By Chuck Marshall
Everyone has a bucket list, I believe, even if they don’t call it a bucket list. It’s places they want to go and things they want to do, see, and experience before they die.
The movie Bucket List from 2007 brought the term to the limelight. Two unlucky souls who meet in a hospital trying to stay alive start discussing things they wish they could do before they die. They ended up becoming friends and making a “bucket list,” and then set out to do the list. Great movie!
Well, I am lucky enough to not have cancer or to be dying of anything. At least at this point, thank God! But I do feel the inner clock ticking away. So when the opportunity came up to do something I have always wanted to do, I jumped at it! Then I started taking a closer look at the trip out of excitement. My mind started dreaming, and eventually I made a plan that has become a fulfillment of part of my bucket list.
Here is how it all started. I recently became a new member of the Rocky Mountain Plein Air Painters. This will be my first year as a member painting in the Tetons with the group. The year before, I was an invited guest. I was so excited to be in the place I love the most in the whole world and to be painting with such a great group of people and such beautiful scenery. Like that wasn’t enough?! That alone was on my bucket list.
Last year while in the Tetons, I was asked if I would be a part of a horse pack trip into the Wind River Range with a few other artists this year. I jumped at the opportunity! This had been a lifelong dream of mine! I quickly realized I had a week to fill between the Rocky Mountain Plein Air Painters event and my pack trip. I wasn’t about to go home just to return a week later. So I quickly started thinking what all could I do for a week to fill in that amount of time.
After my father passed away three years ago, I went out and bought fly-fishing rods for my brother and myself. Not only have I learned to fly-fish, I have taken my fly rod on every trip to a plein air event. I have fished all over the country because of it. Another bucket-list item!
Back to my plan for this year: I’ve decided to camp along the Green River in Wyoming between the other two events. I’ll use that week to fly-fish and paint the area. No pressures to paint, just a week of casual painting and fishing. One more thing from my bucket list.
So, I plan to leave home in a few weeks. I’ll drive to the Beartooth Mountains in Montana, where I will camp, fish, and paint. I plan to be there a day or two before entering Yellowstone National Park. I may try to camp one night in Yellowstone before heading on into Grand Teton National Park. Once I am in the Tetons, I’ll go to my host home, where my host will so graciously house me till July 22. There will be around 40 artists painting for this event. The opening reception will be July 18 at the Craig Thomas Discovery and Visitor Center. (https://www.pleinairforthepark.org)
On July 22, when the event ends, I’ll head further south into Wyoming to the Green River and set up camp on the river for a week for my no-pressure week in the outdoors. On July 30, I’ll break camp, meet up with the outfitter and three other artists, get on a horse, and head up into the Wind River Range to paint for a week. This is the big bucket-list item for me! Been waiting to do this for years. Since I started drawing and painting as a kid, I’ve dreamed of doing this type of trip. I now finally get to make that dream come true. We return August 4. At that time I’ll grudgingly head for home with a two-day drive.
I was once asked why I do these plein air events. I answered that I always wanted to travel and paint different parts of the United States. I want to document the areas and my travels. I want to share my vision of what I am painting. I want to do all of this and grow as an artist.
If this trip doesn’t provide exactly that, I don’t know what would!
Additional plein air landscape paintings: