San Luis artist follows her bliss

Courtesy photo Cottonwoods in acrylic by Cindy Cometto.

Artist Cindy Cometto’s art on display at Narrow Gauge, reception May 10

ALAMOSA — A few years ago, Cindy Cometto and her husband moved from Boulder to the San Luis Valley where they bought ranch property near San Luis. As Colorado natives, the move not only allowed them to live in a part of the state they had always loved, it also started Cometto on an artistic journey that would lead to a deep appreciation of a different kind of beauty than what she had experienced in other places.

“I’ve been painting most of my life but the last two years is the first time I’ve been painting full time,” she says.  Cometto has her own studio in San Luis and has expanded from working solely in watercolors to painting with acrylics.

When asked to elaborate on what she sees here that is so inspirational, she speaks in images, as any artist would.

“The cottonwoods in the valley. They’re incredibly spectacular. The Rio Grande and its tributaries. The sunrises, the sunsets. The cloud formations are so amazing and unlike any I’ve seen in any other part of the world. Painting inspires my soul. It’s a great way to express and especially capture the San Luis Valley. It’s so beautiful here.”

Cometto works in “plein air." The artform is from the French expression for "In the open air," from life and in real time, instead of working exclusively from a photograph or only painting inside.

“I’ve become comfortable and enthralled with the landscape. When I’m painting in plein air, I look at the entire landscape and then focus on certain aspects that bring together the whole composition.  The shapes, the lines, the shadows. Just the whole composition.”

In what seems to be an equally important artistic experience, Cometto has also spent the last two years painting in the San Luis Valley Painting classes, an association of artists who have painted with Coni Grant, a well known name in the community.

She credits that association with having an impact on her work. “Since finding this group of artists in the Valley, I feel like I’ve got a deep connection with people. We inspire each other and learn from each other. They’ve definitely been an inspiration for me to paint with them.”

Along with others, Cometto has also founded a co-op of artists in San Luis with “pop-ups” every Saturday from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. “There are people who make jewelry, who do leather, who paint plus people who bake and make jams and jellies. They are also a group of people who I find inspiring and work with closely.” The co-op is set up on Main Street next to Town Hall.

In looking back on a journey that has brought new landscapes, new talents and new communities into her life in a period of just two years, Cometto says that everything leading up to now – most notably a 30-year career in the medical field - was a way to make money.

“What I’m doing now is what I was meant to do with my life. I finally have the opportunity to explore and learn and continue to learn, and to see and to be able to paint what I see and to understand how to paint so that it reflects what people are looking at and hopefully moves them.”

A collection of Cometto’s work is currently on display at the Narrow Gauge Book Co-operative in Alamosa, located at 602 Main Street. The public is invited to an artist’s reception held in her honor at the Narrow Gauge on Friday, May 10th from 4:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m., with catering provided by Paula Kapolei with Wild Horse Mesa.

Cometto’s work is also on exhibit in San Luis, including in the San Luis Coffee House and the Town Hall in a gift shop where local artists are featured. She also has a watercolor that was chosen to hang in exhibit at a gallery in La Veta.