Meet the Artists

Painting in a variety of artistic media and styles, our featured artists are a talented group yet again this year!
See a sample of their plein air work below. (Click on artist name for brief bio and access to their website)

Come by Old Masonic Hall from August 31-September 2 to see their work on display, free and open to the public. Join us at a Gallery Reception and Sale at Arts Alive Gallery on Saturday, September 15th to meet the artists, enjoy hors d’oeuvres, a cash bar, and your chance to view and purchase works of art created during the festival. Part of the proceeds go to CDLT, so you can have an original work of art, support an artist and help preserve Colorado’s mountain landscapes, all at the same time!

Cliff Austin

After what he considered two incredible years, Cliff Austin graduated from the Rocky Mountain School of Art in 1980. His love of drawing began in 1976, as he studied Technical Illustration at The Denver Institute of Technology. He moved from Boulder to Denver into a studio apartment in 1978 and started art school.  After graduating he worked for Ball Aerospace in the publication department as a lead illustrator and did watercolor landscapes at lunch. Later, landscape painting in oil became an interest of his when a flier from the Art Students League showed up in his mailbox. The Art Students League flier offered landscape classes with Doug Dawson and the love of plein air painting was rekindled.  Cliff is a member of the Denver Art Students League, the Pastel Society of Colorado, the Center for the Arts Evergreen, American Impressionist Society, Plein air Artists Colorado and Oil Painters of America .

Kim Barrick

Kim Barrick is as diverse and complex as the work she creates. She deflects labels, challenges authority, and pursues her passions with wonder. Barrick’s art has been described as impressionistic and expressionistic while remaining representational, “alive with light and filled with movement,” words that could be applied to their creator as well.

Never a follower, Barrick’s fresh style is as authentic as the artist. Finding the light with loose brushwork and thick paint has earned esteem from both collectors, fellow artists and students. Recognized early in her career as a “Top Talent” in 2008 by Santa Fean Magazine, this award winning artist is also a sought after instructor of landscape and still life painting. In addition, her recent wildlife paintings have received acclaim, painting from her own photographs taken while painting on location. A native of Colorado and resident of Tennessee, Barrick travels West frequently and maintains homes in both states. Her work is represented by galleries in both the South and West. Numerous artworks are held in private and corporate collections throughout the US and Europe.

In 2001 Barrick founded The Chestnut Group, plein air painters for the land. In addition, Barrick was instrumental in establishing Wild About Colorado Plein Air Festival supporting The Continental Divide Land Trust. She is a signature member of PAAC, Plein Air Artists of Colorado. She also serves the land she loves on the Friends of Radnor Lake Board of Directors.

Sandi Bruns

Sandi is a local artist who works in watercolor, striving to spontaneously reflect what she feels about her subject rather than painting realistic reproductions.  She believes the finished picture should energize the soul as well as entertain the eye. Sandi holds a BA in Design, Fashion and Textiles from the University of Iowa and an MFA in Printmaking from the University of Hawaii.  Her prints have won awards in state art exhibitions and she has been selected for the Smithsonian Institute Young Printmakers Show. Sandi was also recently invited to participate in the Sunderland Gallery 30th Anniversary Invitational Retrospective. After doing commercial and commission work for over 20 years, she became involved in public art projects and invitational and juried exhibits. Sandi also won 1st place in People’s Choice at the 2014 Wild About Colorado Plein Air Art & Outdoor Festival. Her work can be found at Yellow Arrow Coffee at the South Branch Library in Breckenridge this August for a one woman show, and the Arts Alive Gallery also in Breckenridge.


Rita Cirillo

In 2005, Rita Cirillo turned her creative skills from engineering to fine art. After several years of international travel and play, she settled in her studio in the high mountains of Colorado, working on diverse subject matter, ranging from Western and Wildlife, to plein air and figure.

She has participated in prominent exhibitions such as Windows to the West, the Colorado Governors Art Show, Oil Painters of America Western Regional, American Women Artists, Greenhouse Gallery Salon International, Scottsdale Fine Art Salon and others. When Rita is not traveling, hiking or painting she can be found working on her 100+-year-old “dream” house in her hometown of Victor, Colorado. Rita is represented by Studio 8369, Grand Lake, CO; Framed Image Art Gallery, Denver, CO and The Rice Gallery, Overland Park, KS.

