Sunset on Land Untamed

Sunset on Land Untamed 36x24 oil Lindy C Severns web
SUNSET ON LAND UNTAMED  36″x24″ oil on rough linen  © Lindy Cook Severns 2017
 

In the Texas borderlands, we tread vast landscapes under immense skies.  The farther from towns and highways and power lines you go, the larger the land; the farther you go from city lights and pollution, the broader the sky.  Drive a few miles from any Far West Texas community and you find yourself alone with Nature, and out here, Nature is a wild giant, equally prepared to entertain you or to kill you.

 

I, of course, prefer to be entertained. And nothing entertains me more than rounding a corner onto wild country.

 

The Marfa Highlands, a high desert plateau flanked by Texas mountain ranges sprawl across waving grasslands sparsely dotted with yucca, sunburned prickly pear and languid cattle. It’s beautiful country, and with such broad horizons, it’s hard to imagine its borders drop hundreds of feet into the wilderness home of that giant, where Pinto Canyon sinks beneath Chinati Peak and runs toward the Rio Grande in a breath-taking series of sheer cliffs and rolling mountain meadows.

The land is privately owned. In Texas, we respect that. But so long as you don’t leave the road, you’re not trespassing. The two land rural road narrows to one lane of packed dirt that becomes impassable if it rains. As it winds down to the Rio Grande, the “road” gets a little harrowing. There’s no phone service, and you are very much alone with that wild giant. Have a flat tire, and you’d better be able to fix it yourself. In this part of the desert southwest, if you break down and start hiking, you very well might die of exposure, or thirst, or snakebite before the next truck happens along to save you. This country takes for granted that those who travel its back roads have survival skills to back up their adventures. But it’s an artist’s dream landscape. Drive toward the big river late in the day, when sunset splashes a rainbow of color across the borderlands, and you have yourself a painting. Enjoy!

Artists note: I chose a high grade, roughly textured linen canvas for my painting of this rough country. Successive layers of transparent color helped me show the complexity of this wild canyon, and add the glow of that Texas sunset to my large oil painting. Fun to paint…hope you find pleasure looking at it. Visit my website to see more views of Far West Texas and the desert southwest.

$7500

Currently available at Old Spanish Trail Gallery & Museum outside Fort Davis, TX

custom framing by Midland Framing and Fine Arts, Midland, TX

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Dawn Bloom and Ghostly West Texas Enchantments

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DAWN  BLOOM  18″ x 38″ pastel  Lindy Cook Severns

The Chisos Mountains of Big Bend National Park rise without warning from the harsh Texas borderlands. No other mountains in the continental USA dare extend so far south, so deeply into the Chihuahuan Desert. Few other Texas peaks so boldly pierce the sky.

Some say the name “Chisos” comes from a Native American word for “ghost”; others insist the mountain range’s namesake is the Spanish hechizos, “enchantment”.  Whatever the source of their name, these ghost mountains enchant the spirit.

At daybreak, the mountains shimmer with the special magic of desert mornings. In the desert, sunrise marks a time of grace, a respite from the night’s bitter cold and the day’s brutal sun. We drove up on them one October morning just as the yellow light of dawn seeped into the sky behind the line of mystic-blue peaks. Around a small bend in the seemingly endless park road from Marathon to Panther Junction, a party of Texas-tall sagebrush ambushed us. Every gray sagebrush wore a headdress of lilac blossoms, and the crisp air was giddy with fragrance.

We pulled off the deserted road, parked and spent some time captive to the enchanting blue-on-blue spirit mountains, soft yellow sunlight and aromatic sagebrush tossing bouquets of violet into the sky. Not a bad way to start the day.

When I paint a landscape such as this, I try to recapture the moment. I paint the feel of soft sunlight warming the desert after the night cold-soaked it, the pungent aroma released when you brush against shoulder-high sagebrush, the awe inspired by mountains bravely linking heaven and earth. When you look at this large pastel painting, I hope you feel that enchantment.

Ghosts can be friendly.  Pause. Savor the moment and let these ancient elders shimmer into your spirit.

Purple Chisos at dawn from Old Ore Rd

A different view of sunrise on the Chisos Mountains, this one from near Bouquillas Canyon. Ghost mountains only reveal their colors to those who take time to savor them!

