More than Enough, artwork by Lorene Runham (photo contributed).

Central Alberta’s changeable skies and cottonwood groves inspire art exhibit

Rural artists are inspired by the beauty of ‘home’

Two Central Alberta artists have created a visual love-letter to home.

The joint exhibit, cottonwoodSky at the Kiwanis Gallery in the Red Deer Public Library, is made up of works by Theresa Potter of Red Deer County, and Lorene Runham of Olds.

Both rural artists “paint from the heart” — and paint what they love. Their soft pastel, acrylic, digital and mixed-media renderings of trees and skies are a tribute to the Prairie landscape they see every day.

Potter, who admires Alberta’s brilliant sunrises whenever she does her chores in the mornings, said she has a deep appreciation of “the colours, the textures, and patterns” of her surroundings.

Runham, a “faith-based person,” paints impressionistic renderings of nature as “a reflection of my gratitude”

While the two women have only embarked on plein air painting expeditions together a few times, they share a membership in the Olds Art Club and have known each other for more than a decade.

The artists became inspired to plan for a joint show in the Kiwanis Gallery, operated by the Red Deer Arts Council, after admiring a fellow artist’s exhibit a few years ago. “We looked at each other and thought, well, why couldn’t we do this? What’s our passion?” recalled Runham, who has a visual arts diploma from Red Deer College and teaches art classes in the Olds area.

Potter, who has taken many community art classes and workshops, suggested painting the cottonwood trees that surround her acreage. Runham thought some sky-scapes would also be interesting, since her eyes are often drawn to the fascinating cloud formations above Central Alberta.

These two things — trees and skies — produced endless artistic variations that are explored in this exhibit — from Runham’s digital Sunset Royale, in bold purples and yellows, to Potter’s gentle pastel stokes in the landscape, Edge of Dawn.

Potter and Runham, who worked for three years in their own studios to produce these works, were surprised when they saw their art, side-by-side, how well they complement each other. Potter believes it’s partly due to their dedication to their subject matter.

“We’re painting from our hearts and our home, so naturally they go well together.”

Runham hopes viewers will come away from seeing cottonwoodSky with a stronger feeling for “this amazing place where we live — rural Alberta.”

The show runs to Aug. 19.


Edge of Dawn, pastel artwork by Theresa Potter (photo contributed).

Blue Branches, artwork by Theresa Potter (photo contributed).

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