Art on a Whim in Breckenridge hosts artist Cynthia Duff
Ryan Summerlin March 1, 2012
Cynthia Duff’s calling as an artist was evident from an early age. The ways in which she masterfully moves from one medium to the next and weaves through a wide array of subject matters in her work certainly speaks to this fact. Duff’s early memories are dotted with experiences of painting alongside her father and learning the nuances of nature exploring Colorado’s outdoors with the rest of her family. The combination of a strong artistic background and a fascination with the beauty that Colorado has to offer is a constant in Duff’s work to this day.
Every viewer of a Cynthia Duff painting or sculpture is quickly taken by the chemistry of color and rhythm of shape used in her work. Intrigue is ever present when taking in her collection of bent birchwood wall sculptures. Fun is never far from the tip of the tongue when looking at her “Here’s Cheers” series of paintings depicting animals in celebration. Duff’s seamless transition between fun, beautiful, ethereal and abstract makes her show in the Art on a Whim gallery a must-see this weekend.
Duff is perhaps best known for her work in a series she calls “Bent Tones.” These pieces truly pop off of the wall, as each is designed to do just that. Formed from a thin sheet of real birch wood, Duff hand-shapes each piece of wood into a sculpted arch. Every piece is decorated with acrylic wood stains and gold leaf. This combination of materials highlights the beautiful grains present in the woods Duff works with and accents them with the iridescence of the gold she strategically places throughout the sculpture. The concept for this series arose from Duff’s participation in a sculpture show called “beNT.”
While searching for a bent canvas to use for the show Duff decided she would simply create her own. In the process she stumbled upon a series of work that is both completely unique and quintessentially Colorado.
Not content to stick with one series of work, Duff is also highly regarded for a collection of paintings created for the Colorado Mountain Winefest. Of the paintings she created for the Winefest Duff says, “The whimsical images morphed into a whole series of characters celebrating life’s pleasures of friendship and drink.” Whimsical is the perfect word to sum up the good times captured by the creative and colorful brush strokes Duff masterfully applied to this series. With pieces titled “Bubble Bunnies,” “Martini Lizzies” and “Good ‘Ol Dogs” Duff brought to life the human element and party animal present in a whole slew of entertaining species.
Living in Grand Junction for the past six years has presented Duff with a wonderful locale to explore and find inspiration. She says, “”Whether it be on my motorcycle, hiking, skiing, boating, golfing or diving, I am inspired every minute by the sun’s light and how its glow lands on subjects below. I am inspired by God’s spirit and how wonderful each curve and shape, in its own way, dances to music.”
These sentiments shine in her work. It is rare that an artist is so adept at capturing the spirit of the world around her in the multitude of mediums Duff has mastered. Then again, with such an illustrious career to date, we’ve come to expect the vivid, flowing and fun colors and shapes that constantly emanate from the tips of Duff’s brushes.
Duff shows her work Saturday and Sunday in the Art on a Whim gallery in Breckenridge. She will be demonstrating her techniques, as well as showing off a collection of works in her “Bent Tones” and “Here’s Cheers” series.