Jennifer Nicholson

It’s hard not to smile when you first see Jennifer Nicholson’s unique hand painted treasures. Her whimsical forest creatures and cheerful color combinations deliver a unique and charming view of the great outdoors. “I want my art to make people feel like they need to go outside,” she said with a smile.

The self-taught artist uses several mediums and techniques to create her work, including wood burning (pyrography), acrylics and watercolors on wood, much of which she cuts from fallen branches. She admits trying many different methods, but when she started using the combination of wood burning and painting, everything fell into place. “I just love how it all comes together. I like the color, texture and the way the paint mixes on to the wood. I also like using wood burning as outlining and shadow.”

She remembers always drawing and painting as a child, but never pursued art except for one free form art class in college. Her focus was on her career as a respiratory therapist and being a single mother. “I was very busy working and taking care of my son. I just didn’t have time for art. When I decided I was burned out in the medical field, I rediscovered my love of art.”

She now paints in her studio almost every day, often forgetting what time it is and when to eat. “I’m just immersed in it. I have the time to devote to my art and the more I do it, the more creative I get and the more ideas come to me. The gates have just opened,” she said.

She moved to Allenspark last winter, but has always lived an adventurous life. “I’ve lived in Alaska, I’ve lived on a boat and been to a lot of beautiful places in nature. I just couldn’t live in a city. My studio is upstairs by a big bay of windows, overlooking a forest,” she said. “I listen to music, watch the hummingbirds at my feeder and paint all day.”

She loves getting out in nature. “It’s just so magical and wild. I want to bring all of that to the wood slices I paint on, but in a whimsical way.”

Nicholson is one of 28 regional artists featured at The Old Gallery in Allenspark, a nonprofit center for art, community and visitors. You can view her art there from 9:30 a.m.- 4:30 p.m. daily.

She will be doing an art demonstration at The Old Gallery on Saturday, Sept. 25 from 1:30-4:30 p.m. during “Follow The Yellow Leaf Road,” an Art Drive from Estes Park to Central City on the Peak to Peak Byway. Four art galleries are participating: Art Center of Estes Park, The Glass TIPI in Ward and Gilpin County Arts in Central City.

The Old Gallery Artists Co-Chair Kathy Banich said, “Jennifer’s personality is mirrored in her art; imaginative, fun and lighthearted. Her painted wooden discs are highly sought after and will undoubtedly become collectables for our patrons for years to come.”

Located at 14863 Colorado Highway 7 in Allenspark, The Old Gallery provides entertainment, classes and social services to the Peak to Peak mountain communities. It’s home to the Rocky Mountain Nature Conservancy Store until mid-October. The Old Gallery also hosts the Community Cupboard Food Bank and Community Closet. It is only 20 minutes from Estes Park and Lyons.

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