"Thru The Woods" by Maryellen Morrow
"Thru The Woods" by Maryellen Morrow (Photos Courtesy of Maryellen Morrow)

What: Chasing My Mind art exhibit

When: A reception will be held from 3 to 5 p.m. Thursday. The show continues through Sept. 6

Where: Humanities Arts Gallery, San Juan College, 4601 College Blvd. in Farmington

More info: 505-566-3464

Farmington — Durango artist Maryellen Morrow often starts a new painting while she is still working on another.

"It's how I paint," Morrow said, comparing her painting to a race.

This race-like technique inspired the name for her upcoming show "Chasing My Mind," which opens with a reception from 3 to 5 p.m. Thursday at the Humanities Arts Gallery, 4601 College Blvd. in Farmington.

 Fog Over Fire,  also by Morrow, will be displayed at the Humanities Arts Gallery.
Fog Over Fire, also by Morrow, will be displayed at the Humanities Arts Gallery. (null)

Morrow started painting when she was young. Even though her parents didn't have a lot of money, they recognized her need to create art and provided her with supplies and lessons. She has been painting ever since.

Morrow said she paints whatever comes to mind.

"I just followed my own direction," she said.

This direction led Morrow to abstract art.

For six weeks in 2009, Morrow had the opportunity to be an artist in residence for a gallery in Santa Fe. Being a wife and a mother, Morrow took advantage of the opportunity to just focus on her art.

Morrow said she got up every morning and went on a walk. As she walked, she would pick up items she found, from broken tiles that fell from a construction truck to a withered Styrofoam cup.

The shapes of the indentations on the cup caught Morrow's eye. From that cup, she was able to create a large canvas of different objects.

About 10 years ago, Morrow joined the Plein Air Painters of the Four Corners. The artists work outdoors painting landscapes and other natural scenes.

Morrow said she enjoys the Plein Air group because of the friendships and the shared struggle of trying to paint out in the elements.

"It keeps me painting and creating far beyond what I would force myself to do on a regular basis," Morrow said.

As the years have progressed, her paintings have become more abstract.

"I fluctuate from something representational to something extremely abstract," Morrow said.

How abstract the painting is depends on the landscape, the day and her mindset, she said.

When she looks at the landscape, she said she doesn't necessarily see a tree or a mountain. Instead, she see shapes.

 Which Way Out  is by Morrow, who paints whatever comes to mind. I just followed my own direction,  she said.
Which Way Out is by Morrow, who paints whatever comes to mind. I just followed my own direction, she said. (null)

One day the Plein Air painters took a trip to Albuquerque where they stopped to paint lavender fields and ponds. Morrow wandered into the woods and found a small trickle of a creek in the shadows. She said the sky was reflecting on the water. She stopped and painted "Floating Above the Abyss," one of the paintings that will be on display at the Humanities Arts Gallery. The painting consists of black and blue shapes.

Morrow's art features both Four Corners scenes and scenes from Mexico.

After visiting Mexico with her husband shortly after their wedding 42 years ago, Morrow fell in love with the country. For the past seven years, the couple has been living part-time in San Carlos in the state of Sonora, by the Sea of Cortez.

"It's kind of fun to have the ability to paint down there," Morrow said.

Every morning, she goes on a walk to the beach, which she can see from their condo.

One of her newer paintings that will be displayed at the Humanities Arts Gallery is "In Full Bloom," a painting she did after returning from Mexico this year. When she returned, she found her garden needed a lot of attention. While working out there and weeding, she got inspired by the flowers and springtime. She said the experience of working in the garden when she would rather have been painting helped her create "In Full Bloom."

Morrow said she enjoys comparing the art she created in Mexico with the paintings she does in the Four Corners.

"I am attracted to water even up here in the mountains," Morrow said.

While her art of Mexico tends to be airier and lighter, Morrow said there are paintings she's done in Mexico that look like they could have been done in Colorado.

"My work is recognizable whether it is something done in Mexico or something done here," Morrow said.

Hannah Grover covers news, arts and religion for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4652 and hgrover@daily-times.com. Follow her @hmgrover on Twitter.