Backcountry Brushwork Part I: Lisa Dianne Martin | Canoeroots Magazine | Rapid Media
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Lisa Dianne Martin paints colorado 14ers mountains Lisa Dianne Martin

Three Artists Share Their Mistakes, Tips, and Tools for Creating Art in the Backcountry

The water mimics another dimension with its statue stillness beaming trees downwards.

It's golden hour, and as the sun rises, the steam off the water stays paralell to that of its reflection. Suddenly the rays burst through with a sense of purpose we can only dream of having. 

We've all been here, without a paint brush, pastels, watercolors or sketch pad and quite possibly without a clue on how to approach plein air. Or maybe not, but nothing sparks a desire of creative gain quite like surreal moments in the backcountry. 

Most artists already know what they need, but here is a list of essentials and tips for all of us, who may not know what to bring, or how to transport it safely. This is for those who can create beautiful works of art, and those of us who use 'abstract' as an easy out.

Reaching out to three artists, I asked them to share their art-hacks, and valuable lessons they’ve learnt while creating works in demanding, remote locations. Part One begins with avid hiker, and most importantly, apexer, Lisa Dianne Martin. 

IMG 4523 1 

She may not be a backcountry paddler but conquering all 58 of Colorado’s mountains over 14,000 ft tall, and then painting on their summits, likely qualifies Lisa’s expertise in the matter. 

I spoke with Lisa about her choice of tools, how she transports everything, and tricks to painting in one of the most elementally demanding environments in the world, mountain ranges. 

“If it’s cold, especially below 20 degrees Fahrenheit, don’t add water to your acrylic paints. That will cause them to freeze, and when they thaw they will melt and run all over the place.” Lisa explains. 

Lisa

"A snowboard makes such a perfect easel." Lisa Dianne Martin 

Keeping things light is essential for every day trips and backcountry excursions. Lisa has mastered dual purposing on all of her tools, from the canvas itself to water bottles. 

I am very minimalistic so I paint on my lap using no easel. I use the back of the canvas or board as a mixing pallet and keep my paints in a plastic bag so if [when] they explode they don’t go all over. “ 

“I also like to keep things as light as possible. I bring about 4oz of water for my paint and leave my brushes in the bottle after I finish.” 

My biggest question for every artist was, how they safely get their works of art back out to civilization. After painting on the summit of at least 58 mountains, Lisa has gained a lot of perspective when it comes to protecting artwork from the elements, and ourselves. 

“If using acrylic the paint can normally dry fast to transport it safely, but if using oil, there needs to be something to separate the surface from touching it’s surroundings.” 

IMG 4469 Judson Art Carrying Boxes Allow Paint to Dry While Keeping Them Safe From Elements 

“I had Judson Art create a custom one [box] for the size of paintings that I bring. This allows me to do two paintings in one day, and I can face the paintings in toward one another. The gap still allows for the paintings to dry.” 

“Often times when I have a wet acrylic painting I will carefully put a very thin piece of plastic over the top of it and won’t use a carrier. It continues drying while I hike and then I peal off the plastic when I get to my car. Normally smears are very minimally.”

More tips from Lisa: 

 “I also like using birch plywood primed with house paint because it is cheap, lightweight and thin compared to a canvas.”

 I've found backpacks designed to carry snowboards are great for carrying paintings- you can wrap the painting in a plastic bag and attach it to the outside of your pack.”

 “I tend to sleep through my alarm clocks and use my clothes or hands as paint brushes when I'm in a hurry.” Lisa may be our newest hero here at Canoeroots. 

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You can see Lisa’s work here and learn more about her goal of ascending and painting from every summit over 14,000ft in the United States.

You can also follow Lisa on Instagram @paintthemountain and Facebook Paint The Mountain  

READ MORE: Artists Gone Wild: Nan Sidler 

 Overview 

Supplies of Choice 

Acrylic and oil paints depending on temperature and time allowed. Typical paint brushes for either paints, with short stems. Uses lap, ground, or snowboard as easel.

Packing In

Uses water bottle with 4oz of water to mix paints, paint tubes and brushes go in plastic bag in case they burst. 

Packing Out 

Use same water bottle to transport wet paint brushes. Paintings either get carried in plein air specialized box that allows them to dry, or a plastic bag, minimal smudging may occur. 

Transporting tips 

Backpacks designed for snowboards work great for hiking out with finished works.

 

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