See more enchanting visions from Big Bend National Park and Far West Texas on my website any time of day.

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Untamed Texas Sky

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UNTAMED TEXAS SKY  16″ x  20″ pastel  Lindy Cook Severns 2017

Spend any time in West Texas, and the sky will become a character in your life story. In the remote ranch country of the Texas mountains, even a clear blue sky is larger than life, and its vast sweep over the vast land can overwhelm you.  So when thunderstorms build and billow and rumble over the mountains, the wild sky is impossible to ignore.

Lightning strikes spark wildfires that rush across mountains so rugged, fire fighters often must stand by and watch flames run until the fire burns through all its fuel. Hail batters tender plants; reckless wind thrashes through the pines and uproots brittle oaks.

Yet we sunburned, wind-parched West Texans yearn for such skies, even as we fear them. The high desert is always thirsty. Raindrops are precious visitors: If they come with fearful baggage, so be it. We’re tough out here, willing to take the bad with the good.

The stormy West Texas sky is something more than weather, though. It is beautiful, so breathtakingly lovely, artists and photographers travel here just to experience the ever-changing panorama of blue. As for those of us who live under it, the beauty of the untamed Texas sky makes up for its wild ways.  The West Texas sky churns with the unpredictable energy of Life. The hand of God.

That life force at work is what I try to show when I paint a storm building over the mountains. That’s what I seek to share with you. Enjoy!

To see more of my skyscapes and desert landscape paintings, visit my website http://lindycseverns.com

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Dancing in Pinon

 

Hummingbirds begin arriving in the Davis Mountains of Far West Texas in early spring, after their annual winterfest down south. These early birds are often solo acts, so we get excited when we spot one. The feeder gets streaked with algae and mold long before these scattered travelers empty the sugar water my husband so thoughtfully provides them. Jim obediently cleans their feeder for them, so they hang around, delighting us with their energetic flights.

A few more appear in June. Jim grumbles, but hangs a second feeder for them. Come July, we’ll watch three or four hummers politely dining together while others hover in a holding pattern, waiting their turn at their favorite feeder.

In late July, all hell breaks loose around here. The Rufous clan arrives in a colorful frenzy, and there goes the neighborhood. Rufous hummingbirds are feisty, athletic fliers who don’t believe sharing nor, in waiting in line. Our African Grey parrot delights in watching their antics outside his window. (While he’s a bit offended when they buzz around his red tail feathers, he forgives his tiny avian cousins enough to go into mourning when they migrate back to Central America each autumn.)

One August morning, with assorted species of happy hummers practicing their aerobatic maneuvers through pine branches overhead, I grabbed my camera, squeezed against the tree trunk and started snapping shots. Most weren’t very good shots. (I’m an artist, not a photographer.) Out of a hundred photos, less than a third even had a hummer visible. (Thank goodness for digital photography!) But by pretending to be a tree trunk while holding down the shutter button, I got a pretty good sense of what it is to be a hummingbird, swooping and soaring, looping and diving through velvety green pine boughs on a lovely summer morning, on a lovely mountainside.

The lovely thing about being an artist is, I can create something out of not much. So, while my photo of these little creatures is a color-smudged blur, in my painting, the hummers are dancing their rapidly beating hearts out, celebrating another splendid summer here in the Texas mountains. As am I.

Be a hummingbird today: Dance like nobody’s watching, then sip as much sweetness as you dare.

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DANCING IN PINON   5″ x 7″ pastel by Lindy Cook Severns 2016

To see more of my paintings from the Davis Mountains and beyond, visit my website http://LindyCSeverns.com

 

 

 

 

 

Sunset’s Mountain Majesty

Visual familiarity breeds complacency in artists, as well as in “normal” people. We see, we appreciate, then we go forth in search of something new to see. I’m often as guilty of doing that as anyone else. I have a chronic case of wanderlust.

The difference, in my case, is that I live in a scenic canyon in one of the most stunningly dramatic parts of America. (People travel from foreign countries to spend their precious vacation time driving the 20 mile route we take to the post office.) I enjoy 360 degree beauty every single day, yet I don’t always paint those days. Artists love experiencing a novel, unanticipated new view of life, and I’m no exception. The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence for me, as well as for all the constantly wandering cattle hereabouts.

