The Mission

Mountain Water is the unique site of a dream - a dream that place holds power, which can be shared; a dream that what we make has the potential to benefit and awaken the world; a dream that simplicity and humor foster kindness. Artistic practice is fundamentally positive as an impulse, and meditation is a neutral way of looking at mind and phenomena. Mixing the two practices is at the heart of Mountain Water.

The Land

Mountain Water Ranch is in Huerfano County, Colorado. Our 240 acres is mixed grassland and piñon-juniper forest, at an elevation of 7,400-8,000 feet above sea level. The land remains beautiful despite its past history of over-grazing and neglect. We are now amending that history through regenerative land management practices that restore soil health and stabilize the water table. In 2016 and 2017 we worked with local and regional USDA/NRCS staff and our neighbors to re-establish historic irrigation ditches; including two irrigation headgates - massive steel structures shared by three ranches - funded by a cost-share grant from the Upper Huerfano Conservation District. We also planted our first restoration test plots in mixed cover crops and even harvested a small crop of black einkorn, an ancient form of wheat.

The Curriculum

Retreats held here will include traditional practices such as drawing and painting, as well as studio exercises designed to reveal the delight of ordinary sense perceptions. Classes will be presented in a context of both group and solitary meditation practice that are guided through lectures and discussions. Participation is an across-artistic-discipline contemplative approach to benefit creative people – painters, musicians, performers, writers, dancers, environmentalists, etc.

The Principals

Joan Anderson and Robert Spellman are the owners of Mountain Water Ranch. Both have been life-long students of painting and meditation, both have had long working careers as artists and teachers. The inspiration for Mountain Water came from their time spent managing a Buddhist center for solitary retreat – that time became the exemplar of painting and meditating – and from their years as faculty at Naropa University, a seat of Buddhist-inspired contemplative education. They feel intense gratitude to their Buddhist teachers, Chögyam Trungpa, Rinpoche foremost among them; to their art teachers, mentors, and students; and to their parents, friends, and families for a lifetime of support.