Local Sask. painting group celebrating 15th anniversary

They call themselves, “Men Who Paint.”

The art school known as “plein-air painting” is about leaving the studio behind and creating art outdoors in the landscape instead.

Formed in 2007, the group is doing just that.

“Since then, we’ve travelled all over Canada and even abroad, plein-air painting together,” says Greg Hargarten, one of the five Men Who Paint members.

The group met at the Kenderdine campus in Emma Lake, Sask. Fellow member Paul Trottier says it initially started out as a shared passion, but that bond has evolved over time.

“These are my friends,” said Trottier. “These are people I talk to on a regular basis. We talk about art all the time.”

“We come from different sectors in the work world, but that’s what keeps it interesting. We all have different points of view.”

They celebrated their 15-year anniversary this weekend in Saskatoon with a pop-up exhibition at the Willows Golf and Country Club.

Trottier and his friends paint a variety of landscapes spanning across Canada, including works of art of the Rocky Mountains and north in the Yukon. However, Trottier says there’s something special about the work representing Saskatchewan.

“Painting on the prairies, it always tugs on our heartstrings. It’s our home, it’s our place,” he said.

“This province has a diversity of beauty and a diversity of ecosystems and that’s really exciting for a painter.”

Karen Welch-Smith is a co-founder of Funky Artsmiths, a local art school in the city. She says she brings her students whenever the group comes to town, saying it’s a good learning opportunity for them.

“It’s just good for them to experience and be among it, and then having the opportunity to listen to people talk about art and join that conversation,” she said.

“(Men Who Paint) take the same kind of landscape and paint in so many different ways, use different colours, and it’s not just necessarily blue sky, green trees.”

Ken Van Rees is another member of Men Who Paint, and says he came into art later than his other four companions.

“I knew absolutely nothing about art,” says Van Rees. “I didn’t even know what the primary colours were, and so I’ve had this process journey the last 15 years since 2005 learning about art.

“If I can do it, anybody can do it.”

He says he’s proud to be able to showcase his work, and hopes it can help inspire others to possibly find their creative side.

“Don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone. I think that’s the most important thing.”

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