Watercolor painter featured artist of the month in Breckenridge
IF YOU GO
What: “Wildlife & Nature,” by Emily Wahl
When: Reception is Saturday, June 11, 4-8 p.m.; exhibit on display throughout the month of June
Where: Arts Alive, La Cima Mall, 500 S. Main St., Breckenridge
More information on Emily: emilywahlgallery.com
When Emily Wahl first began to pursue the arts, it was the cathartic process of sketching and painting that helped her deal with a demanding travel schedule as an executive with a software company. She began by taking art classes and workshops, studying watercolor as a passionate pastime. Now retired, she has dedicated herself to her artwork, creating paintings inspired by nature and the people around her. Inspired by the “simple things,” she says, and the desire to capture a single moment in life.
She’s the featured artist at Arts Alive Gallery for the month of June, showcasing her exhibit, “ Wildlife & Nature.” There will be a reception for her work on Saturday, June 11 from 4–8 p.m. at the Arts Alive Gallery in Breckenridge.
For this exhibit, Wahl said wildlife was a new subject for her, but she thrives challenging herself with different subjects and styles.
“For me, the art is about not just expression, but also continuous learning, and continuous experimentation,” she said while sitting next to her exhibit at the gallery. “And that doesn’t always mean it has to be good, that’s not the point of it. The point of it is to let the paint and the medium take you wherever it’s taking you.”
Wahl, who works in water-based mediums, teaches classes once or twice a month on the Arts District Campus with Breckenridge Creative Arts. She can be found working with the Women of Watercolor and will be out plein air painting in the summer. For several years, she has also painted for the Wild About Colorado fundraising event for Continental Divide Land Trust.
Her painting “Rhapsody in Breckenridge” was recently chosen by the Breckenridge Music Festival for the 2016 Poster Series, and she also had another piece selected by the Summit County Garden Club for its 2016 Garden Poster.
Summit Daily News: How long have you lived in Summit County, and why did you move here?
Emily Wahl: We relocated here two years ago once I retired. We’ve been coming here about 30 years, and we’ve owned a residence here for about 10 years. … We are from the Northeast, and we started coming here when we lived up in New York, and we just love it. It’s interesting because I am a big city girl, of New York, and then I lived in Dallas, and then I lived in Houston. So this was a big adjustment for me. But it’s been a very positive adjustment. First of all, it’s a great art town, it just has a lot of offer; we have found it very easy to meet people. We love the fact that everyone is active, all ages, so that’s really fun. … So it’s been a good change. — definitely the weather has been an adjustment for me. … I’m used to beaches and water and not what we have here.
SDN: How did you first get into painting, and what kind of background do you have in it?
EW: I don’t have a painting background; I am a French literature major. I went to school at Cornell University, in Ithaca, New York. I also did not get to pursue my French literature — when I graduated from college, I actually went into technology, and I went to work for IBM and I worked for IBM for 17 years; I started out as an assistant engineer, then I went into sales and marketing positions. … After 17 years with IBM, I went to another technology company, which was headquartered in Houston called BMC Software, and I went into their marketing organization and then worldwide operations. … My job required me to travel extensively around the world, that was great. I’ve always enjoyed the arts, I wasn’t taught in the arts, but my travels always included visits to museums; when my second son was born, I decided to start taking art classes at night. … I started with watercolor classes. And what I found is it became an easy thing for me to travel with. I had these long airplane flights … and I could sketch and just kind of play, and, when I would be taking a walk early in the morning, I would sketch something. And that’s how it started. … Probably about seven years ago got more serious with it, I started to take drawing classes and really try focus on the skills and techniques. Now that I’m retired, I get to do it more often.
SDN: Do you have a favorite subject to paint?
EW: I love painting landscapes, but I also love painting urbanscapes — scenes of towns, and people walking, people in cafes, people experiencing life, whatever it is. … I love abstract work; it’s not something I’ve studied a lot, but I do paint abstracts. I kind of feel I’m a little bit broad, which is a challenge for an artist, but, for me, that’s who I am. And I’m not like that just in my art; I’m like that in many things. … There is a lot to learn.
SDN: What inspires you when it comes to your art?
EW: Lots of different things inspire me. When I’m outside, I think what inspires me more is nature. It’s there — no one put it there. I think sometimes we miss out on that. I think sometimes we are so rushed in our lives that we miss the real simple things. The way the leaves fall on the ground, or the way the stream flows over the rocks, and the sound it makes. I love painting near water because I love the rush of the water and how you can hear it rustling through branches and rocks and stones. To me, it’s the fact that it’s there. We look around here and see this fantastic mountain, and it’s just sitting there for someone to enjoy and appreciate. To me, that’s very inspirational. And then when you see people enjoying it — I think that’s why I like urbanscapes — in outdoors, people engaging in each other and enjoying each other’s company, people sharing stories and laughs and cries. The very simple things, but, to me, they tell you a lot about the people … there is a story there. That’s what I love about the art: It tells a story, when you paint it, and it’s very personal to that person or that artist.
SDN: What advice would you give to aspiring artists?
EW: Keep at it. It’s not all going to be good. Especially if you are entering shows — rejection is just a normal part of the course. But keep true to yourself. Don’t paint for other people, paint for yourself. It’s really important, I think. … Learn, experiment — I think that’s a big part of how you grow as an artist and even as a person. Don’t limit yourself, don’t hold yourself back. Keep going at it.
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