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Garcia creates daily diary of brushstrokes and images

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By Sara Miller

Evergreen artist Ted Garcia’s latest collection of work is like a painted diary of his life in 2009. Of course, all art is personal for the artist creating it, but in Garcia’s latest show, Plein Air 365, the viewer gets a glimpse at the sunsets, creatures and places that touched Garcia’s soul last year.

On New Year’s Eve 2008, Garcia stood in a field in Norman, Okla., painting the last sunset of the year. It was at this moment when the idea for his 2009 project, Plein Air 365, struck.

“As I was painting, I started to think about how lucky I am to have an opportunity to be outside painting, doing what I love,” Garcia says. “And with that in my mind, I began to wonder about all the new and exciting places that 2009 would bring. Then it hit me. I thought, ‘Wow, I'm going to do a plein-air painting everyday in 2009.’ ”

Garcia began his art career as a commercial illustrator. In 2002, he began dabbling in Russian Impressionism. The freedom and energy he felt when painting in a new style and with different types of paint led Garcia to focus his career on fine art.

Plein Air 365 is the culmination of those newfound passions. “Plein air” is a French term that means “in the open air.” The term is used to describe a style of painting in which the artist paints outdoors with real light, capturing a quickly changing scene. The painting is complete at that point and is not touched again.

“Painting en plein air is the most rewarding thing for me. I love being outside — just me, my paint and brushes and the scene in front of me, all the while trying to capture it on canvas before it changes. What a thrill,” says Garcia.

Garcia spent every day of 2009 outside, braving blizzards, rainstorms and blazing heat to create paintings of scenes or events that moved him. On a typical day, Garcia jumped in his truck and headed out in search of a subject. A few days, Garcia had subjects pre-planned such as the Native American dancers at the Denver Friendship Powwow or the thousands of flowers in the Iris4U Garden in southwest Denver.

On most days, however, Garcia roamed until he found a scene that he wanted to capture. One day he could be found perching beneath dangling rock climbers on a rust-colored wall of boulders in Morrison. Another day, his easel might be tucked among the crowds at the Evergreen Rodeo as he frantically tried to capture a performance of the Original Cow-Boy Band.

The most striking part of Garcia’s show is not the recognition of specific locations that he visited but instead the changing face of Colorado that he captured throughout the year. January is filled with frozen riverbanks and the spectacular cloud formations of early winter. March is filled with underlying tints of delicate pinks and blues. The viewer almost shivers feeling the muted and frigid effects of March’s blizzards.

May starts off rainy and dark with several paintings created in a storm, but then the spring light breaks through the tempests, and the world comes to life with flowers. Crabapple blossoms of bright pink are the first sign of color as the world comes to life in the spring. By the end of the month, summer’s golden light is shining its first strokes on the Great Sand Dunes of Colorado. The rest of the year plays out in a stunning array of hues and strokes.

A show of all of Garcia’s 365 paintings will open at the Center for the Arts Evergreen on Jan. 8. According the CAE organizers, the show will be the largest solo exhibition ever in the mountain community. Most importantly, it will be an amazing opportunity to relive 2009 through the eyes of a man who saw, and painted, all of it.

Plein Air 365: A Year of Paintings by Artist Ted Garcia

Jan. 8-23; opening reception on Friday, Jan. 8, from 5 to 8 p.m. at Center for the Arts Evergreen, 32003-B Ellingwood Trail

For more information, call 303-674-0056.