And yet…I never go a day without a quiet gasp of delight when I see a patch of morning light illuminate just one rock cliff on the mountain we call “home”, or watch the midday sun wash the deep, rowdy reds of the volcanic boulders tumbling down its face a gentle salmon color. I don’t jump up and down and scream or anything–I simply stop what I’m doing, thinking, feeling for a heartbeat or two and savor the amazing beauty of the world around me.  But do I paint it?

Perhaps to apologize to Brown Mountain for the neglect it must feel, having an artist around who has painted Blue Mountain, Sawtooth, Livermore…Big Bend National Park…Hill Country…even western Canada more than she’s painted big Brown, one day in late spring I ordered the biggest Gessobord panel I could fit into our truck after framing. (See the science behind my artistic choices at work here?) And, while waiting for said archival board to arrive, I started courting Brown Mountain. Artist seeking a serious painting relationship. Loves big canvases. Will paint in oils. Adores splashy sunsets on volcanic mountains. No smoking, please.

Before FedEx dropped my board off the truck (and I mean Literally Dropped) Brown Mountain responded. Without any modesty, the mountain stood there, naked under one of our big West Texas sunsets waiting for me to snap some glamour shots. Which I did.

I went back and ordered a few more pricey tubes of Holbein’s professional oil paints, luminous colors worthy of my summer love, Brown Mountain, which is actually red most of the time. And I started painting the mountain I see every day from my “driveway”, our road to anywhere.

Oils drive me a bit crazy because I generally use a traditional technique of applying a layer of paint, letting it dry, then applying a thin glaze (a wash) of transparent color over that. Again and again. While the actual time at my easel is about the same for an oil or a pastel, the drying cycles of an oil pretty much take forever. A big oil takes a little longer than that. I found myself finally finishing this oil landscape painting Sunday afternoon, July 3rd, and had an appointment in Midland with my framer on Tuesday, so after church, I pulled a six or seven hour final session at my easel, applying glazes and teensy details like stems of grass. It’s the most fun stage for me, other maybe than starting a painting.

As I painted, I mulled over titles. Sometimes I have the title before I begin, but not on this one with its intimately familiar subject. I like my title to give the viewer not only a path to enter a painting on, but also, a tiny insight into my soul, into my inspiration. I lose sleep thinking up titles. Humming “America The Beautiful”, the rousing patriotic poem we’d sung as our closing hymn at First Presbyterian Church in Marfa that morning in honor of the Fourth of July,  I painted one more stem of grass. And suddenly, my painting was complete and I had my title: “Sunset’s Mountain Majesty”

Wanderlust aside, if you are lucky enough to be an artist living on a red volcanic mountain in Far West Texas, land of fiery sunsets who really needs to travel just to see some purple mountain’s majesty? Not me.

Thanks, Brown Mountain. This may be the start of something big.

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SUNSET’S MOUNTAIN MAJESTY by Lindy Cook Severns

SUNSET’S MOUNTAIN MAJESTY

30″ x 40″ oil on archival panel by Lindy Cook Severns 2016

$10,500

Old Spanish Trail Gallery and Museum, Fort Davis, Texas

This original oil painting was custom framed by Ramon Gonzales, Midland Framing and Fine Arts, Midland, Texas

 

 

 

The Earth, The Sky and the Mountain Between

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THE EARTH, THE SKY AND THE MOUNTAIN BETWEEN  12″ x 16″ pastel Lindy Cook Severns 2016

 

THE EARTH, THE SKY AND THE MOUNTAIN BETWEEN

Mitre Peak rises from semi-arid ranchland outside Alpine, Texas. The landmark mountain, which is shaped more than less like a child’s drawing of a mountain, gives its name to the popular  camp beneath it. My sister attended Mitre Peak Girl Scout Camp every summer from the time she was six. Kat completed her scouting years in the high desert of Far West Texas a counselor, then went on to attend Rice, a verdant green campus but with no horses grazing the grounds. She’s traveled the world, lives in the mountains above Calgary now, and if you ask her for her short list of favorite places on earth, “Mitre Peak” will spring from her lips right in there with “Paris”. To those who know it, the mountain holds magic.

