Art and outdoor recreation are strange bedfellows. In the digital age of instant photos and videos capturing skiers and mountain bikers shredding the mountainside, there’s little room for the slow brush of paint strokes to capture a scene of action-sports beauty. But one local artist, Chris Miles, has been doing just that: painting surreal landscapes and scenes populated by skiers in Utah’s iconic mountains.
The works of Chris Miles run the gamut from nature scenes of Mount Olympus, Devil’s Castle and Mount Superior, to playful images of furry animals riding chairlifts and skiing under the moonlight. One thing all these works have in common, however, is a clear love of Utah’s natural beauty, shown in a way that only the artist can convey.
“I’m a life long fan of the classical painting forms such as the figure and landscapes. I think landscape appeals to me for the same reason it has appealed to artists for centuries, which is that nature inspires like nothing else. Since I happen to live in Utah this is the nature I see,” says Miles. “Utah seems like one of the most beautiful places in the world to me, but I think that’s just the bias of living here.”
Having bought myself a print of one of his paintings called “The Journey,” I’ve come to appreciate how Miles can perfectly capture a moment that holds an emotional weight only lovers of winter can know. The moment is something any backcountry skier should be familiar with: you’re skinning through a forest on a bitterly cold, early morning. A fresh coat of powder rests gently on the landscape, covering the pines and aspen trees. The scene is undisturbed by wind or sun, and not a sound is heard aside from your skis sliding on a fresh skin track. Your partner is breaking trail ahead and disappears behind a rise, leaving you alone. You stop for a moment and take it all in – a solitary figure enshrouded by frozen breath and nothing but two tracks and pole marks to lead the way. “The Journey” conveys this peaceful time and place in a way no photograph can do.
It’s no surprise that Miles is an avid outdoorsman himself with a penchant for both resort skiing and backcountry ski touring in the Wasatch. “I have an Alta pass this year so I don’t know how many backcountry days I will get in. But I grew up skiing in the Wasatch with leather boots and wooden skis. I consider the mountains and the desert and nature in general my temple.”
So if you’re an outdoor lover who’s looking for original, local art to hang in your home or office, or are simply looking for a way to transport yourself into the snowy mountains every time you glance up at your living room wall, check out the works of Chris Miles.
To see the full gallery of Chris Miles’ paintings, or to purchase one for yourself, visit his website at www.chrismiles.net.