Local artists show off work at Museum of Northwest Colorado

A glimpse of the beautiful scenery available in Northwest Colorado is on display this month at the Museum of Northwest Colorado.

Oil and water color paintings done by two local artists, Nancy Ratzlaft and Barbara Wilaby, offer a variety of what is available to see in Moffat County.

The second floor of the museum features paintings done onsite at locations such as Black Mountain, the Yampa River, Wilderness Ranch and Loudy-Simpson Park.

Ratzlaft and Wilaby partner on many of their outdoor painting adventures, hauling their collapsible easels and boxes of supplies to whatever site they get the itch to paint next.

Ratzlaft has been painting her entire life, Wilaby for about 15 years.

Ratzlaft knows nothing but painting.

"As a child, I used to be very shy," she said. "My only way to communicate was to paint and draw."

While Wilaby has been practicing the art for a shorter time, she shares her counterparts passion.

If time allowed, she said, she would paint all of the time -- as would Ratzlaft.

"You drive along and see a place where the lighting is beautiful and just want to stop and paint," Wilaby said.

"We disappear into our paintings," Ratzlaft said.

The two shared several stories of tromping into waist-deep snow to paint pictures, and being attacked by farm animals at the locations they have staked out to paint.

It's not uncommon for residents of rural Moffat County, and even the city of Craig, to get a knock at their door by Ratzlaft and Wilaby, asking if they can paint an image from their property.

"People have been very gracious when we ask them if we can paint," Wilaby said.

Wilaby focuses on outdoor landscapes and has a particular interest in flowers.

One of her passions, she said, is an area where her family used to enjoy summertime outings.

"I can almost do Browns Park with my eyes closed," she said.

When Wilaby first started getting into painting 15 years ago, she said she would sit inside and use photographs from which to paint. But not so much these days.

"I don't do that anymore," she said. "I like being outdoors better."

Ratzlaft, too, has a passion for painting the outdoors and says she'll paint about anything.

But there is one item in particular she has an eye for -- old trucks.

"I like rust," she explains. "Vehicles prior to 1940 are so much more interesting."

Regardless of the subject matter, those who visit the exhibit in the upstairs of the Museum of Northwest Colorado in coming weeks will be seeing more than the work of two people with a hobby. They'll be seeing the work of two people with a passion.

"We can't keep from painting," Ratzlaft said. "It's in our blood."

Josh Nichols can be reached at 824-7031 or jnichols@craigdailypress.com.

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