That mystical pull of the mountain is what I wanted to share in this pastel landscape painting. The sky, as if auditioning to be a backdrop for a Hollywood blockbuster, wears the colors of the setting sun; wildflowers and Indian summer grasses flash like jewels displayed on brown velvet earth. But it is the mountain, Mitre Peak, with its simple, stereotypical mountain silhouette that lures you into this painting. The bishop’s hat of a mountain, with its vow of silent mystery, unites the earth and the sky into a place we call “Far West Texas.”

And I call Far West Texas, “home”.

The least I can do is paint it.

See this painting and other Big Bend country and Far West Texas landscapes on my website, Old Spanish Trail Studio, and at the Museum of the Big Bend on the Sul Ross campus in Alpine, TX during the 30th Trappings of Texas Invitational Fine Western Art and Gear Exhibit mid-April thru mid-May 2016. (During the exhibit, contact head curator Mary Bones for more information about this original pastel painting.) {SOLD!}

 

 

 

 

 

 

An Untold Story

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AN UNTOLD STORY      7″ x 14″ pastel landscape painting copyright Lindy Cook Severns | on this winter morning in the Texas desert we explored adobe ruins and watched fog creep across the Chisos Mountains

 

On a foggy winter morning years ago, we came upon adobe ruins outside Big Bend National Park. As ruins go, they weren’t the Parthenon. Even back then, not much remained of the weather-worn homestead. Sand banked into the corners of low, crumbled walls; the skeletons of interior bricks suggested a narrow second room. A break in the earthen walls marked where the single door once opened, a trailing of low brick suggested a modest courtyard or perhaps, a room that was never completed. Crumbling adobe brick framing the bare, wind-swept floor were the only indications that this ruin had ever been any different than the hard-packed desert soil surrounding it.

Yet, it was different. You could just sense that. It once was a home. A refuge scratched from the desert, each brick shaped by someone’s hand. (There are no home improvement stores in the wilds of the Chihuahuan Desert.) Most likely the man–or man and woman–whoever built the modest dwelling had also crafted the brick for it out of the very dirt it rests on.

It’s isolated, remote, even by desert standards. No other structures within miles. “They” certainly would’ve had to haul in water, and haul it a very long way over very difficult terrain. There’s a trickle of a spring a few miles away, but to reach that, you temporarily surrender your life to fate and hike a narrow trail above a deep, rocky draw. They would’ve lived without heat in the winter, and with little local fuel to feed a fire. They certainly would’ve worked under the blazing Texas sun without as much as a fan in the brutal desert summer. If they had children, they would’ve warned them to beware of rattlers, cougars, coyotes and falling to their death from those treacherous cliffs. Heaven only knows how they scraped out a living, even back in the days before overgrazing destroyed the tall grasses. It was a hard, hard life for whoever lived there.

Grey on adobe ruins Jan 2016

African Grey Parrots are not indigenous to the Chihuahuan Desert, but even our resident animals sense the mystery of Place.

A friend who joined us there this year asked if we knew “story”. We don’t. Perhaps someone knows it, but as far as we tourists are concerned, the story is untold.

Who built it? Whoever he/she/ they were, they had the soul of an artist. The vanishing ruins rest beneath awe-inspiring cliffs; the adobe foundation overlooks the mystical Chisos Mountains. Stand inside that foundation, and you can catch a sunrise that will steal your breath. Stand there long enough, and sunset will stop your heart. Stand silently, and the desert speaks to you. Whoever the story belongs to would’ve heard it. Would’ve appreciated the stark, lonely beauty of that place. Was that beauty enough compensation for the struggle to survive in the desert?

I believe life is so interconnected, not only do we absorb the spirit of places, but places absorb the life force of those who walk that ground. Places speak without words, share their stories, share them with little encouragement to those who will listen. You may not be able to decipher the history being recounted. You can’t even get a good photo of those ruins anymore. Each wet spell in the desert dissolves yet another row of adobe. Earth to earth… even in the desert, nothing lasts forever. But their story remains, in every crumbling adobe brick, every echo off those high rock cliffs, every wisp of fog floating from the distant mountains. And so, I return, year after year, to hear it, and to whisper “Vaya con Dios, mi amigo… and thank you for your hospitality…whoever you were…”

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In painting “An Untold Story”, a miniature pastel on a 7″ x 14″ archival board, I chose the long narrow format so I could hint at the vast sweep of sky and Chisos mountains that the residents of these crumbling adobe ruins would’ve seen each morning when they stepped out the now non-existent doorway into the desert.

