The Cobre Valley Center for the Arts held a reception on Feb. 2 to close out exhibitions of artwork by Rachel Hansen, Lorenzo Cassa, Bobbie Jimenez, Chris Swinney and Bryan Chambers, and to unveil a new exhibition of work by painter Heather Coen and sculptor Curt Harris in the main gallery.
Coen, who has been chosen as CVCA’s artist of the month, is showing around 15 paintings in the gallery through the end of February. She specializes in “plein air” work, which refers to the act of painting outdoors with the artist’s subject in full view.
“I do a lot of ‘plein air’ work, and I work a lot outside,” Coen said. “I’ll go find something that’s beautiful and just paint it out. Set up an easel. I might have to go back two or three days in a row just to copy the colors and get the design. I’m a very fast painter.”
Among the examples of her “plein air” work on display at CVCA is “The Flight,” which depicts a moonlit desert scene with a lake in the background, birds in the sky and a distant pickup truck on the country road.
“’The Flight’ took a long time because it’s very layered – there must be 45, 50 layers of paint on there. It’s so three-dimensional,” she said. “Like the moonlight on the water, that’s why it glistens because it’s got layers and layers of paint, so they’re lying on top of each other and you’re kind of looking through 40 layers of paint.”
Coen learned layering and other techniques while studying with a series of master painters, and then developed her own style over time. But she said she has had an interest in art for as long as she can remember.
“My mother had terrible birth pains because I came out with a paintbrush in my hand,” she joked. “Even when I was a kid, I did all kinds of artistic stuff, just had that bug my whole life. I wanted to be a professional artist and it took me my whole life to get there, but I finally made it in my 40s and I started working at it.”
Coen added that she was happy to have her art on display at CVCA, which she described as a “beautiful facility.”
“It’s a real jewel for this area, so I’m very glad to be here,” she said.
To see Coen’s artwork, stop by CVCA (101 N. Broad St., Globe AZ) throughout February, and visit her website at www.painthewild.com.