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U. of CO © 2014 Karen A. Johnson

U. of CO
© 2014 Karen A. Johnson

The drive from Colorado Springs to Boulder was beautiful and featured all kinds of rocky outcroppings, hills and mountains.  As we topped one hill, you could see the red tile roofs of the University of Colorado, nestled among the trees with a large mountain as a backdrop.  It’s a beautiful place to hold a conference!  As a flatlander based out of the Chicago area, I will admit to becoming obsessed over the mountains and having one so close to campus was a real treat.

Right after I registered, I got out my sketching supplies and tried to paint “my mountain” (which I adopted as I could see it from my dorm room as well as various places on campus).  The sketch ended up fairly flat looking but I was determined to sketch it again anyway, so that was fine.

Flatirons sketch one © 2014 Karen A. Johnson

Flatirons sketch one
© 2014 Karen A. Johnson

Monday was the official start to the conference and we had two special keynote speakers, Dr. Sandy MacDonald from NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) and Dr. Scott Sampson from the Denver Museum of Nature and Science.  Both told of their experiences with bringing science to the public and how important it is to to encourage the next generation to get outside and spend time in nature.

We’re kept very busy during the day with presentations and demonstrations.  A reception, auction and banquet keep us active and social during the evenings.

Presentations usually fall into one of several tracks-traditional, digital, business, education and paleo.  I tend to gravitate toward the traditional track, no surprise, and found myself very inspired after Peggy Macnamara’s presentation.  She is a watercolorist who emphasizes the drawing first and having fun with color second.  She exhorted us to do what we’re passionate about and not worry about what others think.  After her talk, I just had to go try and paint the mountain again.  I spent more time on the drawing and the next day, after the clouds lifted, I started painting  a la Peggy.

Flatirons sketch two © 2014 Karen A. Johnson

Flatirons sketch two
© 2014 Karen A. Johnson

I will say I was much happier with this sketch and felt it had a lot more depth and interest, plus it was just plain fun!  Thanks, Peggy!

Here are some more pictures of the Flatirons, as these rock formations are called, that I took over the course of the week.  Enjoy!