Capturing the Beauty of Open Lands…………
During the week of June 20th, a group of 25 nationally recognized Plein Air Painters (those who paint outside) descended on Castle Rock for Douglas Land Conservancy’s Plein Air Invitational. I was fortunate to have been one of them. We painted all week and on Friday, we submitted our “keepers” to be sold during a weekend show at the White Pavilion in Castle Rock. The event was a great success. It raised awareness of DLC’s mission and a portion of the proceeds went to support DLC’s efforts. I have always supported groups that protect lands and DLC is one of the best.
The week of painting was a lot of fun for all of us. I met some great new friends and got reacquainted with some old. Without a doubt, we artists could not have done this on our own. The staff and volunteers of Douglas Land Conservancy (DLC) were instrumental in making this happen. DLC gained us access to some beautiful properties, including the Welborn Family Ranch near Franktown, the JA Ranch near Larkspur and the Lowell Ranch south of Castle Rock.
Land access was the best thing DLC did for us, but by no means was it the only thing. They marketed and organized the show. They kept us company while we painted and they shuttled in water and lunch. In fact, on one of the painting days, the temperatures soared to 100 degrees and I drank probably 9 bottles of ice cold water, which was much more than I had anticipated. If the DLC staff and volunteers had not been there, I would not have lasted more than a few hours, before leaving site to fetch more water. This allowed me to paint from sunup to sundown without leaving the farm. Their support allowed me to complete 4 separate paintings on that day – not a record, but darn close.
The landowners we visited were especially generous and seemed genuinely excited to have us paint on their property. One even shuttled us around in her Ranger when the dirt roads became too slippery with mud. I also met 2 of the Welborn children, now grown. It was nice to hear stories about the barns I painted and them growing up with their brothers and sisters on this family farm near Franktown. It was also interesting to hear about their parents buying this farm back in the 50s because the urban sprawl of that time was encroaching on the family’s previous farm, closer to Denver. Along with many other members of the community, a few landowners even purchased some of our paintings, which always makes an artist’s day. They were generous to us artists, but they are more than that. For each of the properties we visited, the land is either protected, or being considered for protection. This is a decision the landowners have made, or are making, and the fate of their land could certainly have gone a different way. That is a great gift to ALL of us, including the eagles, cougars, bears and prairie dogs.
Now, I’d like to make a confession: I live in Highlands Ranch, in a house, which is located in a neighborhood surrounded by thousands of other houses. I drive on the roads and I shop at the stores and coffee shops. That is a habit I’ve had all my life and I can’t seem to break it. To make matters worse, my wife and I have 3 High School and College aged kids. Just like us, they are shopping at stores and driving in cars. I am also a strong proponent of Land Conservation. Does that make me a hypocrite? Perhaps it does. Of course I make my “confession” in jest, but it is something I wrestle with. I know I am part of the problem. I have lived in Colorado for almost 30 years. I used to drive to Pueblo, Boulder, Idaho Springs, or Fort Collins, and I used to see wide expanses of open land: plains, farms and forests. As the years and decades have gone by, these areas are being “developed” and these cities have become contiguous. The open spaces are being gobbled up by other people’s houses and other people’s stores, (which are just like mine).
To say this development is “bad” is too simplistic. This is how human society works and it will continue to occur. That’s a fact. But the development does not have to cover the land like a blanket. There is another way if we do something (and we have to do something, not just wish for it!). We can’t blame the developers. They are not the bad players in this puzzle, for they too, have families they need to support, and customers they aim to please. Every one of us needs a house, and a place to buy our groceries. At the same time, most people also appreciate open lands, whether they be a city park or Rocky Mountain National Park….a local greenbelt or a protected 6 thousand acre cattle ranch. These spaces provide the much needed gaps in our societal sprawl – those pockets and wildlife corridors that are often overlooked until we belatedly and nostalgically notice they are gone. The more we have of them, and the larger they are, the more our places are livable – certainly for the coyotes, frogs and owls, but also for us.
Also, don’t forget!!!…….there is always a degree of urgency for Land Conservation. Who has not driven by a nice stretch of land with a great view, only to see it get sprinkled with Condos in just a few months? Now, have you ever seen such a dramatic change happen the other way around? Probably never, especially if you live in a state as vibrant and popular as Colorado. Once land gets developed, it aint never coming back. So please do something today. It will make you feel good.
I like to give a warm thanks to the landowners affiliated with the DLC that I mentioned above and also to those whom I have not (yet) met. I also offer a huge thanks to the donors, employees, and volunteers of Douglas Land Conservancy. You can make a difference and you are making a difference. People have different means and abilities, but all contributions help. Yours might be a $20 check, or a purchased painting, or perhaps the protection of your 100 acre plot or perhaps one of 6000 acres. Thanks to all of you for making my world more livable.
Scott Lines – Landscape Painter
I am an artist who paints in oils en plein air (outdoor, on location) and in my studio. I’ve always enjoyed making art and my favorite subject is the landscape. I have a degree in Business Administration and Spanish from Michigan State University and worked the first half of my adult life in the corporate world. In early 2015, I was laid off from my employer of 26 years, when they moved their operations to Warsaw Poland. Like many life events, the timing of this was not ideal, but I saw it as a great “kick in the pants” to allow me to become a full time artist. Until tha
t time, painting and selling art had only been a serious hobby, which I did on the side. Now my work life is much different. I paint a lot, enter shows and street fairs, and compete in plein air events. These events allow me to meet my customers, many of whom have become good friends. Original art is not a product that can be churned out on an assembly line. A well-executed painting is something special and it can give pleasure to a viewer. I’m happy to be participating in that process and I work hard to produce paintings that people treasure.
In addition to my own painting, I have also carved out time for teaching, which I enjoy very much. I have had thousands of hours behind the easel and I’ve been very fortunate to have learned from some great artists and wonderful teachers. I believe I must share this knowledge to people who want it, just as others did for me . I also consider it a privilege to help others progress with their art, for painting can be quite rewarding.