Painting in the open – under the shade of a majestic tree or umbrella – offers creatives an experience far beyond the confines of a typical studio.
With Mother Nature as her muse, the great outdoors serves as both the perfect backdrop and the flawless artistic subject for fresh work.
“Outdoor creations” – a Boulder County Parks and Open Spaces exhibition that presents the outdoor art of more than 60 artists – will have its opening from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Friday at The big frame in Longmont.
Until December 30, visitors will have the opportunity to purchase and view works of art that capture the wonders and beauty of the Front Range.
“This year is a special year, as it is the 10th anniversary of the department which is hosting a county-owned open space exhibit,” said Karen Imbierowicz, Parks and Open Space Partnerships Coordinator for County of County. Boulder. “Since 2011, Parks and Open Space has organized five outdoor exhibitions, four photography exhibitions and two carpentry exhibitions.”
Last year – instead of artists painting scenes from the region’s land – carpenters made bowls, vases, musical instruments, furniture and more from wood salvaged from a diseased black walnut. 140-year-old who resided outside Hygiene.
Next year, Boulder County Parks and Open Space will invite photographers to participate in a photography exhibition featuring county properties.
But for now, spectators can revel in the different interpretations of the flowery hillsides and snow-capped peaks.
“It’s always wonderful to discover our precious open space resources through the eyes of local artists,” said Imbierowicz.
From old barns to pristine views, the quantity of remarkable and discreet monuments remains vast.
“I love painting outdoors and the event allows me to paint even more,” said the artist. Lydia Pottoff, who has participated in several exhibitions on the parks and open spaces of Boulder County. “Every time I go out I see something new and exciting.”
Pottoff lives on St. Vrain Road between Boulder and Lyon, near Hygiene, so a nature getaway is always close at hand, providing endless fodder for his intricate work.
“I have four pieces in this show,” Pottoff said. “Pella Crossing is literally right next to my house… So I paint there quite often. I am drawn to the reflections and panoramas of the Front Range. I also like Hall Ranch. The red cliffs are stunning against our skies. I paint there in the evening to capture the glow of the setting sun.
She’s also known for embarking on treks – easel and supplies in tow – to scenic spots to find the right scene.
“I really love painting in Rocky Mountain National Park,” Pottoff said. “There are so many spots that I haven’t touched yet. Last year I decided to paint in oils while on a hike, as the gear is much lighter than pastel. It gives me more options for hiking. The Loch or Sky Pond would be on my bucket list.
For Pottoff, the practice of capturing the grace of his surroundings provides much-needed moments of peace.
“Painting outdoors requires you to slow down and observe the smallest details of color, light and sound,” Pottoff said. “It’s very meditative and has helped me get through the isolation of COVID. “
While a day spent outdoors painting a canvas may seem like an easy hobby activity at first, it actually turns out to be quite complex and requires a lot of skill.
“Outdoor painting is really a challenge,” said the Greeley-based artist. Dale harding, who is appearing on the show for the second time. “There are so many factors that can affect your work and because the light changes so quickly, painting time is really limited. Painting regularly from life literally trains your brain to be a better artist. You learn to simplify shapes, you become a more spontaneous painter with a brush and a fresher style and it helps to perfect colors and enhance skills. But – on top of that – being surrounded only by the sounds and smells of nature is truly invigorating. “
Harding moved from New Hampshire to Colorado five years ago and has since found the state’s natural environment very inspiring.
“I have four sworn pieces in this show,” Harding said. “Two were painted at Walker Ranch, twice about six weeks apart. One room was painted at the Ron Stewart Reservation at Rabbit Mountain and another was painted along the Anne U, White Trail.
Much of his work offers intrigue and the kind of vague storytelling that is to be interpreted.
“As much as possible, I like to include pieces of history in my paintings,” said Harding. “The landscapes are great, but if I can add visual human artifacts into my work, it also brings the mystery. Who lived here? What did they do? What did they do for fun? Ultimately, I want to bring the viewer of my work into my painting. I intentionally forget details.
From a dirt road with a yellow “Not A Thru Street” sign to a scene of a slightly rusted vintage truck, his fascinating work arouses the curiosity of viewers.
“I give the viewer a chance to subconsciously inject their own personal experience into my painting to make it their own,” Harding said. “It’s a tall order and I know I have succeeded when someone’s gaze wanders around my painting for what seems longer than normal. I know they imagine or relive their own personal artistic version.
It is in a way a tourist guide, inviting us into spaces that hold a bit of antiquity and a hazy mystique.
Harding is eager to further explore the local places he has captured on canvas.
“I plan to review a number of park opportunities, just because they offer so many options,” Harding said. “I have a weakness for the higher buttresses. Caribou Ranch and Heil Valley Ranch are among my favorites. My next unknown park to explore would probably be the Betasso reserve.
This year, to mark the show’s 10th anniversary, a Best In Show award of $ 500 will be awarded to a winner in memory of Ron Stewart.
“Ron was Director of Parks and Open Spaces from 1999 to 2016 and was instrumental in creating the county’s open spaces program,” said Imbierowicz. “With the inaugural exhibit in 2011 and beyond, Ron has supported the celebration of the county’s precious resources and local artists by hosting this annual event.”
The organizers also plan to honor another local artist and instructor.
“At the opening of the exhibition, we will take a few moments to recognize one of our former jurors, Molly Davis, who passed away this year,” said Imbierowicz. “Molly was a juror for this show and was a passionate and caring friend, mother, artist, teacher and philanthropist.”
Davis helped found the nonprofit Preserving the Vision, which passed legislation protecting Boulder County’s open space. She also served on the board of directors of the City of Boulder Open Space.
Artist Cathy Fletcher produced a painting for the Davis Memorial Exhibition titled “No Matter the Weather: In Memory of Molly.”
A prize of $ 300 for second place and a prize of $ 200 for third place will also be awarded.
Buying artwork in the show is a great way to support creative attendees, a local business, and Boulder County’s parks and open spaces.
Artists will receive 65% of a sale. The Great Frame Up takes a commission of 35% and of that amount 10% goes to the Boulder County Parks and Open Space Foundation.
An impressive 94 pieces are for sale.
“I hope my work adds an intimate and inspiring glimpse of the beauty that lies right outside our doors in Boulder County, to the walls of buyers,” said Pottoff.