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The Walk to the Outhouse Never Ceases to Amaze me

Sometimes the most incredible views happen on the way to the outhouse. If you’ve ever spent time at one of Colorado’s 10th Mountain Division Huts, you know what I’m talking about. The Fowler Hilliard Hut sits at 11,500 ft and at that altitude, my bladder just can’t wait a full night to get me out of bed. And believe me, the last thing I want to do in the middle of night in the dead of winter on top of a mountain is go outside in the dark. But there I was, every night of our stay, donning headlamp, coat and shoes to trudge bleary-eyed outside, across a snowy walk to the latrine.

It happened every night. But on the last night as I stepped outside, something special happened. There before me a fully-lit mountain valley stretched out over the ridge and I realized my bladder had given me a true gift. That night happened to be the night before the Super Blue Blood Moon, a photo-worthy event, perhaps. But the night before? Truly amazingly spectacular.

silver moon

There were no city lights to interfere. Just the silvery-blue moonlight illuminating my walk and revealing a picture-perfect nightscape. I didn’t even need the headlamp.

The snow wasn’t perfect that week, but we still found some really fun skiing and enjoyed the long climbs with good friends back to the hut. Evenings were spent with laughter and good food followed by cards and a puzzle happening simultaneously. Unplugged. The weather gave us light for beautiful photos with mountain views that will become painting material for the studio.

RonLesliegroup deck hutlarge group


What’s Your Intention for the New Year?

I was talking with a thoughtful artist friend of mine today who said she had just spent time with friends setting intentions for the new year. She shared her 2018 mantra of “quiet confidence” which I found inspiring, so I decided to give some thought to my own intentions for the year.

I’d already sat down the first week of January and made some broad plans for my art practice. I gave thought to my creative direction and ideas for focusing my marketing resources; how I plan to grow my art business and where I’d like to show my work. But as I sit here now thinking about her more internal intention, I’m giving thought to my own.

I listened recently to an interview Oprah did with author Rob Bell. She said she met a house cleaner who said he didn’t clean houses – he created order out of chaos and brought beauty to families. He felt honored to be able to provide this. I thought about my own calling to create art, but I realize that’s just the “house cleaning”. My search in 2018 is to better crystallize my unique sensibilities and how to express them in paint.

Mr. Bell responded to Oprah that he didn’t ask to find success in life, but to find wonder. That feeling you get when your child is born. For me, 2018 will be my year spent as observer of my deeper self and true meaning. Fearless Introspection. Seeker of wonder.

It’s a magical year.

My Cigar Box Travel Paintings

These postcard-sized paintings were really fun to make. I gave myself the challenge of painting one a day during our 12-day trip to Florida over the Thanksgiving holiday. When I travel by plane, it’s less convenient to bring a full-size easel and canvases. So years ago I created a homemade pochade box by repurposing an old cigar box (which smells great) and stocking it with a limited number of paints, a tiny solvent cup and small brushes. The inside of the box becomes the palette and the top holds small paintings up to about 8×10″ size.

I love this setup because it fits in a camelback pack, so I’ve taken it to Hawaii, Florida and even on hikes. I’ve painted at bar tables, on the beach and in my dad’s boat while floating in the Haulover Canal and listening to the breath of manatees breaching the water. It provides a certain freedom and allows me to paint while on vacation. Finishing one every day means less time fussing over details and the result is a more loose and fluid painting. It’s been a fun exercise and has become something of a travelog.

Some of these little paintings were left behind as gifts. The rest are on sale for $65 and will make really great gifts for someone else. I’ll make more of these little paintings in the weeks to come so be sure to check my online store for details.


painting on beachangle-sm6. canoe-sm2 ocean-sm


My Fabulous Fall Road Trip

Two Magical Places: Taos and LaVeta

I needed to get out of the studio and step into the New Mexico sunshine to rediscover my joy. The trappings of Denver lately, with its heavy traffic, aggressive drivers and construction madness were making me feel a little lost. So I was happy to attend an artist retreat in Taos a couple weeks ago, led by Peggy McGivern, through the Blackridge Arts School. Taos for me is a little like home. There’s a main street that has a rush hour of about seven blocks. The pace feels relaxed and all forms of creativity are celebrated. There are probably more artists and galleries per capita than anywhere in the world. One of my favorite days was spent at the Taos Wool Festival with my artist friend Denice to hear her friends Mark Dudrow and Kate Mann play music from their latest cd, which I bought and listened to all the way home. And best of all, I got to “binge-paint” for nine straight days. I even got to camp on the Rio Grande. That night I woke up to what seemed like high beams shining right into my tent and wondered who in the hell was doing that. When I stepped out of the tent, I could see the whole canyon was illuminated by the light of the moon – clear and full. I definitely was in my happy place.

