Granby artist’s work can be found outside and in stores across the county
Shoppers looking for holiday gifts made locally have lots to choose from in the creations of Casey Lee Paugh. Raised in Grand Lake, Paugh has taken inspiration from the natural beauty around her, while her creations in turn beautify places in all corners of the county.
Paugh says she is a lifelong artist.
“As a kid, I would spend hours drawing in a little ‘studio’ I had created in my closet. I loved the quiet focus and became addicted to practicing various techniques,” she said.
In high school, she took numerous art courses, then minored in art in college, but as an adult, she initially thought that art would only be a hobby.
“I have been blessed with family and friends who saw my potential and encouraged me to pursue what I love. They gave me the courage to take the first steps, and they continue to support me,” she said.
Gifting art over the holidays
Much of Paugh’s work centers on giving ordinary objects new life. She takes pallet wood to make signs or wall hangings, uses aspen logs for holiday ornaments and coasters, paints rocks, decorates chairs and coffee tables, and works with old snowsports equipment.
Some snowboards are transformed into colorful coat racks, and one of her friends uses her painted snowboards to make benches as well.
“Another friend suggested I paint wine glasses … so I went home and learned how to do it,” she said. “My best seller is the winter aspen scene with cardinals.”
Many of Paugh’s items are for sale at Keepsake Christmas Shoppe at 411 Park Ave. in Kremmling and The Bowerbird’s Den at 295 E. Agate Ave. in Granby. At the Christmas Shoppe, customers can pick out hand-painted wine glasses, vases and wooden signs. Paugh has a wine cabinet “spiced up with mandala dot work” for sale at The Den, along with handmade soaps and other decorative items.
Her kids get in on the creative action too, helping her make soaps for sale. A mom of five, Paugh has also adopted and fostered.
“We call it Paughsitively Soap and we add a positive statement to each one,” she said.
Art around town
In addition to adorning the shelves of shops, Paugh’s artwork can be found throughout Grand County.
Those waiting at a Winter Park bus stop may be sitting on bench made from a lift chair off of the old Zephyr Lift, which painted by Paugh. Customers visiting Fraser businesses have a chance to take a seat at one of her painted picnic tables.
Every summer she paints the library windows in Granby and Fraser, advertising their summer reading programs. This past summer, Paugh depicted the library district’s “Oceans of Possibility” program with animals surfing and enjoying the waves while the sun dived into a good book.
“I have also done window splashes for the Grand Park Rec Center, CASA, individual homes and currently The Bowerbird’s Den,” she said.
Art in the Park
Paugh has received community recognition for her work — she has been chosen as the winner of the Granby Public Art Committee’s annual Art in the Park contest during its first two years.
The inaugural Art in the Park began in September 2021 to celebrate local artists, featuring live music, art vendors and interactive art activities, like jewelry making and rock painting. However, the biggest draw of the event was the live art contest among 10 artists, which invited event attendees to vote on their favorite artwork.
“When I heard about the Art in the Park event last year, I immediately wanted to do it, and just as quickly doubted my ability,” Paugh said. “I felt nervous about attempting such a big piece of art and working on it in front of people.”
After encouragement from friends and family, Paugh decided to enter. She and fellow artists painted large panels shaped like fish, to be displayed on Granby’s “long wall” mural along Agate Avenue.
Many artists designed their fish with a Colorado-centric theme. Paugh’s depiction included moose in a meadow and a woman paddleboarding on a bright blue lake beneath mountains, with a balloon flying above. The public chose Paugh’s fish as their favorite.
“I was so excited to win first place, but even then, I thought perhaps I won because I chose such a unique style,” she said.
Paugh had created her mural using a style inspired by pointillism — a technique made that uses tiny dots, or points, to create color patterns. When viewed as a whole, the tiny dots make up a cohesive image, like Paugh’s Colorado landscape.
This year’s installation was aspen leaves. Paugh helped paint the long wall mural with white aspen trees to prepare for the leaf installation. Then, she returned once again to Polhamus Park with paintbrushes in hand.
“This year, I still felt hesitant to enter, but I knew I could do it if I just got going,” Paugh said. “I designed my mural using standard brush strokes because I wanted to prove to myself that I could compete without the novelty of the (pointillism) technique.”
Paugh used cool tones — blues, purples and grays — to create a moonlit scene of mountains, trees and birds.
Paugh explained that creating is a stress relief for her, even in midst of a contest. She painted her leaves over two days in the park, alongside 12 other artists. As her mural came to life, attendants got to see her progress, enjoy the bands, plus create their own art at the crafting stations. Then it was time for voting.
“Art in the Park has been such a fun and challenging event. The talent this year was at a high level across the board, and I think any number of the artists could have won,” Paugh reflected. “I was so shocked and excited when they called my name for first place again!”
While the honors have given Paugh confidence and joy, she said her favorite part of the contest wasn’t the accolades, it was getting to know her fellow creatives. She said she enjoyed working alongside them in a spirit of camaraderie, rather than competition.
All the artists’ creations are now installed on Granby’s long wall until fall 2023. The installations will be available for auction at the next Art in the Park as artists return to create new installations.
How art brings joy to the world
Paugh’s future is full of new projects. She’s currently partnering with Autumn Bishop, owner of The Bowerbird’s Den and Autumn’s Nest in Fraser. They have plans to artistically refinish furniture and offer community workshops and classes.
“Having other people enjoy my work refreshes my soul and fills me with joy. My greatest goal is that my art would bring a smile to someone’s face, and point them to the ultimate creator, Jesus Christ,” she said. “He gave me a gift, and I hope to use it to bring joy to others.”
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