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Quick draw

Plein air painters have one week to capture the Yampa Valley on canvas

¤ Rocky Mountain Plein Air Painters fine art exhibition and sale

¤ 5 p.m. today, opening reception; 10 a.m. to noon Saturday, quick draw and silent auction

¤ Opening reception is at the Wild Horse Gallery in Sheraton Steamboat Resort; quick draw and silent auction are on the courthouse lawn

¤ Free

¤ 879-7660

Plein air painter Darcie Peet drove 400 miles around the Yampa Valley this week as part of her homework.

“I’m looking for that perfect spot with the right combo of shapes and lights,” Peet said. “I love to explore and get to know the country before I paint.”

¤ Rocky Mountain Plein Air Painters fine art exhibition and sale

¤ 5 p.m. today, opening reception; 10 a.m. to noon Saturday, quick draw and silent auction



¤ Opening reception is at the Wild Horse Gallery in Sheraton Steamboat Resort; quick draw and silent auction are on the courthouse lawn

¤ Free



¤ 879-7660

She has been waking up at 5 a.m. every day to be on location when the sun is rising, a time of day that provides her with long shadows and rich colors.

Peet is one of 36 plein air painters from across the country who are here for the week as signature members and invited guests of the Rocky Mountain Plein Air Painters. They had one week to create three paintings on location anywhere between Yampa and Columbine to submit to an exhibit today at Wild Horse Gallery.

Some painters will complete 20 works.

“It only takes two hours to paint because of the changing light,” said Jeanne Mackenzie, founding member of the Rocky Mountain Plein Air Painters. “Some do a new painting every 15 minutes. They can do two to four paintings a day, which gives them quite a few to choose from for the show.”

During the week, there are organized artist dinners, picnics and a llama pack trip in which artists go on a 6.5-mile round trip hike to lakes at the bottom of Mount Zirkel Wilderness Area.

“Everybody has different things they are excited about,” Mackenzie said. “Whether it be hay bales, rivers or high peaks, there are a lot of subjects to gravitate to.”

At 10 a.m. Saturday, there will be a quick draw in which painters have two hours to complete a painting within a two-block radius of the Routt County Courthouse. There will be still-life displays and three models on the courthouse lawn for artists to paint, as well.

“Two hours for me is a long quick draw, because when you are under pressure, you know you have to get it done,” Mackenzie said. “When they say ‘Ready, set, go,’ your adrenaline goes, and people walk by and are watching you. You get the feeling you have to perform.”

Although it may take artists only two hours to complete paintings, their speed comes with a lifetime of experience, Peet said.

“Think of all the years of constant practice,” she said. “It’s the technique and sequence of how you lay paint on the canvas that really helps you accomplish that.”

There will be an hour-long silent auction at noon immediately after the quick-draw event. Some of the proceeds will go to Yampa Valley Land Trust, which had given artists permission to go to local pioneer ranches during the week.

“What’s exciting about the quick draw is seeing how different and varied the brush strokes are, and the subjects and interpretation,” Mackenzie said.

The Rocky Mountain Plein Air Painters organize weeklong events such as this one as a way to introduce plein air painting to different communities and to encourage socializing among members.

“Artists can be very solitary when working by yourself in a studio,” Mackenzie said. “When you come to exhibits, you find other artists that love to paint art from life, and you see their impressions and interests and get to see your artist friends from out of state.”

Coming to this event was not a tough decision for Peet.

“It’s a group I feel a lot of camaraderie and professional ties to,” she said. “Coming here for me was about the diversity of learning about the country, the sheer adventure and sense of discovery, and being able to add a painting to that.”


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