Painters out in plein air |

Painters out in plein air

Janice Kurbjun
Summit Daily News

Howard Carver and his wife, Sue, are art collectors, but not in the traditional sense.

They like art by artists they know or art that has a story behind it. They currently own about half-dozen pieces that come from the upcoming Art and Wildflower Celebration of the Continental Divide Land Trust.

Watching plein air painters, or artists painting outdoors, turn a blank piece of parchment into art is Carver’s favorite part of the fourth annual event slated for July 7-10 in Breckenridge. Sixteen artists from around the country come to the area to paint local scenes with a wildflower theme, all to benefit the CDLT.

Like Ann Weaver, who views Summit County as a hub for her artwork, even though she now resides in Taos, N.M.

“The Continental Divide Land Trust is a great charity. The properties are so beautiful,” Weaver said. “I am enthusiastic about working on it … because it’s a good team effort between artists and land trust people.”

She said she particularly enjoyed painting at Clinton Reservoir last year, and sees the visit also as a time to see old friends.

As Weaver paints, Carver enjoys watching the process.

“You come back a few hours later and it’s coming along,” said the president of the CDLT board. By the end of the day, he said, one can see a finished painting.

“You can peek over their shoulder and talk to them about what they’re doing, what they’re seeing and why they use the light the way they are,” he added.

The Art and Wildflower Celebration expands this year to include about two dozen events for those interested in supporting the CDLT’s mission of preserving open space in central Colorado through land preservation agreements, stewardship and public education. The CDLT is a nonprofit land conservancy that seeks to protect mountain landscapes for current and future generations.

Carver said celebrating wildflowers often means celebrating open space, which is why he has supported the event from the get-go.

“It helps people understand the open spaces and the beauty that’s around us,” he said.

Activities this time around include wildflower hikes (where hikers can visit the plein air artists on site), mountain bike tours, kids art classes and chalk art, a workshop about gardening with wildflowers and more. Some are free, some have a nominal fee that supports the CDLT.

All the events are designed to promote greater awareness and understanding of the importance of preserving Colorado’s natural lands.

Proceeds from Saturday’s Gala Art Show and Sale from 5-7:30 p.m. at the Edwin Carter Museum on Ridge Street partially support the land conservation programs of CDLT as well as the artist. Plein air paintings are smaller and usually surprisingly affordable, CDLT director Leigh Girvin said. Prices will range from $250 on up. The art show also includes art created during the kids art classes, the Paint Along at Dry Gulch and photo workshop.

The artists’ paintings will be on display the afternoon they are painted in a Wet Paint Show at the Fuqua Livery Stable in the Breckenridge Arts District on Washington Avenue before becoming available for purchase at the Gala Art Show and Sale.

As the event grows, Carver and others envision it becoming not only a staple in Summit County’s summer calendar, but also in the national calendar.

“I’m thinking along the lines of Crested Butte,” Carver said, referring to a renowned event down south.

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