Watercolor Paintings by Serena Supplee

Below are images of the paintings Supplee has created over the past several years. These watercolors have already inspired beautiful Navajo weavings and are depicted here to showcase Supplee's creative talent and allow collectors the opportunity to commission a weaving based upon a specific painting. At Twin Rocks Trading Post, we strive to blend the traditional with the contemporary in the hope it will spawn innovative art. Enjoy the paintings, and let us know if you feel there may be room in your collection for Twin Rocks Modern Art.
(The history behind the idea of these watercolor paintings is told below.)
serena
Columbian Spin
Arapaho Influence
Sharp Turns Watercolor Paintiing
"Columbian Spin"
15 1/2" x 10"
"Arapaho Influence"
15 1/2" x 11 "
"Sharp Turns"
12 1/4" x 12"
Skinny Legs Watercolor Painting
Hope on the Horizon Watercolor Painting
Heavy Weather Watercolor Painting
"Skinny Legs"
16 1/2" x 9 "

"Hope on the Horizon"
12" x 16"

"Heavy Weather"
18" x 12"
Talk it Over Watercolor Painting
Flight Pattern Watercolor Painting
Sharp Teeth Watercolor Painting
"Talk it Over"
16" x 11"
"Flight Pattern"
15 1/2" x 10 1/2"
"White Teeth"
13" x 10 1/2 "
Zig Zag
Canyon Crossing Watercolor Painting
Mutiny of the Monontony Watercolor Painting
"Zig Zag"
11" x 16"
"Canyon Crossing"
14 3/4" x 10 1/2"

"Mutiny of the Monontony"
12" x 15"

serena4
Sky Land & Water
T Bird
"Hummingbird"
11" x 11"
"Sky Land & Water"
11" x 12"
"T Bird"
10" x 10"
Balance
serena12
painting 39
"Balance"
12" x 14"
"Layers of Time "
19" x 12 1/2"

"Up, Down, and Across"
16" x 12"

Watercolor Painting by Serena Supplee
Watercolor Painting by Serena Supplee
Watercolor Painting by Serena Supplee
"Mates"
18" x 11 1/2"
"Two to be True"
16" x 11"
"Mighty Flight"
18" x 10 1/2"
Watercolor Painting by Serena Supplee
Watercolor Painting by Serena Supplee
Watercolor Painting by Serena Supplee
"Wings to Soar"
17 1/4" x 9 3/8"
"Wings of the Jay Man"
18" x 11 1/2"
"Diamond Travel"
17" x 9 1/8"
Watercolor Painting by Serena Supplee
Watercolor Painting by Serena Supplee
Watercolor Painting by Serena Supplee
"Tail Wings"
18" x 11 1/2"
"Feathery Escape"
14" x 11"
"Sisters"
16" x 11"
Watercolor Painting by Serena Supplee
Watercolor Painting by Serena Supplee
Watercolor Painting by Serena Supplee
"Coyote Wings"
17" x 12"
"Power Blessing"
15" x 8 1/2"
"Spirit of the Raven"
16" x 10 5/8"
Watercolor Painting by Serena Supplee
Watercolor Painting by Serena Supplee
Watercolor Painting by Serena Supplee
"Glide Path"
17" x 8 3/4"
"Winged Warriors"
15" x 11 3/4"
"Verticle Venture"
17" x 11"
Watercolor Painting by Serena Supplee
Watercolor Painting by Serena Supplee
Watercolor Painting by Serena Supplee
"Grand Canyon Chief"
18" x 11"
"Highway Thoughts"
13" x 10"
"Monument Valley Mittens"
18" x 10 1/2"
Watercolor Painting by Serena Supplee
Watercolor Painting by Serena Supplee
Watercolor Painting by Serena Supplee
"Joseph's Flight"
17 3/8" x 11 3/4"
"2nd Generation"
16" x 11"
"Chieftain Geometry"
18 3/4" x 12"
Watercolor Painting by Serena Supplee
Watercolor Painting by Serena Supplee
Watercolor Painting by Serena Supplee
"Ship in the Night"
17" x 12"
"Starry Night"
15" x 12"
"As Above So Below"
19" x 11"
Watercolor Painting by Serena Supplee
Watercolor Painting by Serena Supplee
Watercolor Painting by Serena Supplee
"Canyon Maker"
15" x 11"
"Golden Eagle"
16" x 6 3/4"
"Monumental Lightning"
14" x 11 1/2"
Watercolor Painting by Serena Supplee
Watercolor Painting by Serena Supplee
Watercolor Painting by Serena Supplee
"Cattle Crossing"
16" x 10"
"Canyon Voyage"
10 3/4" x 9 1/2"
"Focused Flight"
18 1/2" x 10 1/4"
Watercolor Painting by Serena Supplee
Watercolor Painting by Serena Supplee
Watercolor Painting by Serena Supplee
"Winter Reeds"
17" x 9 1/2"
"Spirit in the Sky"
16" x 11"
"Wings of Peace"
18" x 9"
Watercolor Painting by Serena Supplee
Watercolor Painting by Serena Supplee
Watercolor Painting by Serena Supplee
"Mittens"
17" x 11 1 /4"

