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MarciaBurtt-9-19.jpgArtist Marcia Burtt doesn’t consider painting for an audience much different than painting alone.

By Tyler Midkiff
Larson Newspapers

Artist Marcia Burtt doesn’t consider painting for an audience much different than painting alone.

Time limits are the real challenge, she said, but she doesn’t alter her approach to compete with the ticking clock. She just speeds everything up.

On Sunday, Oct. 21, Burtt will join 30 other artists at the third annual Sedona Plein Air Festival. The week-long event, ending Sunday, Oct. 28, will give art enthusiasts a rare opportunity to catch artists in the act of creating and even purchase the end result.

Artists will scatter throughout Sedona, Oak Creek Canyon and Jerome to paint and field occasional questions from onlookers.

Like most people, Burtt worked a day job for years. She worked long hours for little pay and spent her free time painting. It wasn’t until she was in her 40s that she became a full-time artist, she said.

Having to wait so long may have given her a greater appreciation for the chance to create art for a living than artists who went straight from art school to selling their work in galleries, Burtt said.

Her technique, shaped outside of the classroom, is self-evolved and different from many other painters, she said. She doesn’t plan or sketch anything before painting. She just finds a location, looks closely, and begins — gradually torquing and twisting until everything works together.

“The more you paint, the more you see what’s good to paint,” Burtt explained. “You begin to think like an artist, your eyes become unpeeled and everything begins to look interesting — even a trash heap.”

Burtt was a young girl when her father gave her her first set of paints. With no instruction, she began painting, and over time, developed a style of her own, she said.

While growing up in Los Angeles, Burtt was often singled out for her skills as an artist, but she never won any competitions, she said. She believes she was more talented than most of her peers, but her dedication to realism made her a bit of a loner in a generation focused largely on abstract expressionism.

Burtt continued to paint, however, and she often found herself outdoors wandering through the woods or on the beach with a box of paints and a collapsible easel.

Her fascination with nature continued to grow as she searched for intense colors, shadow patterns, and water — her favorite thing to paint, she said.

It’s a very zen thing to paint something that’s always moving, Burtt said of water. It can’t really be nailed down, so it’s more about “being” than painting a still life.

It’s a mind-dissolving experience, Burtt said.

Burtt will probably coax students to the waters of Oak Creek when she leads an outdoor acrylic painting workshop at the Sedona Arts Center from Monday, Oct. 29, to Friday, Nov. 2 — just after the Sedona Plein Air Festival ends.

When the workshop ends, she’ll strike off on her own to paint, and maybe a few will follow.

To register for Burtt’s

workshop, call the Sedona Arts Center at 282-3809, 1-888-954-4442, or e-mail to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

For more information about the third annual Sedona Plein Air Festival, call the Sedona Arts Center or visit www.SedonaPleinAirFestival.com or www.SedonaArtsCenter.com.



 
Tyler Midkiff can be reached at 282-7795, Ext. 122, or e-mail to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


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