Green Turtle Cay, Bahamas

Bita Beach, Green Turtle Cay, Bahamas 9″ x 12″ Oil on Gesso Board

I spent January exploring the most fabulous 1.5 square miles, walking beaches instead of shoveling record snowfall in Colorado.
Green Turtle Cay is one of the barrier islands off mainland Great Abaco The Bahamas. It is considered part of the “Abaco Out Islands” and is 3 miles long and ½ mile wide. It was named after the once abundant green turtles that inhabited the area. Wikipedia

A wonderfully generous painting student has a house on White Sound. She and her husband offered me the use of their house for a month after taking my course. (Understanding Clouds) That course is no longer offered through Artist’s Network University, so I’ll be making it available through my own website later this year. Yes, this was an online course, so I had never met my hosts in person until two planes and a ferry brought me to their dock. It pays to have a good sense of people and I feel that this whole adventure is a natural outcome of teaching with a desire to inspire creativity and take artistic risks. Learning to paint better is a byproduct.

While on the island, I used the solitude to work on a first draft of a new screenplay. ( ritadoyleroberts.com ) Now that the story is nearly ready to send out, I am happy to be painting again…. but I do miss those beautiful beaches.

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New Print Available – Mount Blanca

“Dusting of Snow on Mount Blanca”
12″ x 14″ Giclee Print on Canvas, Stretched

Sides printed black and ready to hang.

I was recently contacted by a someone who grew up in the San Luis Valley but now lives in Utah. He misses the landscape of his home and nothing says SLV more than Mount Blanca. He found me and this painting in a Google search. This piece is in the permanent collection of Trinidad State Junior College – Alamosa Campus so I had this print made for him. Now it’s available to all.

 

History of Mount Blanca

(from Wikipedia)
Blanca Peak is known to the Navajo people as the Sacred Mountain of the East: Sisnaajiní[8] (or Tsisnaasjiní[9]), the Dawn or White Shell Mountain. The mountain is considered to be the eastern boundary of the Dinetah, the traditional Navajo homeland. It is associated with the color white, and is said to be covered in daylight and dawn and fastened to the ground with lightning. It is gendered male.[8]

Summitpost notes that “the first recorded ascent of Blanca by the Wheeler Survey was recorded on August 14, 1874, but to their surprise they found evidence of a stone structure possibly built by Ute Indians or wandering Spaniards.”[10]

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Pikes Peak Watercolor Society – Demo

The Pikes Peak Watercolor Society invited me to do a demo at the Cottonwood Center for the Arts in Colorado Springs, Colorado. A gracious and enthusiastic group of painters welcomed me into their monthly meeting on October 19th. I treated them to series of quickly applied washes for the beginnings of a large sky-scape of stormy clouds over a low horizon — the view west from my studio. Afterwards, many people expressed that my techniques go against everthing they have been taught about painting skies (I’m just a rebel at heart) but they loved the results and had and an eagerness to go try what I had showed them.

Thanks to all who attended, I hope to return again to hear how your experiments with my techniques for painting clouds have changed your art!

Anyone in the Pikes Peak vicinity, do join or support this creative group and visit the Cotton Wood Center for the Arts. It is an exceptional facility.

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PPWS Meeting

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Finished painting of the same scene, vertical format. “Rains Coming” 4″ x 15″

Posted in Uncategorized

Open Studio 2016

#17_RRobertsTuesday through Saturday
10 am – 5 pm
Or call for appointment: 719-852-6976

The studio is loaded with original art plus signed, giclee prints and greeting cards. I’ll be doing small watercolor paintings and/or oil pastel drawings each day of the open studio. These new pieces will be available immediately to the first bidder.

Much of my year has been focused on writing. I’ve revised a children’s book manuscript and now I am writing a screenplay for the animated film version of the same story. It’s a different brain process, making vivid pictures with words. The result has been that my artwork has become less literal, less representational. I’ve been exploring color, texture and unconscious prompts. This image is a detail of one of those explorations.

I still do representational work and I’ll show that here too, during Open Studio. I’d love for any of these paintings to find their permanent homes while the Studio is open for visitors. This is your annual opportunity to take home affordable art work, directly from the artist, or just to see what’s going on.

Please share this event with your friends.

Daily posts will be made at these links:
https://www.facebook.com/RitaRoberts.Artist/
https://www.facebook.com/RitaRoberts.Prints/
https://www.facebook.com/rita.roberts.7982
https://twitter.com/RitaDRoberts
https://www.linkedin.com/in/ritadroberts

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The Value of Studies: Process for “The Space Between”

This painting began on an autumn afternoon in the Conejos Canyon in south-central Colorado. During the previous weekend as I drove home from Denver through the mountains, the roads were overrun with leaf-peepers. However, in this part of Colorado, no matter how beautiful the fall colors are they can be experienced in relative solitude.

2016-1 The Space Between RRoberts webtag

So there I was, completely alone, eating an apple and watching the sun go behind a ridge. Or, more accurately, I watched colors on cottonwoods and water change as the light lowered.

