If one is open to the unexpected, life may take astonishing twists and turns. Colleen Sabo knows about this first hand. She grew up in nearby Arlington, Virginia, and planned to attend James Madison University after finishing a post high school summer job with NATO at the Pentagon. However, Colleen loved the job so much that she shelved her college plans and stayed at NATO for three more years. At age 21, she headed off to Brussels and Paris with the whole NATO staff. During her five years in Europe, travel was the name of the game--sandwiched in between writing and editing on the job, studying French and English at the University of Maryland overseas program, and absorbing art ideas everywhere she went.
Upon returning to the states, Colleen got a writing job with the Nixon White House Staff, started taking pottery classes with a local Virginia potter, worked for the Office of Emergency Preparedness, and took part in the unit that launched the Department of Energy in 1977. Before she knew it, 25 years had come and gone. Colleen decided then to retire from government work, so she could begin a new journey on a road less traveled. One with a sign post: → Explore Art
She spent several years forming and firing porcelain clay vessels, her first art love, then moved on to watercolor, acrylics, drawing, and picture framing. Artists who inspire Colleen are Mark Rothko and his sense of inner light, Jamie Wyeth and his use of opaque watercolors, and Anne and Cynthia Packard, Provincetown MA artists. Colleen's art is heavily influenced by living on the Chesapeake Bay as well. She turned her property into a natural "bay-scape" habitat, not unlike Monet who built a garden in Giverney so he could paint it. Colleen's abstracted landscape paintings focus on capturing air, light and the intense colors she sees on the Western Shore.
Ever the explorer, 15 years ago Colleen went with a friend to see several injured raptors living at a nearby nature center. She was immediately smitten with the large birds. Entranced, she entered the training program and learned how to care for them. You wouldn't think a petite person like Colleen could actually hold a large bird of prey like an eagle, osprey, hawk or Great Horned Owl with wings spanning six feet. But she has a knack for it. When she isn't painting or working for Touchstone Gallery, she cares for injured birds and teaches about them at two nearby nature centers operated by the Maryland National Capitol Parks and Planning Commission. Wearing a special Kevlar-lined leather glove, Colleen is not afraid of the crushing power in a raptor's talons, and the big birds are not afraid of her.
It's not surprising then, that Colleen has taken to painting these magnificent raptors . Be sure to visit her June, 2014 solo exhibit Avian Attitudes: Owls, Hawks, and a Vulture (mixed media paintings) at Touchstone Gallery, 901 New York Ave NW, Washington DC June 6-29, 2014. The Opening Reception Friday, June 6, 6-8:30pm will be an exciting event, as three live raptors will be part of Colleen's presentation.