Posted on 11/04/2014 at 11:56am

The large jumbo jet rose into the sky from the state of Tennessee as I looked down from the plane in the clear, calm skies from my small cabin window at the vast network of farms that looked like an abstract painting with circles, lines and blocks, muted by blue atmosphere that stretched as far as I could see. Observing the ground from so high above, the world seemed so different from one which I inhabit. Goals and worldly pursuits faded to wonder.


When its final arrival roar of back-thrusting engines brought me back to solid ground,  I was feeling a bit like an adrenaline junkie who climbs the mountains steepest slope for the thrill of accomplishment and the view because I am now participating in my first plein air art event. When the bell rings, we grab our brushes and go to work. Artists from around the world are gathering in wonderful places carrying all of their required equipment to some of the most remote locations to paint. When the light is perfect and conditions tolerable, we all set up and work on a single painting. An artist will sometimes return day after day to the same spot to paint, hoping to capture what a photograph can never do, but during the competition you can only work for the required amount of time on the painting, and the artists must stop when the bell rings again. Good or bad, an artist just uses the best of her ability to produce the painting quickly. I found myself enjoying the mood and felt my painting was acceptable and sold quickly to a collector right after the event.

My good friend, who has a home in Colorado invited me to stay with her and participate in this very special event. She took me to all of her favorite locations in the Rocky Mountain National Park, located just outside the tiny town where she lives called Estes Park, Colorado (Park: Definition: in western states, this is a broad valley in a mountainous region) This historic village nestled between the mountains from the days of early explorers still contains a little of the charm of a bygone era that only a few Colorado towns still have, such as unchanged tall clapboard storefronts and structures built over a hundred years ago.  Those remaining in town are mostly tourist shops now, but they are a reminder from the days when this was a destination for travelers looking for a cool respite from city life in the historic log lodges built high in the mountains, and it still maintains its place as a rugged gem beckoning for continued protection today. When the woman explorer Isabella Bird journeyed through these same mountains during the late 1800’s on a horse that someone loaned her, she was impressed enough to write about her experiences there. One Lodge that remains in Estes Park from the early days is the Crags Lodge.

The paintings I completed while in Colorado were all completed using my plein air technique that I teach. I always do this type of  painting in less than 2 hours.  The light that brought me to the spot that I thought contained the most interest for me, changes so significantly after a short period of time, so I must work very fast. I enjoy the challenge of working quickly, and that is what I help artists to do who join me while traveling to Europe.

I will be conducting another workshop for artists to Europe in spring of 2015. We will be heading to an Irish Castle. Join us!






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