I kept a Journal detailing our devastation and progress.
About Mountain Studios
Early years: I was born in Czechoslovakia in 1942, when the sun was in Libra, the moon in Leo, and Cancer on the horizon. I lost my biological father during the war before I was born.
My mother remarried and my father, a physicist, was hired by the United States. Our family immigrated to Neptune, New Jersey in 1954.
School: After high school, I spent four years getting a graphic arts degree from the Art School in Munich, Germany. I worked and traveled in close contact with the Art Academy in Vienna and with art students from Paris. The cultural exchange was stimulating.
Later: After working in a few art departments, I started producing four large pen-and-ink posters, the “Tree of Life,” “She,” the “Family,” and the “Mushroom People.” They were popular and reprinted several times.
In 1972, my almost one-year-old daughter, Sunni, and I moved to Boulder. After a divorce, we were on our own.
We didn’t have much money but we did all right and had a good time. I worked part time at the Colorado Daily, the university newspaper, in the art department as the in-house artist. I paid for childcare while working at the university but took Sunni with me on the weekends to art shows selling posters, prints, and paintings. I started the limited edition of pen-and-ink drawings of the signs of the zodiac. This limited edition sold out.
I worked freelance for many companies such as McGraw Hill Publishing Company, Boulder Hi-Fi, Crissman Speaker, Celestial Seasonings, KBDI Channel 12 TV, just to mention a few.
In 1974, the Pearl Street Gallery opened with one of my one-woman shows.
Don and I were married and moved to Lafayette where we still live at this time. I started painting more with acrylics, oils, and watercolors, selling paintings across the States and internationally.
In 1976, the pen-and-ink drawings “Hands across the Nation,” “Iguana,” and others were created.
I love to take photos, not only to use as reference material for drawings and paintings but I also won several photo awards. I learned to print on an offset printing press printing a zodiac-coloring book, greeting cards, and stationery. I opened the Prairie Dog Studio with a one-woman show.
I started Mountain Studios in 1983, a lifelong dream, offering portraits of people and pets. I helped many enthusiastic art lovers with their projects.
For twenty years, I taught art classes. We built silk screens and printed on T-shirts. I was awarded third place, nationally, for the most outstanding screen-printed T-shirt. I have won many ribbons.
I taught art classes, children after school and adults in the evenings, drawing, painting, photographic darkroom procedures and techniques, and stained glass. I organized numerous workshops, painting outings, and volunteered at local schools.
I painted murals, designed the centennial stamp for the Lafayette Post Office, and in 1986, illustrated the Business Women of the Year Cookbook.
I am one of the co-founders of the LCAC (Lafayette Cultural Art Commission). I started the Lafayette Art Center and directed it for eight years. Many hours have gone into planning and executing art shows, applying for grants for the art center, teaching, organizing art events. I volunteered a lot.
We enjoyed a mother-and-daughters art exhibit in 1995. Later, I exhibited at the Rocky Mountain Music School, Vagabond Travel, and the Lafayette Library, among others.
Giclee prints... is a new art form which is digitally controlled by a computer. This can be a photograph of an original painting, a photograph, or a personally altered visual completed on the computer by the artist, then printed with an ink-jet printer on special art papers. At Mountain Studios, the artist has total control over every step.
The end result is an affordable piece of art, personally produced and signed by the artist. Mountain Studios planned to include other artists as well with several people already interested in participating and more contacting me through e-mail every week.
The quality is said to surpass that of the lithograph. There are debates about which is better. I feel that this is an exciting new art form with much potential.
I learned about computers, digital processing, and Photoshop. I designed my own web site, a total of thirty-eight pages with over one hundred different photos of paintings and drawings. I tested papers, inks, and the quality of prints and photos. I had taken photos of the paintings and was already advertising.
I was hired by Jonas Brothers’ Taxidermy (Rockmont) to sketch positions of animals to be displayed in panoramas for a museum.
And then there was the fire.
