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Arts & entertainment

Artists on painting safari in the natural world

Lakewood’s McAllister participates in In Plein Sight event


“En plein-air” is a French phrase meaning open air.

The phrase refers to a kind of painting done in the outside world with natural or man-made objects the painter sees.

It’s also the kind of painting Lakewood artist Deborah McAllister finds particularly inspiring.

“If you’re painting off of a photo, you have to remember cameras sometimes affect the color of the image,” she said. “You can see objects’ colors better when you’re outside.”

McAllister is one of 27 artists from throughout the country participating in PLAN Jeffco’s first ever In Plein Sight painting event, which will be held at Jeffco Open Space parks from Oct. 4 through 9. PLAN Jeffco is a nonprofit open space advocate group.

“We are thrilled to launch In Plein Sight this fall,” said Margot Zallen, PLAN Jeffco president, in a statement. “We look forward to celebrating the beauty of our conserved open spaces through the palettes of the plein-air artists that will be joining us in October.”

Artists will be painting from dawn to dusk at one of five Jeffco Open Space locations each day, including South Valley Park in in Littleton on Oct. 4 and Crown Hill in on Oct. 6. A gallery exhibit of all the works will be displayed at the Golden Community Center Oct. 8 and Oct. 9.

Originally from Wisconsin, McAllister has been making art her whole life. She graduated from the Colorado Institute of Art.

“I’ve been in Colorado for 18 years, and it’s very inspiring to be here,” she said. “I love painting outside, so it’s perfect for me here.”

A board member of Plein-air Artists Colorado, McAllister has participated in events celebrating Summit County’s Continental Divide Land Trust, and exhibits her work at Artists on Santa Fe Gallery in Denver and Rijks Family Gallery in Crested Butte. She helps to arrange Plein-air Artists Colorado’s Tuesday “paint-up” events that get artists out and painting en plein-air.

“It’s very important to me to support groups that protect open space, so the In Plein Sight event is perfect for me,” she said. “The event will be a great opportunity for people to watch us artists work, and they can talk with us and ask questions.”

Some of McAllister’s favorite painting spots around town include Bear Creek Open Space and Prospect Park. She also said she likes landscapes that have water and a good view of the mountains.

“It’s a challenge, because the light is always changing,” she said. “Sometimes you have to deal with the weather, or it’s really hot or cold or there are bugs. But that’s part of it. You experience it with all your senses.”


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