Published On: Fri, Jun 17th, 2016

Painter Joan Norris inspired by San Miguel

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Artist Joan Norris continues to inspire and influence the Vail Valley art scene, in the state of  Colorado, Norris says her identity as an artist lives on in her visits to San Miguel de Allende, Vail’s sister city in Guanajuato, Mexico. 

The Vail Daily online newspaper published an article on its Vail Lifestyle Magazine section featuring some of her work inspired by the colonial city.

Teacher and artist, artist and teacher ….

Throughout her artistic career, Vail-based painter Joan Norris has hopscotched back and forth between roles — creating vibrant plein air paintings of aspen trees and mountains around her home, or teaching students at Colorado Mountain College.

She has influenced many, and they have influenced her, say those who know her, and says Norris herself.


Parroquía San Miguel Arcángel, 24″ x 24″ oil on canvas, by Joan Norris, 2014. | Vail Lifestyle Magazine Summer 2016


Norris has always been particular about barns, but she has gotten very particular about one in Wolcott, lately. She has been watching to see that it hasn’t been torn down yet.

But there have been so many others over the years that did get torn down, or ranches that were sold and developed. For years, Norris has been getting permission bring her classes to paint at places such as the Calhoun Ranch in Edwards, once owned by the late artist Buddy Calhoun — places that make for great paintings.

“That was terrific — having interesting material such as old barns and old equipment, horses,” Norris says. “I was particularly interested in the old, historic barn, because often they would be torn down after we had painted them.”

Norris also has been known for setting up her outdoor classrooms to have students paint the Eagle River Canyon, at Gilman, a stunning but difficult challenge for some. The group would have lunch together, then individuals could have their work critiqued by Norris. In those critiques, Norris says she would help adult artists in the classes “accept who they were and what they could do and move on from there.” She used diplomacy and tact and kept students returning for more.

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