"Ascending"
13 1/2" x 13 1/2"

"To Fly"
19" x 10 1/4"
Watercolor Painting by Serena Supplee
Watercolor Painting by Serena Supplee
Watercolor Painting by Serena Supplee
"Journey"
17 1/2" x 13 3/4"
"Stairway to Heaven"
15" x 10"
"Endless Vistas"
14" x 13 3/4"


"Turkey Time"
19 1/2" x 11"
"Ancient Reeds"
11" x 17"
"Promise of Symetry"
14" x 14 1/2"

"Yucca Night"
15 1/2" x 9"
"Corn Canyon"
16" x 10"
"Plateau Points"
17 3/4" x 11 3/4"
Watercolor Paintings
Watercolor Paintings
Watercolor Paintings
"Ra Ra Ravin"
13" x 13"
"Grand Canyon Puzzle"
16" x 8"
"Sky Strike"
13 1/2" x 10"
Watercolor Paintings
Watercolor Paintings
Watercolor Paintings
"Groovin Grove"
16 1/2" x 8 1/2"
"Mitten Code"
16 1/2" x 10"
"Music of the Night"
19" x 12"
Watercolor Paintings
Watercolor Paintings
Watercolor Paintings
"Doorway Starway"
11" x 15"
"Visiting Star"
11" x 16 1/2"
"Maize"
12 1/4" x 19 1/4"
Watercolor Paintings
Watercolor Paintings
Watercolor Paintings
"Cream of the Crop"
18 1/2" x 12 1/2"
"Cheif Circa"
12" x 15"
"Smokin' Silhouettes"
18 1/4" x 12 1/2"
Watercolor Paintings
Watercolor Paintings
Watercolor Paintings
"Storytime"
15" x 8 1/2"
"Yei Vibe"
11" x 15 1/2"
"Blackbrush Dusk"
9" x 15 1/2"

In the late 1800s, Lorenzo Hubbell established his trading post at Ganado, Arizona. Shortly after the post was opened, Hubbell, along with traders like J. B. Moore and C.N. Cotton, became committed to helping improve the economic well-being of their Navajo trading partners through the development and expansion of rug and blanket weaving.

As part of his commitment to the Navajo people, Hubbell asked artists Eldridge Ayer Burbank, Bertha Little and others to paint small, simplified blanket patterns. The paintings; created in watercolor, conte crayon and oil, were then hung on the walls of the trading post to encourage local weavers to recreate the designs.

In 1993, Moab, Utah, painter Serena Supplee sat on her Navajo rug in the southeastern Utah desert searching for inspiration. It arrived in the form of a revelation directing her to paint a new style of Navajo weaving using bold tones, broad bands of color and motifs influenced by the geography, flora and fauna of the Colorado Plateau. She immediately began painting watercolor images to illustrate her ideas. Not long after she brought the first of her paintings into Twin Rock Trading Post.

