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Deb Bartos: The Healing Image

"One can see art in nature and always learn more," Deb Bartos.

Arkansas in Falll 32" x 40" Oil on Canvas Deb Bartos

Many of us have seen days like this: peaceful, calm, golden leaves shimmering gently, and a lazy river meandering around a bend. Sitting on the grassy bank, one can appreciate the blue of the sky that skips over the mountain to land in the river and create a path through the golden reflections of yellow grasses and autumn trees. Those trees cling to the riverbank. Yet, the shadowy areas that lie just behind the foreground invite the mind to wander in the shade and dappled sunlight of their immense branches. One feels the calm of a wonderous day, the fresh air, and the contact with nature, along with the knowledge that one will go home and sleep well that night. The body and the soul have been refreshed. Deb Bartos wants those who look at her work to remember the serenity and beauty of nature, to protect it, and to use it as an inspiration to create something of their own. However, her arrival at those thoughts did not come without struggle.

Deb Bartos, like many artists, has had challenges to her becoming what she knew she was from an early age. She knew she was an artist when, as her grandmother did chores, Deb was given paper to draw on. She knew when she took after-school art classes in grade school. She knew when she got a scholarship to got to Baker Hunt Art School in Covington, Kentucky, nearby her home in Fort Thomas. However, growing up in a time when the practical was paramount, Deb's desires were put aside by her mother, a nurse, who required her daughter to also be a nurse. Deb tried to convince her mom that she could become a commercial artist like her uncle. However, her mother insisted, pointing out, "you learn something new everyday in nursing." This was a thought that appealed to Deb, so she became a nurse.

Westcliffe Clouds 36" x 48" Oil on Canvas Beb Bartos

The scene in the painting above is one familiar to anyone from the Great Plains: the sight of the beautiful mountains at the end of the prairies. The clouds may cast shadows on one's path, as they do in the foreground of this paining, but there is blue sky beyond them. For Deb Bartos, at the age of 37, the shadow was the death of someone who believed in her.

"I needed something life-affirming and art was that. It has always been ever-expanding," says Bartos. Art trips, art classes from artists she admired, and her own will to express her true self as an artist led to acceptance and awards in juried shows, to teaching at Bemis Art School, and to corporate and healthcare art commissions.


Bartos mentions two books, which she just recently discovered, to be profound: Your Brain on Art: How the Arts Transform Us by Susan Magsamen and Ivy Ross, and Your Brain on Nature:The Science of Nature's Influence on Your Health, Happiness, and Vitality by Eva Selhub and Alan Logan. Bartos is spreading that knowledge in her work. Fort Carson's Intrepid Spirit Center, for traumatic brain injury and brain health, commissioned two of her large landscape paintings and five prints, which are on display as one walks into the facility. They are a dramatic representation of "your brain on art."

As can be seen in her work, Bartos did not give up her nursing career but chose to apply creativity to it, which led her to become a director of nursing and a nurse educator for five offices on the Western Slope. She proved her mother right by showing that there were always new things to learn in nursing (and art). The ways in which she combined her nursing skills with the healing aspects of art continues to develop. Her upcoming project is to be done as an 8 foot by 10 foot mural landscape for a local clinic. In terms of her nursing career, she does assessments mostly for geriatric cases, which works around her schedule for creating art.

Bartos' plein air kit, ready for snow at Breckenridge!

"Plein air painting equals learning from nature," says Bartos. "You see nature's interconnections. The more your look, the more you see." Those words are words to live by, especially for an artist, for much of what an artist has to do is to train the eye to see. A continuous expansion of knowledge about people, animals, plants, and beauty itself is needed. Nature is a good training ground for the eye, as any plein air painter knows. The immediacy of the environment heightens the senses. The desire to capture something of the moment focuses the attention, and when combined with sincere intent, the results can be rather stunning.

Evening in the Garden 24" x 40" Oil painting on canvas by Deb Bartos

Bartos loves doing big paintings, as can be seen by the sizes of many of her finished works. Perhaps it is just the grandeur of our local scenery that promotes the idea of size; however, there is something in the artist, herself, that loves to paint big. She is sometimes surprised at how valued our own Garden of the Gods is by those from other places, even here in Colorado. She mentions being in a show in Crested Butte where there were wonderful paintings of the local area. Yet, the painting that everyone crowded around was of the red rock formations in Garden of the Gods. This proved to her that art is very personal and that beauty is truly in the eye of the beholder. Yet, expanding the ability to see is something that so often is overlooked as not very important. It was that understanding which caused her in 1991 to expand the 1993-2000 art curriculum at Colorado Christian University.

Bartos' current adventures involve a one-woman show at the Hoag Gallery at the Sangre de Cristo Arts and Conference Center in Pueblo. Though Bartos is a Colorado Springs artist, this exhibition, which will be on display until August 3rd, shows her art to be one that encompasses the whole area. Bartos, on the Center's webpage, speaks of her journey of learning to paint having led her to some interesting places, including being an artist in residence at the Frank Waters Foundation in New Mexico. She proposes to share her knowledge with students in a series of classes on Saturdays throughout the month of June.

For more information on her exhibition and on the classes click this link:

Light in the Landscape: a one-woman show at the Hoag Gallery at Sangre de Cristo Art Center

When I asked Deb Bartos why art is important, she did not hesitate in answering. "Because life is important. We need creativity in all works of life, and art is creative expression. We need creative solutions." No better words could be said on the subject.

Deb Bartos in her home surrounded by her works.

For more on Deb Bartos, her career, her work, and how to contact, see her website

Should you be interested in articles on art history combined with a discussion of wines, go to my other art blog,    Also see my author page at   

© Marjorie Vernelle 2024                                                   

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