Winter Park: Book cover features Karen Vance artwork |

Winter Park: Book cover features Karen Vance artwork

by Cyndi Palmer
Sky-Hi Daily News

Imagine yourself surrounded by inspiration, doing exactly what you dreamed of doing, where you dreamed of doing it, and getting paid for it. Local artist Karen Vance doesn’t have to imagine it. She is living her dream.

“I have always loved art – looking at it, experiencing it, doing it, reading about it, collecting it,” the artist said about her passion. “I bought my first piece of original art at an outdoor art fair – The Old Town Art Fair in Chicago, when I was 15 years old.”

As an adult, Vance found the perfect place to be an artist.

“The area of Colorado is so diverse. Grand County has lakes, waterfalls, Alpine terrain, lofty mountain peaks, evergreen forests, aspen, cottonwood, the Colorado River, canyons … all four seasons … wildflowers, wildlife, skiing, rodeos, ranches, amazing sunsets, great and different weather conditions, people, faces, … there is always something new and different to paint here,” she said.

Elk Horn Art Gallery in Winter Park, which has featured original works by Vance for about 16 years, announces a holiday party Thursday and Friday to celebrate the artist and one of her many new accomplishments.

Vance will be there to sign copies of “Landscapes of Colorado: Mountains and Plains” featuring several of her paintings. The new book, which was released in August, was put together by Ann Daley, associate curator of Western Art at the Denver Art Museum. Vance said she first heard the good news when she took a phone call from the publisher, Kay Fowler of Fresco Publications, who told her about Daley’s project and that she chose Vance and her works to be a part of it.

“When the publisher called me and told me about it and that Ann wanted me in the book, I was stunned,” Vance said. “I didn’t even know that she knew of me or my work.”

The book offers a unique survey of paintings, drawings and photographs by more than 50 artists committed to exploring the natural environment of Colorado, more than a dozen of them by women.

Its 287 pages feature contain five pieces by Vance. Each highlights scenes inspired by the views in Grand County.

One of the five works, titled “Another Spring,” was chosen for the cover. It is a view of the two old Murphy Ranch barns, which also won Vance Judges Honorable Mention and People’s Choice awards at the Buffalo Bill Cody Museum in Wyoming two years ago.

“I never dreamed I’d be considered one of the top female artists in America,” Vance said of the honor. “I must say that it’s actually a nice surprise to be ‘rubbing shoulders’ with such a great group of artists.

“I had always known that I was talented, but I also worked very hard at it,” she said. Encouraged by five generations of artists before her, Vance developed her talent through years of study at a variety of schools. She particularly is thankful of the teachings of Quang Ho, whom Vance said was a very generous teacher who shared everything he knew about creating truly great paintings.

“I loved my art classes,” she said. “I always excelled in them. From childhood throughout college I was at the top in my art classes. It was very natural for me to create art. It was like breathing.”

Her first job was working for her father at his graphic design studio at the age of 15.

“He was a tough boss and the best boss I’ve ever had,” she said of the experience. “He expected the best. He taught me amazing drawing and design skills, plus the ins and outs of the ‘business of art,’ and most importantly, good work ethic.”

Local galleries that display her work include Elk Horn, which carries her original oil paintings exclusively, along with prints and giclees; and Grand Lake Art Gallery, Streamside Art Gallery and Winter Park Framewerx carry all her prints, giclees and the famous Winter Park Resort posters.

Vance works can also be found in several galleries around the United States, as well as in “The History of Plein Air Painting on Santa Catalina Island.”

Despite the success, Vance hope to continue learning with each painting and “that every painting is better than the last.”

For the budding artists out there, Vance said, “keep creating your art.”

Perhaps they too will one day find themselves in a beautiful community that nourishes their talent.

Special limited editions of the book that features an actual giclee on the cover are also available for those who call to reserve a copy. The limited editions of the book, whose regular version is available for $85, are $115.

The Gallery is also offering a holiday special through Dec. 31 in which patrons who spend $500 on framed or unframed prints and giclees by Vance receive a signed copy of the book.

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