Breckenridge artist Emily Wahl displays watercolor works at Arts Alive, Yellow Arrow |

Breckenridge artist Emily Wahl displays watercolor works at Arts Alive, Yellow Arrow

Krista Driscoll
“Witch Way,” by Emily Wahl. “When I started this, I didn’t really know what I was going to do with this,” Wahl said. “This is an example where to get that soft treatment of those trees, you use, you know the material you use to make a spider web at Halloween? You use that on the paper — you paint over it, and it makes these very, very soft lines. I do this and then I decide later what I’m going to do with the painting.
Krista Driscoll / |

If you go

What: “Mountain Escapes,” an artist reception and watercolor exhibit with Emily Wahl

When: Reception is 4-8 p.m. Saturday, June 13; the exhibit runs Tuesday, June 30, and the gallery is open from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily

Where: Arts Alive Gallery, 500 S. Main St. in the La Cima Mall, Breckenridge

Cost: Admission is free

More information: Email, call (832) 434-5295 or visit or

What: Artist reception for Emily Wahl

When: 4 p.m. Saturday, June 20; art will hang through the month of June

Where: Yellow Arrow Coffee in the Breckenridge Grand Vacations Community Center, 103 S. Harris St., Breckenridge

Cost: Admission is free

More information: Visit

Breckenridge artist Emily Wahl, Arts Alive Gallery’s Featured Artist of the Month, is exhibiting a collection of original watercolors titled “Mountain Escapes” at the gallery in Breckenridge, with a reception on Saturday, June 13, and at Yellow Arrow Coffee, also in Breckenridge, on Saturday, June 20. Both shows will hang through June.

Wahl paints en plein air and in her studio. On warm days, she is often found tucked under a tree in the shade at the edge of a meadow or beside a hiking trail, sketching and painting her Rocky Mountains surroundings. Raised in New York, she has studied watercolor as a passionate pastime and works in water-based mediums.

She recently retired from her career in technology and is now free to expend more energy on her portfolio. The Summit Daily sat down with the artist to talk about her work and her current exhibits.

SUMMIT DAILY NEWS: What got you into watercolor? What do you like about that medium?

EMILY WAHL: I love that you can travel with it. I used to travel a lot in business, around the world, all the time, so it was an easy medium for me to throw into my backpack or in my briefcase on really long flights. I like that it’s really vibrant, that you can use the medium to be very expressive. Even though it’s water-based, you can be very bold or very transparent. I love that.

It’s not a very forgiving medium, so you sometimes have to let what happens on the paper take you to what the painting becomes or what the subject becomes. Or you incorporate that into the painting. Water has its own behavior, and what you paint might be different than what you started with. It’s a little bit of a surprise, and it’s experimental in that way. It makes you have to solve that problem. If something didn’t go the way you wanted it to go, you say, “OK, what am I going to do with this?” It allows you to stretch yourself when you paint.

SDN: What’s your preferred subject matter? Why?

EW: My preferred subject matter is landscapes and cityscapes. I recently did a one-person show in Houston, and it was called “Cityscapes and Escapes.” The reason I titled it that is because I was born and raised in the city of New York, and I’m very drawn to the noise, the excitement, the bustling of the city, but I’m also drawn to the quietness, the majestic nature of the mountains. I have these two directions that pull me when I paint, so those are the things that I enjoy painting the most.

I love painting outside. I paint en plein air as much as I can. Here, I do a lot of landscapes because I have a lot of that around me. But I have a lot of memories and images of the city, growing up there, and I’ve traveled extensively in large cities around the world, and I’m really drawn to that. I like to see people walking, people talking, people watching — I love that. So those are probably the two subjects that I’m drawn to the most.

SDN: What are some of your favorite places in Summit County to paint en plein air? What do you like about that process?

EW: There’s so many places to paint. I love to paint where there’s meadows, so you have the flowers, then you have a change in the terrain and mountains in the distance. I love to paint where there’s some water, and we have lots of places like that — we have the river, the lakes, the reservoirs.

I’m part of the Women of Watercolor, and we paint every week, throughout the county. Sometimes we’ll go to private property, sometimes we’ll go up to a trail, sometimes we’ll go to Fairplay, sometimes up toward Boreas Pass, the Betty Ford Gardens, so we do that from June — we just started this week — through September.

For me, that’s been a great discovery. I’ve only been in the county for a few years, and I’m not as familiar with all these tucked-away places, but I’m just as happy at the Riverwalk painting the river because there’s all this activity going on or Ten Mile on the trail going to Copper. You have the stream, you have the mountains and, a lot of times, you have people cycling or hiking down that trail.

SDN: Anything else you would like to say about your work, process or exhibit?

EW: This is a play on the two extremes that I adore, and so this exhibit is called “Mountain Escapes,” but it’s not just about the mountains. It has a little bit of Colorado, a little bit of New York, which is where I was raised, and it has a few images of Paris. I studied in France for a year during college, and I’ve traveled there extensively, so this is a depiction of those two forces that sort of pull me.

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