Process: Rocky Mountain Commission

I love working large. Large artwork is commanding. Whether it’s intended as entrance art to grab you as soon as you enter a house or just a large wall piece, a sizable painting is artwork on a grand scale. I am currently working on a large commissioned art project for some nice folks in Austin, TX. The composition is triptych, and is based on a scene of the Rocky mountains -- mountains and birch trees reflecting in a lake. I just finished applying the metallic leaf to the textured surfaces of the panels yesterday and I was ready to go home -- turned off the lights and went to the back of the studio to get my keys, and when I turned around, I saw the panels reflecting back the late afternoon sunlight and I had to get a photo. Sorry. I get excited about stuff like this. One day, I'll have to just do a painting with no paint at all -- just metal covered with resin. I think that would be cool. Anyway, this one is ready for paint now, and by the end of the day, I'll have that first layer of paint applied. 

Sometimes, when I get into a piece, it's cool to explore the background story. This scene from Glacier National Park required just a bit of research so that I'm not just painting a painting, but I'm depicting a place. I want to capture the "spirit" of that place. Throughout time, people have sought out Glacier National Park's rugged peaks, clear waters, and glacial-carved valleys; its landscape giving both desired resources and inspiration to those persistent enough to venture through it. Evidence of human use in this area dates back to over 10,000 years. By the time the first European explorers came into this region, several different tribes inhabited the area. The Blackfeet Indians controlled the vast prairies east of the mountains, while the Salish and Kootenai Indians lived in the western valleys, traveling over the mountains in search of game and to hunt the great herds of buffalo on the eastern plains.

The majority of early European explorers came to this area in search of beaver and other pelts. They were soon followed by miners and, eventually, settlers looking for land. By 1891, the completion of the Great Northern Railway sealed the area’s fate, allowing a greater number of people to enter into the heart of northwest Montana. Homesteaders settled in the valleys west of Marias Pass and soon small towns developed.

Around the turn of the century, people started to look at the land differently. For some, this place held more than minerals to mine or land to farm…they began to recognize that the area had a unique scenic beauty all to its own.

By the late 1800s, influential leaders like George Bird Grinnell, pushed for the creation of a national park. In 1910, Grinnell and others saw their efforts rewarded when President Taft signed the bill establishing Glacier as the country's 10th national park.

This painting has a way to go before completion, but I love the process: texture, aluminum leaf, paint and finish. More to come on this one...