A passion for exploration drives plein air oil painter Claire Remsberg. Whether she’s boating, wandering in the wilderness, or letting a painting unfold naturally in front of her, Remsberg is always on a journey to seek out the beauty in nature.
Splitting time between Boise and McCall, Idaho and the Puget Sound gives Remsberg plentiful opportunities to experience new wonders. With her mobile art kit at her side, she is constantly embarking on new adventures. She has a formal space in Boise for prep, framing, and storage, but her true studio is wherever she gets out her supplies and lets her surroundings carry her away.
“What Doesn’t Inspire Me?”
Remsberg’s work as a self-employed architect has allowed her the freedom to pursue many other interests over the years. Along with being a plein air painter, she is also an amateur naturalist and avid outdoor adventurer. All of these interests feed into each other, creating an infinite pool of inspiration.
In fact, one of Remsberg’s favorite subjects is water. Perhaps there is something about its constant flow and movement that reminds her a bit of her own forward motion. In her life and in her art, she is constantly changing things up.
One painting in progress, Rock Drop on the Powder River, captures this sense of motion. “I had a joyous experience on location creating its beginnings,” Remsberg explains. “A painter friend took me to a rural location near Baker City, Oregon. It is the sort of place [where] some folks have unfortunately taken to dumping trash beside a creek. My friend took an interest in some old couches rotting in the woods, while I chose to get my feet wet and paint one of my favorite things—moving water. We both had a lovely time with normal frustrations and very different results.”
Of course, other subjects often jump out and demand her attention. “Art-making pairs well with my other activities, especially recreation and exploration,” Remsberg notes. “One example: my partner has recently tasked me with learning to tie knots and acquire other sailor smarts for our dreams to wander in far waters. I am currently prepping and researching for a series of paintings that will reflect my process of learning knots. I love to experiment with materials, which is another way that I travel to new lands, so to speak.”
With so much of the natural world calling out to her, Remsberg says, “I suffer no shortage of ideas, just a shortage of lifetimes to explore them all.”
Once Remsberg finds a subject that speaks to her, her goal is to capture it in a way that feels natural. But natural isn’t always easy. She explains that “painting on location, with all its challenges and time limitations, requires an efficient response, eliminating my natural tendencies as a perfectionist. I like the results of looseness and expressive qualities. I have to be careful to not spoil these with any final tweaks that I may add later.”
As a result, her paintings are subject to spur-of-the-moment experimentation and innovation, which has shaped her process and style. “I practice my art and seek my favorite subjects and just let my style happen on its own, which naturally evolves over time,” she says.
Though she typically takes a representational approach, her applications tend to be experimental. She often uses unique materials and techniques, including reclaimed surfaces, gold leafing, sgraffito drawing, enameling, fiber arts, paper making, metal smithing, concrete, and even “painting” with rain drops.
Claire Remsberg loves sharing her creations and has had many opportunities to put her work in front of enthusiastic viewers. In recent years, she has had the opportunity to participate in on-location art residencies, public art projects, and exhibits. This year she has been studying in an art business program through the Idaho Commission on the Arts. She is also focusing on growing her online presence.
“Though I am an introvert,” she says, “I enjoy my friends and family (missing those hugs lately!) and connecting in person with my art community.” Her art has allowed her to create priceless connections and communicate her love of nature in a deeply enriching way.
To see more paintings from Claire Remsberg, visit her website at https://www.claireremsberg.com/.
View past artist features here.