Art

Plein air painter Laurie Celine Balliett exhibit landscapes at Taos Inn

A Taos artist's philosophy of landscape

By Dawn Franco
tempo@taosnews.com
Posted 1/22/19

The Taos Inn will be hosting works from artist Laurie Celine Balliett's series "Regional Works of Northern New Mexico and Southern Colorado." In collaboration with the Taos Center for …

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Art

Plein air painter Laurie Celine Balliett exhibit landscapes at Taos Inn

A Taos artist's philosophy of landscape

Posted

The Taos Inn will be hosting works from artist Laurie Celine Balliett's series "Regional Works of Northern New Mexico and Southern Colorado." In collaboration with the Taos Center for the Arts, the opening reception for the exhibition will be Thursday (Jan. 31) from 4-6 p.m. The show can be seen beginning Monday (Jan. 28) and will be on view through May 2.

The show includes oil paintings from 2014-18 of Balliett's plein air and expressionist landscapes. While Balliett begain painting in college while studying environmental philosophy, she has strongly pursued fine art. She has been capturing the Northern New Mexico scenery since her first visit 17 years ago. She is also a former reporter with The Taos News.

For the first time in 2002 Balliett visited Taos from Vermont and the atmosphere of the mountain captured her plein air spirit.

"That's what drew me here when I first visited, the way I felt and the way I feel when I'm in Taos. I feel so good, it's because the air, the light, the high altitude," she said. "It's clear and crisp and bright, the colors are warmer, and the nature," she said.

Nomadic in nature, Balliett said she came back to Taos every year from places like Cape Cod, Massachusetts; North Carolina and Colorado. In 2009, on an extended painting journey, taking temporary station in the land of the hum, she met several local artists who roamed to different landscapes daily to paint in solidarity. Nightly and in the early mornings through a series of phone calls they would arrange a place for their camaraderie, resembling something like the School of Athens among the sagebrush and open skies.

"Starting in 2009 when I was painting every day with local artists, it was amazing and so much more valuable than any Master of Fine Arts I could have pursued because I was doing it every day and having friends around me who are painting as well," Balliett said. "It was an amazing experience, it was pretty formative in my plein air painting and painting with oils."

In 2013 Balliett made the official move to Taos and continued her plein air craft. She often works directly in the field; her ideal works do not begin in the studio, but out in the rugged terrain with the canyons, trees and the red clay soil.

"I have to experience a place if I'm gonna paint it. I have to be in a place, and feel the place, experience the place and see the light and just know the feeling of the place," Balliett said.

Fellow artists have stated that Balliett has an intuitive sense of color harmony. Balliett's use of color does not stray from realistic representation of the landscape yet she adds just a whisper of mysticism with a touch of pastels. Her works often display a bright exuberance while maintaining a calm sensation. The thick paint upon the canvas of her trade gives an illusion of movement, direction and dimension. While Balliett does use traditional brushes, her weapon of choice for large portions of her work is the palette knife. Some of her subjects have included the Dixon area, the Chama river, the Río Grande Gorge and more personal destinations such as one piece titled ''My Way Home," portraying the Taos mountains, the Northern New Mexico vegetation and an adobe structure.

"I like the large expansive views," she said. "I love doing the overlooks, the Taos Gorge, the mountain from the golf course or going to Ghost Ranch and spending a few days up there painting."

While Balliett's formal training in fine art is limited, perhaps it's unnecessary, as the creative aptitude is inherently genetic. She is the fourth great-granddaughter of New York landscape artist Jasper Francis Cropsey, member of the Hudson River School art movement.

Extending beyond the bloodline, Balliett has other affiliations including the Oil Painters of America, Provincetown Art Association and the Arts Foundation of Cape Cod. She has previously shown work at the TCA, the Farmhouse Café and Bakery, the Millicent Rogers Museum and at several other local galleries. Her work has also been displayed in Colorado and Utah.

Balliett spends her summers painting the Cape Cod scenery and she has also worked as a photographer and journalist. She is currently freelancing full-time as a property appraiser, but she is looking longingly for the day her art can be her full-time commitment.

"When you paint full-time, you blossom," she said, reminiscent of the daily 2009 plein air excursions.

Experience Balliett's work and meet the artist at the opening reception. Entry is free and open to all ages. For more information, call the Taos Center for the Arts at (575) 758-2052 or The Taos Inn at 758-2233. Visit tcataos.org.

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