Friday, July 7, 2006

Go where art leaves an impression

Valley artist leads group in France

Express Staff Writer

Jennifer Bellinger works in her aerie studio in Ketchum. Express photo by Dana DuGan

"You have to teach people to trust their eyes and turn their brain off," artist Jennifer Bellinger said, while surrounded by proof that her peepers work just fine. In her light-filled and comfortable home studio, her paintings are stacked, hang on the walls and sit on easels. They are drenched in her passions, color and composition.

"Without a strong composition, you're dead in the water," she said.

With these teaching mottoes as her palette, Bellinger will lead two Plein Air painting workshops—"Into Plein Air"—from Sept. 25 to Oct. 2 and Oct. 3 through Oct. 10, in Bonnieux, France. The groups of six will stay at a farmhouse called Rousillon, owned by Ketchum resident Lyman Drake. The schedule is to paint half a day for five of seven days. Free time will be spent exploring the area, visiting markets and museums and relaxing by the pool. Besides accommodations and painting classes, daily continental breakfasts, two dinners and afternoon wine gatherings will be included.

Bellinger said the class is open to anyone, including beginners in oil. However, people who wish to paint with watercolors or acrylics should have previous experience.

Along with Bellinger as the teacher, travel guide Carol Goodwin from World Cup Travel in Ketchum will accompany the trip.

In order to prepare for the art class, Bellinger will offer three painting workshops. The first will begin Tuesday, July 11, and run through Thursday, July 13.

"We will learn composition, to see color, and mix and paint that color," Bellinger said. "When you do Plein Air, you need to go there. And you have to know that you won't be coming back with a finished painting. Instead, we'll try to capture the feeling of light. Basically you have about and hour and a half. You can't chase light, so we work quickly making a thumbnail sketch and composition. You can't just paint what's there—you have to be willing to move a tree to the place it belongs, move buildings, or take them out. Simplify."

This perspective has worked well for Bellinger.

"I found I learn as much, or more, than my students. It makes you think what you're doing."

Raised in Washington, Bellinger married her ski instructor from college and moved to Alaska. They moved to Ketchum more than 20 years ago. Though she considers her work contemporary realism, for 25 years she did batik on silk. Six years ago she switched to oil painting and has been teaching oil painting workshops for many years.

Formerly shown for 17 years at the Stonington Gallery, and the Zantman Gallery in Ketchum, she is now represented by Mountain House Publishing in McCall. She has won awards in many national juried shows. Her work is represented in public, corporate, and private collections in the United States, Canada, Europe, Australia and South Africa.

For more information on the workshops and "Into Plein Air," contact, 726-4823 or call World Cup Travel (for the fall trip to France) 726-3355, (800) 323-3393, or

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