Paintings past-bedtime in Vail |

Paintings past-bedtime in Vail

Sarah Mausolf
Vail, CO Colorado
Kristin Anderson/Vail DailyChildren's Garden of Learning students Maeve Courtney, left, and Addison Avery work on painting an outline of a horse Wednesday in Vail. The children's art work was displayed at the Masters Gallery in Vail.

VAIL, Colorado – Anne-Marie Keane considered the painting hanging in Masters Gallery in Vail

It had a splashes of pink.

It had a name – “Princess Smarty Pants.”

It also belonged to an artist who, at that very moment, was home with the baby sitter.

“Princess Smarty Pants,” Keane said with a laugh as she studied her four-year-old daughter’s masterpiece. “I wonder what that means to her.”

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Clad in dresses and suits, gallery patrons Thursday night sipped wine and noshed on ahi tuna lollipops from the chef of Lord Gore restaurant. It was like any other art opening, except that the artists were some of the youngest gallery director Rayla Kundolf has ever featured.

The artists were children 22 months to five years old who attend the Children’s Garden of Learning in Vail. Professional artist Carrie Fell visited the pre-school this past week to paint with them. Childrens’ paintings were auctioned off at Masters Gallery as a fundraiser for the school. The event raised more than $5,000.

“It’s a neat concept in that it’s a fundraiser that benefits kids not only financially but through experience,” said Jenn Bruno, a parent of two children at the Children’s Garden. “For the adults, it’s a great night out to celebrate their children.”

Fell spent two days at the Children’s Garden of Learning this week, coaxing children to express themselves.

She provided the older children with acrylics and canvases. Each canvas featured a sketch of a bucking horse. Fell encouraged children to paint with their hands, use brushes and scrape the surface with pieces of foam board. Children also named their artwork.

“Because they are so small that’s why I came up with a project like the horse,” Fell said. “It has somewhat of a coloring book feel but they don’t have to keep within the lines.”

Finger painting is something Fell can relate to. She uses her hands to create abstracts of hard-charging cowboys and images of the West. A professional artist for 20 years, the Parker, Colo., resident has completed several residencies at schools.

DeeDee Hense, director of the Children’s Garden, said the project gave students an opportunity to experiment with hues and shape recognition.

“I think it’s a sense of accomplishment,” she said. “Just a sense of self and self esteem that’s incorporated in their artwork.”

Younger children worked on a group project. They painted a 30-by-30-inch canvas, signing the back with their hand prints.

Eagle-Vail resident Tricia Blaikie won the bidding war for the painting. She watched her two-year-old daughter work on the piece, and said it has sentimental value.

“For me, it’s a piece that marks her first year in school,” she said. “It has a lot of her little friends on there, that hopefully she’ll have for life.”

Staff writer Sarah Mausolf can be reached at 970-748-2928 or

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