I spent hours painting along rivers with high canyon walls and in lovely fields (Denice’s cat Jasper decided to hop up on my easel and oversee the operation for awhile) I got to soak in the hot springs at Ojo Caliente. I got to travel and stay part of the time with two artists I admire from Colorado, Gina Astorino and Faye Crow. Together we generated a collective energy that was buzzing with productivity and pushing our boundaries.

Luckily for me, the journey wasn’t over when I left my adopted home. I had a stopover in LaVeta to look forward to. Another friend invited me to stay and so I had the pleasure of traipsing around their scenic property with my easel for 3 more days.

For more photos of the tour and the paintings being finished in my studio, visit my Facebook page.

painting with cat small Road to Dixon Easel at Dunn Bridge IMG_4451 SecoDog

A Good Problem to Have

You might say my problem was a good problem to have, and you’d be right. But still I had to find a solution. I recently had the good fortune of creating a painting that three people wanted to buy.

About a year ago, I considered making prints of my paintings on canvas. I researched various shops in town but was unable to find an affordable option. My criteria: the print needed to be of good quality, gallery wrap canvas, but be less expensive than the original art. Since my art is currently priced on the low side to fit my “emerging artist” status, that scouting trip didn’t pan out. Good quality prints were costly.

ShadowsClarks View 11x14 800-adjDoudyDraw-11x14-sm

So when my good problem arose last month, I decided to try again. Luckily, the cost of reproductions seems to have dropped considerably since I checked last year. I was able to find a printer in town that was quite reasonable so I sent them a painting to try them out. I was pretty pleased with the result. It looked quite good even next to the original. Problem solved.

But solving this created another challenge: setting up a sales channel. While the printer could handle production and fulfillment, they couldn’t handle the initial transaction. I needed to do that, and I wasn’t sure I was ready for it. Setting up a shopping cart and handling things like sales tax seemed daunting.

Then I found another printer. They can do the production (which costs a little more) but they also handle the transaction and just send me a check each month. For now, this seems like the simplest option. They also have a Facebook shopping cart, which I like for its ease of use. So I’m giving it a try.

You can find my shopping cart on FaceBook HERE. If there’s a painting you’re interested in that isn’t yet posted on the cart, you can contact me to request that it be added. If you’re interested in an original, contact me for that too. Another cool feature is the ability to order the painting on canvas, metal, wood or greeting cards. I’m looking forwarding to exploring the options. Heck, who knows what’s next…?
Cornice on skis

Late Summer Plein Air Painting

A Breath of Fresh Air

I usually get the itch to paint outside this time of year. Late summer, with its golden early morning light and crisp air remind me that the change of seasons is just around the corner. I’ll be headed to Taos, NM again in October for Peggy McGivern’s artist retreat. I can’t wait. The autumn light there is really amazing and I’m looking forward to my time in that beautifully rustic artist community.

Last week I joined the Plein Air Artists Association of Colorado (PAAC) and have been joining them on weekly painting sessions around the Boulder area. Like anything, painting outside takes practice – the painting needs to capture the essence of the scene in just a few hours before the light and color changes. After several months of studio time, I need to get back into this groove for painting in Taos. Special thanks to Faye Crowe for the painting day in Bailey at Heny’s house. What a wonderful experience.

Little Landscape Paintings
Be sure to check out my new plein air landscapes. They’re small and priced from $175-300 framed. They’re perfect for anyone looking to add some original art without the huge commitment of a major painting. See the full portfolio here.

OTHERSIDE: July 13-31

OTHERSIDE: Abstracting Natural and Urban Spaces

Colorado is in the midst of an unprecedented boom, creating a revitalization of its urban areas and a new energy across Denver. As our population grows, more people are also pushing into the backcountry of Colorado to experience its pristine natural spaces and discovering the awe and force of its power. GRACE Studios Gallery presents OTHERSIDE: Abstracting Urban and Natural Spaces, an exhibition by two Denver artists exploring the energy and vibrancy of two very different sides of Colorado.

