Deadline approaches for All Community Art Contest

A reminder to local young artists, first through fourth grades: You have just a few days left to bring your artwork to Pagosa Artisans’ Co-op to enter it in the All Community Art Contest.

The deadline is Jan. 31. Members of the Co-op are looking forward to seeing your creations.

Winners will be announced at a reception hosted by the Co-op. Prizes are provided by the following sponsors: DSP Pizza, Shang Hai Restaurant, The Springs Resort, Ramon’s Mexican Restaurant, La Tazza, Chato’s Restaurant and Tequila’s Restaurant. Prizes will be given to the first, second and third place winners in the first and second grades, and also to the winners of the upcoming third- and fourth-grades. Any questions, call the Co-op at 264-2781, or stop by and pick up an entry form.

New sponsors added to the All Community Art Contest are: J J’s Riverwalk Restaurant, Bear Creek Saloon, Junction Restaurant, Moonlight Books and Gallery and Liberty Theatre. Thank you for your sponsorship.

Artist Spotlight: Jean Koenig

I don’t believe Jean Koenig has ever met a stranger or an enemy. Always upbeat, easily excited over new ideas and a kind word for everyone, Jean is a person you would want as a friend. I always thought she was my own personal cheerleader, but as I have gotten to know her over the years, I think everyone feels the same way I do.

Jean and her husband, John, moved to Pagosa Springs in November 2003 and they live in a secluded home up on a mountaintop away from everyone. They moved here because of their daughter, Meredith — who was going to Fort Lewis College in Durango at the time, and they wanted to be a little closer. They wanted to get out of the icebox of Breckenridge.

“We thought Pagosa would have less snow. Ha! We knew about Wolf Creek with all the snow, but not Pagosa. We are kind of learning as we go. If you live on a mountaintop in Pagosa, you learn quickly about plowing and shoveling snow and hiking in a quarter of a mile. Nevertheless, it is a wonderful place to live.”

Jean is a writer. Her mother is an English teacher, so Jean has always been interested in reading and writing. She has written in a journal ever since her early 20s and has always written poetry. She plays the piano and felt that she has expressed her creativity that way.

When Jean was introduced to painting over three years ago, she didn’t even crawl, she started running, painting everything, from acrylics to oils and watercolors.

“It was fun and felt right, and that’s how it began. Now I am hooked. I spend hours looking at art supply catalogues and Northlight Books, always getting ideas to paint. I just want to paint.”

I asked Jean what subjects attract her, and does she like oils or watercolors best?”

“I am more of an impressionist,” Jean said. “I love colors, and I am more attracted to them rather than compositions. I think that is why of all the artists, I love Shirley Tervino’s work. She uses bold colors and she has an unexpected abstract in a normal still life. I love sunflowers, with bright yellow and lavender and lots of white. I enjoy oils but I believe I like watercolors better. Watercolors seem to give you more to play with and have more spontaneity”

I also asked Jean how she felt after selling her first painting.

“Oh my gosh, you’ve got to be kidding,” Jean said. “Someone will pay money for my work? I am still a beginner. I can’t believe that people want to hang my art in their homes. I gave my paintings away for Christmas presents to my family in Oklahoma. They were so excited they wanted me to paint more. That was the big boost for me, when others wanted my work.

“The Co-op is a great opportunity for locals, amateurs and professionals to express themselves and get noticed. It wouldn’t happen if we didn’t have something like this, so I feel really good that I am a part of the Co-op,” Jean said.

Jean is the kind of student a teacher enjoys teaching. She works on her own and is improving every week. She believes she is just a beginner, but Jean has moved into semi-professional. Some artists get there sooner than others.

I am delighted to introduce Jean — friend and artist — as our Artist in the Spotlight. Please drop by the Co-op and see Jean’s work.

Standing behind the right person

I’ve heard it so many times, in different ways, but always the same message: “When I got out of the way, it happened,” or, “I came to the end of myself, or when I stopped myself.”

Maybe we are standing in our own way, and behind the wrong person.

During a nationally-televised NCAA football game, this is what happened: The team was ranked in the top ten in the country, and the quarterback was one of the best in college football. The play had been called in the huddle, and the players were lined up at the line of scrimmage to run the play.

The quarterback came up to the line, began to yell out the numbers, and bent over to receive the snap of the ball before realizing that he was behind the guard instead of the center.

If you know anything about American football, you know the center is the one who snaps the ball to the quarterback, not the guard. In the middle of his calling the play, he took one step over right behind the center, and hollered, “Hut, hut, hut.” The ball was hiked to him and the play was run successfully.

When I am in the throes of painting, adding paint on more paint until I have overworked it and I’m ready to throw it away, if only I would stop myself, but I can’t. The idea is too good, I’m prime to the task and nothing is going to stop me. I am like a locomotive building up steam, just about to jump the track. If it’s not going right, I change from the brush to the palette knife; I scrape off the paint and load my knife and begin again. It isn’t working. Too many colors, no focal point, but does that stop me? No! I keep going, moving away from it and then going back time after time, it’s still not working. “Stop! Stop! Stop! Allright, already! Surrender!” Finally I hear. It is a soft quiet inner voice speaking, “Let go, step aside, you’re standing behind the wrong person: yourself! Switch tracks. Stop. Take a breath; listen to your inner knowing.”

It happens over and over again with watercolors, we can so easily overwork them. I put down one color and then think the color is too good not to put it over here and there and before I know it, I’ve lost my lights. I’ve got a muddy, overworked painting. I have to slap my hands and say, “Enough!”

When my students leave my studio, I say to them with last-minute instructions, “Don’t touch it, let it dry, bring it back, it’s almost done. A stroke or two and it’s done.” Well, they get home, they are excited about what they’ve done and they start looking at it thinking a little tweaking here and a little there, and guess what happens?

This has happened to my students and me more times then I care to recall. It’s a good thing we’re not on national TV; the team is not counting on us, it’s just a piece of paper and a little paint. I’m not losing sleep over it, but if and when we have presence of mind, and take time to listen and step aside, we amaze ourselves in what we can do.

Reader’s comments

“The things your daughters shared are really valuable. I wonder if artists as a group are from the upbeat genes? One thing, regardless of what your emotional genetic tendency is, your brain can relearn and restructure circuitry. If you had a nurturing environment growing up, that helps. And if your parents did not shelter you from social situations to protect you because they knew how shy you were, that is a benefit to the brain of a shy person. Interesting stuff, isn’t it?” — Julillian.

Quote of the Week: “I applied streaks and blobs of colors on to the canvas with a palette knife and I made them sing with all the intensity I could ” — Wassily Kandinsky.

Photo courtesy Jean Koenig
Painter Jean Koenig displays her work at the Pagosa Artisan’s Co-op. Koenig works in a variety of mediums, but enjoys watercolor.