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By Kelly Johnson

In a Parisian cafe, around the 1860s, a group of artists gathered to discuss little of their tea and pastries and more of their passion for art and the ideas behind it. The result? A painting modernization known as Impressionism, moving out from the studio and onto the streets of Paris and into the French countryside — painting en plein air.

These painters loosened brush strokes and lightened pallets, creating a mere impression — a fleeting moment — breathing freedom into their works. With limited success and few artworks accepted in the salon exhibitions of Paris, the artists turned to alternative exhibition spaces. Holding an exhibition held at 35 Boulevard des Capucines, on the top floor of the studio of photographer Felix Nadar, in 1874.

Critics were merciless. Trained to expect the polished illusions of the Salon painters, they were shocked by the raw, unblended, ill-defined paint used by Degas, Renoir, Monet, and company. It wasn’t until 1877 did they call themselves the Impressionists, taken from a newspaper article titled, “Exhibition of the Impressionists,” and the term stuck.

Dan Beck:

Dan Beck has won many prestigious awards including two gold medals from the Oil Painters of America, one national (2011) and one eastern regional (2017,) and a silver medal in the western regional. He has also won awards of excellence from the American Impressionist Society, Ramar Art Competition, and Bold Brush Art Competition. Art has always been his first love since childhood, but wanderlust was his motivation following high school. He worked in everything from construction on the beach of Florida, to four years in the infantry. After hearing about an art school in Denver his life found its focal point and he was determined to take part in the rich tradition of art. “Painting is a balancing act between opposite ideas – direct observation and instinct, control and spontaneity, even between the literal and the symbolic.”

Kevin Beilfuss:

Graduating from Illinois State University and the American Academy of Art, Kevin became a freelance illustrator. Working with illustration, his work consisted mostly of paintings for book covers and magazines for Penguin Publishing, Harlequin, and Readers Digest to name a few. “I had always dreamed of becoming an Illustrator, but the demands of painting someone else’s ideas finally took its toll. I decided that life is too short and that I had to paint from my heart. What’s important to me, is that I try to capture a little of what God has already created in each of my paintings. One can obviously see the beauty of God’s creation in nature, but for me it is even more profound when I see and experience that beauty in people.” In 2010, Kevin won the gold medal in the Oil Painters of America Eastern Regional.

John Cook:

Born in Dallas, Texas John attended school at the University of Texas at Arlington and the Art Center School in L.A., where he received a Bachelor of Professional Arts Degree. Cook has a loose freestyle that reflects his passion for creating mood through the interplay of light and shade. With his native-Texas imagery as inspiration, he paints a diverse array of subject matters from landscapes to architecture. He has displayed works at London’s prestigious W.H. Patterson Gallery and won Best in Show at the 14th Annual American Impressionist Society, National Juried Exhibition. Cook is a deeply spiritual and devoted family man, and says, “Painting is not the most important thing, but I consider the ability to pursue painting for a living truly a special gift and blessing from God. I regard Jesus, God’s Son, the most important being in my life!”

Kim English was born in Omaha, Nebraska and was raised in a rural community near Colorado Springs. Graduating from the Rocky Mountain School of Art, he joined the faculty and later began teaching at the Art Students League of Denver and the Scottsdale Artists School. Winning numerous awards through his career such as Best of Show in New York’s Salmagundi Club and the Allied Artists show, Kim recently was awarded a Master of Excellence award in the 2018 American Impressionist Show. A love for light and shadow, depth and texture, he creates spontaneity by completing each painting in one sitting. He says of using this method, “Immediacy is important. Not only because it is often the nature of people, but for me it is the most instinctive way to paint.”

Louis Escobedo:

Receiving a BFA in Advertising Art from Sam Houston State University, Escobedo began his painting career at age 6 when he won the best of show in his elementary school in Sweetwater, Texas. Starting as a freelance illustrator, he received a gold medal from the Society of Illustrators in New York, along with other honors. Shifting from illustration to fine art in 1985, Louis and his wife, Yolanda, moved to Colorado. Since then they recently relocated to Santa Fe, NM. Exhibiting in many galleries across the U.S., Louis was awarded his first Gold Medal from the National Oil Painters of America – one of only two artists to have received the prestigious award twice from the 27-year-old organization. “I intermingle abstract shapes and color to energize my subjects, which include landscapes, still life’s and figures.”

Bryce Cameron Liston:

Born in Utah, his desire to be an artist formed at a young age, watching his mother paint the Utah landscape. Attending the University of Utah for only a short time Liston choosing to “produce art, not merely discuss art.” With a self-directed education he says, “It allows you to find your own voice rather than emulating that of your teachers.” Liston knew he wanted to portray the human form in his art, and he found himself working in the studio of master sculptor, Edward J. Fraughton, providing him with a knowledge of anatomy that few painters possess, bringing depth and life to the figures he paints. Recently, Bryce received an award of excellence in the 2018 Oil Painters of American national show.

Nura Mascarenas:

Earning an art degree from the Rocky Mountain College of Art and Design, Nura Mascarenas spent many years as a sculptor showing in major galleries in the southwest. Nura returned to her roots in painting, eventually evolving from representational to abstraction. Nura says, “The fragrance of color is the sustenance to my soul, painting is an intuitive process, surrendering to the graceful flow, weaving a tapestry of many threads of color from my inner world.” Having worked with many mediums, painting in oils is her preference. Inspired by her surroundings, Mascarenas finds nature to be the greatest of her influencers— mountain ranges, water ripples, sandy beaches, and everything in between, she finds movement, rhythm, and patterns.

E. Melinda Morrison:

For Melinda Morrison, a B.A. in Fine Arts from the University of Texas at Tyler took a backseat to the corporate world for many years. An advertising exec, graphic designer, art director and later executive recruiter, Melinda left corporate America behind and studied painting when introduced to the Art Students’ League in Denver. Under the guidance of master painters her skills grew, and so did her passion—making the leap into a full-time professional art career in 2003. Since that time, she has held numerous one-woman shows In Santa Fe, participated in national and regional shows, and plein air events. Melinda has been chosen twice as a finalist in the Boldbrush Art Competition and has been featured in major art publications such as American Art Collector and Southwest Art. She is represented by major galleries across the country and has collectors across the US and in Europe.

John Poon:

Leaving behind life as an instructor and administrator for the Academy of Art University in San Francisco, Poon and his wife moved to Wyoming and then Utah, where they now live with their children. Poon has accolades in Landscape of Merit, from Arts for the Parks in Jackson, WY, an Artists’ Choice award from the Sonoma Plein Air, and Best of Show in the Society of Western Artists annual national competition. A highly sought after teacher, John is a plein air painter, painting landscape, challenged through changing light and fleeting time and weather. Quickly finding the structure in landscape and using his skill to simplify fields, mountains, clouds and architecture into purposeful brushstrokes, expressing the beauty of a mere moment.


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