With so many breathtaking landscapes in our area, there is no shortage of inspiration for a local artist who captures Mother Nature's beauty on canvas. What is especially unique about Phyllis Shafer's work is that you will find both an element of magic and realism in every piece. Her exhibit called, I Only Went Out for a Walk is on display at the Nevada Museum of Art through May 11th.

We met with Shafer to learn more about her work for this week's Someone 2 Know segment. Our meeting started in front of a beautiful, bright painting called, Crown of Thorns. This oil grabs your attention with a brilliant red, fleshy object wrapped in a string of thorns. Phyllis says in a strange way, it was self-referential as a young artist. "You're looking at a painting I did when I was in my late 20's. Then you turn around and less than 15 feet away is a painting that I did in my mid 50's."

While her focus has changed over the past 30 years, her style has remained consistent. Phyllis primarily paints outdoor landscapes now, but there is still a whimsical way in which she captures the details surrounding her. You will see that illustrated in the nearly 100 pieces of work hanging at the museum. "I live here. I live in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. I paint our regional area and hopefully I'm representing it with something that touches people."

Phyllis wants you to know exactly where you are in her paintings. "So, these two paintings here are from Hope Valley." Her backgrounds are typically realistic; specific to the setting. However, there is a cartoony theme brought to life in every piece. "I'm really interested in stylizing the forms that I'm seeing; the swirls in the water, the shapes in the clouds." The foreground is her favorite; where she has the most fun. It is where you will find 'quirkiness,' as she calls it, in most of her paintings. The details, however, are never forgotten. Every flower she includes in her work, she studies first. You will notice she paints with botanical correctness. "You know you're looking at Yarrow or Monkey Flower or Sticky Cinquefoil."

Plein Air - or painting outdoors - has long been Phyllis' passion. She loves being outdoors in nature and bringing the beauty to life in such a way that people can relate. She wants viewers of her work to say, "That I've experienced this; I've felt this way in nature." To witness people appreciating her work is exhilarating. "This is pretty phenomenal." As is looking back at the last three decades, which Phyllis gets to explore in this exhibit of her work. While there is a sense of pride and accomplishment, Phyllis has more to paint and more walks to take. "I think the best thing about this is wandering around and looking at where I came from, what I'm doing now and how this is going to set up the next 30 years."

I Only Went Out for a Walk will be up at the Nevada Museum of Art until May 11th.

You have a few opportunities to meet the artist over the next month:

Premiere Talk
Thursday, February 27
6 p.m.
Join Shafer for an exploration of her feature exhibition. The artist will discuss the inspiration behind her work and share insights into the plein air process. It costs $12 for non-museum members and $8 for members.
Meet the Artist
Thursday, March 6
5 – 7 p.m.
Grab a drink, groove to live music and enjoy conversation with the artist during First Thursday. It costs $10 for non-museum members and is free to members.
Plein Air Landscape Painting Workshop
Saturday, March 15
8 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Explore the excitement and challenges of painting our local landscape en plein air with a true master of the technique. Shafer will conduct a one-day workshop in the basic of expressive landscape oil painting. It costs $82 for non-museum members and $74 for members.

To learn more, call (775) 398-7206.

Written by Kristen Remington