Jon Austria/The Daily TimesLori Walters talks about her art work during a reception at San Juan College on Thursday.
Jon Austria/The Daily Times Lori Walters talks about her art work during a reception at San Juan College on Thursday.
FARMINGTON — About 20 years ago, Lori Walters and her husband took a trip to Chicago. While there, the couple visited the Art Institute of Chicago and looked at paintings by famous artists such as Claude Monet and Vincent Van Gogh.

Seeing those paintings gave Walters a desire to paint. The Christmas after the trip, her husband gave her a set of oil paints, and Walters has been painting ever since.

Some of her paintings are on display in the Humanities Fine Arts gallery at San Juan College, 4601 College Blvd. The exhibit, entitled "Colors of the Southwest," began Thursday and will be on display until May 10.

Walters said she predominantly paints the Southwest because she lives in Durango and her style of painting — plein air painting — requires that she paint what she sees. Plein air painting takes its name from the French phrase "en plein air," which means "in open air." Plein air painters take their easels and paintbrushes and go find something outside to paint.

Walters is a member of the Plein Air Painters of the Four Corners. The group goes on trips to different areas and paints together. While one member has a light easel and often hikes for miles to find a view, Walters generally paints only a few hundred feet from where she parks her car.

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Walters said she usually walks around the area for about half an hour, looking at the views and the composition to find something to paint.

"It has to be something that appeals to me," Walters said.

Once she finds the perfect angle, she sets up her easel and begins to paint. Sometimes, she takes a snapshot with a camera so she can work on a larger scale. The larger paintings take longer and are difficult to do on site.

Walters said she prefers to paint on site because she feels she is better able to capture the "emotion" of the landscape.

Hannah Grover can be reached at hgrover@daily-times.com; 505-564-4652. Follow her on Twitter @hmgrover