El Santuario de Chimayo
By Renee Nolte-Hodnett
El Santuario in Chimayo, NM is its own charming and spiritual work and wonder. Michael and I visit every time we’re in and around Santa Fe, NM. This historic landmark built in 1815 is famous for the story of its founding and as a contemporary pilgrimage site. It consists of a sacred little adobe church and sacred grounds where people travel long distances to be healed and made whole.
Some of its 300,000 visitors a year come for its history, others for spiritual culture, to us, Michael and I, we love both aspects but mostly it’s the charming beauty and a perfect depiction of life in Old New Mexico.
That’s why we knew we had to bring it back. We timed it just right as the sun was setting with hues of orange glow on the mountain just behind the church. Michael set up his easel. I grabbed the oversized suitcase full of paints and poured him a bowl of water so he could wash off his brushes. We took a few steps down the stairs right next to the river stream that flowed through the grounds.
Let’s go Picasso! He began painting and I began walking the grounds taking the history all in again paying attention to the silence, the wind, the rush of the waters in the stream, and all the symbols of love left for ancestors, prayers, momentous and religious culture.
Every time I made my way back to Michael he’d have a good part of the scene painted. We wanted the perfect glow that the scene radiated. We had a little over an hour to get most of the details before packing it all up due to the sun was going, going, gone... he laid his brushes down. He had captured El Santori and its charming reverent essence.
The painting is now back in Texas and almost finished. The original is for sale.
This piece will be a perfect addition or even a start to a southwest motif as it says so much of Historic New Mexico.
“As I painted this little gem in the desert the sun was setting, the light was changing rapidly. It was all I could do to keep up. Then out of no where the mountain in the back suddenly became a brilliant orange against a still blue sky like it had ignited on fire. It was breathtaking. . “ -Michael Hodnett