Plein Air on the Yellowstone 2017, August 5th through 11th

Plein Air on the Yellowstone 2017, August 5th through 11th


Congratulations go to the following artist’s!

1st place contemporary award winner, Philip Carlton for “Broke Bus Mountain”

1st place traditional award winner, Lyn StClair for “Dust Down a Country Road”






2nd place traditional award winner, Valerie Amon for “Quiet Creek”


2nd place contemporary award winner, Merrie Murdoch for “Joy”



People’s Choice Award AND 2017 Poster Award

3rd place contemporary award winner, James K. Vincent for “Shields River Transition”

3rd place traditional award winner, Thomas English “View From Swingly Road”

This year’s participating artists are…

Valerie Amon, Carol Barmore, Linda Barnsley, Phillip Carlton, Diane Draper, BJ Earle, Tom English, Charles Fifield, Daniel Gerken, Diana Grunseth, Carol Hartman, Tim Harvey, Les Herman, DG House, Merrie Murdoch, Bob Newhall, Darlene Pucillo, Parks Reece, Tandy Miles Riddle, Raul Roden, Steve Spencer, Lyn StClair, Karen Thiel, James K. Vincent and Shirle Wempner.

Local Livingston, MT 2017 corporate sponsors for this event are:

The law offices of: Huppert, Swindlehurst & Woodruff, P.C., Livingston’s ACE Hardware





This year’s generous national sponsors are:


This year’s Plein Air judge was Emily Wilson, the curator at the C.M. Russell Museum in Great Falls, Montana. Read a little bit more about her here:


Emily Wilson is the curator at the C.M. Russell Museum in Great Falls, Montana. She holds a M.A. master in art history from Indiana University. Wilson has worked in several museums, including the Samuel P. Harn Museum of Art in Gainesville, Florida; the Museum of Art in Fort Lauderdale, Florida; and the Indiana University Art Museum in Bloomington. Most recently, she has served as the curatorial assistant in the Whitney Western Art Museum at the Buffalo Bill Center of the West in Cody, Wyoming. Ms. Wilson has contributed to several publications, including William Glackens (2014, Skira Rizzoli) and Painted Journeys: The Art of John Mix Stanley (2016, University of Oklahoma Press).


The concepts of place, land, and self are tied together; they influence the ways in which we navigate our world and perceive our surroundings. In a place like Montana, which rests within the greater region of the American West, the landscape dominates our horizon lines, unfurling into the vast open plains and the rolling grasslands of the prairies, and tapering sharply into the mountains and buttes that cut across our skyline. In looking at paintings of landscape, I am interested in seeing how an artist reconciles their unique experience of the landscape, or place, with the world as it is or as it appears to be. What is privileged on the canvas? What do I see that brings me to a new understanding of that which surrounds me in the everyday?

As a curator of Western American art, I work within the artistic boundaries ceded to me by the artists in a museum’s collection. My assessment of a work of art is mediated by the object itself, its communicability with an audience, the artist’s technique and mastery of materials, and my own subjectivity. The task of jurying a show is a difficult one; my assessment is not a final judgement on an artist or on their body of work.  I am not an artist, but I am an interested audience, and I look forward to seeing the artwork created for this show.

If you would like to be added to our email list to make sure you don’t miss out on registering for next year, please email

Plein Air 2017 is FULL!!! Thanks so much to our local community for making this happen.


 This Year’s Participating Artists:


Valerie Amon:

Valerie Amon is a Colorado-based painter who specializes in figurative,  wildlife and landscape artwork rendered in an impressionistic style.

Light, shadow, color and brushwork are key elements in her paintings. Living in Montana, Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico and Colorado gave Amon a deep appreciation for the diverse beauty of the West.  Her unique style was developed  by combining elements of the areas where she’s lived with experiences painting and studying with her chosen mentors.

