From ink to oil in Glenwood Springs |

From ink to oil in Glenwood Springs

Stina Sieg
Post Independent Staff
Glenwood Springs, CO ColoradoFrom ink to oil
Oil works such as "Filoha Meadows" exemplify Bob Gracia's colorful, Americana style. About a dozen of his pieces will be on display through the end of July at the Artist Mercantile in Glenwood Springs.

GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado ” For the first sixty years of his life, Bob Gracia may not have made art ” but that doesn’t mean he didn’t appreciate it. While living on the East Coast, he always traveled and marveled at the artwork of others. It wouldn’t be until almost retirement, however, that he would pick up a paintbrush himself. When he did, he worked hard at his new skill, and what poured out of him were landscapes, Americana to the max. When he and his wife, Barbara, moved to Redstone three years ago, his work become only more prolific. These days, the 70-something painter can be seen riding his bike on Highway 133, where he takes photographs of the natural beauty. Later, at his studio, he turns the pictures into colorful, folksy paintings. As he sees it, art is something everyone can do ” if they just let themselves.

“I think it’s intrinsic to everybody,” he said.

“Well, I was in the newspaper business for 45 years. But I have a degree in chemistry. I worked for two companies that sold products into the graphic arts business, mainly newspapers.”

He was constantly traveling, and for years, wherever he went, he would check out the local art museums. When he started thinking about retirement, he realized painting might be something he’d want to pick up.

“I thought I should be able to do this ” if I could just learn how to draw. Because I could barely write my name legibly. I thought, ‘gee, I’m going to try that someday.'”

So he did. In 1991, he bought Betty Edwards’ book, “Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain,” at a shop on Nantucket Island, Mass. Through various exercises ” like copying a Picasso painting upside down ” Edwards promotes unlocking your creative side, which is usually obscured by the logical part of your brain.

“And when I started doing that, I started getting more and more encouraged that maybe I could do representation.”

After that, the jump to putting paint on canvas wasn’t such a big leap. He began creating Nantucket landscapes, and pretty soon he was selling his work.

“I love it. I really love it. I always say to myself, if I knew it was this fun, I would have started a long time ago.”

“All I can tell you is they’re just full landscapes that I try to put on canvas that depict how beautiful this valley is.”

“You know, look at this. This is a great place to live. Take a ride on 133 and see it all ” anytime of the year. But fall is the best.”

“I always ask my wife, you know, what she thinks. And if she gives them the OK, then it’s up to other people.”

“I don’t have any big, emotional feeling for it, except that I just like doing it. And, hopefully, somebody likes looking at it.”

“At my level, it’s hard to say, and I’m just speaking for myself, not any other artist. If you look at it, it’s chemistry, it’s aesthetics. What is beautiful? There’s a lot of people, a lot of great artists, that have proven that ugly is beautiful.”

“I tell you, Matisse had the right idea. Matisse said he paints for the person who comes home from ” and you have to look at it in the context of his times ” from work and sits down in his chair, and it makes him feel good … because that’s how I approach art. Art that appeals to me ” and to a lot of people ” it’s just art that makes you feel good when you look at it.”

“Wife, children and grand children. At my age, that’s the only important thing.”

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