"Rabbitbush" pastel, 16x20, © Nelia Harper
Rabbitbush

While doing some plein air painting on a brisk January day, I came across this gigantic rabbitbush.   It still had several of its colorful blooms. Startled by the sheer size of the bush and enthralled by the sky and frozen pond, I knew this would be my next painting.

I hoped to convey the drama of Colorado’s winter sky.  Will the storm blow in or move on?  I also wanted to create a sense of texture and the feeling of windswept space.  By creating such a large bush, I hoped to instill a feeling of the size and magnitude.  How old is this bush?  What has it seen?  How long will it remain?

$720.00 Add to cart
"Where the Wild Things Grow", oil on canvas panel, 5x7 © Nelia Harper
Where the Wild Things Grow

During a trip up the Cache la Poudre Canyon, I came across this field filled with aspen trees.  Although I wasn’t able to paint it that day, I knew a return trip was in order and soon the opportunity arrived.

Upon my return, the small aspen grove had filled wildflowers.  As I set up my easel and began to paint, I felt as if anything could stumble up out of the river or through the grove of trees.  While it would most likely be a deer, I couldn’t help but think of the children’s book, “Where the Wild Things Are” and my imagination went wild.

oil on canvas panel, 5×7

painted en plein air

$125.00 Add to cart
"Bobcat Oasis", Oil on Canvas Panel, 12x16, © Nelia Harper
Bobcat Oasis

How many times have I pulled on my backpack and headed for a nearby park to hike, think, look and ponder?   Whether I have a lot on my mind, or I just feel the need to get out into nature, Bobcat Ridge Open Space is a ‘go-to’ spot. There, I am free to wander, wonder and ease back into myself.

As I painted this cottonwood against the backdrop of the hogback, I thought of napping under the tree or having a picnic lunch.  I reflected on the number of hikes I have taken through this park, and how it has become an oasis for my spirit, as well as an opportunity to connect with nature and myself.

oil on panel, 12×16

en plein air

$450.00 Add to cart
"Summer Sweetness", 11x15, Pastel © Nelia Harper
Summer Sweetness

Can you feel the fuzz?  Do you smell that sweet syrup of a ripe summer peach? Each summer, I look forward to peach season and picking up fresh peaches from the farmer’s market.  After they grow and ripen in the heat of the Western Slope, they arrive at the market ready to eat.  There’s nothing as delicious as a sweet summer peach on a hot day, especially when the juice drips down your hand…

Pastel, 11×15

Still Life

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"Peach Study" 5x5, Pastel, © Nelia Harper
Peach Study in Pastel

I’ve been looking forward to summer and doing a peach study in pastel for a larger painting.  Each year, Morton’s Organic Orchards sets up their fruit stand at the nearby farmer’s market. They begin with cherries that are so deep and dark in color, flavor and sugar that I feel ‘drunk’ after just a few morsels.

Following on the heels of the cherries, the peaches arrive. Clingstone peaches appear first – small and sweet. Then, giant freestone peaches arrive by the truckload, covered in peach fuzz. They line up, ready to be turned into pies and jams and in my case, ice cream and smoothies.

These little orbs of sweetness are surprisingly solid. I wanted the viewer to feel as though they could be picked up and held, as well as eaten.

pastel, still life, 5×5

$65.00 Read more
"Tributary", Oil on Canvas Panel, 16x12, © Nelia Harper
Tributary

I have driven by this area countless times and never knew a gem was hidden away.  We started the day at the break of dawn.  From camp, we drove a short distance from our campsite, and hiked out to see what we could see.  Following what I later learned were skunk track, I fell in love with this picturesque spot.

The sun was just coming up over the cliffs and began to filter through the trees. I listened to the hum and throb of the water, and watched the light shift and change, as I painted a perfect summer day.

oil on canvas panel, 16×12

en plein air

$425.00 Add to cart
"Across the Pond" oil on panel, 9x12 © Nelia Harper
Across the Pond

There are hidden gems everywhere.  At a regular painting spot, the calm water created a perfect opportunity to paint this red barn reflecting off the water.  The trees were in full summer foliage, creating a perfect pastoral scene…water, mountains, trees, a red barn, everything a painter could want!

oil on canvas panel, 9×12

completed en plein air

$250.00 Add to cart
"Peace" oil on panel 9x12 © Nelia Harper
Peace

The feed and grain is an iconic building in Loveland, CO. Each year, our plein air group paints at this location.   The shapes and textures present a challenge to the painter.  This year, the peace symbol caught my eye.

oil on canvas panel, 9×12

completed en plein air

$250.00 Add to cart
"Fall Glory" oil on canvas panel 9x12 © Nelia Harper
Fall Glory

There are places we return to paint again and again. This is one of those places. Away from the hustle and bustle of town, tucked behind the hogbacks, Bobcat Ridge is quiet and serene. Fall lingers here, holding onto color until this snow flies. Tucked into a curve of the road, the sun warms the earth and the leaves glow.  The beauty of fall stands in proud glory.

