That sparked a love for the mountains that continues today and is reflected in Stafford's paintings.
Stafford's paintings are on display in The Daily Times Community Center. An opening reception will take place from 5 to 7 p.m. on May 17.
The exhibit consists of three parts. The majority of the paintings are part of Stafford's mountain series, which consists of 25 total paintings. Fifteen of these paintings are displayed. The second part of the exhibit is a floral design mini-series that Stafford recently completed. The final part includes several other, unrelated images, such as a farm scene from South Dakota and a sky painting.
Many of the paintings in the mountain series are based on photos Stafford took while at Vallecito Lake. Stafford does all original work. He said all of the paintings he creates are based on photos he has taken.
Stafford said the floral series is a compliment to his late mother.
"She was a very talented floral designer," he said.
His mother, Golden Stafford, started off working at a flower shop in Santa Paula, Calif. She told her employers that she didn't have to be paid; she just wanted the opportunity to learn. In 1949, she and her family relocated to the Four Corners area. In Farmington, she opened a shop called Helen's Flowers on Broadway Avenue, where the main Wells Fargo branch is currently located. The shop, which was named after Curt Stafford's sister, is still active today under the name Farmington Floral Factory.
A few years after opening Helen's Flowers, Golden Stafford opened three flower shops in Aztec. She was sought out for her original designs, said Curt Stafford. Even after she retired, she kept floral design supplies in the back of her car and made them for people.
Curt Stafford's wife encouraged him to paint flowers, so he snapped photos of some flowers and began to paint. He said he often thinks about his mother as he paints flowers.
Once, when he painted some yellow flowers, he had to change the composition slightly. He said that made him think about what his mother would do when she designed her floral compositions.
Stafford often draws on memories as he paints. Memories, he said, make up his personality.
"They're all a part of what I feel," he said.
Hannah Grover can be reached at email@example.com; 505-564-4652. Follow her on Twitter @hmgrover.
ABOUT THE ARTIST: Curt Stafford was born in California and moved to the Four Corners area as a child. He began oil painting in high school. During his senior year in high school, his family returned to California. One of Stafford s teachers recognized his talent and enrolled him in weekend classes at the Los Angeles Art Center. After high school, Stafford moved to Virginia to attend Old Dominion University, where he studied art history. Stafford later returned to New Mexico and studied art under the instruction of San Juan College professor Bill Hatch, who spent time in Europe learning the techniques of old masters such as Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn and Johannes Vermeer. Today, Stafford continues to paint using those techniques. He said one of the differences between the older and modern techniques is that modern artists often do paper transfers, meaning they sketch an image out before painting it. Stafford doesn t sketch. Instead, he using a paint brush to do the drawing, and then he starts to add layers of paint. Like the old masters, Stafford paints using oil colors. He said he likes the oil colors because the finished paintings last forever. Oil paints are also more forgiving than watercolor. My strength today is composition and color, Stafford said.