Steamboat Springs A reflection of artist Pat Walsh's personal reinvention is hanging on the walls of the Small Works Gallery at the Depot in her show titled "Works on Paper."
In 1992, Walsh traded in her Washington, D.C., investments job for paintbrushes and art classes at the Washington Studio School.
"Working in the finance business, you get a very narrow focus in life, especially in Washington, D.C.," Walsh said.
After years in the business world, Walsh said it was time to broaden her focus and reinvent herself from a successful businesswoman to an artist. Though she hadn't practiced art before, the curriculum at the Washington Studio School intrigued Walsh.
"They (the instructors) wanted to teach painting the way the masters painted teaching the fundamentals of classical painting," Walsh said.
The courses emphasized teaching art history while at the same time teaching techniques of painting. Walsh stayed with the program for three years, which eventually made up the base of her painting expertise.
In 1995, she and her husband moved to Steamboat Springs, where she maintained her painting career, focusing on the environmental beauty of the Yampa Valley.
A culmination of this work is being displayed in the show at the Small Works Gallery at the Depot, which opened last week.
The show features paintings and photographs, many produced from a trip to Cuba Walsh made in February that had a profound effect on her.
Walsh spent part of her childhood in Puerto Rico, where she learned to speak fluent Spanish. In Cuba, that enabled her to get to know the locals on a different level than most Americans. Though the landscapes of Cuba left an impression on Walsh, she said it was the people on the trip that she was most moved by.
"Being able to speak Spanish made it amazing, because the people all wanted to talk," Walsh said.
Most wanted to know what Americans think of the embargo the United States has placed on Cuba, which has been detrimental to the country's economic condition. Walsh said some people in the streets were begging for common items such as aspirin, shampoo and soap.
Many children asked for pencils and paper. A group of children Walsh talked with wondered if Americans children have toys. She recalled that they were playing with a fork and asked Walsh if she could give them a cigarette box to play with. She found a Marlboro box, getting it from a member of her group, and gave it to the children. The children viewed the box as a great treasure.
Numerous photographs of the people of Cuba are on display at the show, as well as about six watercolors painted on site in the country.
This is Walsh's first solo art show.
"It's really exciting. I'm really happy with the work I have to show," she said. "It's nice to just put the work up and show people what I want to communicate right now."
Walsh said she hopes the paintings will convey natural images to people on a different level.
"I'm trying to create a two-dimensional image that is going to inspire someone to look at it and think about it," she said.
Watercolors provided a chaotic nature that helps convey this sense. Walsh also paints monotypes, a painting that uses a stamping and layer technique of originally work, to achieve an ambiguity in her paintings.
"It gives a certain looseness and emotion," she said. "It's going toward the image I'm striving for. It has a certain life-like process that isn't so rigid."
Walsh's show will be up in the Small Works Gallery of the Depot though mid-July.