Steamboat mom of 4 is “artist to watch” |

Steamboat mom of 4 is “artist to watch”

Frances Hohl/For Steamboat Today

A glimpse into the home life of First Friday’s Artist of the Month Missy Borden as she pushes forward with an art career left neglected for years amid personal chaos. Catch her in person from 5 to 8 p.m. Friday at the Center for Visual Arts during downtown Steamboat’s monthly artwork.

A glimpse into the home life of First Friday's Artist of the Month Missy Borden as she pushes forward with an art career left neglected for years amid personal chaos. Catch her in person from 5 to 8 p.m. Friday at the Center for Visual Arts during downtown Steamboat's monthly artwork.

"Life is what happens to you while you're busy making plans." — John Lennon

For Missy Borden, life kept relegating her artistic dreams to the back burner … a shattering car accident in high school, escaping with alcohol and drugs, an unplanned pregnancy in college, motherhood, marriage, laundry.

"The way I parent is very similar to the way I paint," said the quiet but thoughtful Steamboat Springs mother/stepmother of four.

"I sort of let everything happen and deal with the messes or mistakes afterward," Borden said.

Running a household with a bevy of children, the slender 28-year-old brunette may have given up on her teenage dreams of a formal art education, but not art.

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"Now that my youngest child is 2, I'm beginning to feel free to explore what my life might look like if I became a full-time artist," Borden said, sitting in her messy art studio off of 13th Street.

An incredible sketch artist, Borden has gone from painting in oil to now doing acrylic. Early teachers led her from pure realism to dabbling in abstract art.

Her current paintings, with their chaotic expressive strokes, are different.

While Borden lacks formal training except for some school and college classes, her art teachers are amazed at her natural talent.

"She's just this unusual gem that has a talent that so many people wish they had," said artist and former professor MB Warner, who now takes on private students.

"Her work has grown exponentially in six months. She's gone from great to stellar. Invest now in her work," Warner advised.

Warner is the type of mentor Borden needs.

A natural introvert, prone to depression, the young artist is heartened by the advice of more experienced artists and gallery staffers.

"I'm scared to open up to people,” Borden said. “I'm never going to be an extrovert, but I feel more ready to say who I am.”

Her biggest step so far — penning a letter to the First Friday Artwalk committee about her life and art in hopes of becoming an artist of the month. Borden's talent caught the eye of Artwalk founder Linda Laughlin. Borden was chosen as artist of the month for February's First Friday Artwalk.

Artist and business owner Keri Searls is one of Borden's former art teachers. Searls encourages students to seek art education outside of the Yampa Valley, especially contemporary artists like Borden.

"She's a highly intelligent person and most of her work has a lot of meaning to it, though not many people can't see it from the outside," Searls said.

Conquering her natural fear of the outside world, Borden has taken Searls, Warner and Laughlin's encouragement to heart.

"I want to try and go to Denver, put out some portfolios, get some exhibitions in a big city," she said.

In the meantime, Borden's work remains in flux, much the way she sees her home life.

"The dishes overflow the sink, and the laundry baskets fill to the brim before I race to get it all cleaned up and put away. I allow the paint to run down the canvas, and the water get murky before it begs to be dumped and filled anew," she writes poetically in the art journal that helps her put brush to canvas.

Where Borden sees chaos, her mentors see potential.

"She's going places with her art and who she is," Warner said. "She's finding her way. She's an artist to watch."

Borden will be chatting with art lovers in person during First Friday Artwalk from 5 to 8 p.m. Friday, Feb. 3 at the Center for Visual Arts, 837 Lincoln Ave.

Pick up a brochure and map for all the artists showing in downtown galleries, restaurants and shops.

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