Montana, Day 2

Our second day in a Montana will be summed up in just few words.

“Today felt like a gift from God. A gift of the unexpected from the God of the impossible.”

Let me give a little context. The weather report last night said today was going to be nothing but rain, wind and cold. A winter storm warning was issued. It was a bit of a downer to say the least, we hadn’t seen the sun since we arrived in the Bitterroot Valley. It was anything but. It was a day of dramatic light, my first painting in Montana and a peaceful walk with my wife in an old neighborhood of Hamilton, MT.

A good, unexpected, day. Nothing more needs to be said.

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Montana, Day 1

We arrived in Bozeman, Montana yesterday afternoon. We were greeted with very cloudy skies, but at least it wasn’t too cold…not yet.

Today we woke up in Missoula, a cool little college town at the north end of the Bitterroot Valley. Our plan was too spend 2 days here painting and photographing the valley, including the long, twisting Bitterroot River. My plan, however, had to be adjusted. The weather has been very cold, wet and windy. Painting was out of the question. However, I did take some pictures of the area. It’ a beautiful Valley, especially in the fall with all of the cottonwoods turning gold. Farms dot the landscape with their historic barns and herds of cattle, along with Whitetail deer, filling the pastures.

Earlier in the day we had the opportunity to meet with artist Brent Cotton at his home/studio in Stevensville. His paintings of Montana, especially those of the Bitterroot Valley, are magical. I hope to have the opportunity to paint with him in the near future.

All in all, our day in the Bitterroot Valley has been good. We’ve had to be patient with the weather and fluid in our plans. Monday holds the same. The weather forecast is calling for very strong winds, rain (snow on the peaks) and cold air. Apparently this kind of weather in early October is unusual. We’ve added an extra day in the Bitterroot Valley with the hope of catching a little bit of sunlight on Tuesday morning before heading to Big Sky, MT.

Oh, and just about everything closes down on Sunday’s. It’s even hard to find a cafe open in the morning for a cup of coffee. Restaurants close early if they open at all. The pace here is slower. At dinner tonight, at one of the very few restaurants to be open, we noticed everyone enjoying their time with friends and family over a meal. Not unusual, Right? None of them had a cell phone in their hand, none of them were checking emails or updating Facebook with a picture of the meal they ordered. Things are different here. Things are good here. We put down our cell phones…for a little while. I’m guessing there are families up and down the valley enjoying their family dinners, talking with one another, connecting. Good lessons are to be had here, I pray I have eyes to see them and ears to hear them.

I hope to be painting soon, until then, here are some shots from the Bitterroot.

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Arches Oil Paper

Looking for a new surface for your paintings?  Arches Oil Paper might be just what your looking for.

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I’ve been working with Arches Oil Paper for the past few months and I must say I really like it. I’m mainly using it for smaller work, 12 x 16 and under. The paper itself is a 140lb (300gsm) stock that has the look and feel of their traditional watercolor paper.  The big difference with this paper is the fact that it’s been treated with who knows what to allow the direct application of oil paint onto the paper.  No more gessoing the paper prior to painting.

The first thing you’ll notice when working with this paper is how absorbent it is, I mean really absorbent.  The first layer of paint just sticks to the paper, no moving it around.  However, once the first layer is applied the paint can be moved around much like it can on linen or canvas. Something else I really appreciate is the lack of glare from the paint itself.  The paint has a very satin to matte like finish to it, much like a pastel. This is great when painting outdoors when the glare on the oils makes it difficult to see color and values accurately, at least for myself.  I’m sure this has something to do with the absobency of the paper.

One of the most common questions I get about the paper is “Do you have to frame it under glass?”  Answer:  No, they can be framed just like an oil. No need for framing these pieces under glass.   Varnish your painting just like you would an oil on linen or canvas and it can be framed without glass. The paper can also be cut to size using a razor or it can be torn to give the piece the deckled edge look.

This paper is also great for doing quick sketches as it keeps your costs down compared to the same quick sketches on linen.

The paper comes in 9 x 12 and 12 x 16 pads as well as 22 x 30 sheets and 51″ x 10 yard rolls.

Give it a try and let me know how you like working with Arches Oil Paper.

Here are a few of my paintings on Arches Oil Paper. More can be seen on my website at kevincourter.com

Got Wool? 9 x 12

Got Wool? 9 x 12

Levitation

Levitation, 11 x 18

Stand Off, 12 x 16

Stand Off, 12 x 16

Black Angus, Likely, CA, 8 x 14

Black Angus, Likely, CA, 8 x 14