A three-way partnership between Supplee, Twin Rocks Trading Post and several Navajo weavers has resulted in the latest style of Navajo weaving; the Twin Rocks Modern. Lorenzo Hubbell's original inspiration has been reborn through the work of several individuals committed to pushing Navajo rug and blanket weaving to new heights and freeing the artists to create inspiring, innovative art.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

There has always been a significant controversy surrounding the relationship between Indian traders and Navajo weavers. Many believe the artists should be left to develop their own patterns and weaving techniques, without the outside influence of anglo traders. Others recognize the contributions traders have made as a positive force.

Almost by accident, Twin Rocks Trading Post has developed a very close working relationship with the local Navajo basket weavers. We hope that our relationship with the weavers has resulted in better, more innovative work. Lorenzo Hubbell, founder of Ganado Trading Post, used to say that it is the obligation of the Indian trader to raise the standard of living of the trading post patrons. This, as we all recognize, has the effect of improving the economy of the trading post as well as the patrons.

Our work began in the 1970s when Barry and Steve's father, William Simpson, began asking local Ute basket weavers to make some of the patterns he had seen them weave when he was a young man living in Bluff. At about the same time, Virginia Smith of Oljato Trading Post in Monument Valley began encouraging the local Navajo basket weavers to innovate. At some point there was a convergence, and the Navajo and Ute weavers both began creating new and unusual basket designs. Many of the local Ute weavers have passed on, and there is not much of their weaving tradition left. The Navajo weavers have continued to progress, and have made spectacular advances. This story, however, is not about baskets, so it's time to switch gears.

Several years ago Barry and Steve were traveling across the Navajo Reservation on their way back to Bluff. They just happened to be going by Hubbell Trading Post, which is now a National Monument. Since they had not been to the trading post, and needed a little break, they stopped in to see what was happening. They met the very well known trader at Ganado, Bill Malone. Bill was kind enough to take them on a tour of the old Hubbell home, which, since they arrived late in the day, was closed. They were astounded and inspired by the variety of beautiful art objects in the house. Many of the objects, and the knowledge they gained relative to Lorenzo Hubble, has influenced their relationships with the local artists. One thing that captured their attention was the paintings by artists such as E. A. Burbank, Bertha Little and H. G. Marrata. The paintings were actually studies of vintage rugs and blankets in various colors, designs and patterns. Hubbell's weavers were influenced to weave the designs both by Hubbell and by their own desire to create marketable weavings. Hubbell and his partner, C. N. Cotton, used the Navajo creations to build a market for the weavings, thereby helping to keep the craft alive.

During the winter of 1996 our good friend Serena Supplee stopped by the trading post. Serena is a very accomplished watercolorist who has been providing us paintings for many years. Since Christmas was fast approaching, and since Serena wanted to do something nice for herself, she proposed a trade; paintings for rugs. After much discussion Barry and Steves' mother Rose, and Serena struck a deal. Serena got a rug and Rose received a new painting. Sometime later Serena stopped by and told us a very unusual tale. She said that she had been searching for a new idea; something she hadn't done before. As a result she decided to take her newly acquired rug to the desert and sit on it for 24 hours or until the Spirit moved her, whichever occurred first.

After sitting in the desert on the rug for several hours, the Spirit finally contacted her by saying, "SERENA, WHAT ARE YOU DOING." She naturally responded, "Looking for new ideas." The Spirit then instructed her to paint rug and blanket patterns. Bingo, she realized that the Spirit had a very good idea, but she needed to consult with us to see if it would work. When she raised the idea, we were reminded of the Hubbell paintings, and thought it was terrific. We have never been very shy about "borrowing" good ideas, so we told her to give it a try. That was over five years ago, and Serena has now created a body of work that our local rug weavers are using for inspiration.

Having the paintings was just the first step, however, and we next had to find weavers interested in experimenting with the designs. The first weaver to try was Eleanor Yazzie. Eleanor has now created a variety of rugs and blankets directly influenced by Serena's paintings. Lately, Carmelita and Eleanor Sagg and Luana Tso have also taken up the challenge. We feel the results are very exciting. As mentioned early on, however, there are those who are concerned that the paintings are an intrusion into the artists' creativity. Take a look at the images of Serena's paintings, and the weavings inspired by them, and decide for yourself.

(As Told by Barry and Steve Simpson.)


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This site was last updated on July 27, 2017

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