Color palettes of Abiquiu

Georgia O’Keeffe is quoted as describing the New Mexico landscape, where she lived for several decades, as “a painter’s country,” where “All the earth colors of the painter’s palette are out there in the many miles of badlands. The light Naples yellow through the ochers — orange and red and purple earth — even the soft earth greens.”1

I am usually much more inspired by the colors in a J.Crew catalog than a color palette in nature. (I love flame red, bright blues, unusual yellows, surprising magenta.)

But on my recent visit to Abiquiu, New Mexico, I kept in mind O’Keeffe’s quote about the color palette. I tried to notice and appreciate the color palettes of different scenes, and I’ll share a few below.

Cliffs in Abiquiu, NM.

The cliffs in Abiquiu are quite stunning and unlike anything I’ve ever seen before. They have stripes of clay red, warm white, and the soft Naples yellow that O’Keeffe mentioned. She painted these cliffs several times, which you can read more about at the Met Museum’s website.

Georgia O’Keeffe’s “Red and Yellow Cliffs” from the Met Museum.

Looking out on Abiquiu Lake, there is a mix of light grayish sage and light straw, and a pine green that veers towards yellow, like army green. In the distance are clay red cliffs and purply navy mountains in the shadows. From this direction the lake is light gray.

Looking out on Abiquiu Lake.

Hiking on the Rim Vista Trail, I was intrigued by the bright colors on the rocks, various mosses or lichens, I think. They were bright chartreuse yellow, light teal green, clay red, light and dark gray.

A colorful rock on the Rim Vista Trail.

I enjoyed seeing the landscape that inspired Georgia O’Keeffe and keeping my eyes open to different sources of inspiration. I will try to use some of these color palettes in my artwork.

What are your main sources of color inspiration? Share in the comments!

1. Quote from Georgia O’Keeffe Living Modern by Wanda M. Corn.

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