Ross Lewallen: Artist and Shaman Who Lived Outside the Lines

 ross and LauraRoss and Laura Lewallen

"I am an artist on a walkabout, an adventure in the landscape of my imagination."

  Our good friend and creative mentor Ross Lewallen died last week and his family and friends are left with a large hole of sadness. We are also left with the rich gift of the memory of a man who lived life fully and creatively. When Ross blended colors, called the spirits of the power animals, the crow, the hawk, the wolf, the turtle and their friends; when he  sailed a boat in the high desert of New Mexico, he was a teacher and a healer, inviting us to paint and live outside the lines.

The physical body of Ross lived almost eight decades. Ross led this body to northern New Mexico in the 1960’s to study art with the great teachers at New Mexico Highlands University, Elmer Schooley, Harry Leippe, Paul Volkening, and Ray Drew. Ross painted, sculpted, created jewelery, talked late into the night, stirred the thinking pot and made us see the world through a different lens.

Ross and his daughter Laura ran  LewAllen and LewAllen Jewlers  on the Plaza in Santa Fe for almost forty years. He traveled to Africa and Austrailia. He became a shaman.  In the past few years he drove (“boondocked” as he would say) around the continent dragging his little camper trailer, Shasta, behind him. He sat up shop in front of Shasta in camp grounds, painted and sold his mystical watercolors to other campers.

Ross swam with kindred spirits in Florida, sailed in the Florida Keys with his wife Hanne Moller. Hanne is a  violinist. Among Ross’s many videos on Youtube is one of Hanne serenading five  tortoises.

Ross was a gifted teacher. In two of my favorite videos, Boondocking on the Rio Castillo and Painting from Impulse, he shares his creative technique. Painting is a metaphor for how Ross lived and his lessons invite us to change our perspective on life, if only for a brief moment, to start coloring, living outside the lines just as he did, to wake up and go on walk-about.


ross and wifeRoss and Hanne 2008 clapping2  ross pope ross wife  ross wife night Alice rossAlice ross dancing

We all loved dancing with Ross.