Heather Burton, painting a snow scene at night — a

A group of painter friends decided to paint the snowy landscape at night together. What did they learn? 

Jane Hunt’s setup.

It seems what they mostly learned is that it’s a lot of fun to paint with your friends, no matter what the conditions. That’s what we gather from Dave Santillanes, Jane Hunt, Stacey Peterson, Susiehyer, Kirsten Savage, and Heather Burton. That Colorado crew made a day of it recently — and a night.

The Colorado snocturne group: Kirsten Savage, Dave Santillanes, Susiehyer, Jane Hunt, Kyle Paliotto, and Heather Burton.

“For me painting nocturnes in the snow — or ‘snocturnes’ as Jane Hunt calls them — is more about the camaraderie of braving the elements with fellow painters than it is about getting a finished painting,” says Santillanes. “Sure, there are all the usual benefits from painting from direct observation — even at night — but usually by the time you’re ready to put the finishing touches on a painting your hands are frozen and your brain is mostly occupied with survival.”  

Painters in the night.

Dave Santillanes doing his “warm up” painting in the afternoon, if there can be such a thing in freezing weather.

Survival? It seems that they survived rather well. First the group gathered in the afternoon for a painting session. Then they retired to a restaurant for appetizers and cocktails. They proceeded to Peterson’s house for dinner and drinks. “After a few drinks and some gentle persuasion from Susiehyer, painting outside in the cold night and full moon sounded like a good idea,” recalls Santillanes.

Kyle Paliotto’s painting.

There was a detour. Someone’s car got stuck in the snow, and the artists freed them, earning them a six-pack of Coors. Finally, they were set up and painting. “It’s pretty wonderful to have a group of equally crazy artist friends who are not only excited about painting a snocturne, but who also make it a fun adventure,” says Hunt.

Heather Burton and Dave Santillanes painting in the dark, and loving it.

Stacey Peterson’s painting.

The idea seemed to have a gravity-like pull all its own. A passing artist was sucked into the vortex: Kyle Paliotto.

“I was flying into Denver from North Idaho,” recounts Paliotto. “I had planned on demoing at a couple of galleries and attending a show I was in. Maybe I’d even stop in at the Denver Art Museum if I had time. So I was caught off guard when Stacey Peterson Facebook messaged me saying that a bunch of artists were getting together to paint, in the snow. Well, I opted for the gallery setting: warm, music, and a hot coffee. As I drove home I stopped by to see how the gang did in the snow. Before I knew it I was fitted with a bunch of warm clothes people donated to me and off we went, into the night to paint a nocturne under the full moon. The scene was great and the camaraderie better. We painted, laughed, complained, and swore. By the end of the night we all felt like conquerors from some arctic wasteland. This was so much better than sitting back in the hotel room, alone.”


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