Montana born Amon’s award winning paintings have appeared in national juried exhibitions such as Oil Painters of America, Salon International, American Impressionist Society and Icons of the West, among others.  She has been featured in print publications such as Southwest Art and television programs including the Food Network’s “Food Nation” with Bobby Flay. Amon does a wide variety of commission work.  For more information, please visit Valerie’s website at


Carol Barmore:

Carol began her painting career in 2007.  Previous to this, she had been a full-time potter. “I found oil painting to be so satisfying.  With the ability to move the paint around with such fluidity and brilliance of color; I was instantly hooked on this medium.” Carol continues to work in clay but sees a transition to a full-time painter.  “As much as I love making useful items in clay, I find my attention and creative excitement moving towards the canvas.” Her subject matter has taken a variety of turns from skyscapes to landscapes, and now her fascination with portraiture has captured her attention. “I took my first class in portraiture with Susan Blackwood because I was afraid to paint people.  After I attempted my first person, I was encouraged go somewhere with this. I am enthralled with the human face and want to explore the possibilities.  Pulling something out deeper than an exact representation is my goal.” Carol’s desire is to engage the viewer and evoke a response.  She continues to grow and develop as an artist working towards a greater skill in painting, but more importantly to connect to our humanity in an intimate way.


Linda Barnsley:

To celebrate the natural world, from craggy rocks where bighorn sheep climb to the concentration in a wolf’s stare, the allure of nature is what I endeavor to capture. My passion to live out west and paint wildlife lead me to leave my lifelong home in Maryland and relocate to Livingston. Living in Montana provides me the opportunity to view   abundant wildlife and their natural surroundings. When painting wildlife I work en  atelier  using my reference photos and sketches, but when I paint en plein air everything changes. Now I must replicate what I see, directly and quickly. Since texture is an important element of my work I like to use a palette knife for my landscapes.

It is my intent to always represent the natural world in a way that will foster awareness and respect for our environment. To view more of my art please visit:


Philip Carlton:

“Although his artistic roots are in contemporary portraiture and still-life, Philip Alexander Carlton’s passion for the past few years has been painting in the outdoors. As an outsider with no training in classical techniques, both his style and his compositions can be a bit unorthodox. He aims to avoid the most obvious subjects, in favor of a more ephemeral kind of beauty: moments of glorious light and color that grow and fade in only a matter of minutes. Recently, his paintings have served as a journal of his frequent travels throughout the Western United States.”


Diane Draper:

After receiving a BFA in advertising from Northern Arizona University,
I returned east and consequently pursued an advertising career. For over 25
years I owned and operated a prosperous graphics art studio in Portsmouth,
NH. I had the opportunity to design and illustrate many diverse projects. In that
same time period, I also had an art studio with other artists and spent many
hours painting models that would come to the studio.We took some plein air
trips to Italy, along with traveling up the coast of Maine to paint. I have continued
to participate in plein air events back east, and here in Montana.
Upon moving to Clyde Park, Montana in 2005, my realm of view and subject
matter have expanded. I love Montana, and want to capture the people, the
landscape, and the scenes, (I love the big sky here!). There have been diverse
opportunities to participate in gallery shows, art openings, and special events,
along with hosting a few of my own.
I have a studio here in Clyde Park that anyone is welcome to visit, and I
also do commissioned paintings, whether they are of a genre scene, (like fly
fishing) or formal portraits.You can see some of these paintings at my site…
w w w. o u t b a c k r a n c h s t u d i o . c o m

BJ Earle:

BJ Earle is a retired archaeologist who served 35 years in Montana and Wyoming.  She paid her way through college as a technical illustrator of sites and artifacts.  Her art experience began with life drawing classes at Case Western Reserve as a junior high student in Ohio, and she had a few water-color classes as an undergraduate in college.  During her professional career, she was able to take occasional art classes through the Yellowstone Association (now Yellowstone Forever) beginning in 1992 with Karmen Thompson, Alan McKnight, Michael Halverson, Hanna Hinchman, George Bumann, and Molly Hashimoto.  Her interests are landscape, drawing of objects and structures, and historic illustration and publishing.  Her hero is Jean-Simeon Chardin, because of his undiminished skills at age 76.


