Painting at a ski area can be lucrative, fun, and a great way to market yourself as an artist. Monarch Ski area is the ski area closest to where I live (about 20 minutes). I write off the expense of a season pass because it’s a “business” destination. It’s a win-win situation on a lot of levels. For one thing, there is very little, if any, hiking involved to get some breathtaking views. A lot of times I’ll just take my plein air backpack up right on the ski lift and ski down to any number of great overlooks, but not before getting some exercise on the snowboard. Even if you’re not comfortable with the lift and a heavy backpack, there are any number of great compositions at the base of the mountain.
I’ve found the ski lift with groupings of people getting on and heading up the mountain to be enjoyable to paint, fascinating for passerbys to watch (I give out a lot of business cards), and very sellable (I’ve never had one on the wall of a gallery last more than a weeks time).
I like painting the here and now of the world we live in and as my artist statement says, “the paintings I create are one-of-a-kind pages in the visual journal of my life.” People and lift-lines(or lack there of at Monarch) are part of that world, and I can find just as much joy in the depiction of groups of people in my landscapes, as simply the feeling of solitude in one where there are no people.
I’ve always liked paintings of street scenes, urban scapes, and the like where artists paint groupings of people doing people things (walking, standing at a bus stop, etc). I like handling groups of people loosely so that I dont make the painting about any single individual, and I engage the viewer’s visual vocabulary in their interpretation of the piece. You can see by this detail that the skiers in line are merely brush strokes intended to insenuate their actual positions.
In the “Windblown” painting below, I took the aptly named, “Breezeway” Lift to the top of Monarch and found this scene. It was cold this day, but luckily I escaped the wind during the painting session. I love the shapes that wind carves in snow, and the way light falls off of those forms can be quite interesting.
In both of the paintings below, I rode the lift to the top of Monarch Ski Area where the run,”Panaramic” begins. This is the “Noname Bowl” along the Continental Divide on the Southern side of Mount Shavano, Tabeguache, Aetna, and White. In the painting on the right, I’ve chosen a compostion that does not include the Colorado blue-bird sky which I feel keeps the painting a bit more intimate. One expects that a close-up depiction of some subject may not have sky present, but in a distant view, it’s definitely a conscious choice, or statement of sorts. The painting on the left was a bit more of a hazy day. The sky is painted in, giving the painting more of an airy feel.
The snowy tree painting below is almost an abstract piece in terms of the composition. Monarch Ski Area gets wind loaded quite often being on the leeward side of the Great Divide, and the trees sometimes take on more snow than seems possible. If you’re lucky enough to catch them in this state, you’re in for a treat as the sunlight sparkles through their precarious corridors.
Please feel free to comment. Also check these related posts for further information about painting snowy scenes, etc.