There is a small town East of Keystone that is a throwback to earlier days when silver mining was rampant. When I first moved to Summit County they used to joke that everyone in town owned a shotgun and wasn't afraid to use it and that it was a town with no rules ...setting off dynamite in celebration of the Fourth of July is probably frowned upon in some parts of the world. Pretty much true as I remember it 30 some odd years ago. Now it is a little more laid back regarding strangers visiting, although still populated by an eccentric population. It's listed as a ghost town in many references, but I'm sure the 65 town residents, according to a 2010 US census, would have to disagree. Surrounded by 13,000 ft. peaks it sits in a beautiful valley and is filled with buildings that date back to the 1860's. There have been several fires throughout the years that have destroyed many of the historical buildings, but there are enough still intact to emote the past when is was a bustling mining community of over 1,000 residents. Our Monday plein air painting gang headed up to Montezuma early this morning. Some of the leaves are already changing! Arghhh, but it will be beautiful. The tundra of the high peaks above treeline are already glowing with golden hues! I had taken a break to walk around and take a gander at the other paintings and when I got back to my easel I had a lovely assistant that was blocking my "area". One of the local "residents" had planted his self, or herself...I didn't get close enough to look, smack in front of my easel. I'm not sure, but I think it was just another art lover/critic stopping by! Have a fabulous day...it won't ever happen again :)
Today I'm off to the the windy city of Chicago...and I hope there is a breeze so I don't cook! I'm a mountain girl and 80 is a really hot day for me. The company that has purchased reproduction rights for 30 of my paintings, West of the Wind Designs, is an international wholesaler of Outdoor All Weather Art....yes, canvas art that can be hung outside 365 days a year! Any hoo, they are revealing their new line at a show being held on Navy Pier. The company has licensed 14 new paintings from me, ( a total of 44 paintings now!), and they are flying me out to meet their customers. The company manufactures the product, markets and ships it, I get a little piece of each sale as per our licensing contract. Meeting the artist helps make the product more personal to the buyers, better for them and better for me. Fun...but grueling. It means standing on concrete for 10-12 hours a day, smiling and being cheerful to literally hundreds of people a day. This is just another cog in the wheel of selling and marketing your art. Hug your favorite artist the next time you see them at an art show on the street and take the time to admire how difficult it is to haul their life and their art out onto a street in search of making a living. Peace out till Friday and wish me luck...I've put an extra smile in my purse in case I need it :)
I signed up for an art workshop, which was held yesterday, with master painter Marc Hanson. It was a group of 14 artists of considerable talent! Many had come to our part of the world to participate in a plein air paint out fundraiser for, Wild About Colorado, which started today. Back to yesterday! The morning was spent watching Marc paint...in a continually changing pattern of rain, no rain, rain, sucker hole of sun and then more rain. The umbrellas were out in full force and there was a fun camaraderie developing as we all ducked in and out of the dry spaces provided...while watching our good natured leader finish in spite of the conditions. A true plein air painting warrior. We consumed our lunches and then had to set up to paint our own plein air wonders using the techniques of our fearless leader. A friend caught me in a photo as I painted in the constant, COLD, rain and drizzle. (It wasn't raining when I set up out there!) Most of the crew were smart enough to set up under cover of a small building next to the pond...but not moi! With too much to pack up I had to stick it out! I was getting a river of water on my paint palette and finally figured out that the rain was running off the umbrella onto my hat and every time I looked down a stream of water gushed down, and as we know, oil and water are not made for mixing. The black and white oil study I had painted for reference became a work of mixed media...oil paint, water and sand as it flew Wizard of Oz style out of my reach. Considering everything, it ended up being a great day. I learned something, had a few laughs and made a new friend. Three years ago, on August 13, I lost one of my best friends to a valiant battle against cancer. Marla, you were a sister I chose. I KNOW that you would have loved meeting my new friend...she both likes and tells stories, enjoys a good glass of wine...and tequila. A tri-vecta day if I do say so!