Tom English:

Thomas English has been a Montana resident for the past 26 years.  He is an avid outdoor painter as well as a studio painter and has traveled and painted throughout Montana and the West.  He has participated in many shows around the United States and his work has been widely collected.

English works primarily in oils and enjoys painting in a loose impressionistic, yet realistic style.  More recently he has been exploring the rich textures and bolder possibilities of palette knife painting.  His current inspiration comes from daily hikes and observations found on the Montana ranch he lives on and shares with his artist wife Shirle Wempner.


Charles Fifield:

Artist Biography:

I was born and grew up in Livingston, Montana.  After graduating from Montana State University in 1976 I began a career as a rangeland management specialist with the federal government. I spent most of my career working for the Bureau of Land Management in Casper, Wyoming.  I have always enjoyed being outdoors and my love of nature and chosen career path has guided my work as an artist.  Wildlife, vegetation and landscapes are the primary focus of my work.  I usually work in pencil and watercolor but also work in ink.  My art has been influenced by numerous artists and has changed over time as I became exposed to different mediums, styles, techniques and artists.  Western artists Charlie Russell and Frederick Remington influenced my early work.  Later, works by wildlife artist Robert Bateman and landscapes by Andrew Wyeth greatly impressed me.  I have always felt comfortable working in pencil because it is a medium I can control.  I have always liked watercolor but find painting with watercolor a challenge.  I am greatly impressed with artists who have mastered this medium and my goal is to one day master it as well.

Art has been a part time activity for me, which I have picked up and put aside throughout my life.  I took art classes in high school and numerous evening classes at Casper College in the 1990”s.

Most of my work has been done for personal enjoyment and the pleasure I get by giving it away to friends.  On occasion I have accepted commissions to do drawings or paintings for friends or organizations.  I have donated work for fund raisers for numerous organizations including the Society for Range Management, Wyoming Chapter Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, Murie Audubon Society, and the Nicolaysen Art Museum and Discovery Center located in Casper, Wyoming.

I am constantly trying to improve my skills and learn new techniques.  Now that I am retired and have relocated to Livingston I am trying to devote more time to art.  In addition to creating the best art that I am capable of I would eventually like to display and sell my work.

Artist Statement: 

The beauty of western landscapes, the diversity of vegetation, wildlife and geology provide the inspiration for my art.  It is my goal to capture the uniqueness of these features in drawings and paintings.  Often personal experiences guide the creation of my work which provides an emotional connection to the subject I am trying to display.


Daniel Gerken:

Dan Gerken is a studio and plein aire oil painter. He grew up in several alluring, rural areas of New England.

Before launching into a 30 year career in civil engineering in Southern California, Dan graduated from Phillips Exeter Academy and from Stanford University and served for 3 years as an active duty officer in the US Marine Corps.

Presently, Dan is an unceasing student of the art of painting. He has studied under a number of California teacher/artists , including John Eagle of Laguna Beach, Robin Hall of Capistrano Beach, Cynthia Britain of Laguna Beach. Victoria Templeton of Barnstable, MA, Steve Wang of Irvine and Art Lugena of Mission Viejo. The art and teachings of the late Ted Goerschner also have an influence on Dan’s current work.

Now “retired” from civil engineering, Dan divides his time between residences in Montana and California with his wife, Kathleen. He is gaining growing recognition in the art world through his persistent focus on painting the limitless beauty of the landscapes he finds in Montana, New Mexico, Arizona and California. Dan’s works can be found in the homes of many private collectors throughout the western U.S. and also in the corporate collection of Interactive Innovation Group, Inc., Santa Monica, CA.


Diana Grunseth:

While painting for eleven years now, I have come to enjoy the emotional forces that pass through me. From the immense beauty surrounding us in the outdoors to the intense visuals that come from within, trying to bring the painting to an artful completion that speaks to the viewer is a daunting and very gratifying journey.


