art, Art Makers Denver, art retreats, collage, Colorado

Art Makers Denver


^^^McNicols Building

I’ve just returned from a new-to-me art retreat, Art Makers Denver, where I took a paper painting collage class from Elizabeth St. Hilaire. I’ve been following her work online for a while and since I like to visit my family near Denver in September I jumped at the chance to combine that trip with this retreat this year.

The retreat was smaller than most of the ones that I’ve attended elsewhere, which made for smaller classes and more attention (if you like more attention). I had a big table all to myself, which was great since I tend to push into other people’s spaces. The venue was the recently renovated McNicols Building in Civic Center Park, a spacious and light-filled place. Delicious lunches were provided on two days and on the third day we were each given a $10 voucher to use at the food truck festival in the park outside. We got lots of extra goodies such as locally made sodas and juice drinks, healthy snacks, a copy of Uppercase magazine, and various arty thingies.

I was really looking forward to taking one of Leighanna Light‘s book classes because she is, well, AWESOME, and because I learned so much about connecting found objects and working with metal in the class I took from her a few years ago, but her classes were canceled. I looked for Helen Hiebert, who is huge in the papermaking world and I simply wanted to meet her, but her classes didn’t make either. So hopefully this retreat will become more popular as it matures and more people learn about it.

One other note before I get on to the other photos…this was the first time that I took the bus round trip from Westminster, a suburb of Denver, to downtown. It was an easy, clean, flawless experience. I heard good things about Denver’s new light rail system too. Although the train trip to the airport is a bit pricey, it still beats the price of a taxi or renting a car, and costs less than paying for parking downtown.


^^^Since Leighanna’s class was canceled on Sunday, I spent an extra day painting and printing papers in Elizabeth’s class. I didn’t mind, because I love doing this. I went as fast as I could without overthinking. The only things I kept in mind were the colors I might need for the collage and layers. Lots of layers. I used old book pages, dictionary pages, sheet music, map pages from a book about Colorado mining towns, washed and dried coffee filters, handmade papers, and the backs of some of the papers I painted and printed in Albie Smith’s class at An Artful Journey in 2011.


^^^Some of Elizabeth’s demonstration papers using alcohol droppers and spritzing with liquid dish soap on top of wet paint.


^^^Beautiful art installation to which the attendees were asked to decorate a tag and hang.


^^^Because the nearly full moon was huge over the weekend and I could still see it hanging over the mountains each morning, I hoped to do this painting as a collage after my apple. But time ran out. I’ll do it here in North Carolina.




^^^Everyone in class painted an apple before class in acrylic on a firm surface such as a canvas covered mat board or wooden panel. Elizabeth wanted us to work with a simple shape where we would learn about light and shadow. I’ll work a little more on my background, but my apple is done. Even though two people told me they thought it was a pumpkin. o_O




^^^More Denver scenes.

art, Colorado, fiber art, weaving

Back to Family and Denver Area

Denver Art Museum Textile Gallery

Denver Art Museum Textile Gallery

(This post is the final one about a trip to Colorado/Utah we took in September, written two months later, because LIFE.) After crashing big-time at my Awesome Aunt’s apartment on Thursday night, we drove to the Denver Art Museum with Aunt DeLaine to see the big tapestry exhibition there, Creative Crossroads. It spanned centuries and world cultures. I know that I took photos but they must not have turned out well because I can’t find them. My poor camera was probably worn out. The museum website can be your source for those.

Denver Art Museum Textile Gallery

Since I was there a few years ago, they opened a permanent space for fiber arts, the textile gallery, along with an education space that had terrific displays and covered just about every fiber art technique I could think of.

Denver Art Museum Textile Gallery

Denver Art Museum Textile Gallery

Denver Art Museum Textile Gallery

David Johnson was demonstrating soumak tapestry on a frame loom there. I was really happy to meet him.

soumak tapestry

David Johnson demonstrates at the Denver Art Museum

See that shimmering curtain behind me? Handwoven with a fine copper wire warp. Amazing.

Denver Art Museum Textile Gallery

Then that night, my cousin Cherie, Sandy and I went to Arvada to see the Kenny Perkins Band play at Jake’s Roadhouse. Ken is Cherie’s husband and he can really rock it. Wow.

