been checking here obsessively, anxious to vicariously enjoy Taos.

    thanks for sharing!

  2. Stephanie says:

    Just wonderful work you did this week…the exercise in positive and negative shapes, all of it so interesting.

    Did you bring the photograph? or did Sas provide? It’s such an interesting photo and just wonder if you found it…

    I’m thinking I would love to do this next year…

  3. nancy neva gagliano says:

    and, then fran gave me the card she altered for me, and i started to cry. the very last morning when we present our cards, always so many feelings in the air, and…fran is now a new friend, our 3rd year in sas’s wksp, and her work’s gorgeous, and she GOT ME: i had a struggle with the LESS, gobbing up my first piece, …. cherished reminder here at home, less is more,and friends support. thanks, fran….neva

  4. Jan Korr says:

    Frannie, Thanks for the glimpses of your process………good work. Also I loved the altered postcards, you really are a poet at heart. Not sure I could have stuck it on that hot ole river bank, but your work was a great pay off. I can see you getting it. I always remember Roland Reiss saying, “Draw what you see and not what you think you see.” Love to you, Mom

  5. Chris says:

    This is so cool. And I was in Sedona when you were in Taos, and they are both such great places! I’m doing a travel blog series, but you are a master at it! I look forward to learning more.

Leave a reply