Plein air painter hosts show

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When friends ask Zanobia how long it took her to complete a certain painting, she laughs and says, "It took 42 years, starting when I was 2."

Her paintings of flowers and landscapes fill the walls of her salon, Abracadabra Hair Design, and an adjoining art gallery.

She is trying to build her reputation as an artist in Steamboat after returning here four years ago. She lived here for 12 years before leaving for California, Texas and a stint on the road playing music with a country band.

She found herself back in Colorado, living in Telluride, and decided to come home to Steamboat Springs.

"I have friends and family here," she said, "and some great ski buddies."

Zanobia no longer gives out her "real name." Everyone knows her as Zanobia and the name "is real to me," she said.

Most of her paintings are done on location in the plein air style.

The challenge in painting on the spot is "chasing the light," she said. "The light changes so rapidly. It will be there for 15 seconds and if you didn't capture it, it's gone forever.

"Painting is all about light. Seeing is all about light."

An oil painting she has hanging in her salon was painted in her brother's canoe in the middle of Trapper's Lake.

"That was a more adventurous undertaking," Zanobia said. "I had to finish it that afternoon."

For many people, painting may be a way to relax, but for Zanobia, it's the opposite.

"It's not relaxing. It's exhausting. Painting is some of the most intense mind work but it's satisfying.

"You create something that wasn't there before. It was just raw are materials."

The secret to painting outdoors is to have a good memory, Zanobia said.

"Things are going to change, so you just have to go with your initial impression," she said. "You have to remember the thing that got you to paint (that image) in the first place."

She prefers to paint realism rather than abstraction because more people can identify with it, she said. "It's a language everyone speaks."

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