Small Pond 11x14 plein air oil
Monday...the day our group of plein air painters usually gathers to share the outdoor experience. I've spent years painting by myself and have found it rejuvenating to paint with other like minded individuals. Today we gathered at an area called Frisco Open Space. A beautiful and natural setting with lush grasses and waterways studded with beaver ponds, and of course, ringed with our beautiful Rocky Mountains. The morning started out beautiful and calm then worked itself into a brooding, angry, rainy and threatening sky. Which of course made it mosquito heaven. I'm mosquito chum...they LOVE me and no one else is usually bothered by them if I'm around. We quickly finished up our masterpieces and packed up all the detritus required to spend a day out in the elements paintings. I headed home to work in my studio while it rained and now it has become a gloriously beautiful day again...just in time for cocktail hour!
Appassionati d'arte buonanotte...good night art fans!
Sounds like a list of my friends throughout my life... quite an assortment pack! This time though they were strangers to me. This weekend Fairplay's history museum, South Park City, was brought to life by a hoard of people dressed to bring this little town to life. The museum is a small town recreated with historical buildings, many moved there from other parts of the county. They are all filled with artifacts of the men and women who populated the many mining towns that sprang up and died with the gold rush. I drove over to take photos of these characters in case I get inspired to paint historical images of the era someday. This special weekend only happens once a year and I had never witnessed it first hand. It was a lot of fun...some of it a little corny, but all good family stuff. I liked this shot as it reminded me a bit of some of my families' heritage. My grandfather built quite a bit of Blackhawk during the goldrush and my other grandfather was a train engineer in the early 1900's. Small pieces of my history that helped build the West! I'll part with a little cowboy logic... "Half your troubles come from wantin' your way, the other half from gettin' it" Ain't that the truth! Ciao for now, it's time to paint!
This weekend was filled with both hard and happy activities. Saturday was filled with both sadness and joy as we said goodbye to one of my very best friend's partner of 10 years that was tragically lost in a horseback riding accident. We regrouped, changed clothes and then headed to Breckenridge. First to see a solo art show by an amazing artist that is one of our painting group. It was wonderful to see so many red dots on her collection! A red dot next to a painting indicates that it has been sold. To see so many is an indicator that the economy is rising and that people are actually buying art in galleries again! Yahoo! We then scurried up the mountain to attend a much anticipated wedding. The bride has been a part of our family since she was just a little peanut and she and her sisters all worked for me at the Colorado Renaissance Festival through the years. The bride and groom and the entire wedding party were ALL entertainers and/or musicians and the wedding was pure theatre with lots of singing and dancing...it did our hearts good to feel so much happiness after such a sad morning. After catching a few much needed winks I woke up at 6 am, dressed in my oogie painting togs and tackled a scene I've wanted to do for years, but just never got around to, our back deck with early morning light filtering through the pergola and lighting the shrubs and hanging baskets. Spending the morning in the throws of artistic abandon helped me forget about the next pending commitment. To say farewell to another friend of over 30 years. He was an architect, young ( that means close to my age!), well respected and well loved. Several hundred gathered and many stories were shared and many new things learned about a man we all thought we know so well. I was also impressed that so many came from Kansas and Missouri to celebrate his memory. One particular gentleman that we got to know had been his architectural professor at Kansas University in Lawrence. It says amazing things when a teacher student relationship has lasted for over 40 years. I too have been blessed with a teacher that influenced my life over 40 years ago. Amazing isn't it how just one person can change the whole course of your life in ways you may never know at the time. ...and it pays to be honest as you never know when they'll pop up again! Ciao and enjoy life and keep making memories as this whole journey is a gift.
We have a "gang" that has started to paint together here in Summit County this summer. Most of us are members of Plein Air Artists Colorado, an organization dedicated to painting in the great outdoors. It's always more fun to go out with someone else. Safety in numbers and all that stuff. We planned to meet at 8:30 am on the road to Montezuma to take advantage of the early morning light. Only one road...a bunch of artists...how hard could that be? There were only 4 of us! It was about 45 minutes before the crew all ended up at the same place, minus one...one that still doesn't own a cell phone. As you can see it was a beautiful place to paint and we all enjoyed dealing with the usual potpourri of problems that come along with the joy of painting outdoors. Picking little insect corpses out of the paint, the constantly changing sun, trying to race the building clouds that looked like rain and wind gusts. If you look closely you'll see I've "planted" a few small boulders on the other side of my easel in hopes the wind wouldn't take it down. All in all a GREAT day, spent with friends painting. WAY better than vacuuming wouldn't you say? Now where did I put my keys....
If you would like to see more of my art or learn more about me please visit my website: www.mariannaduford.com