Living and painting in Northwestern Montana … the crown of the continent
Art…should simplify. That, indeed, is very nearly the whole of the higher artistic process: finding what conventions of form and what detail one can do without and yet preserve the spirit of the whole.
― Willa Cather
Hard weather, says the old man. So let it be. Wrap me in the weathers of the earth, I will be hard and hard. My face will wash rain like the stones.
― Cormac McCarthy
Everyday I discover more and more beautiful things. Its enough to drive one mad. I have such a desire to do everything, my head is bursting with it.
― Claude Monet
Going to the mountains is going home.
― John Muir
B. Rex Stewart -b.1972
Born and raised in Southern Utah, Stewart was surrounded by wild places and rural farmland ranches that instilled a love of nature early on. A visual person, Stewart can’t remember a day when he didn’t experience things through his eyes. He recalls a story his mother tells from his youth when he went missing for hours because he just had to get a closer look. He was found across the way, studying the texture of a lamb’s coat.
Stewart first became passionate about art from his older brother, Shane. “He used to sketch the things that he loved, like engines, cars, or three wheelers. I would sit up with him and we would draw for hours and hours on copy paper, while our parents watched TV,” Stewart said.
When a University art professor told B. Rex Stewart that he used his imagination too much, Stewart wondered if art was a blind alley. But as much as he tried to stray from the path of painting, he realized art was not a choice. Soon, he concluded using his imagination too much was the best compliment. He could no longer hide from his creative mind. And once he accepted this truth, he began to see the light. Now he can’t keep his eyes or paint brush off the light.
“My subject is the landscape, but I’m always inspired by the way the light hits the landscape. So you might say light is the primary subject,” Stewart said. He paints primarily in oils with a passion for depicting mountain and rural landscapes. His impressionistic style tries to find the light, whether it’s a soft glow of a lush landscape or an obscure light in a hazy city scape.
Today, his studio has changed a bit from his mom and dad’s living room floor. Addicted to the adventure and spirit of plein air painting, Stewart travels around the Flathead Valley in Northwest Montana.
Painting and even sketching is an extremely personal, daily act for me. Much like a person making a daily journal entry. Recording my thoughts in an abstract form that may be somewhat cryptic allows my fullest expression, something that I’m unable to put down in words alone.
Like a daily journal, he explores the Flathead, discovering scenic places in the valley, engaging with the local community and learning the history of the land. He brings the energy and character of each location into his paintings. Not just a snapshot though his viewfinder, Stewart uses his eyes and his imagination while viewing and interpreting the beauty before him.
“I feel most alive when I’m painting, almost like I’m dueling the landscape or the painting. I’m not just creating a memory but I’m living a memory every moment that I’m painting. Plus I have a record of it. And that’s pretty fantastic,” he said.
My emotions, my relation to the subject, however abstract, places me in a vulnerable position and this relates to every piece I create. I hope to place the viewer in the original moment that I first viewed the scene, even if only to an affect that is many times removed.