Russell made winter visits to his sister Harriet Cheney Cowles in Santa Barbara most every year from 1911 through the 1930s except years he wintered in Europe. He started going to Santa Fe in 1917 visiting his cousin Louise Cheney Pugh and making many friends. Russell’s lungs were compromised from TB, and he benefited from the warm weather of both places.
When Russell was in Santa Fe in 1929, he wrote to Matty, “ I took Fordy and poked slowly up the Canyon Road, stopping at every turn. There’s lots of material. My eye is alert for the wrong thing—the picturesque, dramatic arrangement, not the solid construction which makes either landscape or still life worth doing.” This kind of observation about his mind’s eye runs through his writing.