The drive to get there was a spectacle of aspen on the mountainsides, stunning and beautiful, but my artist’s eye was drawn to this scene — serene yet slightly electrified by the warmth of autumn colors in filtered light. During these quiet moments in nature, I’ve always had the feeling that the trees are talking to each other, and I make an attempt at eavesdropping. It turns out that I’m not the only one who feels this way. Yesterday I learned of this book titled, “The Hidden Life of Trees: What They Feel, How They Communicate — Discoveries From a Secret World,” by Peter Wohlleben, a German writer and forest ranger. I haven’t read it yet, but it’s next on the list! Regardless of the science behind plant communication, as a landscape painter, when I am really making art, a genuine connection occurs between my subject and myself. It’s my job to translate that communication onto the paper or canvas.

Reference photos are not always an accurate depiction of the feeling I had on the spot so I often do studies to find the visual equivalent. In this case, I deviated quite a lot from the photo in order to emphasize the personality of the trees and their place in this environment. I had in mind that the trees would have something like a stage lighting, as if this is a scene from an ongoing play they perform day after day. We might be aware of extra “cast members” in the background but they don’t have speaking roles.

In order to test this stage setting idea, I needed to find out just how much information (detail) could be deleted while still bringing the sense of a real place to the viewer. Oil pastels on black paper is one way to allow a scene to emerge from dark to light. It also restricts detail and requires a fair amount of spontaneity and looseness. The directness of drawing with color brought me out of the photo and back to my personal experience with the trees, something more unconscious and less tangible which I could bring into the final painting. The reference became a jumping off point rather than something to stick with and remain loyal to.

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Study for “The Space Between” 10″ x 10″ Oil Pastel on Black Paper

 

Next, I tried a tiny oil study with a palette knife. Painting small can also let me know how little information is needed to still be readable. Now I had three sources (four if you count my initial experience) from which to paint.

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Study #2 for “The Space Between” 4″ x 4″ Oil on Canvas

Each technique calls on a different visual language. The goal is to enrich the final painting and hopefully this makes the full conversation accessible to each viewer.

Posted in Creative Process, Featured, Uncategorized, What's New?

Colorado Supports the Arts!

The Colorado Creative Industries Division of the Office of Economic Development and International Trade (CCI), has awarded me with a Career Advancement grant. The grant is to be used toward developing, publishing and marketing my Children’s Picture Book, Augustina, as well as a screenplay for animated film to accompany the book.

She’s making progress toward being available in bookstores!

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Augustina, is a humorous story about a lovable, barnyard oddball who dances her way into the carnival spotlight, and discovers her true identity — she is a heifer-potamus!

Educators, day care providers and social workers enthusiastically support this story:

“I see all kinds of application potential, everything from children who are adopted to helping children gain ego strength.” — Carol C., Clinical Social Worker

Please contact me for more information about Augustina.

To capitalize on attending conferences and industry workshops I am simultaneously developing an additional story for both book and film. Hint: the characters are perfect for cute Halloween costumes in coming years. Stay tuned!

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Posted in Events, Featured, What's New?, Writings

Art for the Environment

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“The Fire Below” 14″ x 14″ Oil on Canvas

Art for the Endangered Landscape Show and Sale

 

This painting sold at an exhibit sponsored by Community Partnerships Gallery at Adams State University, Alamosa, Colorado last December. Proceeds go to help us keep Wolf Creek Wild.

Wolf Creek Pass and its heavily used highway corridor hold a critical place in the ongoing struggle to balance natural systems with human disruption. The pass bisects some of the wildest remaining primitive country in the southern Rocky Mountains. To the north of the pass is half-million acre Weminuche Wilderness and to the south is the South San Juan Wilderness holding 160,000 acres. The boundaries of these two wilderness areas come to within 6 miles of each other at their closest proximity, but those are treacherous miles for wildlife and plant populations to negotiate.

Wolf Creek was also the area selected to release the reintroduced Canada lynx, an endangered species throughout its historic range.

The most controversial endangerment to consider is a 10,000- person resort complex proposed by developers on a piece of private land adjacent to Wolf Creek Ski Area.

From its origination as a questionable land exchange in 1986 to its current incarnation of transfering yet again more public land, this proposal has galvanized opposing factions. For more in-depth information on this aspect go to Wolf Creek Developments.

The Art for the Endangered Landscape project strives to shed a different light on development issues from the aspect of loss of visual beauty. This art celebration also honors what we have now and what we have to lose in a tangible and visceral manner. I am happy to support this conservation effort!

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Painting Acquired by Trinidad State Junior College

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“Early Snow on Mt. Blanca” 14 ” x 16″ – Oil on Linen

Colorado Creative Industries has acquired public art through direct purchase of existing artwork for Trinidad State Junior College’s (TSJC) Valley Campus, located in Alamosa, Colorado, in conjunction with the project to update their main campus building. Colorado Art in Public Places Program requires one-percent of capital construction funds for new or renovated state buildings be set aside for the acquisition of works of art at the project site.

