This past month I was asked to do a colorful painting of an American Bison. I thought it would be a great opportunity for me to demonstrate how I used Brusho and Hydrus watercolors to create my colorful animal paintings.
Two weeks ago was the Montana state fair. I entered four pieces in to the fair. “Rainbow Elephants” and “Star Gazing” were the watercolor paintings I submitted into the professional division. Since the fair didn’t have a professional drawing division I entered two soft pastel paintings into the general drawing division. I entered the “Delicate Arch” piece into the surrealism category and the “Pink skies over Montana” into the realism category.
The first day of the fair was the artist open house. This is when all the artists participating can go see all the entries without fighting the crowds. I was originally planning on using this as a fun date with my husband while getting a babysitter for the kiddos. However, a change in dates for a family party caused us to have to leave town right after going to the open house. Lets just say bringing a toddler and two preshoolers to an art show is NOT my idea of a good time. It was about as relaxing as getting a pap smear. My oldest child did great and enjoyed seeing all the pieces being exhibited. The younger two liked touching everything and suffered from a condition, my Grandpa termed, “Painted on ears.” Thank goodness for the bench near the appetizer table that kept them semi occupied. This cut short my mingling and socializing time but I was able to meet a few local artists and see some impressive artwork. Some of the work that really caught my eye were landscape scenes created with dyed wool and other textiles. I have no idea how she created her pieces but they were magical. I really wish I could have written down the name of the artist because it was absolutely stunning.
While there I found out that I won First place in the three categories. My Elephant painting won first for a surrealism watercolor painting in the professional division. The two pastel paintings also won first place in their respective categories. I was completely shocked that I won in each category I entered especially, when competing against other professional artists. This was my first time competing with other professional because last year’s state fair (in Idaho) I participated in the amateur division.
This was such a good reminder to me to not let self-doubt and fear hold me back. Every so often I hear the whisperings of self doubt come into my mind saying things like “your not good enough.” “They wont like your paintings.” Etc. I usually shake them off pretty well by reminding my self of the truth. I have sold paintings and won awards so people obviously like my work. Even more importantly I love my work. I paint for the happiness I feel when I get in the flow/zen of creating and the pride I feel when its completed it. When I walk into my house and see my beautiful artwork hanging on my walls I am filled with joy. This fair was good reminder to just shake those fears away and not let them control life.
Ps. I didn’t get a picture of me at the fair because the kids kept us so busy. The joys of motherhood!
We first came up to the Billings area to look for housing it was the middle of winter. There was two feet of snow on the ground and it was surprisingly warmer than the southern Idaho we left. Billings was a roasting 5 degrees while Idaho was -25 degrees (not counting wind chill). One of the first things I noticed about Billings was the amazing sunsets you could see from the rim rocks. The sky was so massive that I instantly understood why Montana was called “the big sky state.” It was so big that the city seemed to disappear below me, making it feel like alone in the clouds with the golden sunset light shining on me. Seeing that sunset confirmed to me that Montana was the place I needed to go to develop my skills as an artist.
I had been to the western areas of Montana many times as a kid and had always been amazed by its beauty. We would drive through Yellowstone; go to through Bozeman, and then up to glacier national park. However, in all those travels we never went east of Bozeman. Having never seeing the plains side of the state I didn’t know what to expect. But seeing the farms, mountains in the distance, rolling hills, and snow made me feel right at home. Now it’s the height of summer and Billings still isn’t disappointing. The snow has melted away to reveal beautiful farmland growing things like barley and hay. Powerful thunderstorms roll in almost weekly. The magic that happens when the bright pink sunsets make the fields and rim rocks glow in its light.
A few weeks ago we were leaving a friends house only to see the beautiful sunset. Instead of going home to put the kids to bed we decided to chase it. We spent the hour driving around Billings snapping pictures of the sunset and basking in its glory. It was a fantastic way to spend a warm summer evening. That evening drive inspired me to pull out my pastels and do my first pastel painting of Montana. This will be the first of many paintings of Montana particularly, of the Billings area.
Between vacations and moving to a new state I wont be able to participate in as many festivals, fairs, and art shows, as I would have liked. A lot of this is because we didn’t know what state we were moving too until a few months before moving. We had big vacations planned to make the most of my husbands last summer vacation before becoming an “official grown up.” Luckily, I can still participate in the Montana state fair.
I am excited to be able to participate because I had so much fun participating in the Eastern Idaho state fair last year where I ended up winning first place for my painting entitled “Star Gazing.” Winning was awesome and was a total a surprise but what made participating in that showing amazing was the opportunity I had to meet fellow artists in the Idaho art community. With most of my work sold online and being busy raising young children I don’t always get to interact with my peers. Being able to talk about art, creating, and inspiration with people who are as passionate about it as I am is not only refreshing but also energizing.
No matter what interests you its always energizing to be around people who share those same interests. It can make you feel less alone in your thoughts and ideas while refilling your metaphorical well. You can’t draw from an empty well so find people who help replenish it.
Now that we are setting up roots for longer than 18 months at a time I hope I am able to get out of my bubble and get more involved in the growing Montana art community.
Part of my journey as an artist is to explore new areas and be inspired by my surroundings. My number one influence in art is nature be it Farms, Wildlife or scenic landscapes. Growing up in Northern Utah I was spoiled living directly beneath what I believe to be the most beautiful and visually stunning section of the Wasatch Mountains. The area was known as “the fruit way” because of the many family operated fruit farms. Along with growing up in such a gorgeous area I also spent a lot of time traveling all over Utah. Moab, UT ranks just below my hometown as my favorite place. Between glorious landscapes and my love of adventure (AKA Mountain biking and hiking) it has it all.
I have since moved away from Utah and have lived in several states with the last place being in Idaho. I absolutely loved living close to Yellowstone and Grand Teton National parks. I love seeing how the look of a landscape can change depending on the time of day and season of the year.
After two years of living in Idaho we have had to relocate to a new state to allow my husband to finish his training. It was so sad to leave Idaho but we are excited for our new adventure and the opportunities it will allow me paint nature-based pieces.
My husbands training has moved us from the Gem state to the Big sky State! Montana has quickly stolen my heart and every day I am inspired with new scenery to paint. I so excited to share with you some new projects inspired by my new scenery once I finish getting my house and studio in order.
My etsy shop will reopen August 1. This will hopefully give me enough time to get settled, update my etsy site, and get new paintings created. Thanks for being patient with me.