Guests come to the Circle Z Ranch for many different reasons: some simply like to ride horses; others like the scenery, a few just want some peace and quiet. For Jane Schwartz, the Circle Z provides all these things, but the real reason she visits is for artistic inspiration.
Fellow guests might recognize Jane as the woman who always brings artist materials in her saddlebags, and is sketching the Circle Z. An avid rider and amateur artist, she first came to the ranch in 1997 and has returned seven or eight times in the ensuing years. “Red Mountain is my touchstone,” says Jane. “I paint it every time I come to the ranch.”
Art has been Jane’s passion since she was a child growing up in New York City. Although she attended the city’s prestigious High School of Music and Art and later majored in art history at college, her career took her in other directions. Thus it has been while on vacation that Jane has been able to indulge in her love of drawing and painting. “During my travels is the only time I have an opportunity to focus and see a landscape,” says Jane. “I’m always sketching then.” Sketching the Circle Z fits right into Jane’s vacation strategy.
All-day rides are generally Jane’s preferred rides for drawing. “There’s plenty of time to rest during the picnic or cookout, and I can sketch then,” she confirmed. Occasionally on some of the shorter rides she’ll grab a few moments as well. “We’ll go loping for a while, then rest for a few minutes,” says Jane. “My fellow riders have been kind enough to wait and enjoy the scenery while I make a quick sketch for fifteen or twenty minutes.”
Late afternoon is also one of Jane’s favorite times of day for sketching the Circle Z. “Red Mountain is easily visible from the lawn, and I can frame out a general sketch, then fill in the colors later. The sun and shadows create changing color patterns every few minutes.”
Jane has worked with colored pencils and pastels, but lately she’s also been working with watercolor pencils. These special pencils, when dipped in water, create a watercolor effect on paper—and travel well in her saddlebags.
Take a look at some of Jane’s most recent drawings of Red Mountain. Most of us will probably never be able to paint it as well as she can. But her work sketching the Circle Z will certainly give us an appreciation for the wonderful play of colors that nature paints on the scenery surrounding the ranch every day.