Earth Wisdom Tarot Sacred Art

Painting: “Portal”

in Art

final painting

Here’s the finished painting I call “Portal,” in a completely different style from any of my Gaian Tarot work. It’s acrylic on canvas, 16″x20″, and it’s the first acrylic painting I’ve ever done. I like it. I learned a lot from it: techniques like dry-brushing, painting over complementary colors, and glazing. I also played around with putting in details with colored pencils and various pens on the top layer. I am thrilled it took me less than a week to complete! If it was a colored pencil painting, it would have taken months.

I like the whimsical magpies and the Tibetan thangka-inspired clouds. I love the Southwest colors. And I love the way the piece roots me right back in Taos.

The painting was inspired by two places in Taos. The first is the entryway to the community room at Mabel Dodge Luhan House. Every day while on retreat, we emerged from our group activities to see prayer flags fluttering in the soft breeze, and the sensual curves of  adobe walls. The view through the portal in the painting is of tribal pueblo land, where I took a long walk one day. Magpies were ever-present, and so was the purple sage I loved to inhale. Both found their way into the painting.

photo references

I sketched the main elements of the piece in my sketchbook, then spent some time working out the composition.  I  transferred the linework to the canvas and painted over the pencil lines with blue-violet paint. I also spent some time playing with complementary colors and testing out various color schemes.


Then I painted in the background in complementary colors (except for the magpies and prayer flags). Looks pretty wild, huh?


I drybrushed the blues, violets, and whites of the sky over the orange background. I love how the orange and peach colors peek through the blue.


Then came terra cotta over the deep purple background of the adobe, and dark green over red for the junipers.


Then I painted the pueblo scene you see through the portal.


Here’s a close-up, with prayer flags and magpie painted too.


More details:


It feels great to do something so totally different!  Stretching the proverbial wings . . .  who knows where I’ll fly next?

Thoughtful, sparkling comments. . .

  • Sara F. Thu - Aug 22nd 2013 7:12 am

    Oh, Joanna. It is so beautiful and, like the Gaian Tarot, so spiritually inspiring. I love that landscape, too. In my natal chart, my midheaven (which iPhone autocorrect wants to change to “mud heaven,” which works!) is 1 degree of Aquarius: an old adobe mission. This painting just sings to my soul. Might you bring on retreat so I could see it in person?

    • Joanna Powell Colbert Thu - Aug 22nd 2013 11:18 am

      Sara, I’m so glad you like it so much, and I will be most happy to bring it along to the retreat. Hugs & Blessings!

      • Sara F. Sun - Aug 25th 2013 7:04 pm

        Hooray! Thank you!

        • Joanna Powell Colbert Mon - Aug 26th 2013 7:45 am

          You’re welcome! I’ll bring the new one I’m working on, too. It should be done by then. (It’s called “Guadalupe Mermaid” — sssh, don’t tell anyone! LOL)

  • kat Thu - Aug 22nd 2013 7:43 am

    Joanna, this is so beautiful and so captures the magic of the Land of Enchantment! Thank you for sharing the process – it is so interesting to see how layers reveal themselves in acrylics, isn’t it? I hope you are continuing to enjoy a relationship with them, and perhaps a newfound constant tool. Bright blessings, sister of the brush (more than one kind, too)! xo

    • Joanna Powell Colbert Thu - Aug 22nd 2013 11:22 am

      Thank you Kat! I have more Taos / Santa Fe paintings to do, I believe. One could spend an entire lifetime on this subject matter, don’t you think? Or at least decades, like Georgia did. I do plan to continue to play with acrylics and see where they take me. Blessings to you too!

  • Kim Antieau Thu - Aug 22nd 2013 8:56 am

    I absolutely love it. I love the style, I love the subject, I love the colors. Brava! Can’t wait to see more.

    • Joanna Powell Colbert Thu - Aug 22nd 2013 11:22 am

      Ohhh! Thank you Kim!

  • Diane Fri - Aug 23rd 2013 2:29 am

    Gorgeous, Joanna! Such a nice light clean feel to it too!

    • Joanna Powell Colbert Fri - Aug 23rd 2013 6:53 am

      THanks Diane!

  • CrowsFoxes Fri - Aug 23rd 2013 6:26 am

    So will I see a print of this hanging in the living room of the main house at Mabel Dodge House next summer? (Hint, Hint!!) Love this so much — thank you for sharing it.

    • Joanna Powell Colbert Fri - Aug 23rd 2013 6:54 am

      😀 Thanks CrowsFoxes! I am not sure a print will do it justice . . . even this low-res scan online here doesn’t come close to how lovely the colors are “live,” especially when the lights plays across the canvas. But we shall see!

  • Keri Fri - Aug 23rd 2013 7:37 am

    Gorgeous work – love the process photos as well. I’ve had a set of acrylics waiting in the wings – this inspires me to take them down and use them!

    • Joanna Powell Colbert Fri - Aug 23rd 2013 8:41 am

      Thanks Keri! I hope you do take your paints down and play with them. Have loads of fun!

  • Debra Strom Fri - Aug 23rd 2013 8:29 am

    It is such a strong piece Joanna. It really takes me to a sacred place…and I can see it as a true portal for those that have been there. It is obvious that this place has touched your soul.

    • Joanna Powell Colbert Fri - Aug 23rd 2013 8:41 am

      Thanks sweetie. You’ll have to see it “live” — much stronger than this low-res scan. XOXO

  • Susan Fri - Aug 23rd 2013 10:21 pm

    The painting is like a portal into a world with no GMOs.

    I was in NM only once. When you get in the mountains and villages outside of Santa Fe…worlds fail me. This takes me back.

    • Joanna Powell Colbert Mon - Aug 26th 2013 7:44 am

      Love your description, Susan! No GMO’s . . . 🙂

  • Rue Mon - Aug 26th 2013 8:59 am

    JOANNA!!! Just lovely—so spiritual.
    Many thanks for sharing your beauty!!

    • Joanna Powell Colbert Tue - Aug 27th 2013 7:42 am

      Thank you Rue!

  • sandra Mon - Aug 26th 2013 12:20 pm

    full of spirit. an invitation to go deep. to fly high with the magpie, ride the wind, delivering a measure of peace.

    stunning and compelling art…

    • Joanna Powell Colbert Tue - Aug 27th 2013 7:42 am

      Thank you Sandra. Lovely words.

  • regina Wed - Aug 28th 2013 3:08 pm

    Stopping over from Visual Quest. SO lovely to see the change that was sparked by the course. Your art is so lovely. I am always drawn to doors, gates and portals. This is very inspiring!

    • Joanna Powell Colbert Thu - Aug 29th 2013 6:40 am

      Thanks so much, Regina! Yes the Visual Quest course has been a life-changer for me, even though I took a detour after the second week — or as Pixie says, I fell down my own rabbit hole! 🙂

      I just visited your site — you do lovely work! And I recognize your Buffalo painting from the VQ group. Love it!

  • Stacey Sat - Aug 31st 2013 11:00 am


    I love the portal! I was blessed to have lived in a 100 yr. old adobe in Santa Fe for two years and you have captured the essence of so much of the area around Santa Fe and Taos. The brilliant colors, the intangible energy of the land and the earthiness of the adobe…I am drawn through that portal to so many memories and a desire to walk there once again! Thank you for sharing so much of yourself in so many ways. You are a bright blessing!

    • Joanna Powell Colbert Mon - Sep 02nd 2013 8:59 am

      Thanks Stacey! How lucky and blessed to live there in an old adobe. I am trying to figure out how I can spend more time in the Santa Fe / Taos area. I don’t want to move away from the ocean, but that desert continues to call me . . .