Painter Laurel Astor follows her mantra |

Painter Laurel Astor follows her mantra

Stina Sieg
Post Independent Staff
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado

GLENWOOD SPRINGS ” Jump ” and the net will open.

If painter Laurel Astor could give you one piece advice, that would be it.

It’s been her mantra, following her for the last five years, as her life has taken on an entirely new shape.

In 2002, Astor, then 48, was living where she always had, in Salt Lake City. There, she’d built a life, working different office jobs, raising two sons and finally, studying to be a nurse. She was also “really, really, really miserable.”

With only six classes left in her program, something moved her to drive to Telluride, where a stained glass artist was having a show. After looking at the work and meeting the artist, Astor felt an instant shift inside herself. This woman loves what she does, she remembers thinking. Astor had no history of painting or drawing, but she was inspired.

“Somewhere in me I got this sense that this was possible, that I could do this,” she said, looking back.

During her eight hour drive home, her pragmatic and creative sides were at war. She would think about being a nurse, and depression would set in. She would think of becoming an artist, and “the world would suddenly brighten.”

“Who cares what people think?” she asked herself. “What if I could do something I really love?”

By the time she reached home, her mind was made up. Not long after, she put her nursing textbooks on the shelf and told herself that she would take them down if this whole artist thing didn’t pan out.

She started with watercolors, but soon took a pastel workshop and fell in love. When she heard about an upcoming art festival, she painted for three months to prepare.

Much to her surprise, by the end of the fair, her impressionist still lifes of fruit, trees and landscapes had brought in more than $3,000. That fear of whether or not she could “make it” as an artist was answered. The next time she touched her textbooks was when she sold them.

“If you do something that makes you feel alive, then it will work,” she said, conviction in her voice. “No matter how old you are and what you think about yourself, you can do what you love.”

Meeting her now, with her open, creative demeanor and inspired speech, it’s hard to see her as anything but an artist. At 53, she can talk about her past with perspective, summing up decades in sentences and describing hardships in a few words. Whoever she was back then, that woman is alive only through stories. “I think you can inspire yourself to be who you really are,” she said.

She views this newly-discovered creativity as an organism, something she can’t pretend to plan for. “It has a life of its own,” she explained, “and I’m trying to follow it.”

So far, it’s taken her to galleries and dozens of art shows a year. A little more than a year ago, it lead her here, after she met, Bill, a Glenwood Springs local, at an art show in Bend, Ore. Though she’d never really lived away from Utah, she took the plunge. “I was living here three months later,” she said.

These days, with years of artistic success behind her, she’s looking forward again. Art is her life, she said, but the world of art fairs has started to wear thin, and now she’s ready ” for something.

“There’s something new coming, and I don’t know what it is,” she went on, “but I want to access what is coming.”

She knows she want to teach, to share her story, but beyond that, the world is wide open again.

“I’m just trusting that whatever will happen, will happen,” she said.

And yes, she sounded ready to jump.

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