“Backyards,” oil on linen panel, 12×9

We spend a lot of time considering “curb appeal” for our homes. There are television shows devoted in making a good impression from the road, but backyards hold the real character of the people who live inside.

From spare to stacked up with junk, backyards in Taos run the gamut. I see little sheds go up in people’s backyards, I see them fill and I see them get damaged by sun, wind, and time. Eventually, sagging, they are brought down. The stuff inside is ruined by mice and elements.

But have you ever seen your house from another angle? It’s a surprise vantage point you didn’t expect to see – where the black bags of trash have collected and the weeds have gotten out of control.

If you have even spent time on Google Earth, you have undoubtedly looked up your own home or places you have lived in the past, and even if you might recognize the place from the front yard, it’s the stuff in the backyard that tells us so much about what goes on inside.

If it’s our home we’re researching, we can tell when the satellite shot was taken based on the stuff that hadn’t yet been taken to the dump or signs of that last garden bed that was carved out of the hard, clay dirt.

Our backyards are scrappy retreats. I thought they deserved an appreciative painting.