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Transforming new into old

Cassie Pence

VAIL – When artist Rolinda Stotts was a teenager, her high school in rural Oregon turned the art room into a workshop for taxidermy. Stotts is still preserving nature, only now she uses oil and canvas instead of glue and glass eyes.Art was something Stotts never considered for herself as a profession. In fact, she has a degree in biology and animal sciences – that taxidermy must have had some effect. But after marriage and motherhood, she found her artistic niche: Stotts has a gift for weathering fresh paintings so they appear antique. She developed the 10-step “aging” process, which includes making her own canvas.”After I paint on the canvas, I actually break the painting. Then I glue it on to wood and stabilize it. Some pieces look like their on leather. You can feel the breaks in it, and it encourage people to touch my work,” said Stotts from her home in Denver. Masters Gallery in Vail Village is hosting the artist Friday, Jan. 22, for a reception from 4-8 p.m.Her idea flowered from a European wall treatment she stumbled across while studying frescos and architecture in Italy. She gave that process a totally different spin to adapt it to her own oil paintings.”I’ve always had a fetish for peeling paint, antiques and weathered items. My paintings look like you just found this incredible old wall and literally ripped it off from Europe and somehow restored it,” said Stotts. Growing up on a dairy farm, she spent the majority of her life outside. The subjects of her paintings reflect love of nature with subjects varying from a peaceful river surrounded by pines to vibrant summer flowers to buffalo heads to playful aspens.

“I can’t keep her on the walls of the gallery because the pieces complement the lifestyle we have here. It’s the earthy tones and textures,” said Masters Gallery Director Rayla Kundolf. Stotts lays the paint on thick because texture is very important to her. She often uses a palette knife to create extra surface quality.”We don’t live in a flat world, everything has surface to it. We’re a tactile people. It’s one of our senses. My paintings are fulfilling one of the senses,” said Stotts.She works in reds, browns, yellows and even black, because it’s stabilizing. The colors work to create the mood in her paintings. But her mood dictates the composition; she doesn’t paint from a photograph.”I start painting from the top and work my way down, and I allow the moment and the canvas to dictate where a tree should go, or if there will be a river,” said Stotts.Her commissioned work has taken on a whole new angle – art therapy. Stotts makes house calls to soak in the client’s needs and feel out the space where the painting will hang.”I did a floral piece for a woman once. It was a very emotional experience for both of us. She said, ‘winter is so depressing for me. I miss the summer. I miss the all the flowers and the color.’ I left and came back after working intensely on this piece, and it had everything. Summer flowers, vibrant colors, and I even threw in one spring flower for good measure. She was so excited, she goes, ‘It makes me so happy just to look at it,'” said Stotts.

Stotts also paints the human figure and abstracts, mostly for her own enjoyment. There will be an abstract hanging at the show today. Creating abstracts gives her an “art high.””It’s very easy to look at a pear and say, ‘this is a pear. It’s finished.’ On a abstract, there is such a fine breaking point from a master piece and a complete failure. So the anxiety is so intense, and then when you get it right the endorphins you feel from the emotion you put into it is unbelievable,” said Stotts.Stotts will be on hand Saturday at Masters Gallery from 4-8 p.m. to discuss her weathering process and talk about her inspirations. For more information, call the gallery at 477-0600.



Arts and Entertainment Editor Cassie Pence can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 618, or cpence@vaildaily.comVail, Colorado


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