To check the availability of this pastel painting, or to see more of my Big Bend landscape paintings from Far West Texas, visit Old Spanish Trail Studio, my website.

Midland Framing and Fine Arts, Midland, TX does the exquisite custom framing I use on my original landscape paintings.

The Rusty Rabbit, Alpine TX currently hangs this one! (Jan. 20, 2016) Contact the gallery, or contact me for more information.

 

Lighting the Desert Night

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“Lighting the Desert Night” is a soft pastel on archival sanded paper measures a whopping 5.5″ x 10″ of pure color from a genuine Terlingua, Texas sunset. Lindy Cook Severns 2016, inspired artist and happy traveler.

Color has always been a sidekick of mine. As a preschooler, the most splendid gift I could receive was a box of crayons, and the bigger the assortment, the better. No wonder I’m now a painter. I still own that same passion for color, but these days, I use significantly pricier paints. I buy only the highest quality of pigments and papers and canvases.

Yet owning good  art supplies doesn’t assure good art. Good art, like good anything, comes from practice. Good, thoughtful, quality practice. Painting only becomes effortless when you paint all the time. Even then, there are days where every blessed stroke that goes onto a canvas is a smear of hard-won color. Happily, I’ve never been one to anguish over my art. (It is what it is. And then, on to my next painting.) I have very few frustrating creative moments. Life is too short to get all moody and upset over creating something.

Practice yields painting proficiency, but fine art, art that connects with the  viewer and elicits emotion that can’t be expressed in words is about more than proficient technique. I think of any creation that pulls the viewer in and holds them there as “soul-filling art”.

To fill someone else’s soul, an artist must first fill her own. That’s where inspiration comes in. I don’t wait for inspiration. Day after day, I hike down to my studio, mount a piece of paper to my drawing board and I start painting. Something. Anything. I go there to create, not to sit and ponder inspiration for a few precious hours that could be spent creating, so I carry inspiration with me.

Owning the right supplies is useful to the creative process. Owning inspiration is essential to it. I store inspiration like a squirrel stores nuts.

We spend several inspirational winter weeks in and around Big Bend National Park, where the weather is milder than back on our lovely but chilly Davis Mountains mountainside in a canyon where sunset happens at four in the afternoon. Living in our (large and cozy!) fifth-wheel allows us to slow down, to savor a place.

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Lindy and Jim Severns, with feathered and furry family Christmas Eve 2015 outside Big Bend National Park, a good place to soak up inspiration.

One of our joys when parked in Terlingua is sitting in lawn chairs outside the RV, sipping wine (each of us with an animal in our lap) and watching the sun set on the desert. I’ll snap a few photos, but I don’t paint during our “family time” : I savor it. I absorb the light and color and the silence of the stark Chihuahuan Desert as night approaches. I feel the instant chill that seeps into my bones the moment the sun disappears. I feel the contentment of being with my husband in a lovely place. I add all that to my hoard of inspirational nuts.

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Small dog, big desert.

I painted “Lighting the Desert Night” at our small dining table inside the  RV parked on hard-packed earth so crusted with alkaline mineral deposits, you’d swear the ground was covered with an inch of snow. I used a scrap of Kitty Wallis museum grade pastel paper I found in my plein air easel. (Hence the odd size — 5 1/2″ x 10″ is not a standard size canvas, but what a perfect format for a panoramic sunset in miniature!) The new color-rich Terry Ludwig set of 60 sunrise/sunset pastel sticks I’d ordered and just picked up (c/o General Delivery, Terlingua, Texas) at the local Post Office was sitting on the table, the safest place for it until I return to my studio and organize the fragile, precious sticks in the protective boxes I keep set up on a long table by my easel.

Pastel Sticks lined up in my studio

Pastel Sticks lined up in my studio, each in their assigned foam-lined slot

Pastels are horribly messy to work on when done flat, but I didn’t set up my wonderfully useful Soltek travel easel, because it was stored in our “basement” and I didn’t want to step outside in the uncharacteristically dreary damp cold that January morning to get it. (I can be lazy.) Itching to create something, I simply got on with painting, using what I had on hand–an odd scrap of really good paper, a new box of luscious but limited color, a photo on my phone, and a soul filled with inspiration.

