Plein air artist’s work recalls Chilean Patagonia before the fire |

Plein air artist’s work recalls Chilean Patagonia before the fire

Erica Marciniec
Summit Daily News

Special to the DailyDavid Grossmann painted Chilean Patagonia before a recent wildfire scorched 40,000 acres of the wilderness area.

“As the fires blaze across Colorado, I remember another time only a few months ago when a different place that I love went up in flames,” said plein air painter David Grossmann, who comes to Summit County’s plein air festival for the first time this weekend.

“Just after my painting/backpacking trip last year to Chilean Patagonia, a wildfire raged through the national park where I had spent 11 days painting,” he said. “The fire took a heavy toll, consuming over 40,000 acres of the wilderness.”

The fire occurred in Torres del Paine National Park and is believed to have been started by a negligent hiker.

“While I was in the park, a forest fire seemed unthinkable, though the environment was harsh in other ways,” Grossmann said. “Between the gusts of wind that were too strong to walk against, snow flurries sweeping into my oil paints and the numbness of my fingers, there were certainly moments when I wondered what I had gotten myself into. But more frequent were the moments when the beauty of the place overwhelmed its harshness.”

Though most of his paintings are inspired by the landscapes of Colorado and the Southwest, the Patagonia work – both the plein air pieces and a Patagonia-inspired series he is currently working on – recall a land that is now black and charred. “They are a tribute to the beauty and frailty of wild places,” said Grossmann, who lived in Chile until age 14 and now resides in Pueblo.

Several of his works are inspired by the sun rising on steep rock formations. “There’s something poignant to me about sunrises and sunsets because they remind me of how fleeting time is and how quickly everything changes,” he said. “The sunrise makes for an interesting parallel with the permanence of the mountains.”

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This will be Grossmann’s first time exploring the wild spaces of Breckenridge, where he anticipates no shortage of inspiration.

“The time I spend painting outdoors allows me to absorb my surroundings at a deeper level than I would otherwise,” Grossmann said of the plein air process. “The sounds and smells and the feeling of knowing a place become part of my paintings.”

For more about the artist, visit or go to the “Wild About Colorado” art show and party tonight at Carter Park to meet him in person.

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