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The Artist

Planning the Hospital Mural -- note: works well with others
Sally Thurston is the Artist-in-Chief of RainbowHands. She enjoys painting on any surface. In fact, Sally will tell you stories of how her parents tolerated childhood scribbling on any wall she chose to decorate.

Sally insists that the art, and NOT the artist's credentials, should be the main feature of RainbowHands.com. However, the webmaster is not convinced that any kind of art can be successfully displayed at 72dpi without some further explanation, including information about the artist. He trusts he will be forgiven for telling what he knows.

Sally is a proud native of Colorado. In 1873, Sally's great-grandmother, Frances Sarah Howard, crossed the plains from Missouri as a child in a covered wagon. It is in her grandmother's honor that Sally displays "Colorado Pioneer" plates on all her vehicles.

Those who knew her during her Colorado childhood remember two signature personality traits that govern her behavior to this day. First, she covets tools and equipment -- kilns, table saws, drills, and anything else that can be used to build, create or decorate. Secondly, she is constitutionally incapable of ignoring a blank canvas, and she sees blank canvases EVERYwhere -- walls, ceilings, ceramics, passing panel trucks, you name it. No undecorated surface is safe in her presence.

Sometimes you gotta work nights
The Hospital Mural

In 1967 Sally moved away from Colorado to the east coast. She studied and worked as a commercial artist, perfecting her knowledge of pottery, painting, and illustrating tile, and acquiring a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree almost as an afterthought (University Art Departments have the coolest tools). She received numerous awards for design and craft from juried shows, and her work was featured in various magazines.

While working as a commercial artist, Sally spent seventeen years painstakingly remodeling her 400 square foot house into a 4000 square foot house featured on the cover of the magazine Delaware Today.

Always longing for the mountains of her home state, in 1995 Sally resolved to return to Colorado with the intention of continuing her career as an artist/craftsman. Her search for property with a house and adequate studio space kept bringing her back to a site housing a 9000 square foot concrete building, in the pretty mountain town of Manitou Springs. The property was part of the Briarhurst, the estate of Manitou's founder, and also held the Briarhurst Carriage House, built in 1873. It was a happy harmonic convergence with the travels of Sally's great-grandmother. The carriage house is probably the oldest standing structure in Manitou Springs.

Sally's Living Room in Delaware
RainbowHands Trompe l'Oeil featured in another issue of "Delaware Today"
There was something about the property that called to Sally. Not only was there more than enough studio space, but the scrub-oak hillside seemed perfect for the creation of something uniquely hers. Perhaps a bed and breakfast...

For the next five years, all of the skills and craft Sally had accumulated over the previous decades went into the creation of Blue Skies Inn. She designed three new buildings with exteriors to match the board-and-batten siding and Gothic Revival architectural style of the Briarhurst Carriage House.

Upon being informed that she needed a general contractor to pull her building permits, Sally went down to El Paso County Regional Planning and took the contractors test. She became one of the few female licensed General Contractors in the Pikes Peak area.

Sally painted and decorated the ten spacious suites at Blue Skies Inn with individual themes. Bathrooms feature handpainted tile inset into decorative and bejeweled walls that are tiled to the ceiling. Sally created unique tile surfaces in each bathroom to match the themes of the individual B&B suites. We invite you to view Sally's life-sized portfolio by visiting the Blue Skies Inn website.

Tile framing from the Indian Rock Art I Suite

Recently, Sally completed the renovation of the Briarhurst Estate Carriage House, with innkeeper quarters upstairs, a new B&B kitchen in the old tack room, and a large great room occupying the entire first floor. The great room, now named the Chapel Room because of two stained-glass cross windows installed in the original structure about 1885, is beautifully finished with handpainted walls, and crystal chandeliers lovingly created by Sally. The Chapel Room is our B&B "free space," suitable for small weddings, large breakfasts, family reunions or any other activity that requires a lushly decorated indoor space.

RainbowHands is Sally Thurston's latest incarnation as an artist. The photos you see on the RainbowHands and Blue Skies Inn websites are examples of the kind and quality of work she can do for you.

The renovated 1873 Carriage House for the Briarhurst Estate

    Click here to visit Blue Skies Inn
    Want to see more
    of Sally's work?

    Visit the BLUE SKIES INN
    website to tour an
    inn created and decorated by



    402 Manitou Avenue
    Manitou Springs, Colorado 80829

    email sally@rainbowhands.com

    Visits by appointment only, please