Carol Hartman:

Large colorful oil and cattle marker landscape paintings on Birch panels depict the rich history and the unique significance of the land touched by the people who homesteaded the West. The majority of my artworks are created to honor that history and that incredibly beautiful and remote landscape. Some locations are listed on old census maps. Some are found from early photos provided by Heritage Centers. With the help of many relatives and friends, more sites, some with treasured and weathered old buildings still intact, are being located. The resulting paintings reflect current visuals of those significant locations.

Born and raised in Sidney, Montana, I received formal art training from Montana State University Bozeman and California State University Fresno.  After teaching/Gallery Director at California State University Fresno, serving as Executive Director of the Fresno Arts Council,  and exhibiting both nationally and internationally for many years, I returned to Montana in 2009 to paint full time.  I’ve spent the last three years researching early homestead locations of family and community members from the MonDak region.  My summer 2015 Artist Residency at the Homestead National Monument in Nebraska provided valuable research and imagery for my artwork.  A book publication and a solo show of this collection is scheduled for April 2016 in New York City’s Artifact Gallery.

“We are but passing pages in the history of this land. Pockets of memories made while growing up in rural Montana provide a critical connection to the past.”   Visit www.carolhartman for additional information.   I begin my artwork with en plein air sketches on-site, coupled with photography, then move into my studio for completion of the larger pieces.


Drinking Horse Barn

Tim Harvey:

Tim grew up on a small ranch in the Colorado Mountains, cultivating a love of the outdoors and especially the Rocky Mountains. That love has manifested itself in a lifelong passion for landscape photography and painting. Tim studied art at the Arts Students’ League of Denver and refined his techniques under the personal instruction of three of his favorite landscape artists. Tim is a member of the Oil Painters of America (OPA) and Southwest Montana Arts (SMArts). Tim lives in Bozeman, Montana, and teaches at Montana State University.


Les Herman:

Les spent his childhood exploring the rim rocks surrounding Billings, Montana and his teen years calling the “North Entrance to Yellowstone”, Gardiner, MT his home. Les has always loved art…drawing and painting his way through childhood and high school. He served in Vietnam in 1969-70 and soon after returned to Gardiner. While going to college he began his Federal career, working summers in Yellowstone Park, on Mt. Holmes as a fire lookout, and later as a wild land firefighter. In 1978 he received his B.F.A. concentrating on drawing, painting and printmaking from the University of Montana.
Les’ 33 year career with the federal government in aviation and wild land fire suppression has provided him with opportunities to travel to some of the most inspiring and beautiful places in this country and the world. Les never left home without his sketch pad and watercolor kit. He always had a dream that he would paint full-time after he retired. In 2011 that dream came true.
Les currently lives in Boise, Idaho. Today, most of his time is spent outdoors, hiking, fishing, painting plein air, or in the studio painting larger landscapes, fish, and wildlife.


DG House:


Merrie Murdoch:

2016 Plein Paint Out Poster Winner
“It’s Not Paradise Without a Storm”

Everything in life has energy.  Everything around us is catching light.  When light falls on a subject in such a way that the viewer gets excited, energized, and awed we feel inspired, alive, renewed, restored, invigorated, or at peace.  Artists through out history have attempted to capture this brilliance.  When our eyes fall on a painting that captures this awe and invokes personal emotion we too want to spend time diving in to this painting or sculpture and explore this energy- this life force.  I’ve felt this all my life and with time and courage I dove in to create my own works, no longer satisfied with being on the outside of creativity.  Plein air painting has always felt most true to me.  It requires honest guttural interpretations of a scene that has inspired me and at the same time is fleeting in moments.  Everything else falls away as the focus of the subject receives my concentration, my awe, my emotion.  One becomes a part of that scene.  An intimacy develops.  Things happen in the midst of your painting.   A humming bird stops by to drink the nectar from your lilies as you paint them, a praying mantis flies onto your floral still life, a blue jay takes respite on a chair that is your focal point.  You meet a nearby neighbor.  In a foreign country people pause and stop a moment , they look you in the eye, smiles are exchanged, bella Bella.  Life is felt.  A deer walks out from the trees, two fawns follow uninhibited by your presence.  The Hawks screech in flight and return to the nest in the cottonwoods you are painting.   Your children’s laughter is heard in the distance.  A glimpse of a grizzly sends you packing.  An angry bull sends you running abandoning it all.    Experienced, life felt, challenges risked.  Failures abundant, but success arrives time and time again to nudge me to explore more, study, risk failing, grow-grow and live this call to document that which comes from within.  Life-awe, a gift that beckons to be shared.  After time at the easel I notice the lifeless pallor has left my face and my colorful complexion returns with a knowing that all will be well, affirming to paint more and live life artfully.


