Doors just keep opening

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It happens to countless artists.

Life.

° Opening reception for "A Sense of Place; Three Colorado Artists Share Their Vision of the Landscape in Their Unique Style" including mixed-media works by Elizabeth Buhr, black and white photography by Ian McVey and landscape paintings by Sallie Smith ° 5 to 7 p.m. today ° Depot Art Center, 1001 13th St. ° 879-9008

Sallie Smith's painting was interrupted by marriage, by children, by the work required to run an arts and crafts gallery in Denver and then by the years it took to build a house in the hills outside of Boulder.

When all those interruptions ended, Smith's husband suggested that she start to paint again.

"I'll need an easel," she said.

And those were the words that set into motion a whirlwind of painting and gallery shows and, most unexpectedly, many, many sales of her work.

She walked into the art store in Longmont ready to buy paints and an easel. As she shopped, she started a conversation with a stranger named Jake Gaedtke.

He told her that he was a painter. He told her that he was offering a yearlong workshop that would teach her everything she needed to know.

"The door just opened," Smith said. "It was kind of weird that he would happen to be there. In that year, I learned so much."

Smith started showing her landscape paintings about a year ago, including a painting at SummerArt 2004 at the Depot Art Center in Steamboat. She sold the painting she had at SummerArt. In the past year, she has been in 10 shows, and she has sold 13 paintings.

"I'm not sure why people like my paintings so much," Smith said. "I think about it a lot. Maybe it's because I'm so excited about the subject matter it's transmitted to the people who see (the paintings)."

Her most popular painting has been a piece titled "Three Sisters Study," which she recently reproduced in giclee prints.

The scene of three trees on the horizon came from a photo Smith took 27 years ago in the Tetons.

"It was my husband and my first trip together, and we saw those trees. They were just lit up," she said. When Smith started painting, she knew that was going to be one of her first canvases.

"It was so much fun to paint," she said. "It brought back the feelings of the afternoon."

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