The landscape is their muse.
Known as the “Men Who Paint,” Cam Forrester, Greg Hargarten, Paul Trottier, Roger Trottier, and Ken Van Rees explore Saskatchewan and other parts of the country to paint “en plein air.”
“(En plein air) just means we like to paint outside,” Hargarten said. “Being an artist is sometimes a lonely sort of thing. You spend a lot of time in your studio, so it’s a great excuse for the five of us to get outside and paint together.”
All from different backgrounds, their relationship began more than a decade ago at the University of Saskatchewan’s Kenderdine campus at Emma Lake.
“We would go up there for a week at a time and do these painting workshops and there weren’t a lot of men there, so we tended to hang together,” Hargarten said.
The group now gets together three or four times a year to paint outside.
In May, an idea years in the making came to fruition. The group ventured outside of Canada, travelling to Germany for two weeks.
Hargarten noted many of the areas they visited were similar to places they’ve painted in Canada and Saskatchewan.
“We’d drive out into the field and you’d be painting in a canola field, you’d drive the other way and you’d be painting in a forest. It was like if somehow you could compact Canada into a smaller area,” Hargarten said.
Two weeks and more than 100 paintings later, their work was featured for a month at an art museum in Schwaan, a German town famously known as a traditional art colony.
“We had a great big opening at the beginning,” Van Rees said. “It was just a really wonderful experience for us just to be in that community.”
A selection of those paintings has now made its way to Canada and will be showcased Oct. 26 to 27 at the Willows Golf and Country Club in Saskatoon.
The group will not only get to re-live their adventure, but talk to others about how a passion for painting outside has influenced the last decade of their lives.
“We all have our own styles and we’ve all grown up in a different way and doing things in a different way,” Paul Trottier said. “Certainly we have an effect on each other especially with our work ethic.”
Ask some of the other Men Who Paint and they’ll tell you the same thing.
“We encourage one another and we are inspired by one another in terms of painting,” Van Rees said.
“I just thank my lucky stars every day that I met these guys,” Hargarten said.