 

 

Thank you, Jim, Chert, Greystoke, companions in my travels; thank you, Nature, Beauty, God. Thank you, viewers, readers, collectors.

And Happy New Year!

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Buy Lindy Cook Severns Original Art at OldSpanishTrailStudio.com

 

 

 

 

 

At My Easel Before Artwalk Alpine 2015

Most days this fall, I’ve stood at my easel, painting, painting. Painting!

Lindy Cook Severns at easel 2015

I spend much of my time alone at my easel. Exhibits like Artwalk afford me a chance to share the stories behind my paintings and to hear how viewers relate to my art.

I paint steadily year ’round, but as the year winds down, I always feel compelled to finish just one more painting, to create one more piece to round out my year’s body of work. That compulsion is, in part psychological– I catalog every original in chronological order for each calendar year, and I’m never content to call a painting the last for the year.  Plus, autumn is a delightful time to paint. Diffused light fills my studio, the temperature is balmy and the mountains are at their finest.  As days grow short and the cottonwoods grow golden, life as an artist is sweet.

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My painting “theme” for 2015 has been “different strokes”. I’ve stepped out of my usual landscapes to paint wildflowers, green meadows, animals. And I’ve alternated a few oils with my pastel paintings. Fun for me, and I hope, fun for you.

My fall painting frenzy is also a necessity. For over two decades, on the weekend before Thanksgiving the West Texas village of Alpine, Texas becomes one large art gallery and music stage. This is my tenth Artwalk Alpine.  Artwalk allows me to personally show new work to friends and strangers, some of whom will become friends as Jim and I visit with them beside my paintings.

The Open Range Fine Art in Alpine features Lindy Cook Severns

The Open Range Fine Western, Southwestern and Wildlife Art features my paintings year ’round and during Alpine Artwalk each fall

This year, I’m privileged to be a featured artist in two local galleries. (And yes, that means I had to work twice as hard!) My uncommon dual representation came about when a Marathon gallery, The Rusty Rabbit, moved to Alpine, where The Open Range Fine Western, Southwestern and Wildlife Art has hung my originals for the past five years.  Both gallery owners are top notch folks who play well with others. So, now I have original paintings in two places, not only during Artwalk but all year long.  I’m one lucky, busy artist.

Lindy Cook Severns paintings at The Rusty Rabbit Alpine TX

My Big Bend, Davis Mountains and Far West Texas landscape paintings hang at The Rusty Rabbit in Alpine. 2015 marks the Rabbit’s first Artwalk!

My art at The Open Range is peppered with windmills, ranch scenes, wildlife, with a few southwestern landscapes filling out the walls. The Rusty Rabbit hangs landscape paintings of Big Bend, the Davis Mountains and Far West Texas.  Both galleries offer a small collection of my remarques, unique hand-repainted fine art prints. (Also, Front Street Books, across the street from The Rusty Rabbit there on East Holland, stocks my Big Bend Artist Notecards and bookmarks and a handful of affordable mini-prints.)

If you’re in the area, stop in and see us, one place or the other. Jim and I will be out at The Open Range on Thursday for their annual invitational preview party (email me for information on that) .  We’ll be at The Rusty Rabbit both Friday and Saturday nights. We’ll drift in and out of both locations throughout the day on Friday and Saturday. If you miss us, ask the gallery owner to track us down for you.

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Jim woke me one Davis Mountain morning shouting “You have to see this sunrise!”. That’s how new paintings are born.

This your chance to see my new art. While my galleries, and my husband are forever grateful for all sales of fine art originals, you don’t have to buy a thing. This is MY chance to step away from the seclusion of my easel to share my art with you. Hope you can make it!

THE OPEN RANGE FINE ART     2707 E Hwy 90  (across from McCoy’s) 

THE RUSTY RABBIT   201 E Holland Ave. (across from Front Street Books)

ARTWALK ALPINE 2015

Friday, November 20 & Saturday, November 21

10:00 a.m. til 9:00 p.m. each day

  • Contact me  about the Preview Reception at The Open Range Thursday, November 19

Blatant advertising:  Art makes a lasting gift, and Christmas is coming soon! (Jim and the two galleries will appreciate me mentioning this fact.)