Liz Burns Finds ‘Uber-Presentness’ In Painting Abstract Art

“I THROW A CANVAS UP and go with what I feel,” says painter Liz Burns. “I love that state of ‘uber-presentness.’ Life should be that way, not thinking about the past or the future.” PHOTO COURTESY LIZ BURNS

“My passion for painting stems from the immense benefits it brings to my mental well-being,” says Wheat Ridge painter Liz Burns. “It lets me remain fully present in the moment and immerse myself in a state of pure joy.”

A Wheat Ridge resident since 2011, Burns lives with her husband Nathan, son Miller, 11, and “a sweet rescue dog of mixed breed” named June. The family loves to travel together and has visited Japan and many cities in Europe, including Milan and Paris.

“We love to experience new surroundings and cultures,” Burns says. 

She has worked as a professional hairstylist for 25 years and says there are similarities between that work and her work as a painter.

“One of the most striking similarities is the way that I approach color. In both fields, I am looking for ways to use color to create a sense of movement and energy.” 

Burns’ career as a hairstylist began in 1998 and she founded Goldie x Bob Hair Salon in RiNo in 2013. She has sold the salon but works there as creative director and lead stylist. “Which has freed up some time to paint,” she says. 

She started making art during the COVID-19 shutdown.

“I had been working since I was 18 and I was used to creating day after day. When COVID closed the salons, I needed an outlet to exercise my creative muscles. Using a digital app, I started drawing “Crazie Ladies,” inspired by my hair clients. Then we took a trip to Santa Fe, I bought paint supplies and I started painting in March, 2022.” 

Burns likes abstract painting because she can “go with what I feel in the moment. There’s too much pressure with realism. I feel intimidated because I’m not professionally trained. There’s a freedom in abstraction and I think abstractly. An image comes into my head, or I see something, or I think of a color. I throw a canvas up and go with what I feel in the moment. I love that state of ‘uber-presentness.’ Life should be that way, not thinking about the past or the future.”

Burns grew up in Iowa and moved to Boulder in 1994. She went to cosmetology school and got a salon job in Boulder, then traveled with a hair product line. She moved to New York “because I wanted the opposite of Iowa.” She married Nathan and they moved back to Colorado to start a family. They chose Wheat Ridge because “we wanted access to the city but with a spacious, rural feel. We love the mid-century homes and old trees.” 

A self-taught painter, Burns uses various media including acrylic paint, ink, charcoal, oil pastels, graphite and collage.

“I experiment with different techniques and materials. I am constantly searching for new ways to express my artistic vision,” Burns says. “In both hairstyling and painting, I push the boundaries of what is possible. I have no traditional art education, so there are no limitations in my mind. I don’t know the boundaries, but I push them. I don’t know the rules so I can’t break them, which offers endless possibilities. It also gives me permission to make mistakes.” 

Burns says she aims to create an immersive experience for the viewer.

“As an artist, I’m all about making you FEEL something when you see my work. I’ve been told there’s happiness in my work, which is a nice compliment.” 

Burns says her art stirs up people’s emotions and gives them a chance to live in the moment for a little while.

“I watch people who are looking at my art. Sometimes they say to me, ‘I want to show you what I found in your painting.’ They see something I didn’t intend, so they were in the moment to discover that. People see what’s relevant to them.” 

Becca, a viewer quoted on Burns’ website, says of her paintings: “There is a certain cadence and balance and incredible beauty to your work. The amazing thing is that they all give you feelings, and each one is different. Different feelings and emotions, yet very calming. They have rhythm without being symmetric.”

Burns had a solo show in February at The Banshee House in RiNo as a part of RiNo’s First Friday. She said of the show, titled “Communication Color,” that “Each piece in the show is a visual representation of personal reflection.”

She says her biggest reward is knowing that people like her paintings.

“I started doing it for myself but now people like my work and buy it, which I did not expect. I’d like to be in a museum someday, but for now it makes me happy that my community likes what I do. Also, I can’t do hair forever because it becomes physically difficult, leaning forward and holding your arms up. So I hope to develop a second career in art.” 

Burns thinks everyone benefits from making art.

“I am convinced that if each of us took time to engage in some form of creative expression, we would approach problems with a fresh perspective: more willing to embrace novel solutions, and more adept at solving problems collectively. The creative process gives you a way of opening your mind. It allows you to be more open and able to come to a better place.”

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