Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2013 Favorites

As final farewell to 2013, I thought I'd share some of my favorite music and books from the year. I don't know about you, but I get a lot of inspiration from what I listen to in the studio, and what I read in my free time, and I love to hear what other people are loving too!

First, here are my top 13 studio songs of '13. As I was putting together this playlist I realized that a few of these songs came out before 2013, but I didn't discover them until this year, and they got so much play in my studio that I'm including them anyhow. It's my blog, so I can make my own rules, right? (You have to have Quicktime running to make this playlist work, fyi. I've also included song links below, in case it doesn't work in your browser). 

Miramare - Sons of the East - EP
Amsterdam - The Weatherman
The Truth Is a Cave - Through the Deep, Dark Valley
Bloom (Bonus Track) - Woodland - EP
Red Hands - R.E.V.O.
I Will Be Blessed - Every Kingdom (Deluxe Version)
She Lit a Fire - Lonesome Dreams
Just One - We Are the Tide
Shake It Off - Shake It Off - Single
Home - From Here to Now to You
She - Paper Hearts - EP
Only One - Only One - Single
This Must Be the Place (Naive Melody) - The Lumineers (Deluxe Edition)

My favorite two albums this year were The Weatherman by Gregory Alan Isakov (who put on an absolutely breathtaking show with the Colorado Symphony in November), and Through the Deep Dark Valley by The Oh Hellos (who I'm going to see play tonight to ring in the New Year - yay!!).

As for reading, I read a ton of books this year and can't really remember all of them, but a few stand out that are worth recommending. Here they are:

Favorite Art Book - E.T. Compton by Sibylle Brandes

This guy was a mountain climber and it shows in his paintings - he could paint mountains like no other, and this book is full cover to cover of beautiful images. I just wish it wasn't in German so I could actually read it! I also wish there were a book about his son, Edward Harrison Compton, as his paintings are even more amazing.

Favorite Outdoor Adventure Book - Be Brave, Be Strong by Jill Homer

I stumbled on this book in the kindle bookstore and bought it on a whim, and I was so inspired by Homer's telling of her adventures riding the Great Divide mountain bike race from Canada to Mexico. I've since read all of her books and am addicted to her blog - she writes as though she loves the landscape as much as I do, and I'm always inspired by her strength and persistence.

Favorite Psych Book - Mindset by Carol Dweck

I don't know how I ended up reading this book, but it was fascinating to me. I've always thought I was a fairly positive "you-can-do-it!" kind of thinker, but reading this really exposed a lot of the prejudices I have about myself (I'm a clutz, I'm bad at sports, I'll never be good at xyz). Reading through the ideas in this one made me realize that my thoughts were determining my outcomes in some of those areas. An interesting read for anyone, and I thought it was eye-opening as a parent too.

Favorite Non-Fiction - I Am Malala by Malala Yousafzai

This was a bestseller this year for a reason. If you haven't read it, go read it. The autobiography of an amazing girl, I also found it interesting as an account of Pakistan's history and culture. I didn't know much about the country prior to reading this, and it was fascinating to read it through the eyes of a young girl.

So, there you go - my recommendations from 2013. Do you have any books or music that stand out for the year for you? I'd love to hear suggestions from everyone!

Sunday, December 29, 2013

2013 in Photos

Once upon a time I was really big on making all sorts of goals and tracking them every year, and for a while it really worked to keep me motivated. My goals have gotten a bit more nebulous over the years - I pretty much just want to paint better paintings, and get out more. As a landscape painter, it's my job to get outside and find beautiful places, and I take that pretty seriously. The more I paint outdoors, the better I get, and if I can't paint outside, getting out there to bike or run or camp is just as useful. Sometimes, just being out there and watching time go by is the best way to learn how light hits the landscape, or how things really feel.

So, in lieu of tracking a bunch of resolutions and goals, I put together my favorite photos from each month of 2013 as my little review of the year's adventures. These aren't necessarily the prettiest or best photos I took, but rather those that remind me of some of my best times this year. What was your favorite adventure this year?


This shot is from a two night hut trip with friends up to the Sangree Froelicher hut near Leadville, Colorado. I love the 10th Mountain Division huts. We trek in on snowshoes with our stuff on our backs, and get to experience a few days in the backcountry in the stillness of winter. Unless you want to camp in a snowcave, it's an experience you just don't get any other way.


