See Colorado watercolors at Midland Arts anniversary Friday |

See Colorado watercolors at Midland Arts anniversary Friday

Carla Jean Whitley

Anniversary Celebration

RIFLE — The Midland Arts Company celebrates its one-year anniversary at its new location with a thank you party for the community. Stop by and meet local artists. Appetizers and refreshments will be served.

4-7 p.m. Friday

Admission: Free

101 E. Third St.

Info: 625-3068 and

An artistic anniversary merits an artistic celebration.

That’s what visitors to Midland Arts Company will find when they visit the Rifle gallery Friday. The gallery attracts residents and tourists alike, thanks to its close proximity to I-70. Midland Arts will celebrate its one-year anniversary in its current location with a Colorado-inspired exhibit by Carmel Walden. Her watercolors offer art fans a piece of the state, whether in the form of a painting, a T-shirt or a greeting card. Learn more about Walden and her upcoming shows at

Post Independent: It’s clear that you’re inspired by Colorado, but you’ve also spent quite a bit of time elsewhere. Can you tell me about how these places influence your work?

Carmel Walden: Growing up, my family split time between Glenwood and our family ranch in Eagle County, and I fell in love with the Colorado outdoors at an early age. It’s funny, though, because I didn’t make a real connection between my art and nature until living on the Navajo reservation in my late 20s. I was just volunteering the first year that I was there, so I had plenty of time to wander the canyons and paint the desert, and maybe because I wasn’t painting for anyone but myself, I discovered that painting was a magical way to connect with nature and the Creator. My first successful paintings came from this period of my life, and I’ve kept a lot of elements from these early works, such as the attention to light and mystical sweeping skies. Now I paint mostly what I know the best and love the best, which is Colorado, but I still bring my paints when traveling.

PI: How does your psychology degree connect to your artwork?

CW: I decided to get my master’s degree in psychology thinking that it might lead to a career in that field, but while I was studying I ended up figuring out a lot about myself and changed directions. Before I did the program I was way too much of a perfectionist and too insecure to make all the mistakes you have to make to improve as an artist. I had to get over a lot of self-made hurdles. Then I ended up studying art therapy, and researching ways that art connects all humans to nature and God. Art became a lot more about the process of healing and connecting, and less about the final product. Realizing this actually changed my final product in great ways though, because now I think people relate to my work on a heart-to heart level.

PI: Your work is also available in gift collections, including apparel and greeting cards. When did you introduce these products? What led to that decision?

CW: I’ve been selling greeting cards for 15 years. I love that in a small way I have been a part of thousands of little spoken and unspoken messages from person to person in this way. I now have seven different variety sets available.

The apparel just happened because my Colorado Flag painting called to be on shirts. I was actually sick of seeing all the trendy flag clothing, but when this idea of making the flag out of Colorado mountains and sunshine and flowers hit me (what I really love about the state), I had to do it. It’s been fun to see the way the “Colorado Girl” and “Colorado Boy” hoodies and Ts have taken off, and I want to add another design this year. I donate 5 percentage of sales from my gift site, to Colorado conservation efforts. Twenty years of paintings can also be found on my main website,

PI: What should Midland Arts patrons expect to see during this weekend’s celebration?

CW: Right now I am displaying a handful of framed pieces there along with quite a few unframed prints, cards and shirts. The artisans that run Midland are really talented, caring, creative people, and it shows as soon as you walk through the doors. It is the perfect place to shop for unique local pottery, jewelry, art, apparel, honey and more. I love shopping there because it feels good to know that I am directly supporting great people in my community and the gifts seem much more personal.

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