Before taking up painting full time, she helped her husband with the Blackstock Pharmacy and their adjoining bakery in Gunnison. Why a bakery? “So we would have nice aromas flow into the pharmacy,” she says. When the baker had to leave, he graciously taught Virginia most of the bakers’ skills and work routine. ”We had a 5-foot glass front, rotating oven, and I made wedding cakes this high”—she gestures; it must have been about 2 feet high. “It was a work of art!”
During this period, Virginia spent 10 years in Webster Players community theater in Gunnison. “I acted in many of their plays, choreographed musicals like Brigadoon., and even directed a few, like Rainmaker, and Bus Stop. The first time I directed a play, I was starring in it, when the director became ill, so I became both.”
The Blackstock family moved to Rogers Mesa in 1971 and became orchardists, which worked out well, because Virginia has always loved gardening. “I started when I was about eight years old, gardening with my father.” She’s still at it. And all those lovely fruits and flowers eventually became the basis for many of her award-winning paintings.
Virginia, who had been painting for herself all along, became a professional watercolorist in 1983. “I reached that through competition,” she explains. “When you decide to be a painter, you have three choices: paint for yourself, paint for galleries, or paint for competition.” She chose competition, because “I didn’t want to just paint as a ‘home decorator.’” She wanted to paint for a wider audience that would view her work for its artistic qualities.
Competing broadened her circle of artist friends. At the 2nd International Water Media Symposium in San Diego in 1993, she met and worked with a lot of nationally known artists from across the country, whom she also studied with before or after the event. “During those years I taught Watercolor workshops in Colorado, New Mexicio, Arizona, and Alaska,” she adds.
“We traveled a lot, and I always took my camera and sketchbook looking for new and interesting subjects to paint, sometimes in a series.” These include: early American; pictographs, petroglyphs, and ruins (which meant backpacking into remote wilderness areas); wheels (anything that had a wheel on it, like old farm equipment, vintage automobiles, and broken down wagons); florals; fruit; people; music; and dance (“of course!”). Although Virginia is known for her extraordinary floral paintings, things like her Utah and Colorado Grandeur series have also won awards.
Virginia’s work is not only perfection from an artistic and technical aspect, but also prolific. Her work hangs in many places in SW Colorado, including St. Mary’s Hospital in Grand Junction, Delta Hospital, DCMH Medicine in Hotchkiss, (Ecuador, Paris) and Montrose Center for the Arts (where she is a member and volunteer).
Virginia Blackstock. Photographed at reception at the Montrose Center for the Arts. ©Kathryn R. Burke
Virginia Blackstock is a work of art, herself, as much as the highly recognizable art she creates. “Art and dance are the music of my soul,” she often says.
Visit the Montrose Center for the Arts, 1 S. Park Ave., Montrose CO, to see Victoria Blackstock’s work in her 64th solo exhibition. Learn more about her and peruse her portfolio at http://www.wcwsociety.net/oldsite/portfolios/Blackstock_Virginia/