Steamboat artist combines love of nature, art in latest exhibit

Lance Whitner's paintings will be featured this week at the Pine Moon Fine Art Gallery in Steamboat Springs. (Photo by John F. Russell)

As last winter’s snow melted away, local artist Lance Whitner hopped on her gravel bike, armed with a sketchpad and paints, to explore and capture her surroundings for her latest solo exhibition, “Views from my Bike.” The show will open this Friday during First Friday Artwalk at Pine Moon Fine Art.

Her collection began when the SBT GRVL bike race invited her to create a painting to commemorate this year’s race. Since March, Whitner has been biking and painting, constructing what is her largest collection to date.

“This collection is special as it fuses Lance’s artistry, athleticism and love of being in nature,” said Dani Steeves, Pine Moon gallerist. “She has been training all summer to ride in the SBT GRVL race Aug. 15, and the race promotes a connection between recreation, agriculture and conservation in the lands around us. Lance is the perfect artist to convey this with her emotive, colorful paintings and sketches.”

For Whitner, this collection represents the ability to push herself out of her comfort zone and her goal to create something different.

If you go

What: Lance Whitner solo exhibition “Views from my Bike

Where: Pine Moon Fine Art, 117 Ninth St.

When: 5-8 p.m. Friday (the exhibit will be on display for the month of August)

Cost: Free

“This project offered an opportunity for growth because I was pushing myself to think about how much work I could create and how I could do it on a bike instead of in my studio,” Whitner said. “I was just curious; I wanted to figure out how I could step into the two things that I love: making art and riding my bike.”

An avid nature lover, Whitner has an emotional pull to the outdoors, which is often reflected in her paintings. This collection features bright scenes of gravel roads with colorful wildflowers and familiar landscapes like Hahn’s Peak in the background.

Toting her art supplies with her on her bike, Whitner created small paintings outside, which she then took back to her studio where she translated many of them onto larger canvases.

Lance Whitner's paintings will be featured this week at the Pine Moon Fine Art Gallery in Steamboat Springs. (Photo by John F. Russell)

“When you’re painting outside,” she explained, “it’s fast; you’re considering the weather, the light, the time of day and when you need to get home. It’s less edited than a studio painting. I found it really interesting to see what happens outside, and I really enjoyed the process.”

As a self-taught painter, her work reflects a style that is all her own, a fact that has remained important to her throughout the years.

“I’m appreciative of all the artists who have come before me and opened the door for me, but I don’t want to paint like anyone else,” she said. “I appreciate the ‘rules,’ but I don’t necessarily want to follow them.”

Painting by Lance Whitner (Photo by John F. Russell)

She describes herself as a colorist. Bright hues are usually the thing that grabs her attention as she rides. In this collection, she explored a more abstract style through the gravel roads, not trying to paint each rock but instead, lending to the idea of a road. She also chose to incorporate bike riders into several of the pieces, something that she has shied away from in the past.

Her hope is that people will connect with the paintings and feel a sense of familiarity.

“It’s a celebration of the things that make us feel good in life,” she said. “I want people to be able to respond to the landscape and experience a memory or feel a sense of joy.”

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