Fraser artist finds meaning among subtle difference |

Fraser artist finds meaning among subtle difference

Autumn Phillips
Sky-Hi Daily News
Fraser, Colorado

When Elizabeth Kurtak began painting birds 10 years ago, she filled them with detail. Her brushes put feathers on each wing and pine needles on each branch.

They were a reproduction of life – painted exactly as she saw them. But over the years, as she continued to paint the image of birds in the branches of a tree, the feathers fell away and the branches bared.

And as the paintings simplified to just the impressions of birds – an outline, a triangle for the beak and dots for the eyes – they came to life.

Kurtak was able to communicate so much more with so little. Each bird has a personality and something to communicate.

“(The paintings) are about the relationships between the birds,” Kurtak said.

“It follows the them of my work, which is individuality within sameness.”

As part of her Solo Summer Show, Kurtak will display a series of four paintings – watercolor on white paper – of the latest incarnation of her birds titled “Doves with Flowers.”

The gallery will be full of new work (all sizes and price ranges) and some older pieces from her private collection (not for sale).

Though much of her recent work is in watercolor, Kurtak began as a printmaker. She has an MFA in printmaking from Western State College.

Her printmaking background shows through in her paintings – the repetition of images. each image almost, but exactly the same. The meaning of each painting can be found in that difference.

Both media, watercolor and the linocut prints Kurtak also makes, “are subtractive,” Kurtak said. “Like working with marble. You are taking away to create the image. In watercolor, you begin by preserving the white space. With prints, you cut the whites out.

“I’m more comfortable with the subtractive approach to art, than with oils and clay where build.”

Kurtak’s Solo Summer Show has become an annual Fraser tradition. It’s a chance for visitor’s to see her work, but it’s better known as a chance for locals to catch up with each other during a busy summer.

“It’s a nice way to get back in touch,” Kurtak said. “There’s no crazy live band to talk over. Just relax, socialize and have a glass of wine in the garden.”

– To reach Autumn Phillips call 887-3334 ext. 19600 or e-mail

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