Elaine Coombs’ acrylic work, "Lit from Above," gives the impression of light shimmering through aspen leaves. The artist applies the paint
Elaine Coombs' acrylic work, "Lit from Above," gives the impression of light shimmering through aspen leaves. The artist applies the paint in small circles with a palette knife. (Image courtesy of Elaine Coombs)
J GO Gallery on Main Street is always looking for exciting artists that are unique in their sense of presentation and style.

Owners Jude Grenny and Curtis R. Olson opened the gallery with the mission of promoting and nurturing contemporary artists who focus on concepts, motifs and technical aesthetics.

On Friday, Feb. 28, during the Park City Gallery Association's monthly gallery stroll, J GO will introduce five new abstract landscape artists — Elaine Coombs, Jenn Shifflet, Joey Brock, Lori Schappe-Youens and Court Lurie — to Park City with an exhibit called "in-cep-tion."

The gallery, located at 408 Main St., will host a free artist opening from 6 p.m. until 9 p.m.

Elaine Coombs, who will have six paintings in the show, said she is excited to be one of J GO's new artists.

"They found me last fall," Coombs said during a telephone interview from San Francisco with The Park Record. "They told me they have seen my work over the years and have been following me, and I'm pleased they did."

Coombs' acrylic works represent trees and forest landscapes, and she has a unique way of applying circles of paint onto the canvas.

"One day I picked up the palette knife and started making marks," Coombs said. "I liked how it felt and wondered what it would be like to make a whole painting with these dots."

The result was a juicy, three-dimensional feel.

"I covered the canvas with dots and enjoyed the texture," she said. "So when I started doing the landscape and tree work with this technique, I felt like I was getting a lot of movement and energy in the paintings. I picked up the dappled light and the movement, and when the light hits the paintings differently, you can see the images shift."

Coombs uses acrylic paint.

"I like the ease of these paints," she said. "I like that it dries fast and I can put colors next to each other quickly, because I'm not the most patient person.

"I did start out with oils and got a lot of rich colors, but I had to wait, and I never really liked the smell of oil paints," Coombs said. "Acrylic is just easier. It's water-based and easier to clean."

The artist's style emerged from years of experimenting while trying to find her artistic voice.

"In art school, they pushed you to be conceptual and abstract, so I played around with that, and when I was younger, I painted with a realist style," Coombs said. "So I began trying to do a combination of both."

She used different materials and tools such as rollers, sponges and printing equipment.

"I would also use stamps and do layering and put down some textures," Coombs said. "Then I began using the palette knife and found that it was very process oriented and that's what was enjoyable to me."

Coombs' interest in art emerged when she was a preteen.

"I was about 11 or 12 and would sit in my room and draw from photographs from magazines or things that I liked," she said. "A few years later, when I was in high school, my neighbor was taking private art lessons with a local painter. My mom found out and I was able to go a couple of times a month to a studio, and that was such a great experience for me."

Coombs loved her teacher's lifestyle.

"She was kind of quirky and had a messy studio with a lot of books and paint everywhere," Coombs remembered. "I started out with oil paintings and we would spend a couple of hours talking and painting. It was a great experience for me."

When it came time for college, Coombs attended the University of Toronto in Canada.

"I studied studio art and art history, and that was another great experience as well," she said.

However, after graduation, Coombs didn't know how to start a career and ended up working different corporate jobs while living in Australia.

"I moved back to Canada in 1999 and by that time decided that I was going to be an artist and that I would give it a good shot," she said.

Coombs began painting from photographs, which she did when she was younger, and the images were of forest landscapes.

"The subject matter came about from my lifestyle," she said. "My husband and I love to be out in nature and we go on hikes. Since I also grew up in a very rural environment, it was natural for me to try and paint landscapes and trees. Something clicked and came together.

"A lot of people can paint landscape, and I like to think that I'm doing it a bit differently and more contemporary," Coombs said.

J GO Gallery, 408 Main St., will host an artist opening for the exhibit "in-cep-tion" on Friday, Feb. 28, from 6 p.m. until 9 p.m. Admission is free. For more information, visit www.JGOgallery.com .