What Is A Kiva Ladder?


“The Blue Door” Watercolor © Jessica Wesolek

One of the great things about making art in Santa Fe, is that the area has SO MANY design icons to work with.

One of the best, in my opinion, is the Kiva Ladder.

What is a Kiva Ladder?

Well, first it helps to know what a Kiva is.

A Kiva is a room used by Pueblo people for religious ceremonies and communal meetings. These rooms are usually dug into the ground, and you enter and exit by means of a Kiva ladder. A portion of the Kiva ladder usually sticks up a ways out of the Kiva opening, as this one is doing at the Pecos National Historic Park, which we visited during our recent retreat . . .


This is so cool looking that folks now lean Kiva Ladders against their courtyard walls to get the look, and the Kiva Ladder has become a widely known symbol of Santa Fe style.

I have them in my courtyard, and even use one in the house as a towel rack!

I also use them in my art whenever the chance arises. The Kiva Ladder in the painting at the top of the post is magic because it does not cast a shadow.

This one is very special . . . all about finding direction.


“The Rainbow Way” Watercolor © Jessica Wesolek

Here’s a “Little Church With Lofty Expectations” done in pastels . . .


And sometimes, I just draw them all by themselves because they fascinate me . . . especially when they are lashed together with leather lacings . . .


This was the sample I used in our Art Journaling in Paradise workshop . . .

classroom 1

One of our more adventurous students, Vivian Aldridge, actually climbed down into the Kiva at the Pecos Ruins and sat and sketched it from inside looking out . . .


Isn’t this a fantastic journal page?

And, of course, there just had to be a bit of fun thrown in. While Vivian was sitting down there, a pair of red boots appeared on the top rung of the ladder. A couple of tourists who were traveling with the red boots and photographing them in interesting settings.

And, speaking of fun – Registration is now open for:

Art Journaling in Paradise 2014!

I was learning some new video software this week, and I thought it would be good practice to make a video to show you how you can draw a Kiva Ladder too. They come in very handy, you know.

The video is 7 minutes long and meant to engage you in its moments, so get the ants out of your pants before watching it!

It is hosted on Dropbox and you have my permission to download a copy for yourself.

I would also love to know what you think of the style, so leave a comment if you have a moment.

How To Draw A Kiva Ladder



175 thoughts on “What Is A Kiva Ladder?

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