Taking Art to New Heights
DU alumna is climbing and painting the view from Colorado’s 14ers
We all know there are countless reasons that make Denver and the Rocky Mountain region the best place to live: 300 days of sunshine; the outdoorsy lifestyle; great sports; Red Rocks; and the fact that we have more 14ers than all other states combined.
For Lisa Martin, a 2011 graduate of DU’s School of Art and Art History, Colorado’s 14ers are the motivation for her current ambition in life. She wants to be the only person to climb all 58 of Colorado’s 14ers and paint the view from the top of each peak. “It’s definitely been a learning process of what to bring and what not to bring, and I’ve also learned a lot about the mountains as well,” Martin says.
The Colorado native says her journey began at the University of Denver. She chose DU because it allowed her to stay close to home, and the University provided small class sizes with plenty of one-on-one opportunities with professors. “I leaned about Albert Bierstadt, and I fell in love with Thomas Moran’s painting of Mount of the Holy Cross,” Martin says. “A couple of years after I graduated, a friend invited me to climb Mount Bierstadt. I wanted to hike it because it was named after my favorite artist. Eventually the idea grew from there.”
Now, more than two years after beginning her journey, Martin has completed 57 of Colorado’s 58 14ers. The only climb and painting Martin has left is Mount of the Holy Cross. “In terms of Colorado’s history, it’s really a prominent mountain, and it’s also a mountain I fell in love with because of Moran’s painting,” she says. “I wanted to save it as a special way to wrap up the project.”
Climbing and painting at 14,000 feet is not an easy task. Martin is limited by how much equipment she can bring with her and much time she has to work on a painting. “I think the shortest painting took me four minutes, and the longest one took me an hour and 10 minutes,” Martin says. “A lot of times you can see the weather rolling in, and I don’t have a choice. So I put as much paint down as quickly as I can and hope that it looks somewhat like the mountain.”
For now, Martin has 57 paintings sitting in her Denver apartment. Once she completes Mount of the Holy Cross in September, she hopes to put all 58 on display and create a coffee-table book. “Doing the paintings really pushed me to complete the 14ers. I really feel like I got to see and experience Colorado in a unique way.”