Marianna Duford

Marianna is a native of Colorado and a lifelong artist who brings her love of the outdoors to her art and everything that she does. She doesn’t limit her artwork to just one medium and likes to let the inspiration decide whether it would be better in watercolor, oil or acrylics. Her love of plein air painting and travel have been the perfect complement to each other. Art and travel forays have taken her from Italy to Africa, the Mayan coast to Portugal, Florida to California and in between, the South Island of New Zealand to Tasmania and back again. Always, upon returning to her mountain home in Colorado, she wonders why she had to go so far to be inspired when she is surrounded by beauty every day of the year.

Mary Lou Johns

Mary Lou Johns is a part-time resident of Breckenridge, CO where she has been a member of Women of Watercolor for over 15 years. Her watercolors are inspired by the majestic scenery of Summit County. Her paintings have been displayed at the Speakeasy Theatre, the Breckenridge Theatre Gallery, the Old Masonic Hall, the Summit County Garden Club Tour, and at “Meet the Artists.” Recent honors include being selected for the “Silverthorne Art Wall” and a commission to paint the poster for the Summit County Garden Tour.
Mary Lou’s focus on art didn’t begin until after her retirement. She had a long career in education. “I always loved art but as an administrator I didn’t have time to pursue my own talent. My life as an artist began after my husband and I moved to Breckenridge; the high alpine landscape became the primary inspiration for my painting. What began almost 15 years ago has now become a passion and a way of life. I feel that nature has provided endless subjects and innumerable creative ways to present them.”  Besides art, Johns enjoys knitting, hiking, and skiing. The mountain lifestyle really suits her as every outdoor activity adds images to her reference files for future paintings.
Mary Lou is a member of Summit County’s Arts Alive Gallery and happily exhibits regularly there. She has served as president of “Women of Watercolor” (WOW), encouraging others to learn and enjoy this challenging medium.

Jon Holdredge

Jon was born in Atlanta, Georgia but grew up in Chicago, Illinois. Art has been Jon’s lifelong passion and Jon has been a professional artist since 1991. After graduating from art college in New Jersey, and living in the New York area at the time, Jon worked primarily in commercial art as a comic book inker for companies such as Marvel and DC Comics. Jon worked on X-Men, Batman, Flash, Wonder Woman, Justice League, Deadpool, and many more.

Jon also spent one year in 1990 working as a computer animator. Feeling somewhat restless in commercial art, Jon made the switch to fine art in 2005. He ditched the pen and paper and picked up the brush and canvas. He moved to Colorado to explore and paint the beautiful U.S. Western landscape. Jon paints to share his experiences with nature. Sometimes it is a subtle breeze on prairie grasses and sometimes it is snow in the mountains. Jon works mostly in plein air oil paintings, but can be found in the studio as well. 

Mike Ray

Mike was born and raised in Colorado. His family was from small ranching and logging communities in the Colorado Rockies. As kids they spent their free time hiking, hunting, fishing, and camping. Even after traveling the world as a young adult, it only seemed to make sense that Mike would return to the Colorado mountains that he loves. He was advised in art school to paint the things he loves. He paints the landscape that fashioned his youth and experiences. The landscape continues to influence and shape him to this day. In the beginning, he painted those places because of the memories associated with them, but as he continues to grow as an artists, he becomes more drawn to the quality of light in Colorado and the west. He loves dissecting the light and the dark within warm and cool shadows creating a push-pull that lures him into every painting.

Mike has been fortunate to spend time painting outside with a group of talented and dedicated artists. That immediate plein-air experience has begun to transform his painting into believable light the way the eye really sees it while allowing him to make a personal statement. His paintings are all about the light and how he feels about what he sees. Mike believes that if he is lucky enough to paint every day he will have lived a very good life indeed.


Ted Garcia


Ted lives and paints en alla prima Plein Air daily as well as creates his stunning studio works in the beautiful mountain town of Evergreen, CO with his lovely wife. Ted says, “I love living where I am. I can paint anything from a serene river to the hustle and bustle of the city all within a few minutes. It makes for quite a rough choice of what to paint some days, oh what a dilemma to be in as an artist, too much to paint. In all reality I could paint the river every day, nothing about it stays constant, always changing and always a challenge, this is what I love about it. Painting en Plein Air is the most rewarding think for me. I love being outside, just me, my paint, and brushes and the scene in front of me. All the while trying to capture it on canvas before it changes, what a thrill.”

Ted says that our lives are about passion and his work is an attempt to bring that passion into our daily lives and to share it with others. In each piece or collection, he’s attempting to connect that passion from the gazer’s view – to bring him into the emotional journey that has crescendoed to that moment that is captured on canvas. Ted’s work is so strong because it is spontaneous, not given to academic niceties, and he captures the scenes and moods that pass by our eyes each moment of daily life.

