The Gift of Water

I just finished a large canvas of one of my favorite subjects: the field opposite our house in Lower Ranchitos. This time, instead of the whole field, I have concentrated on the acequia, or irrigation ditch that runs through it.

"The Gift of Water," oil on canvas by Melwell, 36x48

The ditch name is a little confusing, but I call it the San Francisco de Padua ditch because that is its most well-known name.

Along the ditch are the plants and animals that you might expect. In mid-May, the time the painting depicts, the ditch is especially alive because it has been freshly cleared. All the fuss and noise of cleaning are long complete and the land is quiet and busy growing.

I could have painted frogs and ducks, prairie dogs, coyotes, martins, hawks, red-winged blackbirds, and more, I kept it to a pair of magpies monitoring the shores of their kingdom, like some New Mexican version of the Halcyon Days.

As I do with many larger paintings, I kept track of the progress, so I thought I’d share some of those photos.

There was a point right toward the completion of this painting that I burst into tears as I gathered up my brushes for cleaning for the night.

There is a song by Guy Clarke called “Shade of all Greens.” I had that song going through my head while I mixed green after green. I’ll include it here so you can enjoy it. I used to cover this song with a friend and we sang some sweet harmonies.

A friend recently suggested we sell our house and “take the money and run,” to get something easier to maintain and keep warm in. I agreed because my husband and I are getting to the point where we need help doing simple things, but leaving this beautiful little piece of heaven would surely break my heart.