Bob Newhall:

My life as an artist has covered much ground.  Fine woodworking and especially furniture has been my livelihood nearly 40 years. In my work with wood I always bring my training as an architect along with the design principles which are foundational.  Making sculpture merges the aesthetics of architecture and art and allows me to work with a variety of materials from wood and metals to found objects.   I made my first watercolor at twelve years of age, and have continued painting ever since.  I enjoy letting the pendulum swing between watercolor and oils as each requires something different from me.  Painting plein air is a particular pleasure with roots running deep into my Montana childhood roaming outside in fields and mountains.

In the last few years I’ve found I can honor my love of both music and sketching.  While listening to live music I sketch the musicians as they play.

As an artist I work in a yeast-filled mix of art, design and a variety of materials in which all of these play an important role in the final outcome.  I am always searching for new areas of expression and combinations of materials. The mix is still rising.

My work maybe found at: Alchemy Art 117 E Callender Livingston.


Darlene Pucillo:

I have loved painting in oils from the start –decades ago. One of the joys of painting is the continual learning & growing. My custom portrait biz (people, dogs, cats) has been gaining momentum over the past 10 years worldwide. I’m also pleased to be a part of the art community here in Livingston, with my work represented in places such as the new Livingston Hospital and on one of the utility boxes around town.


Parks Reece:

“Emerging” 2016 2nd Place Contemporary Award

Parks Reece is an extraordinarily gifted artist whose distinctive paintings, lithographs, and prints represent a complete aesthetic and reflect a sense of humor that is both original and great. Take a look at his resume, to read what people say about him and his art, or read on for a little about his personal history.

Dubbed a “modern mythological surrealist,” Reece fairly bristles at the label, yet acknowledges that “you have to have a classification and I seem to have been lumped in with the surrealists.”

Reece’s parodies inject humor into subjects traditionally considered oh-so-serious and that has made him a hero of environmentalists and others who appreciate the complexities of the human role in our natural world.

“I would never categorize myself as an environmental artist, but when the paint dries I often find that the work is relevant to environmental issues….I sort of dabble in modern mythology by juxtaposing the old myths of the West with the new things that are going on. It’s part of an ancient tradition–that of adding levity to gravity.”


Tandy Miles Riddle:

Born in Miami, Florida. Her mother, Adele, was an artist and provocateur of art. Another artist, Apple Vail, Tandy’s aunt by marriage, was also a formidable influence. Together these two women offered Tandy as a young girl a connection into the world of Max Ernst, Jaun Miro, Paul Klee, Pablo Picasso and the giants of art in the 1950s.

The bohemian world of expatriot Paris was alive and well at 1309 Asturia Avenue in Coral Gables, Florida; the family home. Lawrence Vail, a dadaist sculptor and Apple’s father (Peggy Guggenheim’s first husband), was a frequent  houseguest. Lawrence famously told Tandy, “ If you ever walk into a room and someone is esposing an idea; you must disagree! It doesn’t matter if you know anything about it whatsoever! The less you know the more you should disagree! You will learn a lot! And, more importantly, you will have an interesting life!”