About the Painting

“Early Snow on Mt. Blanca” is one of the pieces acquired by this program. This painting depicts a familiar sign of winter in the San Luis Valley and is one that is close to my heart as an all-time favorite piece. The sun sets in the west while Mt. Blanca is briefly coated in pink to red hues. It is the prominent view walking or driving toward my home. I am happy that this painting will remain in the San Luis Valley.

Mount Blanca (Sisnaajini) Navajo Sacred Mountain

The mountain is considered to be the eastern boundary of the Dinetah, the traditional Navajo homeland. Blanca Peak should be thought of as the ‘north arrow’ on a map, which determines the orientation of a person’s mind and physical presence on earth. (http://navajopeople.org/blog/mount-blanca-sisnaajini-navajo-sacred-mountain/)

About Trinidad State Junior College – Valley Campus:
The Valley Campus of Trinidad State is located in downtown Alamosa. This branch of the school is a commuter campus of approximately 600 students, that features friendly staff and small class sizes. Hands-on programs include Nursing, Massage, Auto and Diesel Mechanics and Welding.  This campus also has an excellent Aquaculture program where students can learn how to run a fish hatchery. The Law Enforcement Academy and Auto Mechanics programs operate training sites at off campus locations. Students can also take a variety of courses offered in traditional classrooms including Business, Chemistry and Math. The Valley campus is unique in that the average age of students is late 20s. This non-traditional student population consists of students who are “starting over” and re-defining their career. At 7,600 feet in elevation, Alamosa sits in the middle of the San Luis Valley, the highest and largest mountain desert in the world. To the west are the majestic San Juan Mountains and to the east rises the rugged Sangre de Cristo Range. Great Sand Dunes National Park is located 35 miles to the north east and features the tallest dunes in North America. (From the announcement on callforentry.org)

My thanks to Trinidad State Junior College and the Colorado Creative Industries!

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Posted in Events, What's New?

Art for the Endangered Landscape Honoring Wolf Creek

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“The Fire Below” and “Sunset Clouds” 14″ x 14″ Oil on Canvas, $1,960 each. Click on image for a larger view.

Art for the Endangered Landscape Show and Sale

Paintings, Sculpture, Photography, Jewelry by 40 Regional Artists. Proceeds go to help us keep Wolf Creek Wild.
Opening reception: 

at 4:00pm – 7:00pm

For more information go to www.slvec.org
You may visit the show Monday through Friday from 9am to 5 pm from December 7 to December 19, 2015
Community Partnerships Gallery at Adams State University, Alamosa, Colorado.

Wolf Creek Pass and its heavily used highway corridor hold a critical place in the ongoing struggle to balance natural systems with human disruption. The pass bisects some of the wildest remaining primitive country in the southern Rocky Mountains. To the north of the pass is half-million acre Weminuche Wildernss and to the south is the South San Juan Wilderness holding 160,000 acres. The boundaries of these two wilderness areas come to within 6 miles of each other at their closest proximity, but those are treacherous miles for wildlife and plant populations to negotiate.

Wolf Creek was also the area selected to release the reintroduced Canada lynx, an endangered species throughout its historic range.

The most controversial endangerment to consider is a 10,000- person resort complex proposed by developers on a piece of private land adjacent to Wolf Creek Ski Area.

From its origination as a questionable land exchange in 1986 to its current incarnation of transfering yet again more public land, this proposal has galvanized opposing factions. For more in-depth information on this aspect go to Wolf Creek Developments.

The Art for the Endangered Landscape project strives to shed a different light on development issues from the aspect of loss of visual beauty. This art celebration also honors what we have now and what we have to lose in a tangible and visceral manner.

Posted in Blog, Collaborative Works, Events, Featured, Uncategorized, What's New?

Cover Art for Colorado Central Magazine

CCOctCover2015FINALColorado Central Magazine
cozine.com

About the painting:  This oil painting depicts fall cottonwoods on the historic Garcia Ranch. Reyes Garcia is now the steward of this ranch and allowed me to take a walk and paint this beautiful piece of property. As a retired professor of philosophy, environmental and indigenous studies, Reyes is deeply attuned to the legacy of his family’s land and the way of life it has provided for generations. With the Garcia family having originally settled in Conejos County in the 1850’s, he has a long history rooted in the special area between the Conejos and San Antonio Rivers in the southern part of the San Luis Valley.

Conserving the land and water is a way “to make my own small contribution to preserving the family legacy of ranching and the land-based culture of the ranchero tradition,” Garcia writes. “… I came to understand this tradition includes putting into practice ecological values by virtue of an instinctual love of the land that engenders good stewardship and a deep respect for all life forms, the seasonal rotation of livestock and their humane treatment, the acequia irrigation system especially, the transmission of skills which make self-reliance possible…”

in 2013, the Rio Grande Headwaters Land Trust worked with Reyes to complete a voluntary conservation easement on the spectacular Garcia Ranch, to insure that this working ranch will remain intact with its senior water rights in perpetuity. Learn more about RiGHT’s ongoing conservation work and the ranch at www.riograndelandtrust.org

Posted in Blog, Collaborative Works, Collectors, Creative Process, Events, Featured, Uncategorized, What's New?, Writings