Just four hours from Denver, Stacey Peterson finds a place that offers both remote painting locations and a bustling little town with all the amenities a painter may want.
“Autumn Morning,” by Stacey Peterson, 2012, oil on panel, 12 x 16 in. Courtesy Oh-Be-Joyful Gallery, Crested Butte, Colorado
Peterson goes to Crested Butte, Colorado, and once she gets to the town, she doesn’t really have to leave. “It’s a drive for artists coming from Denver, but once you get there, it’s just beautiful,” says the artist. “You could stand right at the edge of town and paint.”
“East River Summer,” by Stacey Peterson, 2012, oil on panel, 12 x 16 in. Private collection
“Gothic Wildflowers,” by Stacey Peterson, 2012, oil on panel, 8 x 10 in. Private collection. Painted along the road in the town of Gothic (a few miles outside of Crested Butte)
That said, Peterson usually travels at least three or four miles out of town, to fairly pristine land. One side of the mountain itself is very popular with mountain bikers and hikers — the celebrated “401” trail is there. The other side is not as popular. “But I just love it,” says Peterson, “because the river winds through there, and there are beautiful aspen groves and mountains all around — you can turn around in a different direction every day and paint.”
“East River Afternoon,” by Stacey Peterson, 2010, oil on panel, 8 x 10 in. Private collection
Another view in the Crested Butte area
The Crested Butte area is know for its wildflowers, and in the winter, ski trails as long as 2.6 miles beckon to visitors. But Peterson says July is the only month when the area truly seems a bit congested. “If you paint there in the fall, after Labor Day it’s empty and quiet,” she says.
“Study, Above Gothic,” by Stacey Peterson, 2009, oil on panel, 8 x 10 in. Private collection
“East River View,” by Stacey Peterson, 2011, oil on panel, 6 x 8 in. Private collection.
This artist climbs high to get the expansive vistas. “I like the big open views,” Peterson says. “I grew up in Colorado and grew up seeing these big mountains, and that’s what excites me. I like that feeling you get when you are in a big mountain valley and huge mountains are all around and you feel really small.”