((I remember thinking this was hilarious at the time: how much trouble I would get into; how mad my teachers would be. But in a very positive strain this idea has morphed from Always Question Authority to Always Think For Yourself— because as I tell my students— if you can’t do art the way you want to—–what in this world would you be able to do as you truly  WANT to?))


Paul Roden:

In the late 70’s Paul traveled to BigSky and fell in love with the beauty and peace and made BigSky his home 20 years ago.  Paul received his classical realist training at Atelier Lack and has studied with several master painters.  His true passion is painting the outdoors from life.


Steve Spencer:

Steve Spencer, an Idaho native has been creating works of Art, as a professional, for 47 years. He is proficient in oil, acrylic, watercolor and pencil. The landscapes and wildlife that he paints represent places and animals he has viewed personally. His paintings are the fruit of rigorous contact with the source, the hours he spends in front of an easel are preceded by weeks in contact with the subject of his paintings.  Steve’s work is an articulate expression of his love for the delicate weave of extremes that is the West. He finds individual purpose in his creations, allowing his work to speak for itself. He has recently become familiar with Park County, Montana as he has participated in the Plein Air on the Yellowstone event for the past 5 years. His skill and expertise has been recognized and supported by the patrons of The Center for Art And Culture.


Karen Thiel:

About 20 years ago I watched a plein air artist work her magic, and I’ve been “hooked” ever since, that’s when my painting journey began. I’m not a studio painter, I only paint on location.

Working in oil or pastel, and sometimes using a palette knife gives me the opportunity to share my vision of the landscape.

Over the years, I’ve been very lucky to study with some of the best western plein air artists.

I feel fortunate to be “out there” painting what I love, and living in an area that has so much to offer.


James Vincent:

I am a native of Riverton,WY. My grandfather was a homesteader in the Wind River country, near the Arapahoe and Shoshone Reservations. An appreciation for the land and it’s beauty was developed on many “exploring trips” along the backroads of Wyoming with my father.

I have been fortunate enough to live two very different lives, the first in the high tech world of interventional cardiology and the second as a pastel artist. At age 20 there was a great debate about art verses medicine. Eventually medical school won the debate. Drawing continued as a hobby but my art became repairing obstructed arteries.

A year spent in Florence, Italy studying art and architecture changed my view of the world. It is now clear to me that I am an artist that became a physician. Over the past ten years I have studied with Carolyn Thayer, Jeff Schaezle, Joe Trakimas, Loren Entz, Mike Caskey and Aaron Schuerr. An accomplished pastel artist, James LeBar, agreed to become a mentor and became an invaluable friend. Robert Tompkins has provided many insights into composition and design. Many artists have influenced my work including the French Impressionists, the California Impressionists – Wendt, Payne, Bischoff as well as Maynard Dixon, Charles Fritz, G. Russsell Case, the Canadian Seven, the Taos Society – Hennings, Higgins, Blumenshein etc.

My pastels have been sold to collectors in Montana, Wyoming, Idaho, Washington, North Dakota,California, Illinois, Louisiana and Nebraska. Pastels offer pure pigments in a sparkling array of colors and this works well with a somewhat abstract, impressionistic style.



Shirle Wempner:

Shirle Wempner was raised on a horse ranch on the outskirts of Billings, Montana.  Her experiences growing up on the ranch infused a great appreciation of nature and encouraged her to put to canvas the inspiration she experienced on a day to day basis.  Working predominately in oils and utilizing broad-brush strokes and palette knife techniques, she creates a feeling of impressionistic realism, concentrating on a painterly representation of the subject matter.  Shirle’s desired subjects are wildlife, western and figurative representations, incorporating contemporary and historical themes.

{Artist’s statement}:

 “The most enjoyable aspect of my process is allowing the creative spirit to take shape on the canvas.  I strive to connect with the viewer and ask them to participate in the visual completion of the subject matter by ‘implying’ the subject rather than rendering a more detailed result.  This, I believe, draws the viewer into the painting and allows them to more fully participate in the essence of the piece.  Emotions are what touch and form our souls, and a stirring of emotion is what I strive for in each piece I create.”