Lance Whitner graduated with a bachelor's degree in art from the University of Colorado at Boulder - one week before her first child was born.
Although she had studied clay and pottery, she switched to painting with acrylics because it better complemented raising a family with three children.
"It's a combination of practicality and what fits my life right now," Whitner said. "And all my kids love to draw, paint and get messy."
Color, landscapes and the outdoor environment inspire Whitner's paintings.
"I look at everything - books, magazines and what my friend wore yesterday - for colors," Whitner said. "I just play around with shapes and color until I'm excited about what I see."
Whitner also has experimented with portraits of her children and her friend's children.
"I'm not trying to depict reality really, but I'm also not going to call them abstract," she said. "If I wanted to paint exactly what I saw, I would have my husband take a photograph."
Whitner already has met with a great deal of early success since she began painting two years ago. Her work is on display at the Comb Goddess, and she will be sharing an exhibit with her photographer husband next fall at the Depot Art Center.
Whitner also won the poster contest for her depiction of Emerald Mountain for the Steamboat Springs Arts Council's 35th anniversary. And she has recently opened an art school with three other moms. The school is on Lincoln Avenue and is called "Art Fuel" because it fuels the creative mind, Whitner said.
They plan to offer classes for all ages in drawing, painting and artwork that uses recycled materials, books and crafts.
"We all have kids and have to balance raising a family and working," Whitner said. "This way we can offer classes and not have to do daycare every day."
Whitner hopes to make painting her career - but only as long as it fits into her life as a mother.
"Kids come first, especially when they are little," Whitner said. "But I can't wait 'til they're 18. Then I come first."