Edwards artist intrigued by watchful aspens

Caramie Schnell
Vail CO, Colorado
HL Art Profile 01 TS 09-26-08

At at time when most people’s eyes are focused on the golden leaves adorning local aspen trees, Madison McCaulley’s gaze is focused on the trunks. Specifically it’s the “eyes” on the tree ” the knots ” that intrigue her most. Most recently she’s been trying to capture the black knots that contrast starkly with the paper-white bark.

Where some people see imperfection, 22-year-old McCaulley sees beauty.

“By focusing on the aspen tree knots I am taking a piece of the tree that I feel many people might just pass by,” she said.

McCaulley, a recent graduate of St. Olaf in Minnesota, is showing 13 of her oil paintings at the Vail Library’s Community Room through Oct. 15. She’ll be at the library for an artist reception on Sunday from 3 to 5 p.m. The collection on display is a combination of McCaulley’s older work, some of it abstract, and her recent work, much of which was inspired by nature and trees, she said.

The title of her most recent piece is “Watching,” in part because she pictures the trees watching the people. An interesting concept considering the local highways are clogged on Autumn weekends with city-dwellers gawking at Aspens and fast-falling gold.

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“It’s been really nice outside so I enjoy being out there,” she said. “My parent’s house is down by the river in Old Edwards Estate, down in that little valley. I look up and see the mountains surrounding me.”

McCaulley hopes to continue her tree series, she said, using two- to three-foot canvases for her creations.

“I want to make them pretty big and really zoom in on that part of the tree,” she said.

We asked McCaulley a few questions in advance of her exhibit.

Vail Daily: What does painting mean to you?

Madison McCaulley: Being able to change reality by playing with color and form in a very personal and expressive way.

VD: When did you know that you wanted to be an artist?

MM: I feel like making and creating has always been a part of me.

VD: What inspires you to create?

MM: Just by living, traveling throughout the world and absorbing my surroundings I can collect, journal, sketch, photograph and paint.

VD: Why did you choose the medium that you work with, or did it choose you?

MM: Oil painting makes me more patient; It takes more process and layering. I enjoy mixing the colors ” it can get a little messy and that is why it was just the right medium for me.

VD: Describe your style.

MM: Abstract landscapes focusing on colors, texture and value.

VD: If you were to meet any artist, alive or dead, who would it be and why?

MM: I would like to meet artist Kiki Smith. She has a fascinating way of capturing the human body and spirit. Some of her work can be political, or it might be disturbing, but it makes you think and ask questions.

High Life Editor Caramie Schnell can be reached at 970-748-2984 or

Name: Madison McCaulley

Medium: Oil Paintings accompanied by sketches

How long have you lived in the valley: 22 years

Date and time of show: Oct. 1 – 15, daily from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Location of Show: Vail Library Community Room

Artist reception: Sunday, 3 to 5 p.m.

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