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Paint in ‘plein air’ in Vail Thursday

Daily Staff Report
Vail CO, Colorado
Special to Daily"Poppies 1," by Joan Norris.
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VAIL, Colorado ” A stroll through the Betty Ford Alpine Gardens fills the eyes and mind with beauty, freshness and inspiration. What better way to express and capture these feelings than on a canvas? On Friday from 9:45 a.m. to 3 p.m., local artist Joan Norris will lead a plein air painting workshop in the Betty Ford Alpine Gardens.

En Plein air, the French expression that means “in the open air” is the term most often used to describe painting outdoors. Realist painters like Jean-François Millet and impressionist painters like Claude Monet and Pierre-Auguste Renoir, were among the first to popularize plein air painting in the 1900s, making use of natural lighting and scenery as the subjects of their paintings. In contrast to still life arrangements inside a studio, plein air painting allows for many other elements of life ” temperature, movement, smell, sound and atmosphere ” to transfer to the canvas.

Norris is known for her paintings of nature, especially flowers. Norris enjoys the natural light and brilliant colors that her outdoor vantage points allow.



“Plein air painting is the purest expression of the painting experience, integrating physicality and emotional response,” Norris said.

An avid painter herself, Fraidy Aber, executive director of the Vail Symposium, is excited to bring a plein air workshop to the Valley.

Participate in The Longevity Project

The Longevity Project is an annual campaign to help educate readers about what it takes to live a long, fulfilling life in our valley. This year Kevin shares his story of hope and celebration of life with his presentation Cracked, Not Broken as we explore the critical and relevant topic of mental health.



“In an environment as beautiful as the one in which we live, it is hard to believe there are not more opportunities for art en plein air,” she said. “I am looking forward to taking the class with Joan Norris to gain a new perspective about plein air painting. I just haven’t decided if I will use my oils or pastels.”

Norris sees life as a continuous process of painting. Drawing with a brush is “seeing” and feeling. She enjoys dealing with the traditional and never-ending problems of color, form and with what one confronts “out there.” From the instructor seat, however, Norris prefers to serve as an enabler.

“I prefer students to find their unique expression,” she said.



Norris grew up in Southern California, before coming to Colorado and earning a BFA at the University of Colorado. Moving to Vail in 1975, she taught pastels, drawing and painting for 18 years at Colorado Mountain College. When not painting, she skis, hikes and travels. Norris and her husband/photographer Jim Lamont work out of a studio-gallery in Red Cliff.

Students may bring either oils, pastels or watercolors to the plein air workshop.

Materials are not included, but easels will be provided. Space is limited, and reservations are required. The price of the workshop is $35. Call the Vail Symposium at 970-476-0954 for more information or to make a reservation.

What: Plein Air Painting

When: Friday, 9:45 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Where: Betty Ford Alpine Gardens

Cost: $35

What: Bells, Bells, Bells: Bronze Bell Workshop

When: July 23, 3 to 5 p.m. Public bronze pour at 8 p.m.

Where: Ford Park Picnic Pavilion

Cost: $25 adults/$10 children under 18 for workshop, bronze pour is free.

For reservations or more information, call the Vail Symposium at 970-476-0954.


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