Artist horses around

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Michelle Ideus saves her junk mail.

"You never know when something's going to be just right," said Ideus, a mixed-media artist who paints Yampa Valley horses layered amid a collage of words, phrases and cutout images she collects from newspapers, magazines and mailers that most people send directly to the recycle bin.

What: Opening reception for "Horsin' Around in Steamboat," an exhibit of mixed-media paintings by Michelle Ideus When: 6 to 8 tonight Where: Sleeping Giant Gallery, 624 Lincoln Ave.

"Anything printed that's out there and available to mankind, I will use," she said.

Ideus uses her clippings to create a backdrop, along with vivid colors and contemporary geometric patterns, for her majestic renderings of horses -- all "Steamboat horses from Steamboat pastures," she said. Ideus' latest collection of paintings, called "Horsin' Around Steamboat," is on display at Sleeping Giant Gallery in downtown Steamboat this month.

Ideus said she didn't grow up with horses but has always been fascinated by them.

"My memories are just being in awe," Ideus said, thinking back to a time when her parents let her feed apples and carrots through the fence to horses on roadside pastures.

Ideus said she always thought painting a horse would be the hardest thing to do. But once she tired of the traditional landscape and still-life techniques she was trained to paint in art school, Ideus said she decided to branch out into something fun and different. That's when she decided to tackle horses.

Ideus' new collection is a series of eclectic horse paintings in thoughtful, creative frames that combine acrylic paints with found and clipped objects. Her paintings give a nod to the landscape while featuring horses.

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