Plein air painting - Linda Tippetts -
Linda Tippetts, “Swiftcurrent Pass,” 20 x 24 in. This hike included 7-mike Highline Trail, beginning at Logan Pass in Glacier National Park, and an overnight stay at backcountry Granite Park Chalet before descending 8-mile Swiftcurrent Pass Trail to Many Glacier. This trail takes the hiker over the Continental Divide.

It’s one thing to set up an easel in a convenient location for painting en plein air, but Montana artist Linda Tippetts (who is around 80, setting a wonderful example for us all) prefers to take her gear to the mountains. I’ve asked her for her advice on hiking to a painting location, and here’s what she had to offer.

Plein Air Painting Advice and 10 Rules for Hiking

by Linda Tippetts (

  1. Get in shape. It won’t happen on the trail, so forget that wishful thinking that you don’t have to work out aerobic style prior to hitting the trailhead.
  2. Know your limitations. The definition of genius: “Genius knows its limitations” . . . self-explanatory.
  3. Don’t hike alone. The “buddy system” as defined by the military applies to civilians.
  4. Weigh your backpack. And then eliminate half the “stuff.” Make lists.
  5. Check weather reports. My go-to expert says, “There’s no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing.” (I’m not totally convinced, but there’s some merit to this.)
  6. Don’t trust the “guidebooks.” Talk to someone who has ACTUALLY HIKED.
  7. Hiking Boots – Spend money on good boots instead of stylish shirts and pants.
  8. Calculate the following – Elevation gain vs. miles vs. hours of daylight vs. personal speed.
  9. Water – Consider a portable filter system because usually there are creeks and waterfalls. Pack electrolytes – they don’t weigh much.
  10. Attitude – If you’re the only artist on the trip, don’t make your hiking buddies wait on the trail while you paint that masterpiece. Take a lot of pictures. Sherpas are hard to find as are good hiking buddies, so be considerate.

If you read between the lines, you’ll see I’ve learned all these rules by breaking them – kind of like painting!

Painting landscapes - Linda Tippetts -
Linda Tippetts, “Iceberg Falls,” 12 x 16 in. A day hike to Iceberg Lake in Glacier Park
Painting landscapes - Linda Tippetts -
Linda Tippetts, “Athabasca from Wilcox Pass,” 24 x 36 in., Canadian Rockies
Painting landscapes - Linda Tippetts -
Linda Tippetts, “Lake Ellen Wilson,” 20 x 30 in., Glacier Park
Plein air painting - Linda Tippetts -
Linda Tippetts, “Iceberg Lake” 30 x 40 in., Glacier Park

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  1. I have known Linda Tippetts for way too many years. She has been a REAL artist forever. No sacrifice has been too heavy. She reared three fine children solo. She and her dad built her a home which she rented out so she could live in a small used “scamp” trailer and paint every day. And much more. Her work now exemplifies her challenges and successes. She is a fantastic artist


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