Plein Air Painting in Glacier National Park
June 17 – June 19, I had the pleasure of painting in Glacier National Park for the Hockaday Museum’s annual paint out, Plein Air Glacier. My friend Jim flew in from Albuquerque, New Mexico. As soon as his plane touched ground, we had our canvases out and were painting scenes close to my house in Arlee, Montana.
New Mexican Finds Water
First, we painted a river scene because there is not a lot of water where Jim hails from in Albuquerque, New Mexico. The Jocko River flows out of Jocko canyon and meanders its way through the valley of Arlee before heading north to join the main fork of the Flathead River. The river provides many opportunities for painting as well as fishing on public (tribal permit required) land. After painting the river, we took a quick break and painted in Jocko canyon up towards Grey Wolf peak–at least a scene looking towards the peak.
North to Glacier National Park
After these initial warm-up plein air sessions, the next day we headed north to Glacier National Park. With our panels stamped, we entered the park at West Glacier and proceeded to do a little reconnaissance. We stopped at various pullouts along MacDonald Creek on our way to Logan Pass. The road to the pass was open but beyond was closed due to what I believe was rock slides. This wasn’t my first time in the park but was the first time having a little more access. All of my initial attempts were made too early in the season or I simply didn’t have time to take in the scenery.
Getting Out to Paint
Once there, it didn’t take too long to figure out what I wanted to paint. There was a nice peak, still mostly covered in snow, looking towards the sun with a few passing clouds. It made for a beautiful scene. Jim opted for setting up in the parking lot while I made my way up past the visitor center and found a nice view from a path. The path was less conspicuous and ended shortly beyond my set-up because of snow. However, I still had a lot of people approach and talk to me, which was nice compared to the isolation I usually find while painting locally and usually remotely. Most people were super-friendly and asked the typical questions–How long have you been painting? How long did it take you to paint that? I had a tough time staying focused but the few interruptions weren’t bad all in all. Jim, on the other hand, had a very difficult time. He had placed himself in a high traffic area and had a constant stream of visitors. Lesson learned: if painting in a popular area, be prepared to be interrupted– whether it is people, cows or bugs!