Art: A New Aspect for Climbing

A drawing of sunset in the Minarets, Eastern Sierra, CA

One of the things I remember most from Meru is not about climbing at all. It is Renan Ozturk painting a large vibrant canvas outside his tent of the surrounding mountainscape. Outdoor art has always inspired me. I felt creating art alongside outdoor experience made the whole thing greater than the sum of two parts. In the hard year of 2020 isolationist COVID, this was the silver lining of my year.

Renan painting his vibrant canvas of the mountains. More prints on his website.

Where to Start

I have always wanted to draw the environment around me, capturing a more full picture of the experience. I was first inspired by Sadie “Alpine Babe” Skiles’ ability to capture these moments in color pencil.

Queue years of procrastination and 2020 hit. I didn’t create a sourdough starter, but I did buy my first pencil set and start sketching. Mountains to this day allude me in how I can capture their ridges and shadows. However, this sketch was successful when I based it off another drawing as a template.

From here, I became more interested in Digital Art. One of the first things I did when I purchased my Wacom Intuos Pen Tablet was playing around with using photos as drawing templates. I accidentally experimented myself into a composite:

Lukas and Laura climbing at Patricia Bowl

Another evening I experimented with creating ‘real’ climbing iconography. As opposed to typical climbing iconography which feels unrepresentative.

These activities made me look at and study the environments and movements longer and in more detail. I liked how easily I could experiment and try things without caring for the outcome. Interest but no expectations sounds just like climbing when I’m in my best head space.

I’ll end with the thought of how ‘bringing expression into everyday objects’, even a spatula is one of the greatest hidden delights of the world.’ One of the most recent examples was this thermos I gifted my partner Sadie Skiles, painted by Hailey Elise Art (instagram, website) of the Wind River Range. As they say, variety is the spice of life!

Cirque of the Towers, Wind River Range, WY