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Coming home

Local artist opens gallery, plans oil painting classes for beginners 

Laura Wiens celebrates her grand opening at High Ground Gallery & Studio during Friday’s Art Walk. Del Norte Triplicate/Bryant Anderson
Laura Wiens celebrates her grand opening at High Ground Gallery & Studio during Friday’s Art Walk. Del Norte Triplicate/Bryant Anderson
To Laura Wiens, opening a gallery and teaching classes in Crescent City is one more way of coming home as an artist.

She took up oil painting six years ago while living in Colorado, using her lush, heavily textured approach to depict images of the Rocky Mountains.

“I started big,” she said. “My first sale was a 4- by 5-foot aspen scene.”

Soon she was working part-time in her childhood hometown of Carmel, Calif., painting first in a courtyard gazebo and later in the front window of a big gallery in the tourist mecca.

By then she’d added “small” to her repertoire, selling hundreds of miniatures — complete with tiny easels — depicting Carmel’s quaint shops and restaurants.

“I was back where I grew up, painting every day in a true artist’s colony — a place where people from all over the world browse the galleries.”

Wiens still has work on display at Mountainsong Gallery in Carmel and occasionally paints there, as well as at Second Street Gallery in Bandon, Ore.

Now she is coming home in another way. While toggling back and forth to Carmel, she’s been living in Crescent City for more than four years, ever since her husband Richard became editor of the Del Norte Triplicate (where Laura Wiens works as neighbors editor).

The North Coast’s spectacular scenery captured her from the start. She’s been rendering its seascapes and lighthouses on canvases big and small for years, and now many of those scenes are on display at her new venture, High Ground Gallery & Studio at Crescent City Harbor.

“My focus is really going to be on this area,” Wiens said. “My gallery is a working studio and I plan to have new material up in the gallery every week, so there will always be something new to see.”

The space she is renting above Crescent Harbor Gallery includes a classroom, where Wiens will soon be teaching beginning oil painting. She sees that as still another way of coming home.

“I want people to experience the same thrill that I did when I first started dabbling in oil,” she said.

She plans to hold two-hour introductory workshops for budding artists of various age levels, followed by a series of classes for those who wish to continue. She also intends to eventually carry art supplies for sale at discount rates.

The plan, she said, is to make it simple.

“I’ll supply all the materials for the workshop — the brushes, the paints, the canvases — they just have to bring their interest and their energy,” she said of her students.

“I had always wanted to take a stab at oil painting, but never seemed to have the time to take classes,” she said. “One day I got up the nerve to go to a local art store and purchase the basics I thought I’d need to get started. I went home and gave it a whirl. If I didn’t try it, I never would have known I had the talent. This is what I want to help others with.”

Wiens will be showing off her gallery and classroom during a grand opening reception from 4 to 8 p.m. Friday at High Ground Gallery, 140-A Marine Way, as part of the Crescent City Art Walk.

Her normal hours will be 1-5 p.m. Tuesdays through Fridays, and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturdays.

For information about the workshops and classes, contact Wiens at 719-494-9216. To see more of her work, go to laurawiensartist.com or www.facebook.com/highgroundgallery.

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