Pictured Above: Hiking the Cornice (detail) by Leslie Jorgensen | City Park (detail) by Kristina Davies

Opening Reception: Friday, July 21, 6–9 PM
Show Dates: July 13 – 31, 2017

Globeville Riverfront Art Center (GRACE)
888 E 50th Ave, Denver, CO 80216

OTHERSIDE: About the Artists

Leslie Jorgensen – Art of the Backcountry

Leslie’s latest work is about her personal journeys into the wild spaces of Colorado. Her paintings are less a literal representation and more about the forces of nature and the experience of it. Having painted both landscapes and abstracts, this series is her expression in the space between the two.

Rocky Mountain National Park_36x72, Acrylic on Plywood

Rocky Mountain National Park_36x72, Acrylic on Reclaimed Wood

Kristina Davies – Urban Abstracts
Kristina is a Colorado native living and working in Denver. Her abstracts have energy inspired by the revitalization of Denver.
Show Dates: July 13 – 31, 2017

Globeville Riverfront Art Center (GRACE)
888 E 50th Ave, Denver, CO 80216

Part of the RiNo Art District

Rino logo

The Beauty of Non-Traditional Gallery Spaces

Studio 3 Hair Salon and Gallery

In an age of multitasking, where you can buy a coffee, do your grocery shopping, get a flu shot and gas the car in one stop, it may come as no surprise that more businesses are adding “art gallery” to their repertoire. From restaurants and coffee shops to offices and salons, artists are finding new physical spaces to expand audience reach.

I’ve long been skeptical that these spaces were appropriate for selling art, but last year I was invited by my good friend Jackie who owns the beautiful Sontuosa spa in Denver to put some paintings on the walls. The art was suddenly outside the traditional gallery space and instead displayed in a relaxed setting among people, furniture and beautifully-painted walls – more like a living space. For anyone considering buying art for their home or workplace, this is a great way to experience it.

So when Eric and Lesa at Studio 3 (formerly Ravello A Salon) invited me to show there, I decided to say yes. I’m glad I did. We installed the show on Monday and the clients have been very supportive of the art. The paintings are in the context of an actual working space with walls painted purple and grey, and situated in a room with furniture, plants and people. We were thrilled with the way it looked in the space. And though I’ll still put my work in galleries, I can keep my inventory up in public spaces rather than in storage.

Studio 3 Salon and Gallery
(masterful hair cuts and color)
1385 Forest Park Cir, Lafayette, CO 80026
(303) 474-4000

Sontuosa Spa
(skin care and waxing – I recommend the nano needling to smooth skin tones and minimize lines)
7939 East Arapahoe Road, Suite 250
Greenwood Village, CO 80112
GetLavished@Sontuosa.com \ (303) 550-9563

2017 Summer Art Market

I’m excited that my work was juried into the 2017 Summer Art Market at the Art Students League of Denver. I’ll get to share a booth with my friend, abstract artist Emmanuelle Auzias, who hails from Marseilles, France. We’ll be at booth #17 near 4th and Grant. I’ve never done an art festival, so this will be a huge learning experience for me and since I enjoy getting outside my comfort zone, here we go. We’ll see if this turns into something I’ll do more of.

Stop by for music, beer, food and art! I’ll bring a combination of abstract and landscape paintings. If you haven’t been to the Summer Art Market, it’s a high-caliber show with spectacular art.

Art Students League of Denver
200 Grant Street Denver, CO 80203

Saturday, 10am-6pm | Sunday, 10am-5pm

My Hut Experience

I’m a relative newcomer to the 10th Mountain Division Hut System, but I’m a fan.

The sound of songbirds at 11,180′ on a trip this winter near the Eiseman hut stopped us in our tracks. It’s something I don’t usually notice, but that day was quiet. We had skinned 7 miles and 8,600 vertical feet up along the Spraddle Creek & Middle Creek trails the day before with enough supplies for a 3-night stay. The place we reached was secluded and beautiful. The only visible movement on this day of exploration was a spring snowfall that soaked us through our jackets and our group of six skiers laughing as we peeled the skins from the bottoms of our skis and prepared for a run down through untracked powdery trees. There was no one else for miles except the rest of our group who would later meet us at the hut with its wood-burning stove for heat and propane for cooking our group meal together. No running water or electrical outlets. Yet we had the best entertainment money can’t buy: 2 guitars were left there – donated by other hut users just the month before. It’s fun to discover you have friends who know how to play – then spend an entire evening singing and tapping to some fun impromptu music with the rest of us calling out requests and hoping someone knew the words.

These were some of the unexpected treasures of the weekend I wouldn’t have experienced any other way.

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