See it, paint it

SHAUN STANLEY/Durango Herald

Maryellen Morrow of the Plein Air Painters of the Four Corners looks for help while hanging entries in the Barbara Conrad Gallery at Durango Arts Center on Thursday during preparation for tonight’s opening of “In the Open Air.”

By Ted Holteen Herald staff writer

Think of them as seeds sown throughout the year that bloom in full color every summer.

Nearly 100 paintings created by members of the Plein Air Painters of the Four Corners will go on display tonight at Durango Arts Center. The group numbers about 35 members from throughout the Four Corners and meets twice a month for group “paint-outs.” Plein Air is French for “in the open air,” and that’s where all of the paintings in the exhibit were created.

“It’s more fun outside,” said Lori Walters, a 10-year member of the Plein Air Painters who helped hang the show Thursday. Walters has three paintings entered. Juror Joshua Been, a Salida artist, rejected a fourth piece that Walters called her favorite.

The show provides hand-painted snapshots of the region’s landscape. Well-represented imagery includes canyon country, rivers, mountains and forests. Many of the artists, like Sue Doss, need to do little more than look out the window for inspiration. That’s how Doss came to paint the incredibly green “Before the Rain” in her own backyard. The painting stands out for its almost monochromatic quality, though Doss incorporated almost every shade of green in the otherwise simple still life of the foliage behind her home.

“I said, ‘oh my goodness, let me hurry’ because I knew the light wouldn’t be the same after the rain,” Doss said.

The exhibit will include two workshops. Starting today, Been will lead an intensive three-day workshop for experienced painters and relate Plein Air techniques to artists’ studio work. Next weekend, Judy DeVincentis Morgan will offer three days of instruction geared to beginners in the field.

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