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‘Art is healing’

Copyright © 2021 Albuquerque Journal

Plein air artists brave the elements to create.

From April 17 through April 22, dozens of artists set up easels in Fenton Lake, Battleship Rock, Soda Dam, Bandelier National Monument, Gilman Tunnels, the Jemez Historic site, numerous fishing and picnic areas along the Jemez river, the Valles Caldera, Jemez Falls and San Ysidro to take part in a paint out sponsored by the Plein Air Painters of New Mexico (PAPNM).

The pieces made during the six days will be on exhibit at the Jemez Fine Art Gallery through May 7.

Wendy Ahlm paints using oils at Ponderosa Winery. (Courtesy of Plein Air Painters of New Mexico)

“We’ve been painting all week and the paintings created will be on display,” says Wendy Ahlm, event co-chair and artist.

Ahlm was one of the many artists participating and says there were plenty of natural elements to compete with.

“It’s been sunny, windy and we had some snow,” Ahlm says. “There was one day where it started hailing as soon as I brought my painting back to my car. One morning, my watercolors froze. Before we go out to paint, we have to make sure that we have everything ready. It’s a process and I enjoy it.”

Phyllis Gunderson, president of PAPNM, says this is the first major event of the year and it’s a non-juried event.

There are about 60 painters participating in the event.

“This has an international scope because the landscape of New Mexico is so enchanting,” Gunderson says. “It brings out the creativity no matter where you are from. This show is mainly New Mexico artists. The organization is always looking for new members.”

Gunderson says the artists work in multiple media.

“We have oil painters and watercolorists,” Gunderson says. “Some work in gouache, pastel or dry media. There’s quite a diversity in the works.”

A work in progress by artist Wendy Ahlm, who is participating in the Plein Air Painters of New Mexico’s latest exhibit. (Courtesy of Plein Air Painters of New Mexico)

Gunderson says the organization has been able to come together over the past year and hold smaller artist events.

“With plein air painting, we are able to socially distance,” Gunderson says. “We have our paint outs and spread everybody out.”

Ahlm says being able to put on this show has been rejuvenating.

“Art is healing,” Ahlm says. “Because it’s able to touch people somehow. It really does help the soul and helps you keep in touch with Nature.”

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