Landscape painter Clyde Aspevig finds inspiration worldwide |

Landscape painter Clyde Aspevig finds inspiration worldwide

Margaret Hair
Oil painter Clyde Aspevig's dramatic landscapes will be on display at the Steamboat Art Museum through April. The show opens today.
John F. Russell

Landscape painter Clyde Aspevig has a term for finding light effects and shapes that catch his eye: “I call it landscape snorkeling.”

Aspevig, a landscape artist from Montana, described his method Wednesday afternoon, standing amid dozens of his paintings at the Steamboat Art Museum. An exhibition of more than 50 of his recent works opens with a reception today from 5 to 8 p.m. at the museum.

“I tend to paint just pure landscapes, without any figures in them, because for the person looking at that landscape, they have a much more intimate relationship with it,” Aspevig said, pointing to a wooded water scene as an example. Putting a bunch of people in the water would ruin the painting’s intended affect, he said.

“You would feel like you’re with someone else. But when you look at it by yourself, you feel like you’re alone with the landscape. You have more time to experience it yourself,” he said.

Aspevig’s show is a break from the Art Museum’s past exhibitions, featuring mostly recent and original work that comes from the artist and not from another museum or private collection.

“This is really the first one of one artist with their more recent works, which makes it very different and unique for us,” said Rod Hanna, marketing chairman and board member for the Art Museum. Aspevig’s visit to Steamboat Springs includes a demonstration of his technique Saturday morning and a gourmet dinner and artist talk that evening. Talking about his technique on Wednesday, Aspevig said he tries to focus on untouched scenes.

“It’s just the way sunlight hits objects, and trying to master that sense of light on a flat, two-dimensional surface with oil paint, is somewhat of a challenge,” he said. “You begin to look at things a lot closer, and you look at everything from a standpoint of how one thing relates to another.”

By focusing on purely natural images, Aspevig said he hopes to remind viewers of how they might impact their surroundings.

“Because I paint in an age when the environment is so apparent in our impact on the land, I’m trying to express nature in a way that hopefully lets people know how important it is to have this pristine landscape and to have an appreciation for it,” he said.

The majority of the scenes in the Art Museum exhibition are recent works from the Rocky Mountains, though some are from Europe, and some of the field studies date back to the 1990s. Aspevig said he finds some scenes in remote locations but paints others from his back door.

“If you look around, nature is everywhere, even in a city. Just because you live in a city doesn’t mean you can’t appreciate a tree on a boulevard,” Aspevig said. “As human beings, we have to have our landscapes.”

Aspevig’s paintings will be on display at the Steamboat Art Museum through the middle of April.

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