In February, Nate and I took a grown-up vacation to San Diego for a few days. It snowed a couple of feet at home while we were gone, and I was happy to be able to hike along the beach every night and see views like this. I'm 100% mountain girl, but I can do the beach for a few days, especially when it's this pretty! I didn't bring my paints and kicked myself the whole time - next time, I guess?


We spent a few days back up in Granby over Spring Break in March, mostly skiing with the kids. It was nice to go back and visit the place we lived for four years. I miss the wide open views and big skies above the mountains - Evergreen is so forested that you could never find a view like this. This photo doesn't do this scene justice at all, but this is the moon rising from the deck of my in-laws' house in Granby.


Nate had a business meeting in Scottsdale in April, and plane tickets were dirt cheap so I decided to tag along for the weekend. I rented a mountain bike and explored the trails for hours every day. It was fun to ride in the desert - things are a little bit more prickly and unforgiving, but I love this part of the country and it was fun to get out on two wheels. There were a couple of days that I didn't see a single soul the whole time I was out, and it was kind of eery but also amazing to be so alone out there. I didn't get any decent photos, but I'm including one of my bad cell phone shots anyways, since I had so much fun.


Once again, a bad cell phone photo, but still my favorite from the month. I went down to Fredericksburg, Texas in May for the OPA national show, and went for a jog through the neighborhood by my hotel the night I got there. This was just a random empty lot between two houses, but I love it. I lived in Texas for a few years and this - the flowers and green and thick air - reminds me of some of my better times down there.


I was planning to just include landscape shots here, but I'm breaking my own rules for this one because it's hands down my favorite photo of the year and it would be dumb to pick something else. This is my superhero-obsessed son in all his glory, surveying his kingdom on a camping trip to Twin Lakes near Leadville. I love my kids so freaking much.


I spent every weekend in July in a different mountain town, so picking my favorite was a bit tough, but my trip to the Tetons for the RMPAP show was one of my favorite times painting this year. I took thousands of photos up there and they're all pretty, but I think Taggart Lake here is one of the prettiest places I've ever been. Pretty enough that we hiked up there with painting stuff three nights in a row, anyhow!

July Bonus

I'm including a bonus picture for July, because this one just makes me happy. I broke my wrist mountain biking at the start of June and was pretty devastated that I wouldn't be able to ride all summer. This was the first easy ride I took after I got my cast off and got the go-ahead to ride again. I was just plain giddy to be out there riding my bike at sunset - best feeling ever.


In August a bunch of artist friends and I spent a few days painting up at Broome Hut near Berthoud Pass (another 10th Mountain Division hut). It was so much fun to be out there dawn 'til dusk painting and laughing with good friends. And the views weren't too shabby either!


September was another month where I spent every weekend camping somewhere in the mountains - we spent a lot of time in Crested Butte, and I finally got to ride some of the trails after painting there for years. This isn't the prettiest picture I have, but it reminds me of one of the best days of the year, riding the 401 with my husband. This was by far the prettiest trail I've ever ridden on a mountain bike, and it was so much fun to be riding singletrack up above 11,000 ft. And it might have been awesome enough to convince Nate that mountain biking is fun after all, so yay for that!


This picture is another that might not be the most impressive, but it's another one with the best memories so it makes the cut. This is a shot from the top of Evergreen Mountain, my favorite local mountain bike ride. I'm up here all the time - one of the reasons I love where I live is having these places so close to home.


I had to deliver some new work to my Winter Park gallery one weekday in November, and it seemed kind of like a waste to do all that driving there and back, so I tossed my snowshoes in the car at the last minute and ended up climbing up to the divide above Berthoud Pass. I love the views from this area - still seems like home.


We headed down to Telluride after Thanksgiving so I could deliver some new paintings to the gallery there and do some plein air painting. I spent three days painting snow and it was awesome - kind of wish I had had a week. One thing I always forget about winter is that the days are so short, you can't produce as much as you can on a summer painting trip where you paint from dawn til dusk. Maybe I should start painting nocturnes? Anyhow, this is just a random view from the top of Telluride Mountain. Pretty rough, huh?

So, that's it. 2013 in pictures. It was a great year - I got out a lot and visited a lot of awesome places with great people. What more can a girl ask for?