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Artist discovers muse in his own home

Colorado community provides freedom for creative pursuits

Created date

March 20th, 2012

John Lillie takes in the breathtaking expanse of the Colorado Rockies from his light-filled home art studio. His view and the scenery surrounding his home at Wind Crest, an Erickson Living community in Highlands Ranch, Colo., provide inspiration for his watercolor and acrylic landscapes. John picked up painting as a hobby in the 1990s while living in Ann Arbor, Mich. The more he painted, the more he loved it. So in 2008, he and his wife, Sue, moved to Wind Crest, where they could spend less time on house maintenance and he could spend more time painting the stunning Colorado landscape.

Shedding light on their new home

The Lillies worked with Wind Crest Sales Counselor Molly Thorne to find the perfect apartment home for their needs. With more than 40 apartment styles, Wind Crest has a size and design to suit everyone s lifestyle. (But with Wind Crest over 94% sold out, it s good advice to join the priority list to avoid a long wait to get the apartment style you want.) As an artist, John requires an overabundance of natural light. Thorne recommended a Washington model a two-bedroom apartment with windows on three sides, a sunroom, and what John calls a super bay window. John set up the second bedroom as his studio. There s nice, even light there, he says. And the stunning Colorado landscape provides daily inspiration. Painting helps me focus, John says, not only while working, but while I m interacting with others. My wife tells me I tend to be overly controlling with my painting, and watercolor is so flexible that it offers the challenge of freedom.

Travel painting

John doesn t limit his muse to the Colorado scenery. Living at Wind Crest gives the couple greater freedom to travel. The community s 24/7 security team looks after their home, so they can travel without worry or stress. Their wanderlust has taken them all over the world, including a bicycle tour of Europe, as well as separate trips to France, Santiago, Spain, the Greek Islands, Costa Rica, and New Zealand. John uses a field watercolor kit for sketches, and when he returns home he develops his sketches into works of art. You sort of live in your painting, he says, noting that he gets intimately involved with each piece by trying to capture the scene exactly as he experienced it. For John, a painting brings back memories from a trip clearer than any photograph, though he does take photos to make sure he gets the colors right.

More than painting

When he s not painting, John enjoys several other activities at Wind Crest. For the last two years, he has served as president of the Resident Advisory Council. Now that his term ends this year, his neighbors keep asking him what he s going to do next. Without hesitation, John says he can t wait to paint more and get involved with the woodshop and the model railroad club. He and Sue also enjoy bicycling on the nearby Platte River biking trail and Highline Canal. Wind Crest is so great for this kind of thing, John says. If I were living in a house isolated the transition from one step of life to the next would be much more challenging and difficult.