They were hunting all right, but not the typical deer, elk or other fur-covered animal. When painter Pat Matthews and a few other artists hired a hunting guide and set up camp, they weren't scanning the horizon for antlers."(Colorado Fish & Game) said we were the first ones they knew of to get a permit for an elk camp and use it only to paint," said Matthews who lives in Little Rock, Arkansas but owns property in Pagosa Springs as well. They even hired a camp chef to prepare five-course dinners and a hot breakfast prepared in a Dutch oven each morning."When on these trips, I am hunting," Matthews said. "I use my four wheeler with a large painting box on the back to hunt. I'm just hunting for beauty to paint."You can see what he found at Paderewski Fine Art Gallery in Beaver Creek, where 25 of Matthews paintings are on display. The show is a celebration of the gallery's 10 year anniversary, and Vail's 50th anniversary."It took me several months to complete the works," Matthews said. "The paintings are a combination of the landscapes in the Vail area and surrounding mountains, and architectural portraits of some of Vail's iconic structures, like the Covered Bridge, the Clock tower and the Vail Chapel, to name a few."His favorite painting is one that captures a snowy Vail day, with the Covered Bridge and the Clock Tower of Vail in the distance. "I think it sold yesterday," he said.
Matthews used a pallete knife, large brush strokes of thick paint and lots of vibrant colors to paint most of the pieces on display. He also paints with both hands, in order to "achieve random patterns of texture." It's a relatively new technique of his. By using a combination of perspective and light, Matthews pieces have a depth that makes the viewer feel as if they could step into the scene. A reception will take place today from 2 to 5 p.m. Matthews will paint during the reception, using his special technique. He plans to limit his color pallete to mostly black, white and shades of gray, "with only a pinch of color as an accent.""It's like ringing a bell in a church," he said. "When you paint neutral works, the color can be very delicate and still stand out."Matthews is perhaps best known for his flag paintings, the first of which he did of the American flag on the evening of Sept. 11, 2001. "I flew to New York a few months later and donated the money from print sales, the original painting and 343 signed prints to ladder company 54 in NYC," Matthews said. "They lost 15 men."He painted two Colorado flags for this show. "One of the best things about my job as an artist is capturing God's beauty and making a living doing it," Matthews said. "I have to say that after painting in several countries and all over the USA, the most beautiful state I have experienced is Colorado. I feel very lucky to do what I do and my family and I are blessed to be able to experience all Colorado has to offer, especially in the Vail Valley."High Life Editor Caramie Schnell can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 970-748-2984.