Theres nothing like spending a couple of weeks alone in the woods to inspire an artist. It worked for Thoreau, and a couple of centuries later, the beauty of the forest had no less of an effect on Durango artist Elizabeth Kinahan.
It was amazing, and Ive never been so influenced by place, Kinahan said of her two-week stay in July as the artist-in-residence at the historic and rustic Aspen Guard Station in the San Juan National Forest near Mancos.
Kinahan will display the fruits of her stay tonight at the Irish Embassy. The Petite Grand is a collection of the miniature paintings Kinahan painted during and since her stay in the cabin, with a quarter of the proceeds donated back to the Dolores Public Lands Office program. She was one of eight artists accepted into the program this summer.
Her collection of miniatures is a departure from the norm for Kinahan, who perhaps is best known for her realistic portraiture of animals and humans.
But her skill knows no bounds, even on a canvas the size of a postcard; the works included in The Grand Petite range in size from 1-by-2 inches to 8-by-10 inches.
Ive always wanted to have a miniature show, and this seems like the perfect time because people can support the Aspen Guard Station at a lower cost, Kinahan said.
Her point is well-taken. Kinahan is an accomplished and respected artist whose collectors typically pay four figures for her full-size works. Priced at $100 to $125 each, the smaller paintings are much more accessible to a wider audience.
I also just love miniatures, she said.
Artists-in-residence at the Aspen Guard Station universally rave about the secluded location and environment. Kinahan is no different. She spent her days painting because the station does not have electricity. Painting at night was not an option. The paintings produced reflect life in the woods: Kinahans constant companions were hummingbirds, yellowjackets and many aspen trees.
I would follow the sun across the cabin, starting early in the morning in the studio, and toting my easel and palette and brushes along with me, end up painting on the porch, watching the sun go down. It was amazing, she said of her daily routine.
Expect to see much more of Kinahan in the coming weeks.
In early October, shell host a viewing of her Women of Durango portrait series, and on Oct. 1, shell offer painting instruction aboard the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroads Diesels and Easels special train event.