A Cozy Cottage in Estes Park, CO
Text by Bonnie Gangelhoff · Photos by Carmel Zucker
This story was featured in the April 2015 issue of Southwest Art magazine. Get the Southwest Art April 2015 print issue or digital download now–then subscribe to Southwest Art and never miss another story!
Describe your studio. My studio is only 12 feet by 16 feet. It’s basically a shed that we insulated for mountain weather, and then we had it professionally finished inside—an art studio on a budget. It has a 12-foot-high vaulted ceiling and huge north-facing windows. I love creating big paintings, so this volume was essential to accommodate big easels and canvases. Our home is a 1922 Craftsman bungalow, so I used the same style window trim and paint colors in the studio that you find in our house.
Describe the surrounding environment. The setting for my art studio could not be better. Longs Peak faces the front of my home and the art studio. The snow-capped peaks and glaciers of the Continental Divide in Rocky Mountain National Park are our westerly view. To the north are Lumpy Ridge and the historic Stanley hotel. It is beyond inspiring where I live.
Why did you name it Redwing Studio? When I was a little girl growing up in Louisiana, my grandfather was a fiddler and would play and sing the song “Redwing” to me and my sisters. The song is about an Indian princess, and we absolutely loved it. We rented our house to summer guests for a couple of years before we moved here, and because of its red color, it became Redwing Cottage, hence Redwing Studio.
How do your surroundings influence your work? Being a landscape artist in the most beautiful mountains in the world is a very strong influence. My husband and I have a great daily ritual—he makes the coffee while I pull open all the window shades. Then we sit for a few minutes, look at the breathtaking peaks outside our windows, and appreciate how lucky we are. The view from my studio window is the same. I keep little panels just to jot down quick paint notes, such as when a storm is moving in or the last light of the day. And I’m only about five minutes from Rocky Mountain National Park, so I keep my paints at the ready.
This is the 100th anniversary of the founding of Rocky Mountain National Park. What role has the park played in your work? I’ve loved Rocky Mountain National Park since I was a kid and always wished that I could paint mountains. I studied painting in college, but they only offered very abstract painting. It just didn’t speak to me. The desire to paint mountains finally drove me to seriously study painting. I absolutely love that this is where I live and this is what I do. Here in Estes Park, we are celebrating the 100th anniversary of the park as a community, with events every week. It is amazing how much art played a role in its founding. Painters came here in the summer, did studies, and then had art shows back east where they lived. It was a major influence in garnering support for the park’s formation. Autumn is my favorite time of the year to paint, so I’m out practically every day. The same for summer—so much fun. In winter and early spring, when we have the most snow, I’m a bit more judicious and spend more time in the studio.
Do you listen to music while you work in your studio? Oh yeah. I love Mumford & Sons. On really snowy days, I’ll do a Jimmy Buffett marathon. Other days are good for classical guitar or for Vampire Weekend or Leon Russell.
If your studio were on fire, what one thing would you save? There’s one plein-air painting in my studio that is very special. A few years ago, a very dear friend was in her second battle with cancer. One August day, I carried my painting pack and a lawn chair for her out into the meadow in Moraine Park. We spent the whole day talking, laughing, and having so much fun. I painted; she watched and soaked up the sun. A couple of months later, she was gone. I look at that painting and remember that great day of joy.
What is one place people will never find you? I am extremely allergic to cigarette smoke, so anywhere that’s allowed.
Where do you like to take people when they come to visit you? Rocky Mountain National Park, of course. The Stanley is a lot of fun. Most of our friends like to experience the great whiskey bar there. Plus the ghost tours are quite interesting. Many of our guests are exceedingly content to sit out on our deck in the summer and enjoy our bourbon—it’s a darn good place to be.
Featured in the April 2015 issue of Southwest Art magazine–click below to purchase:
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