SHERIDAN — Two small nature scenes hang on a white wall between large, colorful, abstract paintings. Taking a closer look, intricate details and a diverse palette of natural colors emerge from the frame — a glimpse into a moment captured on a hike.
Randy Stout bases his watercolor paintings on hikes he takes around the Cloud Peak Wilderness.
His paintings “Daybreak” and “Familiar Trail” are part of the Watercolor Wyoming 34th Annual National Exhibition at the Sheridan County Fulmer Public Library. An awards ceremony for the winning artists took place Aug. 14.
Stout was born and raised in the Sheridan area. His appreciation for the natural environment helps guide his compositions.
While the exhibition includes a variety of styles and subjects from portraits to abstract work, Stout’s work uniquely reflects the landscapes of northern Wyoming.
“The mountains are a particularly precious place,” he said.
Karen Myers from the Wyoming Watercolor Society said she appreciates having a well-known local artist be part of a national exhibition. She said local artists bring interest to exhibitions and events through their connections.
Stout sometimes sketches on site, but often waits to complete a painting until he returns to his studio. Inspiration and composition often happen at once; hiking and painting are intertwined, he said.
Stout has been painting for more than 20 years.
“I feel like I’m starting to scratch the surface,” he said.
He has taught workshops on plein air and watercolor techniques and regularly exhibits his work in local galleries.
Stout said part of the challenge while painting is preserving light on the page. The white paper has all the light an artist will ever have access to, he said.
Paintings are attempts to capture feelings, Stout said. He tries to preserve memories of nature when he paints.
He hopes when people look at his work, they experience the quiet, peace and solitude he feels when he’s in nature.
“It’s good to be alone in the woods or mountains,” he said.
Stout said many cultures have philosophies about the healing power of being in nature and those beliefs influence his work.
“When you go into a forest, it’s like medicine,” he said.
Myers said she sees recognizable landscapes in Stout’s work. She said his style shows that he loves what he paints; he uses soft edges to compose semi-realistic depictions of landscapes. As Stout intended, Myers said his work is often peaceful and subdued.
The 34th Annual National Exhibition is at the Sheridan County Fulmer Public Library until Aug. 31.
Stout plans to teach more plein air workshops this fall at SAGE Community Arts. He said wherever an artist may go, there are always wonderful things to paint.