Disclaimer, my strengths lie in painting not writing so please excuse my many grammatical and spelling errors.
I learned a lot from painting in the Santa Fe area for a week but here are some highlights:
1. New Mexico smells awesome!
From the second I stepped out of my rental car at the welcome party, I was hit with the fragrant and slightly herbal smell of the desert plants. I actually thought it was someone's perfume who had perhaps just walked by, but when I was still smelling it an hour later I figured out that it was just the desert I was smelling.
2. Georgia O'Keeffe was a really tough woman.
She made painting en plein air in that harsh desert environment look easy. It's not. Although I had my sun umbrella with me, the sun reflects off the concrete like desert and bakes you from below as well. During the week I also got stuck in a flash flood that covered the road with about 6 inches of watery mud and I endured a hail storm while perched under a picnic shelter overlooking Lake Abiquiu. While at the Georgia O'Keeffe museum it struck me that many of her New Mexico paintings veer more towards the abstract than many of her flowers. I think the amount of time one can endure painting outdoors at Ghost Ranch has a lot to do with what you take the time to put in to your painting.
3. The colors are real.
I guess in looking at pictures of New Mexico and O'Keeffe's paintings of the area I thought that the colors were enhanced a bit. I almost drove off the road several times distracted by the intense colors of the northern New Mexico rock formations.