Vail’s Art on a Whim gallery exhibits work by two artists |

Vail’s Art on a Whim gallery exhibits work by two artists

"Squash and Stretch," by Ellen Woodbury.

The Art on a Whim gallery in Vail is exhibiting work by two artists, Lelija Roy and Ellen Woodbury, currently. Both artists have gained worldwide acclaim for working with traditional subjects in a wholly atypical fashion.

Roy is notorious for her self-described obsession with aspens. She loves the look and textures of the trees; the way their leaves shimmer in the wind never ceases to amaze her. Perhaps the largest source of inspiration for her work is the fact that every aspen grove is a single organism. She loves the sisterhood concept that she finds in the serenity of an aspen forest, she said.

Roy fuses layer upon layer of painted rice papers, silk, lace and other fabrics with acrylic paints, pastels, ink and more to create her dreamlike aspen groves. Each piece consists of approximately two dozen layers in all. Roy’s trees are made from individual strands of hand-painted rice paper. This provides viewers with the feeling of discovering unique trees amongst the whole of the grove. Her mountains and rocks are often made from silk and lace, giving each piece a feeling of suppleness not often found in the art world. Acrylic paints are combined with color shifting metallic and iridescent paints to capture the changing light one experiences while observing an aspen grove.

For the six weeks, Roy has been painting in the Art on a Whim show space on a near daily basis. Given the mix of materials Roy combines to create her work, watching her work can easily be likened to watching a forest grow. It is a fascinating experience. The end result of her efforts has found her work collected throughout the world.

Woodbury spent the majority of her career working as a directing animator at Disney. Name a Disney movie made from the late 1980s to early 2000s, and she has worked on it. Highlights include “Aladdin,” “The Little Mermaid,” “The Lion King” and many more. In 2005, Woodbury left her career at Disney to pursue a stronger passion. These days she spends several hundreds of hours carving stylized animals out of precious and exotic stones.

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Woodbury’s work speaks to the innocence in its viewers. The Disney connection is evident in each piece she creates.

“I apply my knowledge of and experience in animation to my process of designing and carving stone,” Woodbury said. “I think of my creative life as an ascending spiral where one medium inspires and informs another.”

“Squash and Stretch,” a lovely depiction of white tailed ptarmigans made from Sivec and Mogolian Imperial Black Marble, is named after one of the most important ingredients in Disney animation. It is defined by change in shape with no change in volume. Soft curves and crisp edges highlight “Squash and Stretch,” causing light to play over the surfaces to gently reveal the variety of forms and the crystals in the marble. Also on display in the Art on a Whim show space is a Phoenix, coyote, blue bird, a frog and two zebras. Each piece is one-of-a-kind and uniquely whimsical. Woodbury does not believe in editions for sculptures and once she creates a piece it is never to be cast or recreated again.

Both artists thoroughly enjoy explaining their techniques and inviting collectors, new and old, to browse their works. Their show is housed in a 900-plus square foot show space in the heart of Vail Village. The Art on a Whim gallery is the newest gallery in Vail. For more information visit or call 970-476-4883.

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