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FSPW bringing art outside


Jared Shear

PLEIN AIR PAINTING ARTISTS will be featured by the Friends of the Scotchman Peaks Wilderness June 6. Local artist Jared Shear will be joining three others in showcasing their paintings of the Scotchman's from the great outdoors.

There are many ways of capturing the beauty of the great outdoors. Some take photographs, some download it to memory and some paint it on canvas. The Friends of the Scotchman Peaks Wilderness (FSPW) will be honoring those who paint nature at their Plein Air Art Show being held in Thompson Falls.

"En plein air" is the French expression meaning "in open air." The method of plein air painting takes place outdoors to capture landscapes through natural light, giving more depth and detail to the piece.

Local artist Jared Shear will join Ed Robinson, Carol Maddux and Aaron Johnson on June 6, from 4 – 8 p.m. at Big Eddy's, when FSPW showcases these artists who have captured Scotchman Peaks beauty with paint. Admission is free, appetizers will be provided by Big Eddy's and custom cocktails will be available by Montana Distillery, according to FSPW.

"Plein air is great because it gets me outdoors," Shear said, adding that it gives him a "connection" to a "particular time and place in the landscape" and is really "nothing other than paining on site; being there live. It is the difference between experiencing your favorite band through the speakers in your car or being there live in concert."

Having an interest in drawing and painting since he was very young, Shear's background is in illustration, where he usually paints scenes for "clients that are a bit more fantastical and less grounded in reality," according to Shear.

"Good paintings will show you a place, but great paintings let you experience it," he said. Shear's work can be viewed at or at the Radius Gallery in Missoula. The Radius Gallery will feature Shear's pieces in part of an upcoming landscape show scheduled for July 12 through August 17.

Robinson retired four years ago from Idaho Department of Lands as a resource management worker, who earned a degree from the University of Montana. Since retirement, he has spent more time painting, which he claims to have gained an interest in by watching his wife, Karen, "a very talented watercolor and acrylic artist," he stated.

"Most of my interests revolve around the outdoors, so landscape painting is a natural extension of that," Robinson said of his 12-year career with painting - three of those years doing plein air work. "Plein air painting allows me a very intimate way of immersing myself in a landscape."

Maddux retired after 25 years as a mechanical drafter and has spent the last 9 years fulfilling her need for the "color and looseness of fine art painting." She stated her "love of the beauty of God's creation all around" was a reason she began painting.

"I've been hooked on plein air painting ever since," Maddux referenced after participating in the FSPW Plein Air Paint Out from 2014 to 2016. "Being outside provides much more information than a photograph can record. What could be better than having your easel blow over in the wind, losing your brushes down a cliff, or dueling with flying insects with one hand while painting with the other? Fun!"

Johnson is currently a professor of drawing and painting at the University of Idaho. His works can be seen at and are featured at the Dana Gallery in Missoula. His father was a high school art teacher, so there was never any doubt that he was going to become an artist. Plein air was introduced to Johnson when he was a college art student in Portland. "I saw it, tried it and the bug was there," he said.

After receiving his bachelor's degree, though prior to receiving his master's degree in Moscow, Idaho, Johnson resided in Thompson Falls from 2005-2008 while working for Spring Creek Lodge Academy. He claims that Scotchman plein air painting originated about 10 years ago when he and Shear were connected in Hope, Idaho, embarking on a Scotchman painting session. "Jared and I wanted to go up into the Scotchman's and paint," Johnson passionately said, claiming that capturing them from the valley floor was insufficient. "We actually wanted to paint them."

Longtime Scotchman Friend Sandy Compton arranged for the boys to hike into the Scotchman's to paint. Since then, the Scotchman Peaks Plein Air Paint Out has allowed the beauty to be personally featured up close and privileged on canvas.


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