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Steamboat Magazine

The Feel of the Forest

10/05/2023 01:29PM ● By Lyla Baker
(Photo: "Emerald Mountain" by Marion Kahn | 20” x 20” oil on canvas.)

Steamboat Springs, CO -
 Marion Kahn used to be afraid of color.  But now she is fearless, with a style that she describes as bold, expressive, experimental and joyful- and she is bringing it to Zandee Gallery in downtown Steamboat Springs this October for her upcoming show, “Forest Bathing in Chromatic Light."

Marion always loved to draw and express herself, but didn’t consider it as a career.  She says her fear of color held her back -- color took commitment, and, as a perfectionist, Marion wasn’t ready to make errors.  Thankfully, she was able to study with experts who helped her overcome her fear and get the creative juices flowing.

“I studied with Kim English who taught me to paint directly, and Robert Cottingham, one of the world’s premiere hyper-realist artists.  Three years ago I was accepted into a mentorship program with Lauren Mantecon in Santa Fe. She has taught me to paint honestly, from the spirit, while also creating very strong work,” Marion says.

("Into the Light" by Marion Kahn | 60” x 48” oil on canvas.)

For “Forest Bathing in Chromatic Light," Marion was inspired by the beautiful scenery in and around Steamboat -- though a very specific concept is the focal point of the collection.

“I read a novel a few years ago, and it mentioned something very interesting called ‘forest bathing,’” Marion recalls.  “It’s a Japanese concept that was created in the 1980s that was a result of the tech boom.  They wanted people to get back outside and reconnect with nature, and protect nature, too.”

After trying “forest bathing” for herself, Marion was in awe -- not necessarily of the natural world’s beauty, but rather of the feeling it gave her.  There are no portraits of places in this show, only bright bursts of color and shadow that reflect the happiness, calm, joy and playfulness that Marion feels when she’s in the forest.  Among them is “Into the Light,” an oil painting with pops of orange, yellow, green and blue that evoke the joy of autumn.

("Forest Bathing" by Marion Kahn | 60” x 20” oil on canvas.)

“There’s something that happens when you walk into a forest and you are surrounded by trees that are so much taller than you,” Marion reflects.  “There’s an energy that comes from that.  There’s the beauty of the trees, the bark, even the logs that are on the ground -- all of your senses come into play.  For me, I find that to be spiritual.”

“Forest Bathing in Chromatic Light” will be featured at Zandee Gallery starting Friday, Oct. 6.  “I hope that these paintings make people feel good,” Marion says.  “I hope it resonates with their own experiences of being outside and being in the forest.”