Paint Outside!

April 5, 2016

There were so many places along the 2600 mile Pacific Crest Trail where I just wanted to plop down and paint. The scenery was stunning, hence the decision to create and hopefully publish a collection of works from that 6 month experience. Painting after the fact, though is wonderful in its own right and allows for more time and detail to be put into each picture, is not the same as painting in the moment. There is something truly special about taking to stop and enjoy the environment and the scene, and to capture it on paper. 

Plein air painting is the act of painting in the open air, and is considered genre of art all unto itself. When I worked as a guide with the Yellowstone Association I had the pleasure of leading a day trip focused around plein air art, and it was wonderful to see people looking at the famous scenery with a different focus. Claude Monet began his art career in his teenage years painting mostly plein air, and many believe that the movement he captures in his famous impressionist pieces such as is influenced by his plein air beginnings. 

Nature Journaling is a type of plein air art in which you are not trying to create a completed work, but rather trying to capture things found in nature in relatively quick studies, often accompanied by words. I have followed a group of Nature Journalists on facebook for quite a while now, and I always enjoy looking at their work and seeing how they retell a story of a scene through images and words. While on my thru hike I did bring colored pencils, but found that I rarely took the time to use them. I ended up with a few unimaginative sketches with everything to be desired. Eventually my pencils fell into the place all un-used gear ultimately collects: The Hiker Box. 

[Hiker boxes are simply boxes of gear (and food) that are one hiker disregards and leaves for others to use. They are found along the trail at hostels and gear shops, and they are the truest form of “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure” that I have ever encountered.] 

Now th

at I am no longer thru hiking, I am usually willing to add a little extra weight to my pack and spend a little more time enjoying a single location. Stopping for an hour in the middle an 8 mile hike is nothing, where as when you are trying to cover 30 miles in the day, it is almost unthinkable. Therefore, I have recently made an effort to bring my painting and drawing supplies along with me on weekend trips. These little paintings come together in 30-45 minutes which is a lovely change of pace compared to the hours I usually spend on a single painting. As an artist, I think it is a great exercise and a true pleasure to enjoy the moment and paint, just for the sake of painting. 

Top Painting: Taylor’s Mistake-A paragliding/hang gliding site near Christchurch. 
Second Painting: View from Conical Hill on the Routeburn Track. 

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