Majestic Mountain Art
Keep close to Nature’s heart… and break clear away, once in awhile, and climb a mountain or spend a week in the woods. Wash your spirit clean. – John Muir
Mountains are revered across the world’s cultures wherever they are found.
For anyone who has spent a good deal of time in the mountains, they are truly worlds apart. Find yourself far, far away – far enough that no cell phones work – and you are left with an intense sense of scale. For some this leads to feelings of loneliness and isolation, yet for countless others it creates a sense of deep peace and tranquility – a sense of surrender.
While mountains can certainly be perilous, people are infatuated with their defining presence on the landscape. This infatuation leads people to summit each of the world’s tallest peaks, despite great personal risk. Following suite, many artists have taken the sublimity of mountains to define entire careers. From the Community Art Showcase, we share just a sampling of some of our favorite mountain paintings and art found here.
Representation Mountain Art
From far away, mountains can look like cutouts, back-lit against the sky and nearly one-dimensional. When clouds, mist or smog shroud their peaks, they can seemingly vanish or appear before our eyes. And as you approach a mountain, that cutout eventually swallows you up, winding a path through sheer walls on either side. Without these roads, many of us would never summit a mountain, and yet long before modern roads existed, mankind found ways to live and interact with mountains in every sense of the word.
This diptych by Anet calls our attention to mountains, placing a viewfinder on the focal point. Diptych is designed to open like a book, giving this piece a narrative. From one ‘page’, you walk through the foreground before turning the page to find the conclusion. Yet the layering mountains provide a continuation of this story. What lies behind the horizon? This mystery has led countless explorers to find out.
In Blue Hills by Dona Kos, earthy tones give the viewer a sense of ambiance and calm. It livens the senses to wonder what smells are in the air. While the title of this piece makes the point that these are hills, we are brought back to the question of scale. What defines a mountain?
Mountains are found in more biomes than one. For anyone who has visited places like the North American Southwest, naked and rugged desert mountains rise like skeletal teeth from the Earth. Even without foliage, these mountains rise up, fighting an ancient battle against the powers of erosion and sudden flash flood. In this piece by Dunji Diego, we are given a view of a desert mountainscape. As part of our Wings Suite, this piece also aligns with a worthy cause.
In Valley of the Yuccas, Beva Chavez brings us back to the desert. The layered landscape provides a glimpse of the clash of biomes, so common in mountainous deserts. There is cooperation in these worlds – an unspoken truce. Where high up, you might find deciduous trees and life giving springs, down below another form of equilibrium has taken seed. Yuccas, desert survivors, bottle up the water tight.
Abstract Mountain Art
Mountain? Are you there? In Storm Sky Over Pine Trees, we aren’t quite sure. The storm takes on the guise of a mountain, although in colors unexpected. Another piece from our Wings Suite, this reproduction image provides a great sense of mystery. What happens when the storm is over? This is part of the impact of this piece, wondering what lies beneath the visible surface.
In the View That Startled Grieg, the viewer is left with more questions than answers – the beating heart of abstraction. The title is cheeky perhaps, or perhaps entirely serious. Only the artist knows for certain. With a view like this, you could reason it’s a welcome surprise. Or perhaps it is one of those moments of wordless wonderment.
From this pastoral land, we might stand in small foothills. Yet when a mountain is summited, there is often a “saddle” where the elevation levels off to give the perception of hills. “A topographic saddle is analogous to the mathematical concept of a saddle surface,” writes Wikipedia, “with a saddle point marking the highest point between two valleys and the lowest point along a ridge.” From here, we just might be onto another peak beyond the false summit. For mountain climbing readers, isn’t it always a joy to find a remote heard of grazing animals on a saddle?
At the right time of day, mountains can glow. It’s at these times that you’ll see people grabbing their iPhones for a great Facebook post. But these images last longer than film or digital bits of information. They last in our memories and in our fondness for these places. Mountain Vista feels like a warm memory. With cloud like features, this Wings Suite piece is full of imagination and texture.
The rusty-reds in this piece make the abstraction of Red Mountain Pass deeply interpretive. Is this a comment on industry and nature coinciding? Clashing? Or is it simply a beautiful use of form and technique? While Susan Wilde holds the answers to these questions, this piece achieves abstraction by making the viewer wonder.
Mountain photography puts you there. Even if it’s been long since your last mountain hike, these photos can serve as reminders. But the artistry present in mountain photography goes far beyond mere point-and-click memory. They reflect commitment, timing, technical know-how and a bit of good luck at times. At other times, they simply reflect mastery of a medium. From our showcase, this mastery is evident, as the artists below have captured moments worth remembering.
If you track John Heino’s travels through our showcase, you get a sense of his globetrotting. With a single glance, you also get a sense for his instincts, skill, and timing. In West Coast Rainbow, your eye follows a faint arch of pink climbing into the clouds. The viewer is torn between two focal points – the pink-lit mountains and the ray of light – reminding you to soak it all in when out in the wilderness.
This piece is a great addition to our tour of mountain art because it reminds you of the finer details. It’s easy to get lost in the vastness of mountains and miss the minute details. Imagine all the life living on this single tree – bugs, moss, microbial life. Now magnify that onto the hundreds of thousands of trees behind it. The world is abuzz with life!
Another Heino piece titled Wanderlust brings us to the forefront of new territory – at least to the viewer. With the train as a symbol of progress and quite simply travel, you can feel to wanderlust as the train rounds a bend.
Our tour ends properly at North America’s mightiest mountain. The Alaskan giant Mount Danali is the highest mountain in North America, towering 20,310 feet above sea level. The windswept peak almost howls over the vast expanse of trees and speaks to the majestic power of mountains everywhere.
Mountains of Inspiration
Artistic inspiration often starts with what we know best. Other than the sky, oceans and the moon, mountains are our largest natural subjects.
Many are gifted with a reverence for the natural beauty of the world. Whether this beauty is subjective or objective is for the philosophers to debate, but for many, there is a distinct and special feeling to be found in nature. We hope this post helped you feel just a touch of that wonderment.