“Women at Home on the Range” exhibit showcases four area artists | PostIndependent.com

“Women at Home on the Range” exhibit showcases four area artists

Kristin Carlson
Colorado Mountain College
Contributed Photo
Staff Photo |

“I tell people, ‘Paint your own backyard,’ and what a backyard we have,” said artist Jane Lee.

Lee is one of four women whose work is featured in a new CMC ArtShare exhibition, “Women at Home on the Range,” which explores images of daily life in the West.

The exhibit includes new work by Lee and fellow artists Sharon Martin of Silt, Linda Loeschen of Basalt and Ruth Mollman of New Castle, and will boast 40 paintings in all, 10 from each artist. The show opens with a free public reception from 6 to 8 p.m. Friday, Nov. 8, at Colorado Mountain College in Rifle. The paintings will remain on view through Jan. 19, 2014.

The theme of the ArtShare exhibit struck a different chord with each of the contributing artists, but all were motivated to create work rooted in a strong sense of place and a quiet attention to the world around them.

Loeschen is well known for her water media paintings of the West. Living on a small ranch in Emma gives her plenty of inspiration for painting horses, cowboys/girls, the glowing grasses and even bears.

Her work has won numerous awards and has been featured in several art publications, including “Western Art Collector,” “Southwest Art,” “Inform Art” and “Western Horseman.” Loeschen’s painting, “Box Canyon Ambush,” graces the cover of the book, “Art of the American West.”

Loeschen said she finds every painting a new challenge and is always striving to keep her work fresh and original.

This exhibit will include a wide range of her work, from older pieces to some of her most recent.

Painting on location adds to life

Lee summed up her work for the exhibit as a story she’s been telling on canvas for much of her career.

“I’ve been painting for this show for 20 years,” she said, “capturing the high mountains to the valley floor.”

Lee often jots notes to herself, describing an image in brief, when she doesn’t have time to paint in the moment. Even on busy days, she strives to cultivate her artistic imagination by making time to attend to the world around her, and Lee encourages others to do the same.

“Every day you paint outside on location adds one more day to your life,” she said.

Lee noted that some of her images, including a painting of a friend shoeing a horse, could have been created a century ago. She hoped the exhibit will encourage viewers to celebrate the place we call home, and to honor its first homesteaders.

“Those pioneer women coming west,” Lee said, “they were brave souls.”

Capturing the faces, animals of the West

Mollman, who has taught art at Colorado Mountain College and the Garden School, noted that her first artistic inspiration was her orphaned cowboy grandfather, who grew up on an uncle’s ranch, punching cows and riding in the rodeo. Fascinated by cowboys and their horses, she began drawing the faces of the west as a young child.

Today, Mollman is still drawn to quiet heroes who have known hardship and glory, and have weathered both without complaint or boasting. Her black-and-white pencil drawings mirror the simple, rugged beauty of the people and places she loves most.

Martin, a full-time artist and rancher, works in the style of extreme photorealism. Her favorite subjects are the wild animals she watches just outside her window, from mule deer munching the roses to a herd of elk grazing in the pasture in front of her house.

A member of the Society of Animal Artists and frequent contributor to their museum shows, Martin said her passion began as a child growing up in the country.

“I went to one of the last one-room schoolhouses in California,” she said, adding that most days she rode her horse, a wild mustang her parents purchased from a neighbor.

Despite an admitted preference for painting animals over people, Martin is looking forward to exhibiting alongside other women from her region who share her passion for wildlife and rural living.

“It’s going to be a fun show with all these gals,” Martin said.

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