Three years ago, artist Howard Friedland and his wife Susan Blackwood—also an artist—moved from Bozeman, Montana to Bella Vista, Arkansas. The couple had lived in Bozeman since getting married in 1998 and loved everything about it—especially the spacious studio they shared in their home there. But they had grown weary of the heavy snowfalls that often extended into April and May and of the smoke from Western forest fires that made plein air painting a challenge during the summer months.
When they visited Jeff Legg, an artist friend, at his home in the Ozarks, they realized that relocating to Arkansas might be a good idea. In 2019, they sold their Montana home and moved to Bella Vista—“as far northwest as you can go in Arkansas; we’re almost in Missouri actually,” Friedland says.
It was certainly a big change but they have found much to love about their new surroundings. “We went from the mountains to the woods,” Friedland says. “This is a beautiful part of the state; it’s heavily forested with every different kind of tree. There are lots of caves and waterfalls around us and all kinds of beautiful things.”
9″ by 12″
“Susan and I arranged a horse pack trip into the mountains around Big Sky, Montana. The outfitter who led us to some outrageously beautiful views decided to pull out a watercolor pad and some paints and have a go at plein air himself. I got off a quick shot of him, his dog, and horse while he painted the high meadow wildflowers.”
24″ by 36″
“This was inspired by a trip to Jackson Hole, Wyoming. I wanted to convey the scale and grandeur of the Grand Teton Mountains. I really exaggerated the height of the mountain peaks and reimagined the sky, trees, and ground.”