Oil on canvas panel, 10×8

completed en plein air

$225.00 Add to cart
"Fall at Bobcat Ridge" Pastel, 12x16 © Nelia Harper
Bobcat Autumn

Walk through the foothills of Colorado in the fall and the world alights in yellow, orange and gold.  This pastel painting was inspired by a walk through Bobcat Ridge Natural Area.  Located in the foothills of Fort Collins, I return again and again for inspiration and the display of fall color as the leaves turn from green to orange, yellow and gold.

Pastel, 12×16

Winner of the Guerilla Painter Award – 2016 Pastel Society of Colorado Mile High National Show

$425.00 Add to cart
Fall Afternoon, Oil on Canvas 8x10 © Nelia Harper
Fall Afternoon

Each fall the trees beckon.  “Come and paint me”, they call.  “Look at how beautiful I am.  Do you see how inviting it is in the cool shade of my canopy?”  Inspired by a plein air painting session at Bobcat Ridge Natural Area just outside Fort Collins.

Oil, 8×10

$225.00 Add to cart
"Beside Still Waters" Oil on Canvas 8x10 © Nelia Harper
Beside Still Waters

Mist hung in the air.  Clouds filled the sky.  I rounded the corner, and was startled by the blaze of fall color.  The trees seemed lit from within.  I was drawn to the tumultuous contrast of rioting color against the mirror like smoothness of the river.  As I painted, stillness hung in the air.  Two fishermen worked their way up the Poudre River, calling out as they cast and caught fish.  Completed en plein air.

Oil, 8×10

en plein air

$225.00 Add to cart
Follow Cow Creek, oil on canvas, 16x20 © Nelia Harper
Follow Cow Creek

It was a cool brisk morning in early spring. The snow had melted and the sun was shining down. The promise of summer was in the air. After a long hike, I returned to this scene. The light was perfect.

“Follow Cow Creek” was part of the “100 Years of the National Parks” juried art show in Estes Park, CO in 2016.

oil on canvas panel, 16×20

$650.00 Add to cart
Autumn Leaves, Egg Tempera, 9x12 © Nelia Harper
Autumn Leaves II

In a last burst of colorful glory, autumn fills the senses with leaves, wet soil and the hint of snow on the air.  Autumn Leaves II revisits a pile of leaves, tossed on the ground in a multitude of color.

egg tempera, 9×12

$550.00 Add to cart
You Sing to My Spirit, Pastel, 18x24 © Nelia Harper
You Sing to My Spirit

Just as the sky began to lighten, I wound my way up the Thompson Canyon, and bounced over the well worn highway to the Wild Basin turnoff in Rocky Mountain National Park.  Meeting other painters, we started up the trail with our 30 pound packs.  About a mile in, the trail became steep and covered in snow.  We carried on, and the reward was well worth the effort when we reached the tumbling Cascade Waterfalls.

pastel, 18×24

$650.00 Add to cart
Burning Bush, Pastel 11x15 © Nelia Harper
Burning Bush

The South Platte River in eastern Colorado fills with duck, geese and turkey.  In the fall, colors burn bright orange, gold and pale blue green as the sky changes from bright blue to soft fall skies.

pastel, 12×15

$425.00 Add to cart
"Allure" Pastel 11x15 © Nelia Harper
Allure

An intuitive landscape inspired by Red Rocks in Nevada, granite and natural landscapes of Colorado, this scene incorporates real and imagined elements of nature. The allure of rock, adventure and scaling new peaks.

