Painter captures nature’s wonders

September 15, 2013 Updated: September 15, 2013 at 7:08 pm
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photo - "Horse Aspen Grove," a 2012 painting by Buffalo Kaplinski. Courtesy Buffalo Kaplinski.
"Horse Aspen Grove," a 2012 painting by Buffalo Kaplinski. Courtesy Buffalo Kaplinski. 

It would take more than one lifetime to paint all the landscapes that have inspired Buffalo Kaplinski.

He's a plein air painter, which means he's planted himself in front of Mother Nature's best scenery and captured it in blazing watercolors and acrylics. Over the past 40 years, his landscapes have become a travelogue, showcasing his visits around the world, including Colorado, New Mexico, Alaska, India, Brazil and Argentina. They're replete with aspen trees, cliffs, canyons and valleys, snowy mountains and creeks.

"I've got about 100 favorite places," Kaplinski, 70, says from his ranch in Elizabeth. He's lived there for 35 years, and cares for a small herd of Texas Longhorn cattle. "Of course, the Colorado mountains - we've got tremendous scenery right here."

His first local show, "Brews and Buffalo," is up through Oct. 1 at the adjoining Tracy Miller Gallery and Fare Bella Gallery in Manitou Springs.

"A piece should take you in," says Patti Filler, owner of Fare Bella. Kaplinski's pieces "really transcend you. His watercolors are so loose and fluid, you almost wouldn't know they were watercolors."

Kaplinski thrives on color at this point in his career, he says, and it shows. His vibrant paintings are lit in swatches of orange, red, yellow, green and blue. "A Little More Cadmium Orange Please" is the title of one piece painted in Cottonwood Pass. It hangs in Miller's gallery.

"Now I'm very design-oriented and very full color," he says. "I hope I'm remembered as somebody who mastered color."

Kaplinski was born in Chicago and attended the American Academy of Art and the Art Institute of Chicago. He worked as a commercial artist until his mid-20s, he says, and then fled the advertising industry for Taos, N.M., where he painted and picked up a job earning $25 a day teaching art.

Since then, he's made himself into a sought-after artist in private art collections across the country and appears as a frequent judge and lecturer at plein air art festivals, including the Zion National Park Plein Air Art Invitational in Utah. He'll do a demonstration there in November.

"Buffalo will go down as one of the premier watercolorists of the 20th century," says Tracy Miller. "Through his paintings, he's documented a space and time and places in Colorado before Colorado became so developed."

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Contact Jennifer Mulson at 636-0270.

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