2016 Year in Review

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As part of my studio organization project, I took inventory of 2016.  I thought I’d share my 2016 year in review with you.  I was a little surprised by the results, especially the number of paintings I completed.  My goal was to do a plein air painting every week, but I knew I would miss here and there due to travel, weather, studio work and art shows.  Surprisingly, I still did 51 plein air paintings.

"Last Painting of 2016" oil on canvas 8x10 © Nelia Harper
“Last Painting of 2016” oil on canvas 8×10 © Nelia Harper (now available $150 – contact me)

Here is the breakdown:



Studio 16 (seven of which were experimental and didn’t really reach completion)

Plein Air 11

Oil Paintings

Studio/Workshops 24

Plein Air 40

Egg Tempera

7 paintings

Art Shows

I spent a lot of time entering and planning art shows this year.  I entered 4 juried shows, and I was accepted into 3.  I also participated in 2 group shows, and did my second solo show during the month of June, selling 6 paintings plus a number of prints and greeting cards.  Of the three juried shows, I received the Guerilla Painter Award at the Pastel Society of Colorado for Bobcat Autumn.


I just keep learning more and more about managing my website.  It takes a certain amount of tenacity and stubbornness on my part.  I added a zoom feature to the shop, so you can see better detail on the paintings.  And, I had planned to do at least 2 blog posts a month and ended up with 24 posts.  They weren’t as consistent as I wanted, but I’m creating the habit.


I was very lucky to be able to attend three workshops this year in addition to taking some oil painting classes.

Mike Beeman – 1 day pastel workshop

Margaret Jensen – 3 day oil workshop

Bright Light Fine Art – David Leffel, Sherrie McGraw & Jacqueline Kamin – figure in drawing and oil was an absolute highlight.  I’m still processing what I learned.

Classes with Jeanne Mackenzie


A highlight of the year was meeting Richard Schmid at his retrospective in Denver and seeing his work in person.  His painting is influencing my work, and I’m very excited to see where it goes.

I also made my own traditional gesso panels for egg tempera.  It was much easier than I thought it would be.

My main goal for 2016 was to learn how to paint in oil, and I feel really good about what I have accomplished.  One of my oil paintings (Follow Cow Creek) was accepted in the 100 Years of the National Parks show, and I could see the progression of skill over the course of the year.  Besides painting as much as possible, I learned about canvas, supports, glues, paints, color mixing and brushwork.  And, I’m proud to say I have completed 15 color charts.

Color Charts
Color Charts

If you are just learning to paint, I can’t recommend the painting charts enough.  Richard goes into great detail in is book Alla Prima.  A must read for any beginner (or experienced painter).

I was very proud of our trip to Las Vegas, where I worked for multiple days doing sketches, photography, plein air studies and then created a studio painting (you can read about that process here).

On a personal note, I also trained to summit Long’s Peak (14+ miles round trip).  Although we missed the peak due to weather, it felt great to be in shape and at altitude again.  And, I got my studio organized (finally).


As we go into 2017, I’ve been thinking a lot about my goals.  And, while it isn’t very quantifiable, I know that I want to go deeper into what I have learned.

I will continue to learn from the masters by copying their work – it’s intimidating but so interesting and helpful, and use the process of plein air to studio to develop ideas.  I intend to paint en plein air weekly (some weeks more, some weeks less).  Learn to paint portrait and figure.  Paint a couple of still lifes.  Participate in juried and group shows. Write on this blog, especially show more of my work here.  And, maybe even apply to a gallery or two, and sell more work.

If you have questions about plein air, pastel painting or anything I’ve mentioned on my blog, feel free to leave a comment or contact me.

I wish you a wonderful 2017.

What do you think?