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I left Colorado with the hat that Sandy bought for himself, but then got shy about wearing. That’s not really a problem for me anymore.

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There you have it. Another wonderful trip, and one that made us hungry to continue exploring the west and scout out the area where we would like to retire.

Colorado, National Parks and Monuments, Utah

Driving across Northwestern Colorado

Colorado 2015

(This post refers to a September trip to Colorado, written much later.) The next day we set out for Dinosaur National Monument, which spans the Colorado/Utah border. The visitor center and the quarry exhibit were on the Utah side so we aimed for the western entrance in Utah, a state that we had not visited yet.

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I loved the long straight roads through the sagebrush plains. I could see myself as a ranch woman there, although in reality you wouldn’t catch me on a horse or slaughtering cattle or chickens! Nice fantasy, though, cowgirl hat, leather chaps, lariat in hand and rifle on shoulder. When I came back I subscribed to a classic Western channel on Roku, since that is the closest I’ll ever come to it! After talking with locals, we understood that people who worked in the towns that catered to tourists couldn’t afford to live there. We spent some time in Steamboat Springs, and then drove through smaller towns that seemed very sparse and poor. We saw very few cars on the long road to Utah.

We stopped at Yampa River State Park on the way for a quick nature walk. The colors were beautiful. It would be nice to go back and raft this river. When I just checked the website, it was 16 degrees there, brrr!

Colorado 2015

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It had rained on and off all day, but as we approached the Utah line the clouds grew very dark and became as interesting as the surrounding landscape. Then we were rewarded for the rain.

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We got there just after the visitor’s center closed, so we found a cheap motel in Vernal, Utah, had dinner and beers at Vernal Brew Pub (very good!). I recommend the Allosaurus Amber Ale.

Next: Dinosaur National Monument.

Colorado, National Parks and Monuments, Rocky Mountain National Park

Rocky Mountain National Park

(This post refers to our Colorado trip in September.) On Wednesday, Sandy and I set out on our own road trip. We stopped in Estes Park where we wasted too much time and money. (In my opinion, anyway, Sandy is the shopper in the family. I am all about getting a refrigerator magnet or a used book and then moving on.) Then we set out upon Trail Ridge Road, which crosses the Continental Divide over two miles above sea level, above the treeline. It was wet and very cold. I think that we just made it before the park closed it for the season.

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I loved the tundra and the wide open spaces. The wind was wicked, though. The slick road down made Sandy more nervous than I’ve seen him since Ireland.

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Rocky Mountain National Park September 2015

There was an elk couple beside the road at the bottom of the mountain. I might have had a good shot of the big male from across the road if three foolish humans hadn’t run in front of me and blocked my view. Fortunately for them, he chose to fade back into the trees, but I got a photo of Mrs. Elk, as well as a long shot of a herd when we were at the top of the ridge.

Colorado 2015

Rocky Mountain National Park September 2015

We had drinks and a bite to eat at Pancho and Lefty’s in Grand Lake, then found a great little retro motel in Hot Sulfur Springs, and ate a good breakfast at the Glory Hole.

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Next: on to Utah!


Zip lining and exploring in Colorado

Sandy and I went to Colorado to see my Aunt DeLaine and cousin Cherie in September, and we rented a car to do some sightseeing on our own.

2015-09-13 16.55.38The four of us went to Glenwood Springs on that Sunday with the idea that we would be ziplining there on Monday morning. We stopped in Vale during an Octoberfest festival and mosied around downtown Glenwood Springs and through the lobby of the Hotel Denver, an historic site. The West has done a great job of keeping many of its grand old hotels maintained and in business, unlike the East Coast. This is a detail from a beautiful kilim hanging there. We celebrated Cherie’s birthday at a saloon there. That night Cherie realized that our zipline appointment was actually in Idaho Springs, about two hours behind us, so we drove back to that area early in the morning.

As you might know, I am very afraid of heights but I occasionally get up the nerve to do something fun despite my fear. This time my courage failed me and I didn’t even make it to the stairs at the first tower before I had a panic attack. However, my 87 year old Aunt DeLaine did it, because she is like AWESOME AUNT.


She did get rescued once when she braked too soon.


Here’s Sandy making one trip across the creek.


As for me, I puttered about Clear Creek and thoroughly enjoyed myself.

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Next, off to Rocky Mountain National Park.