Visual Arts

Painter Anna Peckham Finds Inspiration in the Outdoors

You can find art all over town — not just on gallery walls. In this series, we'll be looking at some of the local artists who serve up their work in coffeehouses and other non-gallery businesses around town.

Anna Peckham lived in Alaska until she was four years old, and her early experiences with nature — and a beloved German shepherd — would color most of her future endeavors as an artist.

Peckham doesn’t have any formal training as a painter. She took a handful of advanced art classes and printmaking workshops in high school, but when it was time to pick a major in college, she honed in on outdoor education and went on to do graduate work in the subject, too. Peckham eventually found herself in Vermont, enjoying the outdoors and running a gallery. “That really got me focused on my art,” she recalls.

“Being in Vermont was such an inspiration,” Peckham continues. “I have to live in those areas where there’s lots of open space and lots of things to do outside.”

Denver, then, was an easy transition for Peckham, who moved to Colorado in 2011. And it’s clear that the surrounding landscape has inspired her oils depicting mountains, plateaus and trees in the American modernist tradition.

“Art is just something that I do for my soul,” Peckham says, and she doesn't have much time for it. “I have many jobs,” she explains, rattling off a few of the animal-related experiences on her resume: manager (at a wild bird center), pet sitter and equine masseuse. The latter is the fancy word for a horse-massage therapist, and that’s something Peckham — a horse lover and owner — often does pro bono to show gratitude for “school horses and those coming out of a rescue situation,” she says.

Peckham usually gets the ideas for her paintings when she’s driving back from her horse’s stable in Parker. “I see the mountains every day,” she says. “Driving back at different times of the day — the way the light hits the mountains, it just takes my breath away.”  Sometimes the mountains appear blue; other times, they’re orange and crimson.  

“I get a vision in my head of how they make me feel, and then I do a painting,” she says. She works from memory in her home studio — or sometimes at a house where she’s pet sitting (with permission, of course) — and uses oils to achieve “the depths of the colors I want to get,” she notes.

The painter’s other specialty is whimsical, highly detailed trees. “I think trees are just amazing the way that they grow,” Peckham says. When she lived in Vermont, Peckham noticed that doctors and healers, in particular, were drawn to her tree paintings. “You just get this feeling of energy,” she notes.

The texture in Peckham’s tree paintings is inspired by Austrian symbolist painter Gustav Klimt, who “would take all these little shapes and designs and flowers and put them in a painting,” Peckham explains. “Someone’s dress would be filled with design, and I always connected with that detail. I wanted to do it on a different level, and with nature.” 

Peckham’s work is making its Denver debut at Sojourners Coffee & Tea, at 1501 South Holly Street. “Now that I have a good body of work, I can go out and hit more coffee shops and display my trees and mountains together,” says Peckham, who does not currently have a website. 

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Jamie Siebrase is a Denver-based freelance writer, and author of the forthcoming Falcon Guide Hiking Wth Kids, Colorado: 52 Great Hikes for Families.
Contact: Jamie Siebrase