Extreme Plein Air Art 2009

In 1871 Thomas Moran entered the Yellowstone wilderness and opened the eyes of the American public to the grandeur of the Rocky Mountain West.

In July 2009 two painters and a poet learning to paint took their art to the wild side of the Cabinet Mountains, where they spent a recent weekend in the proposed Scotchman Peaks Wilderness on a hike organized by Friends of Scotchman Peaks Wilderness (FSPW).

Aaron Johnson of Moscow, Idaho, Jared Shear of Thompson Falls, Montana and Victor Vosen of Heron, Montana went for four days and three nights with hike leader Sandy Compton into the Little Spar Lake area, “and beyond,” as Compton characterized the hike. During the hike, Johnson and Shear, both accomplished painters, and neophyte Vosen produced several dozen watercolors of the dramatic terrain of the interior Scotchman Peaks. They also gathered materials for many more works.

“There is enough there for a lifetime of painting,” Johnson said. “This trip was one of the best experiences of my life.”

The Extreme Plein Air grew out of a similar, tamer event in Fall, 2008, when a number of painters put their skills to work capturing the Scotchmans from the outside. Several painters expressed their desire to Compton and FSPW chair Phil Hough to get “up close and personal” with the Scotchman Peaks. The culmination of the idea came about July 17 through 20 with a backpacking trip that took the painters and Compton into the Ross Creek and Blue Creek drainages just south of Little Spar Lake — a remote and rugged area that Compton calls “The Heart of the Scotchmans.”

“These young men are serious about their art,” Compton said. “They packed all they needed for four days and three nights —and then put their art supplies in on top of that. Then, they spent hours capturing the places we saw and camped in. I’ll be very interested to see the framed results.”

Johnson and Shear will be display their work from this trip at the Timber Stand Gallery at Third and Cedar in Sandpoint on Friday, August 7. An artists’ reception from 5 to 8 pm will feature hors d’oeuvres, beverages and a chance to talk to the artists and other friends of the Scotchman Peaks Wilderness.

You can check out the artists’ websites here:

Aaron Johnson: www.cordellart.blogspot.com
Jared Shear: www.terrapeer.blogspot.com

“This will be a good opportunity to learn more about the Scotchman Peaks, as well as take a look at some great art,” said FSPW volunteer Neil Wimberley, primary organizer of the Extreme Plein Air. “And, coming up in the fall,” he added, “we have another plein air planned, a reprise of last year’s. A larger gathering of artists will be doing a “paint out” concentrated on the Scotchman Peaks Wilderness. They’ll display their fresh work on Saturday and Sunday, September 19th and 20th, at Kally Thurman’s Outskirts Gallery at the Hope Market Cafe.”

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