Translating brilliant color on the canvas |

Translating brilliant color on the canvas

Caramie SchnellVail, CO Colorado
AE Joan Norris DT 7-25-07

Editor’s note: This year marks the 10th anniversary of the Red Cliff Studio Tour. In the 10 days leading up to the Aug. 25 and 26 event, we’ll profile each of the 10 artists participating in this year’s tour.

Rather than planting and nurturing flowers during the summer months, Joan Norris chooses to paint them – “It’s so much easier,” she said simply. And for her, it is.

During the spring, summer and fall, Norris spends time painting outside, en plein air, in local gardens and within view of local vistas like Shrine Mountain Pass or Gilman, the abandoned mining town where brightly colored homes cling to the steep mountainside. She enjoys the natural light and brilliant colors her outdoor vantage points allow, she said. And indeed, her paintings of towering hollyhocks, poppies and geraniums are filled with bright oranges, deep pinks and rich purples. The goal, she said, is to translate the flowers’ splendor on the canvas before their beauty fades. The same goes for when she paints Gilman, which she usually does in the fall, when the surrounding aspen trees are reveling in their own golden palette.Besides color and nature, Norris cites her travels as inspiration for her work. Just within the past few years, Norris has spent time in Greece, Turkey, China and Mexico with her husband, Jim Lamont. She calls her style expressionist realism, and her focus, she said, is indeed color.

“It excites me,” Norris said. With her bright, flowing silk shirt and her short blond hair, Norris explains that painting, for her, came later in life, though she has a Bachelor of Fine Art degree from the University of Colorado at Boulder. She’s lived in the valley since 1975 and taught at Colorado Mountain College for 18 years before giving it up to paint full time. Her Red Cliff studio is stacked with hundreds of paintings, many of which feature flowers that never will fade.For more information about the Red Cliff Studio Tour, visit

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