pastel, 11×15

$425.00 Add to cart
Golden Owls 14x11 Pastel © Nelia Harper
Golden Owls

The “Twin Owls” rock formation is located in the heart of the MacGregor Ranch in Estes Park, Colorado.  As part of a larger formation known as Lumpy Ridge, the Twin Owls can be seen from across the valley.  Perched in their granite nest, the rocks harbor raptors and rock climbers.  On a picture perfect fall day, the aspens have reached the height of their gold color.  Each tree and leaf sparkles in the sun

pastel, 11×14

en plein air

$425.00 Add to cart
"Loveland Feed and Grain" - Pastel - 12x16 © Nelia Harper
Next Stop: Feed and Grain – Loveland, CO

It was hot!  At 9 am, the ambient temperature was already reaching 90+ degrees.   I searched for a spot in the shade, where I could focus and not fry my skin.  Spying a level, shady spot next to the train tracks, I setup and began to outline the lines and angles of the old building.  Not long into the painting, a train roared past, carrying shiny new windmill blades.  Where once we were fed by the trains that carried grain, now the trains carry windmills to feed our hunger for energy.  Although abandoned, the building will soon undergo a renovation and be transformed into a home for artists and galleries.

pastel, 12×16

en plein air

$425.00 Add to cart
"Old Friend" Pastel 12x15 © Nelia Harper
Old Friend

Along my favorite hiking trails, I look forward to seeing particular trees.  I’m drawn to their shapes, the curvature of their limbs, the shade they offer, or the feeling they invoke.   Over time, I feel like I know them, and that they know me.  I’ve had my eye on this particular bend in the trail.  I like the way the tree leans over, toward the bridge and the rock, greeting those that pass.  Just as people are unique in their character, so are trees.  As I painted this tree’s portrait, I felt like I was painting an ‘Old Friend’.

pastel, 12×15

en plein air

 

$425.00 Add to cart
"Cliffs of the Poudre" Pastel 12x15 © Nelia Harper
Lazy Day at the Poudre

Not far from the city, along the Cache la Poudre River, there’s a fishing hole that’s popular with anglers seeking trout.  Originating in the northern range of Rocky Mountain National Park, the ice cold water quenches the thirst of the residents along its path before joining the South Platte and traveling to the Gulf of Mexico.  The water gurgled past, the trees were just beginning to turn, and I wished I’d worn my bathing suit for a quick dip in the river.

pastel, 12×15

en plein air

$425.00 Add to cart
Fall Along the River 6x8 Pastel © Nelia Harper
Fall Along the River

Watching fall arrive along the South Platte River in Colorado is a special treat. The water drifts past, placid and gentle.  The cottonwoods shift from green to shades of orange and bright yellows.  The grasses glow, almost iridescent in the sunshine.  Yet, in the shade, the air is cool and refreshing.  While sitting on a log, painting this scene, I watched flock of wild turkeys fly across the river, minutes later, a pair of doves drifted past.  And, while I didn’t see them, I know that deer, beaver and muskrat are nearby, busily preparing for winter.

pastel, 6×8

en plein air

$195.00 Add to cart
"Riverbend Crossing" 11x14 Pastel © Nelia Harper
Riverbend Crossing

Looking for a place to set-up, I spotted a doe and young buck in the underbrush across the river. Along with the chickadees and juvenile bald eagles, they kept me company.  The doe bounded through the long grass and foraged through the scraggly brush.  Either she didn’t notice me, or she knew she was safe.

pastel, 15 3/4 x 11 3/4

en plein air

$425.00 Add to cart
"Cusp of Spring" 8.75x8.75 Pastel © Nelia Harper
Cusp of Spring

The allure of Colorado is the warm spring days interspersed between cold and snow.  The ice and snow melt, the geese swim through for a visit, children run and play and the moisture begins to work its way up the willows, promising summer days and sunshine.

pastel, 8.75×8.75

en plein air

 

$165.00 Add to cart
A-Maze-Ing - Pastel - 5x7 on UArt Paper © Nelia Harper
A-Maze-Ing

Rocks pile and tumble against the alpine blue sky of Wyoming.  From a distance, the rocks appear to be building blocks for a giant toddler.  Here they sit, forgotten in the eons of time.  Contrasted to the hard, sharp rock, aspens dance in the breeze, their golden fall colors warm and bright.

pastel, 5×7

en plein air

 

$180.00 Add to cart
Lake Marie - Pastel - 18x24 © Nelia Harper
Lake Marie

Mountains and tundra, covered in snow and ice from October to May, are revealed each spring as the sun warms the snow creating streams and waterfalls. Lake Marie formed at the base of the Snowy Range, near Centennial, Wyoming catches the water and releases the overflow through a tumble of rock and debris.

