I am back home in Texas following my two weeks in Colorado. It was great seeing our new Colorado neighbors, when we were there, and were excited that they RODE over with their horses and Eevie and Damon got to ride something besides the little ponies that are available at the fair. They loved riding high up, in spite of the cold and the wind.

Colorado is beautiful but bitterly cold in the season of Christmas. We always plan to have someone go to the cabin ahead of us and turn on the heaters so that the logs are not frigid. Interestingly enough, if the logs have not warmed up, the house is cold, in spite of the heat being on, and the first twelve hours can be pretty miserable if the heat has not worked its magic.

We arrived after many hours of driving but the kids remembered everything from times before, including where to run to find their hidden stash of toys, to start playing with. We emptied out the truck, for the most part, and then curled up on the sofa near the warm glow of the pellet stove.

For some reason, every time I am here, I want to paint. I love the lighting, the view, and the feel of majesty in the mountains, and when they are covered with snow, they are so inspirational. Not inspirational in a way that makes me want to paint mountains, but inspirational in a way that helps me recognize beauty, and perfection in details, that can feel burdensome at other times.

I enjoy painting people, and the details that makes a person’s face uniquely individual, can seem tedious when I am hurried or distracted. But in the log cabin, with children playing happily (for the most part), on their own, I feel free to take my time, and solve the visual puzzle of what qualities, makes a person uniquely individual. This puzzle is a combination of colors, textures, shapes and shades. Many times, these “pieces” have to be rearranged and redone, in order to achieve the final picture.

As I work, I like to imagine what that person might have been thinking, and the painting seems to often take on a life of it’s own, like Gepetto with Pinocchio. As the colors mix, and blend, or lighten to elaborate some element of the face, I watch in delight as the little person I know “takes life” two dimensionally on the canvas. (Or in this case, on the opposite side of a board).

My paintings are novice, but my dad, who was also an artist, encouraged me to persevere, so I paint on anything available, to be thrifty. This time, I had found some old framed prints at an antique mall, and the pictures with frames were about fourty dollars.

I had carefully cut out the backing and flipped the print to provide the “canvas” for my art, as I painted on the reverse side. I love the frames which are oval shaped, and I could not have found frames like this easily, so I was happy with what I had to work with.

I was at the cabin for two weeks, but I painted the majority of the two paintings, in the last two days. The rest of the time I spent before attempting the painting, was to get in the proper mental framework for the challenge, studying the images I wanted to paint, and trying to understand what made them look the way they looked, while doing a zillion other things with the kids and my husband. That sounds silly, but that seems to be my M.O.

I love impressionistic paintings, and I try to be more relaxed with my own brush strokes. But MY impressionism, is not there yet, lol. It ends up being my best PRECISE effort to convey the innocence and perfection of these little beings I get to spend time with. Precise is not impressionism, and there is a lot I can do to to be LESS precise… but precision, I have learned, is necessary for the novice…so I plod along, gathering “impressions” as I go.

I am encouraging Eevie to paint as well, the way my dad encouraged me, and she painted a self portrait (with crayons) when we were there. Her results were delightful.
The weeks went by quickly.
We meant to read more books, go on more hikes, and cook more jointly prepared meals, but we were all happy anyway, just eating snow cream, and putting canned frosting on pieces of bread and adding mini chocolate chips, instead of all the more elaborate menu’s we had planned.

Out of our thirty books we had planned to read, we read two, and the wacky Wednesday book and the ninja gingerbread man books won out.

Life at the cabin is uncomplicated like that.
Yes we rode the four wheeler, and when it ran out of gas on the dirt road, a mile away, the kids thought it was a grand adventure to get gas and get the vehicle back in the barn.
No we never made it to the train ride in the mountains near the collegiate peaks.
Yes we did get to go play in the park in leadville in the snow and it was magical. It was twilight when we got there, and the park with its fire stove in the middle cheerfully invites anyone nearby to get toasty warm. The bathrooms are open, and also heated and toasty warm.

We made snow angels, and threw snowballs, and spent about twenty minutes each time a mitten fell off, trying to get it back on with the thumb in the right place. The kids loved it.
And when we got home, I got to paint. Not one but two paintings. And when I look at them now, days later back in Texas, miles from Colorado, I remember the cabin, the mountains, the snow angels in the powder, and the sound of children laughing and playing…And these are “my impressions”.




HoustonWorkout on YouTube, mom of five, journalist and artist and conservative who values life.

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Melissa Ann Howell Schier

HoustonWorkout on YouTube, mom of five, journalist and artist and conservative who values life.