I was invited to paint the large owl sculptures that is now displayed at the Lafayette Library.
It has been my life’s goal to leave a legacy with my paintings. Many are now gone. I feel erased. It is hard to go on. I have to push myself not to say, “Just forget it. I don’t want to paint anymore. What’s the use?”
I have always been drawing or painting. I had some of my best paintings hanging on the walls. Desperately, I hoped that they could be saved. My “Horses” painting looked like it might be just a little tarnished. I hoped it would be all right. I was told that they would try to clean it. I would have it back in a couple of days. I was happy to have saved the “Horses.” Now this painting is burned from behind—the colors have changed and it is singed on the top third. I can’t be in the same room with anything that smells as bad as this painting smells. It is burned from behind.
I paint on archival quality products with the best paints to ensure the longest life.
Don helped me get a few of my paintings back that I had hanging at an exhibit. I forgot how good it feels to see my friends again. I can’t tell you how nice it was to see these paintings. And they were not even the best ones.
I realized that losing all my paintings, all the animals, all the computer work, and all the work on the house—it kind of seemed to invalidate my very existence. I mean, I worked so hard to be remembered through my paintings and to make money through my giclee prints. I had a nice-looking house, all of which vanished in an instant. My self-esteem was the lowest, ever. I was depressed because I lost my friends, my work, and my house.
I am a well-rounded artist. I had all the supplies, for many different media, now all is gone.
The months before the fire, I had been buying a lot of special art papers and I was testing these different papers with various inks and images. My goal was to produce quality giclee prints.
I have sold thousands of prints, photos, paintings, and hand-printed, hand-painted T-Shirts. I have won many ribbons. The paintings that I had in my possession, I had hoped to keep. So, making prints seemed to be the next step.
I spent much time learning to set up a web site, photographing my paintings, and researching ways to advertise on the Internet. I had thirty-eight pages and over one hundred pictures of paintings and drawings on my web site. It took me two years to get everything together and designed. I put the photos into computer format to get them into the right size and format for the web, with a résumé, price list, ordering form, and descriptions of everything. Then I designed and built the web pages.
I bought ishively.com (one of my domain names) for three years and directed it at my homepage. I also bought medicineteepee.com and directed it at my Native American pages, tromploi.com and directed it at my Colorado pages, and also irmelin.net that was pointing at my résumé page.
I was advertising a lot on the net with Traffic Magnet, the Boulder Library, World Wide Arts Resources, and many more. I ordered pens with the web site address, e-mail, and phone number for Mountain Studios. I was in the process of adding Mountain Studios to the Yellow Pages in the phonebook. I wrote the ad and sent in the money. I had the money in the bank to pay for all of the above, and more.
I can hardly believe that my computer actually started when I took it to Desktop Solutions to have it checked out after the fire. I had them download everything that could be salvaged from the hard drive. The computer was ruined.
I lost all the documentation, the numbers, and the addresses from the programs and Internet connections. I still have some of the programs on CDs but the paper covers were removed because of the smell. The covers had the ID numbers on them. Without the numbers, I might as well not have the CDs—they don’t work. Earlier pictures and paintings were on floppies; they all melted. All the pictures of my grandson, Cyrus, are gone. When he was born, he was one and a half months premature. He fit into his mom’s hand, they were such great pictures; they are all melted, gone.
All my painting supplies such as the air brush with assorted tips and inks, acrylic paints, oil paints, all the pastels, colored art pencils, art erasers, painting boards, papers, canvases, easels, mat cutters, mats, light table, I can’t even remember everything now, are gone. A lot of the newspaper articles—I had a LOT of drawings, all the ribbons, gone.
I had everything for photo enlarging, including chemicals and papers, everything for stained glass production and silkscreen printing.
The human spirit is amazing. There can be joy everywhere. All I have to do is grab it. I never thought that I could design and build a house. I never even thought that I would write a book. What’s next?
Copyright 2006 by Irmelin Shively. Published by Mountain Studios. Web Site by Irmelin.