pastel, 18×24

$800.00 Add to cart
Snowies in Summer 18x24 Pastel © Nelia Harper
Snowies in Summer

Each summer, I spend several days exploring this mountain range.  On this particular day, I hiked from Lake Marie (the far distant lake) to the top of this 13,000 foot ridge where I found this spot to look out over the range and the lakes.  This particular view faces south, looking out to the Colorado mountains.  I’m always amazed by the number of wildflowers that come into bloom for such a short period of time each summer.

pastel, 18×24

$800.00 Add to cart
Sand Dunes 9x12 Egg Tempera on Panel © Nelia Harper
Sand Dunes

The sun slowly arcs through the sky, kissing the sand and the foliage with a deep warm glow.  The waves lap at the shore and the tranquil scene invites us to breathe deeply and rejuvenate our bodies.

egg tempera, 9×12

 

$400.00 Add to cart
The Hibiscus ~ Egg Tempera 6x6 © Nelia Harper
The Hibiscus

In the Victorian era, the hibiscus flower represented delicate beauty.  In Hawaii, the hibiscus is often worn behind the ear as a sign of a woman’s marital status and as a symbol of hospitality.  In Egypt, the flower was used as a medicinal calming tea.  As I painted this flower over four months, I was reminded of Buddha’s Flower Sermon in which words are not required to understand its meaning.

The story goes, that Buddha had gathered his students for the daily teaching.  On this particular day, rather than speaking, he held out a white lotus flower for each of his disciples and said nothing.  Each of the followers seemed a bit confused, except for one – he saw the flower and smiled a wide smile – understanding what Buddha was saying, without words.

For me, the story represents that the world and all of beauty exists in the one flower.  The flower represents all flowers and that nothing is permanent.  And, that painting this flower contains all the lessons of painting within this one painting.

egg tempera, 6×6

$360.00 Add to cart
Doggie in the Window 10x8 Pastel © Nelia Harper
Doggie in the Window

Located in the heart of France, there is a village built of red sandstone with roofs of slate, covered in lichen and moss. As I strolled through the village on a crisp fall day, I spotted this little “Doggie in the Window”. He was so excited and happy. He clearly wanted to come out to play.

Collonges la Rouge, France

pastel, 10×8

$360.00 Add to cart
The Courtyard Egg Tempera on Panel 7 1/8x10 © Nelia Harper
The Courtyard

For over 2500 years, the Etruscans have inhabited the hilltop town of Bagnoreggio. Once a haven from marauders, the residents now fight against time and nature. The volcanic tuff upon which the village was built tumbles down the hillside and disappears on the wind. Year after year, they rebuild and repair. And, the flowers continue to bloom. Someday, they too will disappear.

Civita di Bagnoreggio, Italy

egg tempera, 7 1/8 x10

$425.00 Add to cart
Fall Bouquet © Nelia Harper
Fall Bouquet

Autumn brings splendor to the mountains of Colorado. The mount mahogany shifts to deep purple, the cottonwoods burst forth in gold and orange. The grasses pulse in waves of color. Set against the red sandstone hogback, fall creates a bouquet of color.

pastel, 12×9

$325.00 Add to cart
Reynolds Hill 12x9 Pastel © Nelia Harper
Reynold’s Hill

A popular climbing area in Vedauwoo, Wyoming, Reynold’s Hill, a monolith of 1.4 billion year old granite, stands proud and strong.   Surrounded by its court of lush aspen trees and meadows of willows, it reflects on its image in the still pool.

Vedauwoo, Wyoming

pastel, 12×9

$325.00 Add to cart
Cheese Seller of Giza - 8x10 - Pastel © Nelia Harper
Cheese Seller of Giza

Overwhelmed by the massive pyramids of Giza, the world quickly diminished as I wandered the ancient alleyways of the nearby village. A high –pitched wail stunned me as it ricocheted off the high walls. “What is that sound?” I asked my guide. “Oh, that? A woman is letting people know that she is here selling her cheese.” She rounded the corner, draped in black, balancing her wares on her head.

pastel, 10×8

$425.00 Add to cart
Meadow of Gold © Nelia Harper
Meadow of Gold

In the fleeting warmth of the high country, summer bursts forth in a profusion of flowers. Each bud explodes in color. The red paintbrush seeks its moment of glory in the carpet of gold.

Snowy Range, Wyoming

pastel,  8×10 

$225.00 Add to cart