Grand County artists display work at Pole Creek |

Grand County artists display work at Pole Creek

Autumn Phillips
Sky-Hi Daily News
Grand County, Colorado

Marie Johannes opens her studio door to immediate inspiration. Giant lupine spill downhill from her door into a stand of aspen – all creating the perfect foreground for her view of the Continental Divide.

“When I came on this property to do the isolation test (will I feel isolated?), I felt embraced by the trees and the landscape and the mountains,” she said. “This place is good for the artist’s soul.”

As a Plein Air painter – someone who paints outdoors – she couldn’t be happier with the life she’s found just outside of Fraser.

“I like looking at landscapes and I like being in the landscape,” she said.

Johannes moved to Grand County from Michigan six years ago. The move was a transition from her life as an interior decorator to being an artist full-time. And as she filled her days with her canvases, everything on those canvases began to change.

In college at the University of Michigan, her professor required that all projects be rendered in watercolor.

“There was a lot of pressure,” she said. “It led to a lot of frustration.” After graduation, she spent the next years of her life studying and trying to perfect her watercolor technique.

For all those years, she didn’t paint in oils.

“In Michigan, people don’t paint in oil,” she said. “I think it’s because they spend so much time inside and they are afraid of the fumes.”

But when she moved to Grand County, she picked up oils and found her perfect medium.

She showed her oil landscapes for the first time in a show at the Fraser Valley Library.

“Shows are part of the artistic process,” she said. “You get feedback. You need to know that you are getting the message out and connecting with people.”

Johannes’ “message” is about a sense of place. It’s about being in the moment – something anyone who spends time outdoors can understand.

Though her landscape paintings are quite literal, they are not about capturing a location photographically. They are about capturing the spirit of the place.

You may not recognize the shoreline of a lake by name, but when you look at the painting somehow you can recall being there.

“It reminds (the viewer) of a space and a time they were there,” she said.

Johannes’ work will be on display this month as part of the Art Out of Thin Air Member Show, opening Thursday night at the Pole Creek Golf Course’s new clubhouse.

This is the first show for the newly formed artist’s group. Twenty-seven artists will have their work on display, including April Hilton, G. Lee Boehner, Karla Jean Booth, Martha Hut, Patty Ellis, Carol Kitts, Heidi McNinch, Kelly Yarbrough, Nancy Goes, Steven Willis, Christina Minasian, Janet Day, Lynnea Godfriaux, Nancy Larner, Susan Reed, Donna Lyons, Julia Grundmeier, Pat Raney, Suzie Royce Cruse, Fran Cassidy, Karen Schafer, Marjorie Cranston, Patricia Alander and William Swartz.

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

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