Friday, December 8, 2006

Paint by the waters

Plein air painter will treat and show

Express Staff Writer

Artwork by Greg McFadden.

The River Painter, who actually goes by the name of Greg McFadden, is spending his winter off the mountain, traveling around and showing his art when he isn't testing equipment for Skiing magazine, cat skiing at Brundage or teaching avalanche education courses.

On his tour, he will be making a pit stop near one of the sources of his inspiration. Jerry Haddam, owner of Saddletree Gallery in Ketchum, hosts a holiday Art Opening from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. tonight, Dec. 8. McFadden's work reflects his many interests, especially his work as a river guide.

Based out of Fraser, Colo., at 9,000 feet, he makes his home at the headwaters of the Colorado River. He has a design degree from the University of Colorado and has worked in the outdoor industry since 1991. As a river guide, he has worked on the Middle Fork of the Salmon and Main Salmon for more than 12 years. As well, he rows and paints his way down the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon annually. His style is unique in that he paints virtually all his work in situ, outside, with river water.

As such, his watercolors seem nearly to float off the canvas. Each piece is painted in one session using one water vessel and only one brush. The light, reflections, and time of day are essential in the palettes that he uses. McFadden has been featured in Men's Journal, Powder and Skiing magazines.

"I thought we'd do something out of season. Instead of ski, we're doing river stuff," Haddam said. "That's the direction I'd like to take the gallery into: river images. I also have work by Matt Leidecker, and my own river prints. Those are mostly photographs. And work by John Blaustein. He has some stunning work."

The gallery will serve "river margaritas" and wine, as well as Dutch oven treats, apple pie, and something savory, Haddam said.

After his visit to Ketchum, McFadden will show his art at the Hyde Park Art Walk in Boise.

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