Cottonwood director finally gets chance to paint more
Westsiders studio on annual art tour Nov. 14-15

       After 16 years teaching and another 7 helping to expand the Cottonwood Center for the Arts downtown, Kay Jeansonne is finally getting to spend more time doing what she really likes - painting.

Kay Jeansonne touches up a painting in the basement studio of her home at 1521 W. Bijou St. In the background is one of her landscapes.
Westside Pioneer photo

       Recently moved to the Westside, the Louisiana transplant will open her home/studio at 1521 W. Bijou St. to the public as one of the 10 art stops on the eighth annual Pikes Peak Studio Tour Nov. 14-15.
       I'm excited about it, she said. I've gotten to know the other artists, and I've attended the tour in the past and said that one day I was going to do it. Now that Cottonwood is settled and I have a house, I can.
       The free tour will be 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on the 14th and 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. the 15th. For locations and addresses, see the Oct. 29 Westside Pioneer or go to pikespeakstudiotour.com.
       Jeansonne earned a bachelor of fine arts and a masters in art education from Louisiana universities. She would eventually teach until 2001, focusing on elementary special education. In 1995, she decided to move by herself to Colorado, without even a job to come to. The reason, she said, was a desire to paint where it was beautiful. I love the mountains, the sky, the colors and the variety of landscapes here, she said. And I like the distances, from the mountains to the desert.
       She did some research, deciding that Colorado Springs was desirable in terms of cost of living (lower than many parts of the state), snowfall (also lower) and proximity to the mountains (closer). Her first apartment was on the Westside, but she wound up living the majority of her last seven years at Cottonwood while she and others worked to expand the facility from an art school to a gallery with about 80 studios.
       With Cottonwood moving into its new home at 427 E. Colorado Ave. in the past year, Jeansonne, still its director, started finding increasing creative opportunities. She estimated that 40 percent of her time used to be free for painting; now it's up to 90 percent. It's always been my goal to paint full-time, she said.
       She specializes in oil paintings and drawings, with occasional watercolors and sculptures. Her in-town gallery is at Cottonwood, and she also shows in Santa Fe and Montana.
       The Westside house Jeansonne bought is an older place with a mostly finished basement. I love the Westside, she said. I'm glad to be back. A big plus for the location is that the basement gives her the equivalent of a second studio (in addition to her space at Cottonwood). I like to paint at night, she smiled. I can do that here.
       For the Studio Tour, Jeansonne plans to have a painting in progress for any people who want to watch her work.

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