Karen Ramsay

From an early age, Karen Ramsay found a love for drawing and painting. She graduated from the Colorado Institute of Art in Denver and has studied under many talented artists, including Charles Reid, Burton Silverman, Frank Webb and Eric Weingardt. Karen enjoys plein air painting, with some of her favorite locations in Rocky Mountain National Park, Grand Teton National Park and her own backyard. In 2001 she was featured in the Big Sky Journal as an ‘Artist of the West’.

Janis Bunchman

Janis has lived in Breckenridge for over forty years. She splits her time between Breck and Tonto Verde, AZ. She had a thirty-year career in the Summit School District where she was a classroom teacher, art educator and ended her career as an Elementary Principal. During her career she was named Colorado Art Educator of the year. Janis teaches art both locally in the Breckenridge Arts District and in workshops in the Southwest for both children and adults.

She continues to participate in master classes and attend workshops in the mountains and the southwest to learn new techniques and enhance her work. Janis teaches these classes in the Breckenridge Arts District Arts Alive Gallery. “I have always enjoyed creating art and exploring the impressionist style of painters in the late 1800’s. I work with acrylics, oils, watercolor, and mixed media materials. My style of painting reflects the Impressionists passion for color, light, and the outdoors. My brush strokes give my work a unique style and feeling.”

Emily Wahl

Emily has been a long time visitor to Summit County over 30 years and is now a resident.  Raised in New York, moved to Texas for her career and raising her family with her husband, Tom, they often vacationed as a family to ski in the winters and hike and bike the summers.  Emily studied watercolor as a passionate pastime and works in water based mediums. She has taken classes at the Art League of Houston, Glassell School of Art and the Watercolor Art Society- Houston. These have been supplemented through workshops with accomplished artists; Alvaro Castagnet, Stephen Quiller, Charles Reid, John Salminen, Iain Stewart and Eric Wiegardt. She traveled extensively in Europe, the Far East and the United States and found it was a great way to balance her technology career by sketching and doing quick studies while flying or during an early morning walk. Recently retired from her career in technology, she is now free to expend more energy on her portfolio.

Her passions are art, travel and family.  She is a board member of the Summit County Arts Council and President of the of Women of Watercolor. Emily teaches workshops at the Breckenridge Arts District. She has had exhibitions in Houston, Texas and in Breckenridge, Colorado and has been on the board and active member of the Watercolor Art Society-Houston.

Jennifer Riefenberg

Jennifer paints in various mediums – but is most at home, outside with nature and oil paint, painting “en plein air”.  She is a fourth-generation Colorado native and has degrees in engineering and mathematics.

Jennifer is a board member of Plein Air Artists of Colorado (PAAC) and member of the American Impressionist Society, Oil Painters of America, and Women Artists of the West.  Jennifer has studied under Kevin Wechbach, Doug Dawson, and others.  She is currently exhibiting her work in local and regional venues, including the Framed Image in Denver.

Jennifer is also a professional photographer and an accomplished needle-artist, meshing her love of the arts into new and varied mediums.  She has a work of art accessioned into the permanent collection at the Gregg School of Art & Design at North Carolina State University and has won numerous awards for her varied artworks.


Norbert Nagel

In the past ten years Norbert has found his passion in painting plein aire. As a Vietnam veteran and a horticulturalist for the city of Denver for 45 years, he has worked outside in all weather. Therein he discovered his inner fascination with the flow of the days’ varying light; it became a maddening spiritual experience that he chased. Trying to capture that glowing light became his religion. He credits his success to his tenacity as well as a tinge of inherited talent from his maternal great grandfather, a professional mural painter hailing from Munich, Germany. He received his education through the Denver Arts League and thanks his mentors, who have guided him through his artistic journey: Diane Rappiei, Lorenzo Chavez, Dennis Rhoades, and Doug Dawson.

Norbert paints in three different styles depending on what he’s painting and the mood he wants to convey: Tonalism, American impressionism, and Russian impressionism. In his beginning days he would paint literally but presently he uses his experience to pain the mood the scene brings him. He teaches art classes for the city of Lakewood and Jefferson county schools. He’s been honored with the National Spirit of the West Show Best Pastel 2012 and 2016, International New Mexico Show Merit Award 2012, Plein Aire Artists of Colorado National Show Merit Award, Pastel Society of Colorado International Show(1st Place 2016), Best Miniature South Park Plein Air Event, Award for Art Excellence in Fine Art Connoisseur magazine, and West Coast Pastel Society Merit Award at the New Mexico National Show 2016.