Portfolio: Plein-Air Painting | Joshua Been

On Location: Six artists hooked on painting outdoors

Joshua Been, The Way Down, oil, 16 x 20.

Joshua Been, The Way Down, oil, 16 x 20.

By Gussie Fauntleroy

Here’s a paradox Joshua Been has discovered in his plein-air work: Zooming in on a small fragment of an immense mountain scene can convey a sense of the landscape’s spectacular scale. “I make little poetic statements, like maybe a crack in the rock with a little fissure garden growing in it,” Been explains, speaking from his home in Salida, CO.

Raised outside Denver, Been has been active in mountain sports all his life. His indoor activity of choice was always drawing, which led to an art degree (in drawing and sculpting) from Fort Lewis College in Durango, which in turn led to jobs in character animation for the entertainment industry. While in Los Angeles, Been took classes at the California Art Institute and discovered a love of painting. Invited one day to set up his easel on the beach, he was instantly hooked on painting outdoors—which soon took him back to his home state.

The 36-year-old artist may hike miles into the mountains carrying 80 pounds of backpacking and painting gear. But, he insists with characteristic enthusiasm, “It’s so worth it! There’s no substitute for the way the human eye perceives a scene. A camera just can’t compete with being there.”

Fine Art Gallery, Breckenridge, CO; Virtuosity Gallery, Salida, CO; Windrush, Sedona, AZ; Rice Gallery of Fine Art, Leawood, KS; www.joshuabeen.com.

Featured in “Portfolio: On Location” June 2010