Colburn traveled widely on painting expeditions, especially to Colorado, capturing the essence of the West. He mastered the technique of "white paper painting" or allowing the white paper to act as a design element, or as an additional shape or color, to manipulate the figure/ground relationship. He used resonating color combinations for expressive effect and to build up simplified forms. Nearly all of Colburn’s work is based on first hand observation. He once said that "the shapes of this earth…are really the subject of my artistic discourse."