"When Time Slows"
When we started this backpack trip, which began the idea for this particular painting I’d never been up to this specific area or this drainage itself I'd seen it on a map and I knew that it had the potential to produce some amazing views and it looked like the type of place that would harbor a lot of wildlife the first part of this trail was in dense vegetation it was in a lot of dark timber and through a lot of rocky area we didn't really see anything at all spectacular for about five miles and as we got closer however up to the tree line and to the high country it started to open up and then a couple miles later along the trail I came around a corner to one of the most stunning views that I've ever witnessed while living in this region it wasn't quite exactly the same as what I’ve painted here, but it gave me the feeling that I wanted to portray in this painting we ended up spending about six or seven eight days back in this area sleeping on a ground mat under the stars and throughout that time there were these moments all week long night and day that continued to inspire me more and more and as I began to take in all of the beauty in this area I just knew that I had to paint something from this experience.
We saw moose, we saw fox, we saw elk, and we saw deer. We made it to above the tree-line across some of the vast dark timbered flats and throughout all of this there's a certain feeling that is hard for me to describe, but it's a sense of fulfillment and appreciation for life itself and life around me that really feeds my soul and fuels my desire to create and my desire to share these experiences with others and as an artist, experiences like this and trips like this is what I really live for and I just really hope that I can convey that passion and that expression to others when they view my work. I would say that this trip itself has inspired me to create a series of paintings this new year that will attempt to capture this past year's feelings and experiences that I've had while out in the backcountry and so it all begins with this painting.
When I visit places like this, I often imagine what isn't there, I imagine what could be or perhaps what once was at some point in time. I usually take myself to a place that exists only in my daydreams perhaps and through that, I come up with inspiration for myself to capture light a certain way, to capture different elements of wildlife or weather in a certain way. Once I feel that I have the correct building blocks in my mind and through capturing photo references and everything else that goes along with experiencing the wilderness, I begin piecing together what you see here.
The backdrop of this valley I thought was so fitting for a painting it just for some reason captures my imagination and the expansive valley and the meadows down in the bottom of this drainage are just perfect examples of my favorite places I like to be. The stream that ran through this place had looked like it had perhaps been mined for gold at one point. It looked like there had been some activity and it had been altered to an unnatural look in my personal opinion so there was a lot of work for me to do to construct something that looked natural to me and represented this spot and all its beauty properly. That it respectfully captured the essence of what I loved about this place. So I took many different photographs up and down this area. I used some of my imagination to construct the river or the stream the way it is how you see it now and a lot of the willows were present, but this place itself that you're looking at really does not exist. Only bits and pieces of it do. Otherwise it all came from somewhere in the four or five mile radius we hiked around.
I find it so enjoyable in my process to be able to manipulate things as I see them and sort of use my imagination to create along the way. Throughout the process of a painting and once I really get into it, that's where I really start to become immersed into my subject matter and where I really start to feel what I’m painting in a way. When you're out in an area like this for an extensive amount of time, time itself seems to start to slow down. Small events throughout the day, perhaps a rock tumbling down the hill, the sound of a tree falling in the distance, an animal that you encounter, all of these would normally be small events in my mind start to become larger and more significant. These become the major events of any day and that really starts to put things into perspective for me and that's why I feel that time begins to start to slow and I start to take in what's around me a lot more intensively and I become very in tune with everything. That feeling itself, I feel like really drives me to create what I create. If I'm able to successfully capture that and get that type of feeling across to another individual when they see my work that's when I feel the most fulfilled as an artist. That's what my true intent is with every painting: to share my experiences and to connect with others who share a similar love for wildlife and the outdoors to feel like they can relate to my work. Seeing this painting come together really brought me back to those long hard days of being up on the mountain and it got me to reflect on my experiences while being out there and reflect on what's most important to me not only as an artist but as a person as well. I feel so lucky to be able to experience all this and to be able to pursue this. My appreciation for what exists out there and for what I have access to, there's no limits to that and I’m just so grateful for everything that I've experienced and everything that I get to see and that's what I love about painting landscapes and that's what I love about life.
With this particular scene, I wanted to capture light in a very dramatic in a very unique way and I wanted to capture a feeling of peacefulness and convey the types of feelings that I had while I was out there. I thought that by including a small campfire it would bring me back to this place and it would allow others to feel like they can share this experience with me or feel like they could see themselves there as well. I didn't want to distract the viewer overall so I didn't include any other items with the campfire. I wanted it to give a feeling of solitude and adventure. I wanted to really make it more about the outdoors and the place itself. I wanted to honor yet feel as if one was connected to this place. I always find it so exhilarating when I see wildlife such as a bull moose or a fox or a bear and I always love to capture some element of wildlife because it exists every day all the time while you're out there and you never know when you're going to come across something like that, but I wanted to keep it small and I wanted it to also not distract the viewer from this place overall so I kept the moose very subtle and sort of in the distance much like how you'd see one in the wild and I gave the fire a soft glow, a soft sense of warmth and overall I’m thrilled with how this came together and I don't think that this painting needs any more words. I instead hope that this painting speaks for itself and through the beauty of this scenery and the light and everything else that encompasses this painting I hope that you can feel that connection as well and find a sense of peace when viewing it.
30x40" oil painting - canvas panel w/wood frame backing (Approx 2" thick)
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